"I love your "Malaysian Accent", can you say it again?"
"几够力一下有没有"

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Sunday, February 10, 2002

This should be long.

Restored Post

A philosophical note to start with. Many people think that I dislike slavery because of the hardship, but actually I do have moral and ethical objections, about being a slave, and killing none the least. Alas, I lack the courage to stand up for my beliefs and go to jail to stand up for my convictions. I am rather ashamed about that. I had a talk with my erstwhile (and now presumably submerged in his work since he doesn't lurk on ICQ anymore) Jehovah's Witness friend in the UK about National Slavery in Singapore. Those people would rather go to jail than betray their principles. Apparently there was one in RJ, in my year. I'd like to talk to him one day. Perhaps being too free is bad - there's too much to think. Anyhow, I seem to be doing better now. Instead of tearing almost every day, it's now every few days.

Before I last booked in ("checked in" as my mother sometimes says), I had my Last Dinner at the SAFRA Country Club. My parents asked me to join SAFRA because the facilities were good and cheap, and the food likewise. I want as little to do with the SAF as possible.

The water in Tekong sucks. It's not as bad as the water on Ubin, but it's quite bad. Maybe it's the mind controlling drugs they slip into the water.

Some person was rasping the march timing, "loop right loop right loop right loop" Gollum-like one day for some reason.

At night in the bunk, people seem to like to shout a lot. It's probably because we're trained to shout in the day, so even when we are not required to do so, most of us continue shouting. That and the natural loudness of boys. It is most irritating, especially when you are on the phone. Kumar and I tried to persuade those in our bunk to speak more quietly. Unfortunately, it does not seem to be working.

On the 29th, I went to see the Medical Officer for my foot pains (on the top of the feet). I got the shotgun doctor - my consultation time was all of 1 minute. I got various excuses for 7 days, one of which was "Excused Running and Jumping", so my tag said "Ex-RJ", something which some people chose to point out with glee. I suppose if I'd tried, I could have gotten home leave - the other people in my company who reported on the same day mostly got ATTN C, and one asked why I didn't fake a more grevious injury. Which is the greater evil - indenture or lying to get out of it? I'm musing too much nowadays. The feet still pain me, though, so on the first day of the Situational Test (3 glorious days outfield), I will report sick if they hurt even then. Ahem. The medicine doesn't really work though. Maybe they give us placebos because so many people fake injury, or they're using us as low-(almost no-)cost guinea pigs!

I met Kairen at the Medical Centre that day, and his knee had just popped. He's been downgraded and is none too happy - his hopes of going to OCS have been dashed. I think most would be happy to be downgraded - I know I would, but to each his own.

I was a route marshal for a jog a day or two after I reported sick. There was a Major (I think) walking around. I greeted him but didn't salute, and he absently saluted back. Later during the jog itself, people tried to steal my red flag and sling bag. Reminds me of 2L. Actually my whole platoon reminds me of 2L in a way - everyone wanting primacy and vocalising their views, a lack of co-operation etc. I got to talk to another route marshal, this ex-VJ guy in Hawk, Ming Xiang.

Someone commented that during Bayonet Fighting we are like dogs - we move on the whistle. I agree.

Almost everyone I know who enlisted during the 22/1-24/1 period is in Hawk Company, for some reason.

Lucky Jiaxiang has OOCed and will be downgraded. Good for him! He is also a former classmate of my buddy.

On being weighed after booking in, I found that I'd lost 1 kg, even after my eating a Teppanyaki buffet at Goodwood Park Hotel and the meal at the SAFRA country club restaurant (cf the 1st confinement week where, eating cookhouse food the whole week, I didn't lose any weight). Booking out is good for health.

The Grenade Assualt Course sucks. Crawling is painful. I got an abrasion on my left elbow from doing the Leopard Crawl, and my watch got even more scratched. For some reason I can't break my fall very well - I tend to land on my knees first. Breaking it properly is painful. Luckily I escaped the Bayonet Assault Course, where much water was poured onto the ground to create mud. Muaha.

I've picked up some rudimentary sewing skills sewing the strap of my [low quality] slingbag and my helmet strap.

The cacophony of 4 platoons marching, each singing a different song and in a different tempo, is horrible.

We had a talk with the Commander. As is usual in these situations, few questions were asked. I had, at the same time, both too much and too little to say. In the end, I, infamous for asking troubling questions, asked none, troubling or otherwise. Perhaps they'd have made no difference, and just have irritated people or made me more infamous. Or has my defiance been squashed? I'm really becoming too philosophical nowadays. Kairen told me some person in his company asked the Commander for his view on the American bombing of Afghanistan. Ahem.

More evidence of vocabulary degenration: People always say "row" even when they mean "column". Or have I mentioned that in a previous outburst?

The peril of having recruits lead songs: Someone changed the line "Two years of our time" in the "Training to be soldiers" song to "What a waste of time". I was most amused.

We are now disallowed from bringing food back from the Cookhouse. Da baoing fruit was started a few weeks ago, one trick that we relative "lao jiaos" have picked up. After we were told of the new order, someone brought at least 10 Mandarin Oranges out of the cupboard to the tune of Lunar New Year music, thus vindicating the order (on the basis of hygeine and health).

Too many people in platoons 1 and 4 were caught using their handphones after Lights Out and everyone in both platoons was banned from using them for 2 whole weeks. Ouch. Lucky for them, this was rescinded by the Commanding Officer on a plea.

We were supposed to go for a Night Off, but we had a Route March the next day, so for safety reasons we couldn't. !@#$%^&*().

People have started eating the (expired on 02/01 and destined to be disposed of) biscuits plundered from the store. But they're still eminently edible. And tasty too. Anyhow, the field rations that we got during field camp contained biscuits only a few months newer - they expired on 04/01 or 05/01. Kheng Hwa bemoaned the phasing out of dog biscuits a few years back, but the present ones are quite good and I think they too expand somewhat in the stomach to fill you up - they're rather dry, though not as hard as the dog biscuits.

News that baffled me while in camp: Selangor plans to ban 24 hour food outlets as they "promote unhealthy eating habits" and "encourage youths to stay out too late". Must be something in Palm Oil that makes them a little kooky.

A lot of people like to smoke in the toilet. It is very irritating and choking. They conducted an inspection and discovered the transgression, but only 3 people (and not the major culprits too) owned up. I look forward to a cleaner and more enjoyable (inasmuch as it can be) toilet.

Their motto is "Safety First". This does not explain why the fire alarm has had a general fault for at least 5 weeks.

Recruits do stupid things. Perhaps what one sergeant said is true - we lose our brains when our hair is cut. Apparently one person in Jaguar (or Hawk, I may have remembered wrongly) company was rushing to fall in and slipped over the parapet, and was hanging on to the railing. Lucky he was on the second floor. I am aghast :)

People like to strip in the bunk. It is bad enough when they strip to their underwear, but some strip totally, exposing their gonads to the world. Disgusting.

Confinement Weekend was very very boring. We were supposed to have a movie, but it was cancelled. I think they want to drive us mad with boredom.

Stuff magazine is another popular magazine. I think I must be the only person who reads magazines which don't have half (or three quarter) naked females prancing about.

We only have 3 confinement weeks. Hurrah! 2 down, one to go.

There was a surprise inspection. They found a charger... and a portable TV!

I had guard duty. It was tiring and I was disorientated, but hey I don't have it today and it was weekday duty - 12 hours instead of the 24 for weekends! And I had only one shift to boot since I was in the third detail. Praise the Lord.

We took yet another photograph. Yet another 9 dollars gone. I was told to shave my sideburns. As it was the first time I'd used a razor, I shaved too high on the right, so now I have a bald area above where my sideburns used to be. But no one after the day itself noticed it, so maybe it isn't *that* bad. Or everyone's too polite to say anything.

We were given ice cream at the cookhouse again. Aha!

We had a 8km route march. Ouch. Ugh. I got abrasions on my inner thigh.

Someone's Bart Simpson boxer shorts amused a sergeant greatly for some reason.

I still haven't recovered from the infamous Tekong Flu. My sergeant claims it's because our bunks are dirty and that at SISPEC no one coughs. I wonder.


Scribbled at field camp:

I wonder if Camo Stick/Cream is toxic, and how bad it is for the skin. I slept with it in both nights of field camp. My sergeant says it gives people a lot of pimples. I think black camo cream stings the skin.

One of our sergeants entertained himself at Field Camp by making us practice "tactical eating" which involved half of each section eating while the other half had to guard them in the prone position. And then he sent one section against the rest in "wargames". And threw many mock grenades. He also made us camo our helmets in addition to our skin.

Sleeping on a rifle is very uncomfortable. They made veiled threats about stealing rifles or rifle parts on the first day, but waited until the second night to carry out their dastardly deed. They also had a simulated attack on the third morning, but were kind enough to hold it at about 5:55am.

There were many insects, though not as many as I'd feared, and they didn't bother me at night. I did have to squash ants while they were crawling under my clothing, though. I don't want to think about it.

I saw fireflies for perhaps the first time while waiting to practice night movement and reaction to flares. Nice sight.

Now my Platoon Commander calls me "Porn Star". Yeh. I probably made the situation worse when I turned up for the powder bath inspection in boots and underwear, as I hadn't brought slippers.

They made us do xxx skits for people in makeshift observation posts to observe. Some people professed to be shocked when I asked "do I pee on him [my captive]?" when I was asked to go off and pee at some point in the skit.

Even across from the rubber plantation, there is a chinup bar. These people are mad.

Field rations are very filling - I couldn't finish them. Apparently they put something inside to make you shit less, it clumps up your faeces.

I was wondering why there was a rubber plantation in the middle of nowhere. Apparently it was deliberately planted, and there's an oil palm plantation elsewhere on the Island of Doom.

No barbed wire was placed around the side of the urination hole facing outside. Maybe that's how wild boars get in (though we didn't get any this time).

The fruit bars (which won the "2000 Gold Taste Award) that they give us contain palm oil, although they are made in California. Perhaps that is done to cater to the Singaporean palate, carefully nurtured on a diet of palm oil.

Powder baths are a little surreal, though the amount they require us to put is ridiculous.

All in all, field camp wasn't that bad because it didn't rain! And field camp / route march has improved my packing skills.


Back to bunk:

After field camp, the bunk was really a welcome sight.

I've yet to figure out what dialect "lam pah" / "lampah" is in. I don't think I heard it before I was enslaved, actually.

My feet are mysterious. The feet pain that I reported sick for the week before field camp (and which didn't heal even after my 1 week of excuses had expired) mysteriously lessened in severity and even at times, disappeared during field camp. But as I got off the tonner back to BMTC, they started hurting again. Weird.

Everyone started cooking Maggi Mee when we came back.

The rubber sap from the plantation stuck to our clothes and dried. Gah.

On coming back I had to clear rubbish, and lots of it. 2 people came to help me of their volition. I was touched.

"You're adopting well to army life" - Norman. For some reason I was disconcerted by that remark.

The confinees ate field rations during their confinement. Oh dear.


OCS and SDC visit:

Before we booked out, we went to OCS. Yeh.

There is a drive thru Burger King opposite SAFTI MI. The first I've seen so far, I believe.

The last time I went to SAFTI MI was in Secondary 2 I believe. The GEPs had proved to be disloyal in a NE test/survey so they sent us there. At that time, I'd wondered about a place called "Singapore Armed Forces Training Institute Military Institute", an example of the fine naming of our Intelligent Soldiers. My theory was that at first it was called SAFTI, then some intelligent person thought that that was too short and SAFT Training Institute sounded funny, so they renamed it the SAFTI Military Institute. Then, everyone in Singapore, and the SAF especially being lazy and fond of acronyms, they shortened it to SAFTI MI. Wallah. "Singapore Armed Forces Training Institute Military Institute".

After OCS, we went to the Singapore Discovery Centre. Double joy. I've been there at least twice already.

While we were waiting outside the SDC, some [not very outstanding] girls from a neighbourhood school walked by, so our sergeant gave a "kerkiri loo roos" order.

We had an enthusiastic guide, who enthused that the Fall of Singapore shows us that we must depend on ourselves to defend us. That's rather shaky logic. If that's the case, Vichy France and Thailand show us that we can defend ourselves and escape harm by betraying our allies and collaborating with aggressor nations. And the fall of Belgium and the Netherlands shows that it is impossible to defend ourselves, so why bother? Hurrah.

They are incredibly humble. Under "Great Leaders" they placed Lee Kuan Yew. That wasn't so bad. Then I walked further down and saw Goh Chok Tong. Further inside, under "Super Troopers" was "the SAF Commando".

The guides at SDC, at least those we got, are all ex-officers - all Majors and one or two Lieutenant Colonels. The SAF gives good retirement packages. And apparently our photographer used to be a Commanding Officer.


Quotes:

"[On someone having Pi Pa Gao {Pei Pa Go} in the toiletries section of the cupboard] I don't understand why you all mix your food with non-edibles... One day you'll wash your hair with Pi Pa Gao."

"The first lesson for tomorrow is a brisk walk. [Consternation from Recruits] Yes, we all know that this is not true [It is actually a jog]"

"Unfortunately, the OOCs will also confined, together with everyone else... Why are you [all] so happy?"

"[On a VIP from Indonesia's visit] No crab, no bars but star, so tomorrow all the crabs walking around, all the seafood."

"[On a demonstration of bayonet fighting] You see Yap, he die already still can smile (still can smile after death)"

"[On Platoon 4] Those are not men, they are dwarves"

"[On my fondness for allegedly feminine postures while on the bed] Gabriel, I want to ask you, your cock, is it there or can it be pushed inside to form a hole?"

"Can you lend me your handphone? I need a vibrator"

"[Allegedly quoting from a magazine, perhaps to vindicate himself] 70% of women said they masturbate daily or more often. The rest are lying"

"[On me, after I commented about the resetting of pushups to the Commanding Officer] You're totally a civilian. Cannot make it."

"[On the MOs] Their OCS, like Kilo Company, come in, 5 days orientation, come out as privates. They go into OCS, 5 days, come out, Captain."

"The biggest rank in Tekong, you know what?... Civilian."

"Captured enemy personnel, first thing you do, don't go and sodomise them please... got girl bring to me first (if there is a girl, bring her)"

"[On reporting verbal exchanges with captured enemy personnel] If they scold you na beh jee bye don't report that, please"

"Leadership and Command. Do you dare to take up the challenge? [Recruit: Yes, Sir.] Lam pah."

"A lot of bad influence. Like me, OC, I also... [Recruit: Chao keng] How to chao keng? As OC I already nothing to do already (have )"

"If you are not loyal to Singapore, then why are you here? [Recruits: We don't want to be here]"

"[On me] He uses all the funny funny words"

"Gabriel, I realise you have the same lips as Shu Qi, only you are not pretty"

"[On the Ghost Walk] You will be impressed at how the army learn from Pontianak and Chinese Vampires (learns, Pontianaks)"

"When you smoke, you become an intelligent human. When you don't smoke, you become like cock... When you smoke, even when I talk to you in Tamil you understand."

"Smells like shit ah, the shit"

"[On my incessant scribbling] I can't stand you. Today you write 'Today, the shit, 500 grams, brown in colour...'"

"How come on Wednesday, 12 OOCs reported sick, all got ATTN C ah?"

"[To someone who heard the bookout timing wrongly] You OOC because of what ah? [Another recruit: Deaf]"

"For air force [training] they will go on to AFST. Advanced... Fuck lah, I also don't know what is that. (that is)"

"You all are not responding, fuck lah. You all want to book out now ah?... You all are forced to come here ah?... I am also forced to conduct this [talk] for you"

"[On the SAF retirement package] Don't be surprised if next time you see Lieutenant ****** selling drinks at the canteen... Next time you see the commander ah, sweeping the floor."
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