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NSF - Pkchukiss' conscript life

All the about Pkchukiss's life in the Singapore Armed Forces

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Pkchukiss — Life After National Service

Update your links, for I am shifting to a new blog!

This blog shall remain as a legacy of my National Service stint, and will contain updates after I enter reservist service. Meanwhile, all my blogs on my life will be shifting to

Sunday, January 08, 2006


Casual viewers might need to sit out this heavy topic.


A bond forged between two whom met as strangers some time in their lives, with the willingness to play, work, or simply do things together, and to look out for one another in times of need.

Close friends.

Always willing to sacrifice their own interests to protect yours, and would help you even when they themselves are stretched.

Best friends.

The kind of people with whom you can go through the worst of life together. He/She knows instinctively when you are feeling down, and knows as much about you as a parasite on you. He/She knows your favourite brand of underwear (and buys it for your birthday present), pulls off pranks on you, and still manages to get away with a playful punch from you.

Just how much is defined by our actions? There is a reason why humans act as we do -- the seeming irrationality of our reasonings stem from our own beliefs and values, the core of which is the driver to our actions. Actions per se do not signify much; it is the underlying motivations that speak with a clarity that far surpasses the power of spoken or written word.

Just a short few days back, I found myself staying back in the office to the tune of 5am in the morning to help one of my friend (who happens to have way too much to do). That was after I had finished my share of the work the afternoon, which earned me a rebuke from some of my platoon mates.

"You work too much."

"You clock 8 hours, you still get $500. 16 hours, you still get the same $500. What's the point of torturing yourself?"

I don't concur. It is true that I have finished my work due, however, I find it necessary to help my friend who is in need, surely there is nothing wrong with that?

I would not have noticed the anomality had it not been for one conversation I had with one of the Mortar platoon guys who was also transferred to the same office.

"So what do you feel about your platoon?" he asked.

"Ok, we get by just fine. Nothing out of the ordinary. But you guys (mortar) seem to be very close."

"Yar, we go out almost all the time!"

I remembered that there was a point in time when the platoon sergeant had wanted to organise barbecue outings during one of the block leave days to pull the fragmented platoon together. In fact, in anticipation of opposition, he tried to sell the idea that he wanted it done for "his own sake".

No go. Not only were the guys cold to the idea, some even actively opposed it, stating that it was not within the proper boundaries for the platoon sergeant to dictate our holiday programmes.
They were right, of course. The break was upon our leave time, and he couldn't ask us to do stuff that we did not want to do.

What really shook me to the core was the fact that a cohesion was something nobody was prepared to give their time towards. If we take a close look at the definitions at the start of this long post, you would undoubtly conclude that perhaps, all of us are just mere strangers? That we are suggesting that the formation of this platoon was a convergence of convenience: that people cooperate with each other not out of friendship, but out of necessity.

Have all the tough times been for nothing?

Saturday, December 17, 2005

The burgler alarm

There is a huge disparity between talking your talk, and walking it.

And I can really feel the resistance.

I still remember how my parents told me about the wonderful stories in their childhood days spent in wooden huts, more commonly known as kampongs. About how they used to be devoid of all the technological wonders that we take for granted everyday: the television, computers; even radios were luxury items ill-afforded by the more well to-do.

The families in the kampong would gather together, shoot the breeze, share recepies, help to watch over jade bracelets (considered the heirlome of families in those days), and essentially mingle together for no apparent reason, and still manage to have fun. Security was never an issue, since the bond between neighbours were so close that newcomers to town would stick out like a sore thumb.

This spirit cannot be replicated in these brick and mortar high-rise flats, where neighbours don't even know they live next to each other, and front doors are kept tightly shut in the day to keep in the air-conditioning. Of course, there are artificial substitutes for these traditional interactions, but really, instant messenging cannot replace the direct human interaction.

In fact, things are so bad that families get burgler security systems (so totally unheard of in the early days), which then go off with neighbours not giving a care in the world; no one bothers to step out of their house, go over to the unit to check on their neighbours. What if they were really robbed?

In case you were wondering why I am writing this, it is because the exact same thing is happening to one of my neighbours. I was about to go out to check, when I felt waves of resistance overcoming me:

What if it is just a false alarm?
What if the burglers are armed?
What if...

I didn't go out. I was paralysed by the typical Singaporean mindset: that it was none of my business when strangers get robbed.

It is really strange. I've read angry newspaper forum letters lamblasting the inaction by passer-bys in the face of injustice, and I was really sure at that time that I would do the right thing if I were to be around a crime scene. Instead, when it happens to me, I just stood there as a spectator.

Now what if my neighbours were really robbed? The alarm has fallen silent by now (cut by the burglers?), and I just sit here typing this confession.

All the training in national service - defending the nation from aggressors is total nonsense, especially so when I stood passively while a burgler alarm echoed throughout the block.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Ever wondered where all your blog comment spam came from?

Here's the answer: (Undesirable link)

A recent phenomenon on the Internet, blog spam is not only distracting and irrelevant to the topic at hand, it is also a blatant abuse of the blog owner's web space, bandwidth, and his site's reputation. Once these bad guys manage to fill the comments with enough spam, the owner's blog is reduced to a mere wisp on the Internet existence, where search engines and visitors shun alike.

Yet here we have unscrupulous vendors selling programs that automate the posting of such menaces on blogs.

I leave his mailbox to your devices.

Friday, December 02, 2005

ORD Function

The time is approaching fast.

Soon, most of the guys in the battalion are going to be civilians real soon, braving the storms of the working world. One where the only uncertainty is the only certainty.

No jobs laid out on a silver platter for the taking. Instead of being told what to do, for once, they would have to learn to navigate the course of Life by themselves.

It is their future at stake: already, some are blemished with a prison record for being absent from service without official leave. Some get into accidents. Some have passed on.

I wonder, how many of us would see each other again? Though I still have some way to go before I ORD, many of us would have gone on to greener pastures, become rich and famous, or simply dropped from the radar

We had our ORD function yesterday at the Neptune Restaurant, an unnoticeable existence among the endless row of glass facades along the business belt of the Central Business District. The building was unassuming, which partially disappointed, since we actually paid a whopping $70 for the entire event. (I wasn't totally disappointed, since this is a camp organised affair, I have learnt to keep my expectations low enough.)

I met the rest at the nearby Raffles Place MRT station, from where we streamed against an incessant home-bound crowd. They seemed to be in perpetual hurry, and kept knocking into us. In customary Singaporean fashion, the inevitable crossing of paths is met with a cold stare, a barely mouthed apology. Rinse, dry, and repeat with the next stranger.

In the same vein, Singaporeans are notoriously late. The event was slated for 6.30pm, yet at around 7.15, barely half the restaurant has arrived. We took the opportunity to take photographs with the RSM (Regimental Sergeant Major) and the CO (Commanding Officer). Those turned out red-eyed, and gave everyone who was in the picture a soulless look. Photoshop made all the difference.

Some parts of Scout platoon
Some parts of Scout platoon

Sam, Sylvester, TYS and Teck Guan

Sam, Sylvester, TYS and Teck Guan

Photograph with the CO
Photograph with the CO

... yet another photograph with the CO
Another one...

Photograph with RSM
Photograph with RSM

I remembered to drop my lucky draw ticket stub into the bowl, and arrived at my designated table to find it fully occupied. Along with a few other displaced platoon mates, I went to an unoccupied table, where we got a sound reprimand for not following the seating arrangement.

The proceedings of the event is documented by Timothy in his blog, so I won't be a tired old copycat. Instead, I will focus on the food. I forgot to take photographs of the dishes: I got pretty engrossed with the stage, even as the
food disappeared within moments of being served.

The appetiser consisted of spring rolls, curry puffs, some minced pork cooked with herbs and rolled into rolls. The guys at my table were content to leave exactly ONE piece untouched on the plate, which I gladly polished off. There were some whole pieces of chili cut into decorations, but nobody touched them. (I am sure Mother would have. She loves eating chili at its rawest.)

Next came the sharks fins (I presume). Again, nobody took the last bowl, and I was forced to finish it by the waitress, who could not get the others to take it.

The fried rice was unexpectedly dry and tasteless, which surprised me. This coming from a caterer which charges $21 for a plate of chicken rice, is really a revelation. Nobody is good at everything. We had some fish and broccoli to go with the rice. This time, I had to compete for the broccoli. These guys seem to like it as much as I do. I still remember eating 3 servings of unwanted broccoli some time back...

The dessert came around midway through the magic show, but I was so enthralled by the illusions that I didn't notice it coming. It was when the same waitress came along the second time to collect the bowls that I found my mango pudding untouched, just waiting to tango with my mouth.

The highlight of the night was a highly-energised dance by a Caucasian group. The dancers belted out high octane moves and jumps that would look very impressive on a standing broad jump record. The dancers always managed to land within centimetres from the edge of the stage, and for a while, I thought that they would miss, and jump right onto one of the dining tables.

Like Timothy mentioned, the ladies bared their mammaries in an artistic dedication to their art. The grace of their movements really astounded me. Their slim legs could kick so high, I thought that they would hit their heads. The difficulty is raised by the high heels, yet they spin without hesitance. They could lift off the ground, and land without making a mis-step.

The entire event ended with the drawings for the top 10 lucky draw prizes. They had given out 20 prizes so far, and barely one of the drawn tickets came close to my range.

A toaster came and went, HQ CSM won a cappuccino maker. All the prizes so far had gone to tickets 80XX, 81XX and 86XX.

The 2nd prize got claimed, and we did not think that it was possible at all for one of us to claim the top prize.

The emcee grabbed a bunch of tickets, and hurled it in the air for CO to catch the winning ticket. He barely managed to grab the last one.

The emcee looked at the fallen tickets on the floor: "82XX will go home empty handed. 81XX will hold his hands and they will both leave together," he commented dryly, to the audience's laughter.

He then took a look at the winning ticket.

"Oh, look at this. It is a nice number. A repetition."

"The first prize goes out to 8...."

"Remember, this person might not be here."

"8........ 3."

The person sitting next to me pointed to my ticket excitedly. "Look, you have a chance!"

"I must stress again, the person might not even be present today."

"8...... 3...... 3."

"8.... 3....3... 8! Come on up!"

The winning ticket: 8338
The winning ticket

I was in shock. I stared at my ticket again to make sure that it really was 8338 printed on it. Then, I dashed up the stage to claim the prize. I was in such a daze that I didn't notice my own platoon mates sneaking up on me. They sneaked up on me, and grabbed me to give me a sound poling...

... and again.

... poled again!

The television was rather large, so I am grateful that Timothy kindly sent me, together with the large box, home.

Timothy, Zi Yang and me

Timothy, Zi Yang and me

Qi Xiang, me, Boon Keong, Joey and Timothy
Qi Xiang, me, Boon Keong, Joey and Timothy

The TV

The TV

My Pen

I don't scribble. To me, having to deal with the most minute flaws in the ink is a terrible torture. Every inflection, every curve that is not filled nicely with ink always irk me to no end. That is why my friends all gape at my pencil boxes in astonishment the few times they manage to get a sneak peek.

No less than 6 different models lie comfortably in the tight confines of the cloth. However, the extent of my collection cannot be defined by those few that I carry with me. Instead, I boast a neat collection consisting of various budget ink, gel, and ballpoint pens.

Of which I use only one.

The pen is perfect when I pick it up from the shop. The smooth writing sensation titillates my senses, a sort of an obsession. Then comes the crunch of everyday life, which never fails to trip it up, spluttering with unreliability. This frustrates me so much that I abandon the pen (at home if possible), and immediately rush down to the nearest stationary giant to acquire a new love.

Yet one pen has managed to capture my heart, for a far longer time than the other pens had. Not only has it provided the much needed smooth mileage, it has also accompanied me through countless outfield trainings, scratched through its outer-shell, soaked thoroughly during the enduring thunderstorms. There is only one problem.

I just lost that pen.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Office work — R & D (Regimentation and Discipline)

I have not had interest in blogging for some time now. Two weeks to be exact.

It is probably just fatigue, because you can't really have time for yourself when you are out there doing other stuff.

I experienced first-hand being a clerk at one of the staff branches in camp. There is a lot more freedom than being in the combat side, where my every single move was monitored constantly, and I could take short breaks as and when I liked without the risk of being accused of malingering. I also like the shredder in the office: especially how it takes pieces of paper and turns them into little christmas confetti with a menacing growl.

But nothing beats sleeping-in back in bunk, going for the occasional run to up-keep my fitness, and then gorging myself on expensive mess food to satisfy my stomach — but I get along. I am convinced that I have a morbid obsession with the shredder, especially since I managed to shred a box of old documents within the time it took the sun to set on Wednesday.

No matter what, the fact remains that I do one of the detested job of the battalion, assisting in the charging of defaulters, and sending them to the Detention Barracks, ceremony and handcuffs: the works. Not only is there plenty of paperwork to do (it is rumoured that 50% of the entire army's charge records came from my battalion), I come face to face with detainees as they enter the bane of the entire service: detention.

I see the obvious fear on their faces as the Military Police started them on their strict regimentation right from the start.

Now if you have not seen what happens to the detainees in the DB, here is a story by the Straits Times (posted on a local JC forum board).

Here's a piece of advice to all 18 year old boys doing, or about to do your National Service: please don't break the law, either by being Absent Without Official Leave, or by stealing, etc. It hurts you and your parents the most. Paperwork is but a small matter which I can handle, but it is the thought of having to send somebody to the lock up that hurts me the most.

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