Page has been moved

Please visit the new blog at

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

Friday, December 31, 2004

New Year Resolutions - an obligation?

I have never been one to break traditions, nor do the people who have been in my life remember me as a person to rock the boat. But instead of posting the obligatory "New Year Resolution", I am going to tell you what I will have done by December 2005:

  • My class 2B civilian motorcycle licence, along with a basic bike to boot (I intend to upgrade my licence to the "free for all" class 2 category when I become eligible for it).
  • I will have decided on my next stage of my life: Even though I failed to gain entry into a university, there are many other alternative routes that I can take to receive training in specialised fields - even though it isn't the end of the world, these routes are definitely less trodden, and probably tougher.
  • I will have finally finished my website (long overdue since 1998 *gasp*). Procrastination has been a killer for me this year, so to put myself on the line and finish it, I am going to go for a professional web host to serve my future website. Nothing like a little financial commitment to motivate myself.
  • A business - no solid plans yet, but I am looking into the possibilities of network marketing. Tough concept to grasp (for me due to my lack of an economics background), but I will have read up totally on this business, and have created a proposal and presented it to like-minded friends.
  • Built up a muscle bulk that allows me to sustain 15 chin-ups whenever and wherever I do them.
  • Get the Gold standard for my camp's physical test

I have been there, and tried it: vague resolutions are great for placating beloved ones, but don't do anything to further your personal well being. Hopefully these solid goals are powerful enough to set my direction for 2005 (I get easily distracted by chocolates!)

So what would you have acheived by 31 December 2005?

Tuesday, December 28, 2004

Company cohesion: (correction: platoon cohesion)

In a show of division unity, our company went on a trip to Sentosa (a very tourist paradise with pristine beaches, and $1.30 cokes).

Apparently, punctuality is lost (especially by superiors) when they are not in uniform. I was quite struck by the irony of the situation. I barely dragged my half-dead body to Sentosa, and was handsomely rewarded with sights of higher ranking people strolling off the different bus loads. The rest of us were so bored by their tardiness that we started our own breakaway "cohesion".

Finally, when some semblence of an instruction was somehow passed down, the entire herd moved in the general direction of some hall (which turned out to be some over-decorated shed). Workers were setting up temporary struts and other small platforms for the new year countdown. There, we sat twiddling our thumbs, and talking - among our individual cliques.

(I am sure you would have known by now my reason for writing like this...)

A few of us were even bored enough to strip somebody and send him into the welcoming embrace of the equatorial water. Sorry there are no photographs to post here because I am too poor to get a digital camera, not even a low end model.

Essentially things got so dry (the so called cohesion program was actually only a monotanous beach volleyball "league") that many of us broke away and started doing our own stuff. The lechers among us (I am quite sad to report that I am one of them) put on our best shades and took a stroll (swim and dunk) along the beach to (ahem...).

As of this writing, I am having serious reservations on continuing my narration (Yes, it is THAT boring, and I am not that bad a story teller, am I?), so I am going to stop by saying that we ended the whole program with absolutely nothing to take away (nope, my platoon didn't win anything, and would be thankful if relationships were not damaged today, let alone maintained.)

Platoon level cohesion was supposed to be next on the agenda, but as the guys put it, "No mood. Go home. Sleep." (I am quite annoyed that they have succeeded in making my blog entry sound like a teenager's whine. Thanks very much.)

Monday, December 27, 2004

Army Recruitment Centre Posters - Not

Advertisement posters with a twist:

(AWOL stands for "Absent Without Official Leave")

More posters can be found here:

Who said that people in the army were boring?

FireFox Evangalism

I was quite curious when StatCounter showed me some disappointing figures: (as a crazied supporter of open-source software) the uptake of FireFox .

Only 1 out of 100 visitors to this blog is using FireFox to browse the website.

Now that I have nothing related to my camp to write about (a break from camp and all), I am going to evangalise (quite unusual for a Buddhist).

FireFox is a revolutionary web browser that embodies the "open source" concept: That means many eyes are upon the coding of this application all the time, and any flaws or potential security problems are fixed with very short turn around times. Compare this to Internet Explorer, of which the development has been stagnant for 3 years now. The number of security problems are numerous. FireFox, on the other hand, is under constant development by volunteers, who add more functionality to improve your browsing experience!

So far, major features of the program include tabbed browsing, which saves tons of your window real estate, and an advanced privacy manager, which allows you to remove your tracks, all without much fuss. For those who want more functionality, it is achieved through Extensions.

Give it a try! It is only a small download, and you won't lose a thing (you can uninstall it easily in the event you find FireFox unsuitable for you, but I think that it would be highly unlikely!).

[End of promotion speech]

On a personal note, I have used FireFox for a few months now, and I have not come across any security problems so far - in fact, FireFox load pages much faster than Internet Explorer, I have since relegated IE to the doldrums of the hard disk.

Pioneers do write too!

It seems that the guys from Pioneer platoon blog too!

Kavan's blog

Eugene's blog

Patrick's blog

Sunday, December 26, 2004

Promise and Play

There are no apparent links between Promise and Play, except perhaps the fact that they exist under the same category of "Words Starting With 'P'". However, they happened to make my life miserable today (or rather yesterday, for that matter).

You should remember from my last blog post that I played the night over at Orchard (the photos show it all), but being the crazy NSF (that's National Service FullTime) that I was, I decided to continue playing through the night. (Lest some readers mistake my intentions, I currently have no intention of delievering my maiden voyage to some well-powdered woman on the street.) I stayed at home to chat with some of my friends who also had trouble sleeping.

That was when my troubles began. I had promised one of my platoon mate that I would turn up for his church's commemoration of Christmas in the Indoor Stadium the next morning (which was yesterday as of now). I ended up sleeping late and subsequently missed the event.

He did call to remind me just an hour before the event, but the comfort of my own bed proved too much to bear (I had answered the phone from my bed), and the next time I woke up, it was bright noon, and SMSes were piling up on my phone.

He called me a while later, and I had to suffer the guilt of having to tell him the truth (I couldn't have lied anyway, I was too tired).

Three hours later, I found myself leaving the house again, to meet another group of friends.

Perhaps I would have felt better had I just slept this day away...

Saturday, December 25, 2004

Merry Christmas!

I am not a believer in Christmas, but there is no harm in partying all the same, is there?

I went to the bustling streets of Orchard along with three more friends to soak in the Christmas atmosphere: (Photos courtesy of Kester with his digital camera, edited by yours truly.)

Inside the train

2 punky looking guys (Which one is yours truly?)

Beautiful Christmas tree in Ngee Ann City

The gang (Kester is the photographer)

Our camera man in the midst of a foam war

People were buying spray cans from the road side stalls and sprayed with abandon, innocent by-standers or not. I joined in, and armed myself. Too bad we forgot to take a picture in the after-math of the battle (we surrendered at around 12 am, and hurried to the train station to avoid the crowd crush for the last few trains back home. I looked like I just got out from the shower, neglecting to wash off the shampoo from my hair. Some of the strangers got beards, others multi-sported coloured streams.

The sporty attitude was in the air, skirmishes broke out with such randomness and swiftness, and ended just as fast, with strangers pretending that nothing has happened, the slippery ground being the only evidence of a foam battle having been fought there. I sprayed strangers in their backs as I passed them, and managed to confuse them (they couldn't have realised that sneaky me was the perpetrator.) [Insert evil laughter]

Merry Christmas everybody!

Saturday, December 18, 2004

Blog stats!

Here is the breakdown of my visitors for thse two days: (Courtesy of StatCounter)

Whatever happened to you BadAunt?

Once again, the majority of the visitors featured in my logs are Singaporeans. Am I so unappealing to the international audience?

Friday, December 17, 2004

Demise of a teacher

My PE teacher from my Junior College has passed away.

It is intriguing how life can come to such an unpredictable and abrupt end.

To all NYJCians, you can send your condolences at the link below:

There will also be a memorial service for Mr John Lim tomorrow:

Date: 18 December 2004

Time: 1800 hours

Venue: Nanyang Junior College

Details: Please wear white to the service, and bring along a white candle and flower.

Reflection of the real world - without the choice

National Service can be a stunningly accurate simulator of the real working world out there.

Yes, it took me this long to realise that. It happened while I was griping about the lack of benefits that others take for granted: not that I would have played soccer more frequently were I to be allowed to, it was a matter of principle.

I rationalised that being the best platoon that does the toughest work in the battalion, we must be accorded with corresponding advantages that should remain out of reach to others. Sounds reasonable? The sad reality does not even match the benefits others enjoy: while we scouts continue to go for training in the out-field, others stayed back in camp to conduct sleeping sessions in their bunks. Some even had the opportunity to go on off.

I was already starting to be-moan the situation when something inside took hold of me (sort of like the kind of feeling you get when "realisation smacks you upside in the head"). Isn't this the real world? Differing work loads, differing kick-backs, and hugely differing forms of treatment. I sat down next to my bed while the rest of the JC graduates in my bunk continued to rant against the unfairness bestowed upon their unfortunate self. For the first time, I understood the downgraders who left the platoon, the actions of men who hate their current situation, but are afraid to rock the boat. The sad thing was that short of breaking one's limb, there is no real way of changing vocations (this being national service, and already, this platoon is short of fit guys to go out there and die for the country). It would have been a terrible thing, if not for the fact that this is National Service.

As the word connotates, we are in the service of the nation: that means we give up personal comfort, insecurities and even our lives for the nation, and the differing amounts of sacrifice that we make is immaterial: we are all just doing our part for the country. So what if I suffer more than others in service? The nobility in such a sacrifice more than makes up for the discomfort of "not being able to play soccer". Already, scouts are recognised for the amount of tough work that they do, and isn't the jungle hat an affirmation of that fact? Perhaps some of us need to take a step back, and view things as they currently stand. Maybe we are being too selfish in demanding too much? As some have put it, "Ask not what the nation can do for you, but what you can do for the nation". That is what National Service is about. Let's not forget that.

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Support Company

Apparently, something seized me and made me start typing. So here's a feature on my own company, affectionately known as Support Company (SP Coy).

Support Company is made up of five different platoons, each with a different job scope from the other. The scouts do the spying for the battalion, the ATGM (Anti-tank guided missile) platoon jinxes enemy tanks, the Pioneer platoon opens routes for the rifle companies (which are the actual fighting forces) while setting traps for the enemy. Support bombardment is provided by the Mortar platoon straight from some cosy spot away from the enemy.

In this particular intake, SP Coy is made up of "A" level and polytechnic graduates, so any visitor to the company line can eavesdrop on the occasional argument on "George Bush" (he is a moron by the way), or the odd philosophical bout by a literature graduate.

Another unique point? We have many vehicles. Just how many? Enough to fill our quadrant of the parade square that we have no place to fall in, and resort to leeching space from the other companies. Jeeps, motorcycles, mortar trucks, tonners are just some of the vehicles that are now gracing the company line.

Violence is generally unheard of in the company. Being cultured people (ok, crudely cultured), we do not believe in violence as a solution to any disagreements. And that has led to a clean Last parade sheet every evening (where routines, duties, and punishments are read out). The few misunderstandings that occur are usually settled through talk. It is amazing how dynamic and spontaneous people are to changes when things are reasoned out, and laid down pat with "compensation".

So that is it with Support Company. I can't reveal more without running a risk of revealing confidential data, of which I am obliged to keep confidential. Of course, these kind of stuff is floating around everywhere on the Internet, so I am probably just trying to cover myself. If anybody is determined to find it, he can. But I suggest you do not try, or you will find yourself invited down to the Internal Security Department for a good chat...

Friday, December 10, 2004

One-Year Old NSF (National Service Full-time):

365 days ago this very day, I took an oath of allegience to the army, and was pushed into BMTC (Basic Military Training Centre) on the very infamous Pulau Tekong for the start of two-and-a-half years of military service. Stepping on board the ferry service was a hand-chilling experience (besides the fact that it was raining, and the air-conditioning was up full blast). As my parents sat beside me on the service, I casted a final wistful glance at the landform that was my 18 years of up-bringing as the ferry speeded across the choppy straits. Leaving it for three weeks of confinement beared tons of anxiety and anguish.

My first few weeks in BMTC as a PTP (Physical Training Phase) recruit was tough. There were plenty of physical activities to shake my sedentary body down to its very core, and even more military protocols to learn and follow. I had to address an officer as "Sir", and sergeants as sergeants, get punished for that speck of dust lurking in the hinge behind the bunk door, run or march each time we had to physically move. It was a tough change given that I had no prior experience in the uniformed groups when I was in secondary school. My close friends armed me with advice from rumours they heard: "Don't leave your bunk on Thursday nights no matter what they say, ok? I don't want you to be dismembered like the guy from Charlie.."

When I finally got home, it was alarming to see vehicles zipping past on the roads, where previously we would march on them on that isolated island.

Flash forward to March 2004. I graduated from BMTC armed with an IPPT (physical test for all servicemen) pass, and a SOC (Standard Obstacle Course) timing that qualified me for command schools. I chose to give up the opportunity to be a commander, and was posted to Lim Chu Kang (it IS on the mainland, but it is on the other side of the mainland) as a scout.

Driving course came and went. My vocation course came and went. Now standing on top of one year of training, I ask, "Where the hell is my promotion????" My friends from my BMT have been promoted long ago, and are receiving $20 more allowances than I do! Why the upset over $20? As NSFs, we are barred from doing other jobs during our service, and $20 is a substantial increase from the $500 we currently draw! I shall leave that issue at that (I don't want to turn this blog into a "complain thread").

Where was I? One year. Time seems to have flown past like a river. I went overseas to Brunei for overseas training, walked through swamps (and even slept one night in it), swam through real rivers with current (but without any line) in full combat gear, made my way through thick Bruneian vegetation. It sounds amazing how much I have done in this short period of time! (Meanwhile, my IPPT has gone from a pass to silver, in fact it is now nearly a gold standard). I have made lasting friends who go through the same challenges as I do. I have been exposed rather mercilessly to the politics of the real world in this tiny confines of the Army (remember I lost my identity card some time back?), and was treated to the positive, as well as the ugly side of human nature. It truly has been an eye-opener.

Would I do it again if National Service were optional? I would say...

(Here's a shout-out to all BMTC "N" (Ninja) and "T" (Taurus) companies, 45th PTP Enhanced BMT batch enlistees. Happy One year of Enlistment! One year and four more months till our service ends!)

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Frayed tempers - why don't we all get some sleep instead

It wasn't quite a week that appealed to my mental health - a week marked by continually changing standards, schedules, and even instructions. Last week, with plenty of administrative stuff left undone with three days till the turning ops parade (there were vehicles to draw from the central Motorised Transport Line, field pack standards to be checked and followed, action plan in the case of a real activation to be briefed), the whole company went on the usual business of physical activities. Area cleaning and inspection done in true military style, along with the obligatory push-up punishments for that dirty patch beneath the cupboards, lessons carried on with the usual slack pace - until somebody panicked. Instructions started to drip down in trickles, with such short deadlines we were forced to forgo sleep to accomplish it.

Maps had to be done, equipement to be de-rusted, and inspected for damage. By right, there should have been a more organised way of notification of all these tasks, not only to prepare everybody mentally for whatever would be coming, but to give them enough time to react without placing undue stress upon them. They didn't.

"Oh, the battalion HQ did not agree on the standards for the field pack, that is why you had to change the contents again."

"Instructions are coming in dribs and drabs - even we don't know what to expect next, please understand."
The first day of my marksman traning fell on the day of the battalion's turning ops parade, resulting in everybody painting their faces in the morning for the parade, and removing it hastily for a quick rush to the rifle range.

Tempers flared. I did break down - in fact, I used up quite a few pieces of paper just writing my frustrations down, and tearing them down till the very last piece before relegating them to the black bin near the staircase. From the contents of that bin, it is probably true that people do gorge themselves silly when they are stressed. Ironically, I don't see the other companies to be as busy as we were. Perhaps it is because Support Company is an unusual company with different support platoons doing different stuff; but there are just no excuses for mismanagement.
Anyway, now that the dust has settled some, everyone has put their attention back to training: it is as if we are not under Alert Red. I now carry a pager on me, so that I can get recalled back to camp in case of any national disaster. Communication has never been such a curse. Hopefully, as things get back to normal, people would get less tensed up. After all, it is bloody tiring to be angry at everybody at the same time.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

Safety compromise?

I probably would have been fired by now if I were in the writing business.

Where the hell is Pkchukiss?

Well, I've been really busy recently. My battalion is turning operational (that means we start doing the real stuff of protecting the country. If there is a threat, we'll be the ones to go out and neutralise it), and there are tons of stuff to do.

Among the mudane (and I feel it is silly) tasks we had to do was to standardise the items inside our fieldpacks. We had to place the items inside zip-lock bags which had to be modified (taped up) into tight fitting pockets for all the individual items. Personally, I have no idea what somebody in the middle of an operation would do with slippers, soap, towels, and admin shirt. But since it is for show, we had to do it anyway. Just the inspections took up much of our rest time.

To further compound matters, we had to complete our range (marksman training) simultaneously. A four day affair during which we had to spend the entire day and night at the range, we ended up sleeping at 2 am and waking up at 5.30 to complete yet another day of shootings. I even found myself looking for the helmet that I had put on, so I guess it probably is a bad idea to let us handle live rounds at this time.

I finished my shootings on Saturday, while some unfortunate firers had to go back today to re-shoot, either because they failed the final test, or they were eligible for the marksman award. Since there were still stores to clean and prepare, I couldn't go home until this afternoon. In fact, I am still very much deprived of sleep (Ironically, I did a experiment similar to this experience), and now is my book-in timing, so I can't type much right now. Hopefully, I can find some time to sort out this mess of a post (I think I've made so many grammatical and spelling mistakes, this post is completely incomprehensible...)

Here's to another busy week for me! Once again, I am not dead!

About Me

Read My blog at