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

Saturday, January 29, 2005

Criticisms, promotions, and people leaving - all in one week

Dealing with criticisms by people has never been an easy job. Even the most popular person can't help but bend to its negative powers, though temporarily.

I am not talking about myself, but rather another platoon mate. He is on the verge of downgrading his medical status. If it is successful, he will be posted out of the platoon. He has this foot problem bugging him for some time now, which always makes sure that he stays well behind the rest whenever we do runs or fast marches. (I won't reveal who he is, but his blog is in my links list.)

The trouble is, not only does he have to deal with the pain in the foot in the aftermath of the activity (in the heat, to quote BadAunt), he also has to bear the brunt of criticisms from some of the less understanding people. They heap much scorn, much of it due to jealousy borne because he is a designated driver, and does not join in missions, except as a ferry. So far I would say he is handling it pretty well (I broke down when something similar happened to me in secondary school), but judging from his sleep-shouting (usually rude words) I guess he is at his breaking point. So far he has threatened to get the downgrade letter and leave.

Deep down inside, I really hope that he would stay. Now I don't care if there is a logistics nightmare when he leaves, but I really liked him as a good friend. I didn't really talk to him (except for the night before we came back from Brunei), but he is a likable person. It would be real sad if he were to leave right now, especially after 9 months of weathering tough training together. Another person lost in the high drop out rate. So far, 8 have left since this platoon was formed. Now with this Friday my platoon commander's (PC) last day here (he's posting out), it might seem as if we were old men sending off our friends... I really hope that this is the result of a high-attrition job.

So far, I've tried to deflect some of the gossips (humans are at least compassionate enough to do it behind the subject's back), but the visual stimulation they get when they see him struggle with everything would always distance my words from their minds. Well, I can't do anything to stop them from gossipping (heck, I bet they also gossip about me behind my back), but I feel that there is a need for them to be a bit more kind in their words.

Before the PC left, he gave us a final talk. During the last day with him, he revealed the promotees slated for the next promotion. I was one of them. Not to draw a parallel with a rocket blasting off into the sky in excess of 11 km/hr, but the close vicinity of these two promotions make me wonder whether they could have done it only just once, instead of forcing me to sew on one rank, and then tear it off and sew on a new one just weeks after.

Anyway, his announcement propelled me to cloud nine (I was dazzled that I was going to be the forth corporal in the platoon of 16 troopers), but I landed with a thud. This high is artificially generated by the CO (Commanding Officer, essentially the boss of the whole battalion) who only wanted to promote people in select batches, instead of raising everyone in a one off parade, as was the norm. Once again, I silently cursed him.

I was a bit taken aback when Badaunt was shocked that I found 3 km a short distance to run in the sweltering tropical heat. Today, I present to everyone: I did a 8 km fast march without any rest breaks in between on Thursday, and managed to complete only 4 km of alternating between walking fast, and running like crazy before breaking ranks with the rest, and became a laggard. I finished the whole event limping on a cramp in my calves, with the fact that my platoon managing to finish before the rest of the battalion the sole comfort in my mind. To put it mildly, I was crushed that I couldn't keep up. The two other guys inside my section (section 2) also had trouble catching up. Is this it? The end of Section 2? I didn't want to relive the glory times, but we were the most outstanding section (not bragging) before we went to Brunei. Did we do something wrong? I doubt so. So were the other guys getting stronger faster the cause, or is section 2 just plain lousy? I am still trying to figure out.

Maybe I will go and sleep on it.

Sunday, January 23, 2005

Cobra Challenge training starts

The recent days seem hotter than usual, and my subjective body seems to be right (as usual). I could feel the dry breeze blasting in through my bunk door, and thoroughly dry our mouths - all while we are dozing off inside. It was particularly worse for me (the water buffalo), so I ended up taking frequent trips to the water cooler, which incidentally didn't have time to cool the water properly.

On Friday, we did a 5 km combat run, followed by static physical training. My body actually groaned when the memories of my failed 8 km route march nauseated my mind. The weather was very similar.

I lined up at the front, confident that I would soon need the help of my platoon mates to push me on. As I ran, I not only sweated, I actually rained on the ground in front of me. I only managed to last 3 km before faltering to the back of the whole group.

It made me kind of embarrassed to have to make them wait for me, but they did patiently. (Thank goodness they didn't try to fuss over me - that would have been devastating to me.)

And so I managed to struggle through this week's tough physical training. I was actually surprised my muscles didn't hurt like they used to when I was doing my Basic Military Training.

I seem to be attracting a lot of attention to myself recently. With the high (it was actually meant to be a non-event) profile promotion recently, I found myself in the limelight again when I got nominated to run in the Cobra Challenge.

Right now I am jumping around, unsure whether to bask directly inside the attention that is coming down in a torrent, or to hide (very much against the principles of the Leo in me).

It is sort of a conflict within me. Normally, the way I do things tend to attract people's attention to me. My firebrand style of bursting into the room, the lame jokes that I crack. Now that I've got unwanted attention, right now I just wished I could find a rock and hide inside it.

Anyway, I am still waiting for the whole excitement to die down before I start to seek attention once again. That's me.

[Background Information]

Cobra Challenge is a special endurance race held annually for all units under the 6th Division. Consisting of a 12 km run in combat attire, with rifle shooting mid-way, it is one of the toughest competition Singapore NSFs can go through.

Saturday, January 15, 2005

When a private becomes a Lance Corporal.

I found out that I was promoted.

It probably should be a good thing for me - except that promotion is a local promotion, and that I would not get any pay raise for that. Implications include me getting sabotaged for all those jobs I never would normally do before this promotion, not getting a pay raise (have I mentioned that yet?) and having to pay to sew the new rank on my uniforms.

Before I go deeper into the problem, I must add that I will eventually be promoted (yet again) to Corporal under the SAF system. That means this intermediate stage would mean that I would have to pay again in a few months time to remove this rank, and to sew on my final rank for my national service stint. This intermediate stage would have been eliminated, had it not been for this special policy on the part of my CO, who insisted on promoting a few people at a time based on "merit", instead of the usual practise of promoting all the enlistees to Corporal all at the same time. Given our status as enlistees, it would bring about problems, such as jealousy and cause the promotees to be the subject of arrows from above and below.

It all started when everybody was quite impressed with my performance. The peer appraisal was also favourable. The commanders were also pleased with my improvement (I got a silver in the physical proficiency test, and passed my Standard Obstacle Course on my first try.) Everybody thought I would be promoted to Corporal. I admit that I thought so myself initially. At this time, 2 slots for Corporal and 4 for Lance Corporals were open. Then came the bombshell that I was going to be promoted to Lance.

Frankly speaking, I wouldn't have minded this promotion but for the fact that I would not get additional cash reward along with this rank. Right now, I am still feeling the pinch over the amount of money I had to spend just sewing the rank onto my four sets of uniform ($20 out of $500 a month). Effectively, I am just another private with additional responsibilities.

I get people coming up to me with looks of jealous evident in their eyes. Some tell me that I am lucky to be promoted before all the rest. They are right. I am lucky to be promoted earlier. I just hate to be that lucky to miss the cash.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

My purpose.

Well, I am dis-inclined to talk about my less than perfect life (who is ever perfect?), however I seem to be somewhat dis-heartened nowadays.

Have I lost my direction, my purpose in life? On Friday, before I booked out of camp, we had a fast march competition with the full combat load humped on our backs. I did not manage to complete it.

Not with my full load anyway. My legs developed multiple cramps, while my back started to hurt very badly. That is, if I had ignored the multiple blisters that were forming rapidly around the soles of my foot.

Since it was a competition between sections, with the prize being early book out, everyone gave their all. I completed the first 4 km without much difficulty, yet I had hints of a sore back developing.

I knew I should have told somebody about it, but my pride seriously doesn't allow me to. My ambitions totally depended on my ability to finish that 8 km.

After the 10 minutes break, we set off at an even more hurried pace. This time, my feet reached their maximum stretching point, and I got hinits of a cramp developing. I pressed on, determined not to give up. With 1 km left to go, I lost my battle with the cramp, and my legs collapsed on the road in uncontrollable spasms.

The Sergeants came around to help me stretch both legs (which were very painful after). My section commander took my field pack and left me only my rifle to walk with. I was undeterred. I wanted to finish that 1 km myself. I pestered him, pleaded with him. He didn't let me.

So I limped back to the finishing line, last, and most important of all, without my sense of purpose.

I told myself (as the platoon sergeant and platoon commander came), I was a burden. Then I gave myself a mental slap. There is always another time for me to prove myself.

It turned out that I dehydrate faster than other people, and needed to drink more isotonic drinks. When we finally dismissed to go back to our bunks, I wanted to bring my own load back, at least affirm to myself that I could do that little bit in my current state. No. My team mates grabbed hold of my stuff and went up with it.

I cried.

This feeling is even more strengthened when I watched the Japanese anime series, Naruto (there were English subtitles). A boy filled with a sense of purpose...

I guess I take some time to recover from these set-backs, don't I? Right now, I couldn't have used this as an affirmation anymore. I needed something new. So now I am going to train as hard as before to get myself that Gold award for my physical test.

Even as of now, I am still wondering whether I am harbouring the correct direction towards my national service. If I were wrong about myself, I need Time to tell me.

Sunday, January 02, 2005

I love my blog

There are so many blogs that are online that I can't decide which ones to choose to read!

There are those who write solely about their own lives (maybe Badaunt will agree with me on this), some who love to write about other people's lives, and others who write philosphical stuff that I myself can't understand.

I still don't understand why I am blogging in the first place (Oh no, this person has lost his focus!), perhaps I might be able to find it once I get my usual box of ice-cream to nurse.

What a conflict in writing style, don't you think? I probably will make a mess out of my own blog with this capricious changing of my writing. I bet it probably confused you too. I remembered that I last made a decision to re-direct my blog to write more about my thoughts. It seemed that it isn't quite successful as I would have wanted it to be: I keep slipping into reporting my daily events! To make it worse, I write badly when I am sleepy, angry, or purly crazy!

I still remember the lessons from my English teachers: as with every piece of writing, make sure you are clear about your audience: what would attract them, captivate their attention, and force them into a spell such that they would happily lick up your words like a hungry man (ok, the description is a bit too much, I guess).

So here we go again, a new style of writing on this blog! What do you think?

Saturday, January 01, 2005

A New Year - A Renewed sense of hope

Following up hot on the heels of 2004 is a brand new year of potential.

While disaster struck late in that year, current efforts at aiding the victims of the tsunami and earthquake are proceeding in full force.

Businesses in Singapore have chipped in to aid relief efforts. Donating a percentage of a day's profit takings is a good gesture, though I would have preferred that they either donate all of the takings, or simply come up with an out-right donation. Advertising their products with a pledge to "give a percentage of takings to charity" certainly does benefit the needy, while at the same time en-riching the business when well-meaning donors flock to buy these items. Talk about taking advantage of a disaster!

Besides that, the high profile of the disaster in the local media has ignited a renewed sense of charity in the local populace. Never mind that they had already donated their fair share to charity - Singaporeans opened up their wallets once more to give - perhaps a small glimmer of hope of recovery for the victims in Indonesia, Phuket, Sri Lanka and India. Not only were people killed in the earthquake and its tsunami spawn, more were displaced from their beloved homes (treasured belongings destroyed, family members washed away to some other place). Epidemics threaten their very survival.

I am glad that the world has stepped up to the challenge of saving the people affected by this belated "Christmas Disaster", even though the sum raised so far is nothing compared to the amount spent in the New Year celebrations. At least some people have bothered to acknowledge that others are not as fortunate as them, and extend a helping hand to these people.

We are the world.

Death of Creative TV content in Singapore

A new year dawns upon the land.

A completely new slate fresh from the tree press and ready to be imprinted with stories. Words depicting tales of people, hardship, loyalty, leadership, tenacity.

As such, news from the old year spill over into the new year, episodes and un-paid debts make appearances to haunt the start of the new year.

At exactly 12:00 am 1 January 2005 (GMT +0800), Singapore mourns the passing of creative local TV with the merger of MediaWorks with MediaCorp. MediaWorks has always been a symbol of originality in the local broadcast scene, with plenty of new initiatives and shows that thoroughly entertained Singaporeans, young and old.

However, the vision of competition was mercilessly buried in the back seat as operating costs were held up as reasons for not sustaining MediaWorks, and inevitably, had to be forcibly merged. Artistes from MediaWorks would have to suffer the consequences of having betrayed their former (and future) employer (Since they were artistes who jumped ship from MediaCorp 4 years ago). Viewers would have to suffer the same old monotony of stale content again.

Thank you MediaWorks, for everything:

MediaWorks Logo
2000 - 2004

You can still view MediaWorks' website at The WayBack Machine

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