Thursday, December 15, 2005


Range Conducting Officer: "Control to Chamber 1."
Chamber Safety Officer: "Send."
Range Conducting Officer: "Did Lane One hit any target?"
Chamber Safety Officer: "Lane One. Did you hit any target?"
Assistant: "Maybe."
Chamber Safety Officer: "Did the target fall?"
Shooter: "Should have hit."
Chamber Safety Officer: "?????... Chamber to Control. Lane One may have hit the target."
Range Conducting Officer: "Control to CSO. The score I have is ZERO. Please confirm."
Chamber Safety Officer: "Roger. Lane One. Did you really hit the target."
Shooter: "Kua Bo. Not too sure."
Chamber Safety Officer: "Chamber to Control. Lane One cannot confirm."


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Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Podcast: the mrbrown show: The Famous Pianist

Servicemen with the following codewords are to report to their mobilisation centres immediately: "Foreign Talent, Famous Pianist, Service Defaulter, Small Fine, Cancelled Show..."


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Monday, December 05, 2005

In the end, we all lose

The news about Melvyn Tan, his $5,000 fine for evading NS, and the subsequent deferment of his performance struck a chord in me. I'm not sure if others here share my sentiments, but I'll try to articulate them in the hope that this post inspires more thoughtful comments.

First off, let me state that I'm particularly pleased that Melvyn managed to beat the system. Kudos to him, having made his mark on the world stage, and getting fined a paltry $5,000. This amount is made even more insignificant considering that the wage rate in UK is pretty high. Like Mr Wang, I'm happy for people who beat the system and get away. I'm also happy for guys who only serve 2 yrs NS instead of 2.5, and am pleased that the NS experience has improved significantly over time. In fact, I think all NSmen ought to be happy because a large part of NS consists of very unpleasant memories that many of the soldiers today don’t have to go through. Only a sadist would want to inflict the same experience on subsequent batches of troops.

However, the next thought I have is one of sadness. I recall meeting people who AWOLed in NS. AWOL is a particularly stupid act because not only do these clowns serve a jail term, they still have to finish serving their original NS liability as well. It's deplorable, but does a $5,000 fine on a renowned pianist do justice to the AWOLed soldier who serves several months in DB? Regardless of the mitigating factors in Melvyn’s case such as dropping his Singapore citizenship, his emotional pain, and the fact that he returned to be sentenced, I think the light sentence is an injustice to those who suffered much harsher penalties. It’s also an injustice to the common NS man like you and me, who dutifully served NS. Does it mean I want Melvyn jailed? Well, maybe, but at the same time my mind goes "What the hell for? Leave the man alone!". So why the apparent contradiction?

Singapore Classics has a fairly good post about this issue, and the thought I found particularly meaningful was that not many guys enjoyed their NS, hence they felt that the emotional pain they suffered during this period far outweighed a simple $5,000 fine. As a result, the more sadistic guys want Melvyn jailed while some others want the penalty raised. But should we focus on the penalty at all? I think not.

Would we care if someone defaulted on NS if our guys truly enjoyed the experience? Not at all, and I think a large part of the problem is that NS is not a sufficiently nurturing environment, thus making the common soldier believe that he is simply wasting his time. Other countries deal with this slightly differently. For instance, in Taiwan, people take pride in serving their version of NS, and although a number of their citizens are exempted from NS altogether due to issues such as overseas education, nobody complains as vocally as Singaporeans in this case.

Next, we need to examine the outcomes of the case to determine if the situation is being handled well. The Sunday Times reported that Melvyn is deferring his performances due to the trouble he has caused, and Mindef is going to review the penalties for evading NS. This is a lose-lose situation and I think Singaporeans are worse off because of these decisions.

In my opinion Melvyn is completely justified in deferring his performances. It would be a blot on his career if people protested outside the Esplanade or booed him during his performance just because of this case. Such senseless acts would do him no good, and thanks to the uproar caused, Melvyn has no choice but to defer his performance to a time when Singapore has things settled. I hope that he comes back when the issue has blown over, because I am personally convinced that he wishes to contribute to the music scene here in some way. However, the fact that he has been forced by circumstances to cancel his performance is truly saddening. Singaporeans and Melvyn himself are poorer because of his decision.

The second bit is about Mindef considering increasing the penalty for evading NS. For the uninitiated, Singaporean males who have not served NS and wish to leave for overseas education need to place a $75,000 banker's guarantee or 50% of the combined household income, whichever is higher. This is one point that is inconsistent with the $5,000 maximum penalty that was levied on Melvyn, hence the review. But as I mentioned earlier, these penalties are put in place because NS is such a pain to Singaporeans, not because evading NS is intrinsically wrong.

As such, I believe that the solution lies in improving the lives of soldiers in NS to a point that it becomes immaterial whether a penalty is imposed on a defaulter or not. What Mindef needs to do is address the grievances of Singaporean males who are serving or have served their NS instead of thinking of how to punish them when they go AWOL.

Much more should be done about the personal development of the soldier. Is the typical NSF ready to move on in life after ORD? Is the welfare of an NSF looked after? Are our reservists treated well? Do our soldiers feel motivated about NS? Until these questions are properly addressed, people will continue baying for blood whenever somebody gets a good deal or manages to beat the system.

For instance, there is still a fair bit of resentment regarding PES classification. I am still disheartened that the rugby captain and vice-captain in my secondary school were PES C while I was considered PES B although I perpetually failed my NAPFA test. "Why are our fit soldiers getting away?" I thought. Well, the fact is that regardless of what Mindef tells you, a significantly large proportion of NSmen think of NS as a liability and want out in the simplest way possible.

Some of my unpleasant memories include going through immediate recourse in BMT because I failed my IPPT even after PTP and Enhanced BMT. Other things I would rather forget include the reasons behind some of my weekend duties, such as failing to read the CRO at the end of the day, or just mucking up a little during duty or in the course of the day. However, ultimately there were still some good experiences in my 2.5 yr stint that I will remember for life.

I got to shake the hand of the Chief of Army for a Commendation Award for writing some COA Essay Writing Competition. I managed to pick up a military Class 2B licence although my parents were very unhappy that I volunteered for the course. I managed to visit Australia during my first outfield exercise (with reservists no less! how LOBO!) It was also in NS that I sorted out my attitude towards academics and decided to work a little harder when I got into university, so from personal experience I believe there are a number of positives in NS that everybody comes away with. I’m sure most, if not all NSmen will have positive memories as well – each with their own stories, except that they hide it very well because Singaporeans are excellent at complaining.

To make a long story short, launching personal attacks on Melvyn Tan or increasing the penalty for NS evasion does not get to the root of the problem. The root of the problem lies in the culture of NS. It is something that must be improved before NS becomes a positive experience – not one fraught with bittersweet memories of defaulter’s parades, punishments, and the loss of 12 (or fewer) years of public education to the often-brainless activities conducted in-camp.

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Friday, November 25, 2005

This blog is now listed on

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Thursday, November 24, 2005

"$5K can don't do NS"

Be world class pianist can pay $5000 siam NS and reservist, be world class penis can downgrade or not? Cheebye!!!!


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"Encik Tan has something to say"

Lim peh is fucking angry right now. Do you know why Lim Peh is fucking angry. Because of this guy call Melvyn Tan. This fucker, according to the newspaper, defaulted on his NS and he was only punished with a fine. A fine. Can you believe it? Just a fucking fine. Back in my time, when you want to try to play with the system, you better standby one big tub of jello 5-O to lubricate your ass because when the system fuck you up, it really fuck you up real hard. Dun play play eh.


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Wednesday, November 23, 2005

TODAY: Blog away, but be mindful of security

I got to out-Gonzo the "Gonzo" Journal in this week's column, even though I'd rather not have:

2311Vol030 MRemoved postings restored after storm in a teacup over writings on army life
THIS week, I received calls from concerned friends and relatives who wondered if I had gotten myself into trouble with the authorities because of — surprise, surprise — my blog.

Read more at TODAYonline

As you probably already know, I got myself in the middle of a debate over personal freedom and the need to protect Operational Security.

The Sunday Times had reported how three servicemen (myself included) were "warned" by the Ministry of Defence about the unauthorised posting of articles and pictures of our recent military exercise in Australia.

The reporter had called Mindef to ask if there was a policy about blogging and the posting of pictures about military life.

This set off a chain of events which led to my National Service (reservist) unit's commanding officer calling to tell me that there was some concern in Mindef over my blog posts and photographs, as well as those of other national servicemen.

Being a conscientious citizen-soldier, I took down all the posts on my blog as well as that on "Days Were The Those" ( — a collaborative blog I initiated which takes contributions of national service stories from the public — while the matter was looked into by my commanders.

There was no formal warning per se, but rather, a reminder from my commanders that while the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) encouraged people to talk about their national service experience, individuals had to be mindful of operational security — like the effectiveness of the SAF's weaponry — when doing so.

Not surprisingly however, the foreign press got wind of the story, and couched it in — how do I put this? — a different language.

The Sydney Morning Herald ( declared, "Singapore has barred servicemen from posting unauthorised accounts and pictures of military life on the Internet in a further tightening of restrictions on the growing blogging community here.

"The new rules … followed the conviction of two ethnic Chinese bloggers for posting anti-Muslim tirades deemed as threats to social harmony and political stability in the multi-racial city state."

I've since restored my blog posts, following consultation with my NS unit superiors, who, together with their superiors, agreed that while I should have asked for permission to post photographs first, there weren't problems with the posts about army life.

As you probably also know, military blogs are not new, and have been the focus of some attention, especially from American military officials.

If Vietnam was the first "television war", and the Gulf War from 1990-91 the first "live broadcast" war, then the current American involvement in Iraq has a high chance of being known in the annals as the "blogged war".

There are apparently several hundred military blogs in the United States alone, with military blog portal listing 451 sites by US personnel alone.

The popularity of military blogs has led to renewed debate and some concern over the free flow of and easy access to information online.

In August, US Army Chief of Staff, General Peter J Schoomaker, wrote a memo in which he pointed to the need to protect "Opsec" or operational security.

"Some soldiers continue to post sensitive information to Internet websites and blogs, for example, photos depicting weapon system vulnerabilities and tactics, techniques and procedures. Such Opsec violations needlessly place lives at risk and degrade the effectiveness of our operations," the memo read.

Writing "in real-time", as some analysts put it, raises the immediacy of the action, and probably for the first time, the "live" reporter is the soldier himself or herself.

Typical of such a blog is "A Soldier's Perspective" (, where you're likely to read about things that may have been already reported by traditional media, only from an actual participant's perspective.

So, how do the relevant military authorities deal with the proliferation of personal military blogs?

A call to Mindef's public relations branch revealed that the proper procedure is for a serviceman to follow the proper chain of command if he or she is unsure of the suitability of the matter to be published.

This applies to NSmen (reservists) as well as full-time service personnel.

Mr Miyagi aka Benjamin Lee has been entertaining readers at for over a year, and is still counting down the number of years he has left of National Service obligations.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Blogging about National Service is OK

Ex Wallaby 2005
As seen in the Sunday Times: Reservist photo! Oct 2005: Relaxing on the ramp. (Guess which one's Sgt Foreskin?)

How can one not talk about National Service, especially when it's a very large slice of one's life? Cannot right? I mean, cannot don't talk right?

Even if you paid $5,000.00 for skipping National Service altogether, you'll still want to talk about it, right?

'Eh, um, nah, give you $5,000.000, you don't call me for NS, ok? I'm not free'.

'Not free? Why?'

'Um, I playing piano in London, dowan to come back liao'.

'Nabeh! Next time terrorist attack, me and my NS unit don't protect you then you know! Chow Piano Player!'
And that's why the nice folks at MINDEF are saying that there's nothing wrong with blogging about National Service, and in fact, encourage people to talk about their experiences in the Army, Air Force and Navy. (Civil Defence and Police Force folk, your own pasal, I dunno... you come under a different Ministry).

They also said that they liked the fact that there were objective views from National Servicemen of all ages, instead of just from traditional channels, like that of MINDEF's publications. In these publications, you'll never hear of how the food sucked in camp or how a logistical stuff-up caused us to eat 'Combat Ration Muslim Menu 4 Spicy' for three days in a row, which does happen once in awhile.

The matter at issue when I took down all Army-related posts and pictures were actually just the pictures themselves. I didn't have authorisation or clearance from MINDEF to publish photographs. My own fault for assuming that because I had authorisation (given by my unit in 2004) to take the pictures during training, I had authorisation to post them on the web, which I had done so since 2004.

So, the 100+ Flickr photographs I had posted, some since 2004, were the ones that got me in this bit of strife. But not to worry, because the kind folk at MINDEF, maybe about two dozen of them, took a look at the pictures earlier in the week, and decided that there wasn't any security breach.

In any case, when I was alerted to the potential breach of security issue by my unit's commanding officer on Wednesday, I voluntarily took down all pictures and posts while the unit, the brigade and the division investigated.

Apparently, MINDEF was alerted on Tuesday to my photographs, some taken since 2004, by Straits Times correspondent Jeremy Au Yong's (Nabeh, thank you ah, friend - I've spoken to MINDEF and they'll extend your reservist until you're 55) call, asking them about their 'blogging policy' for NSmen.

Thursday morning was supposed to have been a quick trip to historical Selarang Barracks to return sensitive military equipment (tool, entrenching, steel, with cover, canvas, and stick, holding, tool, entrenching, steel, with cover, canvas, and jacket and pants, parka, all-weather, camouflaged, gore-tex, with cover, SSN12345678910 and SSN12345678911), but it turned out to be a very long morning meeting all manner of military officers who were there to investigate the matter and to reassure me that it was alright to talk about Army matters online. They also gave me a rough guide as to what could and could not be said, saying that they'd prefer NSmen to 'use their own discretion' when talking about Army matters.

So anyway, it's mostly cleared up now, and with most of Sunday spent answering SMSs and phone calls from concerned family and friends wondering if I had been detained at detention barracks, I'm now putting back up all my Army-related articles and photographs, with the exception of one or two pictures, of which I've been told, MINDEF would 'prefer' not be shown.

What kind of pictures, you may well ask? Pictures of military hardware are usually sensitive - especially the interior, because you don't want the enemy to see how MINDEF 'zhngs' our rides - as are pictures of injured servicemen - because you don't want the pictures to go public before the serviceman's family is informed of his injuries - but to be really sure before you share your photos with the public, check with MINDEF first. There are several ways you can do this. For mine, I've been told that I could check with the Army Information Centre (AIC) who'll check my pictures to see if they're ok.

As for any other form of information, common sense will tell you that if a matter is one that is the subject of an ongoing investigation, you shouldn't blog about it in detail.

So, go ahead, talk about your Army experience - how good it is, how stupid it is, what a waste of time it is - and continue contributing to Days Were The Those.

Slice of life: Feb 1990: It was Mr Miyagi that came up with the name for 'Attila' Combat Team, 46th Bn, Singapore Armoured Regiment; Nov 2005: Still in use, seven batches and sixteen years later.

Some things haven't changed. Relaxing on the ramp: August 1990

Friday, November 11, 2005

Beckham out of Vogue

Cpl Lee (formerly Pte Lee, now promoted ... the one who volunteered for a strip search at range) seems determined to supersede the escapades of the now infamous Pte Khor (read Adventures of Private Khor, The Finale and The Recrudescence).

As we brought our field plants (field plants consist of chainsaw, generator, etc) outfield to test to ensure they were all in working order, we happened to brought the handsaw along.

That was when Cpl Lee asked 2 of my friends (in the tonner):

"Hey, we need to bring down the handsaw to test or not ah?"

Cpl Lee tends to spend endless minutes every morning pushing his hair up, such that it stands and I'm not sure who he wishes to impress (?) So when my friend was joking as our CSM had made a previous joke that Beckham's mohawk hairstyle was not in fashion anymore, and my platoon sgt said we could always shave off his hair. To which Cpl Lee promptly tried to push his hair down! Haha, that really left me and my friend in stitches.

Again just yesterday, another friend was operating the bulldozer trying to level the area when Cpl Lee promptly asked him to stop, and took out a small branch that was in the way. It left my instructor shaking his head as well, baffled as the dozer could easily have cleared the vegetation away - something Cpl Lee "risked" his life to do something the dozer is specifically used for.

This has just been another chronicle of an uneventful week in Cpl Lee's life.

Original Post | Linus' Daily Antics

Tuesday, November 08, 2005


Ex Wallaby 2005: Mobile signal

Miracle: International roaming out in the bush makes for a happy armoured trooper. 3SG (NS) Gerard Tan (right) points troopers to the GSM signal.

It's been a different three weeks, a difficult three weeks. No internet, only intermittent mobile signals and long queues to the landline phones that allowed us to call home using discount phone cards. And that was just in base camp. Once we moved out, there was not much you could do to keep in touch with your loved ones, or to check soccer results.

When we were out in the field for the 10 days (out of 18) we were at Shoalwater Bay, Central Queensland, the optimistic among us took out our mobile phones to check for any semblance of a GSM signal.

Not much luck until one day, somewhere in the western sector of the middle of nowhere, 3SG Gerard Tan, Bravo Company 84mm Carl Gustav Recoilless Rifle Specialist, took out his mobile, turned it on, and yelled, 'Signal!'

This prompted a mad scramble, and I've never seen soldiers move so quickly, whipping out their phones and turning them on faster than they can reload their rifles.

'Don't have leh, where got?'

'Gort! Select manual network, choose Vodafone, it's the strongest, and you must face that direction and stand under that tree'.

Monday, November 07, 2005

SAF Online Real-time RPG User Manual

I. Features

1. The most popular online game with more than 30,000 players, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

2. Most stable connection (unless you KIA)
3. The most realistic and detailed maps. Users have the opportunity to unlock add-on Taiwan, Brunei, Australia, New Zealand special mission maps.
4. True 3D graphics with Dolby Surround sounds.
5. Most advanced battle fatigue and injury feedback system.
6. Wide range of mission modes to challenge player of all levels.
7. A large inventory of weapons and equipment to choose from.

II. Game-play

1. Totally random race assignment:

a) Air Force (Elves) – Dexterity +++
b) Infantry (Human) – Dual-weapon yielding capability
c) Commando (Barbarian) – Strength +++ (Berserk special skill)

Mystery race
d) White Horse - ??? (need special code)

System was known to be vulnerable to hackers on race assignment. Bug has been fixed with Patch 3.001a.

2. Tutorial Mode

Players are required to complete compulsory 3-month Tutorial Mode, upon which players gain familiarity with the game-play and menu options (none actually).

Players are leveled up and enter character assignment screen.

Characters include:
a) Medic (cleric) – healing ability (sorry, no resurrection spell)
b) Armour (knight) – mobility ++, armour ++
c) Guards (fighter) – strength ++

Selected players are sent to school of Sorcery:
e) Specialist: special spell “Knock it down”spell (Area Effective) – HP -3
f) Officers: special spell “Go sign 3” spell (single target) – morale - 10

3. Battle Mode

Numerous battle missions – sure to keep you up all night! Players gain experience point, and earn “Lao Jiao”badge when experience point > 100,000. Players also increase in rank and gain gold pieces to buy new equipments.
4. Objective

Accumulate enough experience point to unlock the ultimate artifact – the Tablet of Freedom (Pink IC).

III Warning

1. Players are required to remove weapons when logging out.
2. Players are required to log in on-time.
3. Game time are in-sync with real-time. Player may have the illusion that game time is substantially longer. This is a known issue and is not a bug of the game.

Got the idea from a post in a Taiwan game forum.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Surviving Meetings

*Recently edited for terrible typo errors. My apologies.*

What the heow kind of title is that!? I don't know how many of you have actually organised or supported stuff, but if you have you would know how inane and unavoidable meetings are. The number of meetings I've been to so far can be counted on one hand, but I notice a pattern all the time. Here's something that might be able to help.

1. High or low-level meeting?

Contrary to popular belief, how high-level the meeting is (the way I see it, anyway) is not determined by the rank of the highest-ranking member in the meeting, but by quite a few other factors as well. For instance, you should look at the highest level unit represented; even a meeting where G4 army is represented by a 2LT could be important.

Also, you should look at the number of different units that are attending. Generally, the larger the number of units attending (no matter how small each unit is), the more important the meeting. If you desperately need to skip a meeting, this is not the one.

2. Is your boss attending?

If your boss is attending, the dynamics change drastically. Let him do all the talking. Fill in for him if he asks you to, or if you deem really necessary, e.g. when he misses out an important point. If you need to interrupt regarding something less important, write it on paper and pass to him, or whisper it. Don't throw your boss any curveballs; if it is important but might shock the balls out of him, break it to him slowly. Of course, the ideal situation is to give him a full briefing before the meeting, but usually there would be no time for this. Remember; if your boss is present, your one and only job is to make him look good (you might need to take minutes too, but I can't help you there).

If your boss is not there, things are much more simple. Your job is to make sure your unit is represented, make decisions on its behalf and ensure it doesn't get screwed over (something that is almost guaranteed to happen to units that are not represented). If you (not you lah, your unit) are delegated a task, write it down and inform your boss ASAP after the meeting. If you are arrowed a task, say that you have to check with your boss (unless you are authorised to make a decision on the matter, then up to you lor). If you are asked for results/reports, submit them, or inform them when it will be submitted. Never push the responsibility away; you are representing your unit, and you are in no way to make it look bad. If its something that should be resolved within your unit, just nod your head and say it will be done. Settle it behind the scenes. Don't wash your dirty linen in public. Bitch about your colleagues over lunch, not at the meeting.

3. Routine or adhoc?

If it is a routine meeting, you probably should have advance notice. Prepare the data you need, present it at the meeting, bring up any AOB (any other business) you need to settle, end of meeting. Don't go off-track unless requested to by the chairman; the metting happens every month (usually), and people have work to do. If it is important, bring it up to the relevant people after the meeting, not on meeting time.

If it is an adhoc meeting, do your best to find out what the agenda for the meeting would be. If there is no clue whatsoever, try to get a list of attendees; their units and appointments would give you a good idea of what to expect. Also be sure to check out who is chairing the meeting, this would decide how important the meeting is.

Once done, prepare whatever data you can scrape together, then go with a notepad and pen. The data most likely would be insufficient, but at least it makes you look prepared. Lots of stuff will be discussed, take down the pertinent points. They will be published in the minutes, but your boss will appreciate you for giving advance notice (if you're attending, it's most likely on his behalf, right?).

When the meeting/discussion drops to a lull, quietly make conversation with the dudes on your left and right (you did make sure to sit beside people you know, or need to know, right?), bitch about the slow progress and common problems both of you face and whatever else there is to bitch about - nobody hates bitching (NOTE: If that person is a good friend of the Chairman or the person presenting, make sure you say something nice, don't be a dolt. This is for you to guage based on your judgment. Take very cautious steps whenever you talk about other people behind their backs. You have been warned). Networking helps immensely, even if it's just for another year-and-a-half. Consider it practice for the working world.

4. Agenda?

You have to know what will be discussed at the meeting, or you're just wasting your time. It is very tempting to avoid work by maintaining ignorance, but remember boys, knowledge is power. Keeping astute about happenings will save your ass one of these days. If you're really lucky, you might even save your boss' ass, and get a couple days off in return if he is slack enough. Repeat after me, saving your boss' ass is never a Bad Thing (TM).

It is advisable to have a To Do list drafted up after each meeting; it helps you keep track of the tasks arrowed delegated to you, which ones have been completed and which ones are in progress. This makes things easier at the meeting; just update them lor.

You should also meet your boss and fellow department colleagues shortly before the meeting to see if there is any business they want brought up at the meeting; if it is important enough they would attend personally, but sometimes things do crop up. Trust me, they would appreciate it.

Remember to update the relevant personnel on the meeting points ASAP after the meeting, don't keep them in the lurch until the last hour. It sucks to be the bringer of bad news, but it sucks even more to be the bringer of super-last-minute bad news.

5. AOB

It often happens that problems in your unit are beyond your control, and the solution you have in mind needs vetting by a higher authority. But keep in mind that your problem is not everyone else's problem (if it were, it would be in the agenda), so keep it distilled. No-one likes falling out of a meeting at 1830. Just note these points:

Gather data beforehand. After you bring up the problem, the next thing they would do is ask for numbers. Under-estab? How many guys you have? How many you supposed to have? Insufficient funds? How much you have, how much you need? Other problems? Show emails transpired, when was it sent? Any action taken? Don't go unprepared - you'd just be laughed at and told, "show me the stuff next meeting".

Be sure it is a real and unusual problem. Don't be laughed at for asking about routine problems. In other words, make sure you check with the SMEs (subject matter expert) in the respective formations and schools, before asking the committee. Dont' get laughed at for not knowing how to solve basic problems. When they ask you if you have checked with [insert Rank/Name of relevant SME], be sure to have a satisfactory reply ready.

Be clear about what you want. More importantly, want something. Don't just throw your problem to the committee and wash your hands off the matter. It is fine to suggest a solution from your point of view, then ask the rest what they think of the issue. Chances are, if enough units are affected by the same problem, it would be a bulleted point in next meeting's agenda. They would probably thank you for bringing it up (though this is not guaranteed due to political reasons).

Propose your solution for approval. If you're lucky, other members will discuss this (hopefully not over the next hour!), make refinements to your plan, and it gets approved. Maybe not immediately, but by the next meeting, or after that.

6. After the meeting

You did take down important points of information, right? Disseminate to the relevant personnel, preferably via email, and inform them whether the items are FYI (for your info), FYA (for your action) or FYNA (for your necessary action). Use more acronyms if it is your unit's SOP. The 3F tagging is to make thigns more convenient for others, and to save your ass (I did tell you it's FYNA, whaat).

You also did draft a To Do list, right? Not just for yourself; for your unit, dude. Write the task down, put the name/department responsible for the action to be taken, then put a checkbox next to it. Remember to include the dissemination of meeting points as a To Do as well. This is to remind you, and to save your ass at the next meeting (if you happen not to be the unit rep for the next one - read on for elaboration). Check back with your unit regularly (weekly is good) to see if the items are completed yet. If it is a multi-stage item, pen down the item's progress in a side note. Of course, tick your own checkbox once the points have been disseminated.

Now comes the important part: Check who is the next rep for the unit at the next meeting. If it is you, then things are simpler; just bring your Checklist along. If not, find out who the bugger is, and give him the list about 1-0.5 weeks in advance (not too early, or he can still shirk responsibility to you). Give him a quick briefing on the situation, the checklist will give him the details he needs. It is now his responsibility to update the list. You did remember to tick your checkbox, right? If not, when the chairman asks why so-and-so personnel was not informed, you'd wish you had remembered to wear your steel bum-plate.


How did I manage to glean so much from just 4 meetings? Just thank your lucky stars you're not a logistics 2LT. Oh, you are? Welcome to the family, dude, heheheh.

Friday, October 14, 2005

Comprehending Construction

After this week, I've truly learnt to appreciate the people that have constructed our country from scratch, be it our forefathers or the foreign and construction workers that continue to toil in the development of our country. As my sergeant put it aptly (in mandarin) - translated: If anyone looks down on bangladeshi workers, they would be pitting themselves against me.

Now I understand why it has taken the workers this long to construct a court of some sort at the open field downstairs. Having experienced the manual labour required to construct a simple platform for a land rover to park, its hard not to comprehend, the planning, effort and beads of perspiration taken for a construction of a shelter over our heads. Although current workers don't have to wear SBOs and rather heavy helmets to do the work we do, nor carry 50 kg bags of cement, under the sweltering heat, nothing is simple.

Therefore, the next time you should think about looking down on the foreign or construction worker, look at the shelter above your head and appreciate the effort taken. If not, then maybe you should slap yourself, look in the mirror, and try some manual construction work. Then, you would truly appreciate and like me, feel like saluting those that have toiled to construct our nation.

Original Post | Linus' Daily Antics

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The ambiguous callup

(Addendum: I decided to write down a specific action that the army clerk did. Scroll down below to read.)

Army training disrupts our civilian life, its a fact of life.
But to have silly disruptions because of unclear instructions, thats damn annoying.
I was recently called up for "IPPT Briefing", only to waste a whole afternoon driving to and back from my camp...
and u know how ulu most reservist camps are....

And its back to green. Posted by Picasa

Dear Army,

Yes, I know that you are involved in the highly revolutionary "paperless" system, so you no longer send out call-ups via letters. But a single SMS for me to remember a callup months ahead? I'm so glad of your immense trust in my memory.
Perhaps you can send a 2nd sms reminder when the date is near?

And you call me up, as noted, for an "IPPT Briefing".
There is nowhere on that electronic call-up that requested me to be ready for an IPPT test!
Hello? IPPT Briefing is very different from an IPPT test.
You know how stupid I feel when I turn up in camouflage uniform, only to find most of the people there dressed in PE attires.

and yes, I wasted an hour driving to and fro, because of your unclear instructions.

And please do let the guards know that you are making such a mistake in the future, because the poor guard has no idea what is an IPPT Briefing, and directed me to park my vehicle and sign in, only to be told by another person to drive ahead and park at the Parade Square.

I forgot to mention that my car is a Mitshibitsu Lancer, NOT an armoured vehicle. I have no idea how to park at the Parade Square when its surrounded by concertina wires. hey, even a tank's track can be damaged if it rushes into concertina barricade. To fulfil my role as an operational ready NSman, I promise I will include a wire-cutter set and gloves in my combat pack in the near future.

And if its not too troublesome, can u lower the humps on the roads in your camp!! for god's sake, not all civilian cars are as high as your army vehicles! but I am definitely not the first civilian car to scrap the hump, judging by the numerous deep cuts in the humps.

And I hate army clerks. You are already exempted from combat roles, do you mind respecting yourself and handle us with efficiency and proper service?
[Addendum] Yes, I know my NRIC card is "spoilt", the cracks are pretty obvious to any one, but thanks anyway for your value-added service in pointing that out. But I really think that you don't have to bend and flex my already-damaged NRIC in front of me to prove the point. And you have to state accurately that you hv nothing to do with the damage, WHILE flexing the card around. Don't worry, I am sure you have absolutely nothing to do with my cracked broken card.

So I spent a precious afternoon from work, and achieved nothing. Now I have to prepare for another IPPT "briefing" on my own, at another camp.

Yours readily,

So, I've decided to train hard for my coming IPPT. Maybe I should start with some weight lifting and short-distance running.

Preparing for the next IPPT Posted by Picasa

Monday, September 12, 2005

His NS Experience - 5 month BMT

Recent Runes' recollection of his Army days is worth a read:

I remember being herded into pens where we each took a number and waited our turn to collect what was to be our wardrobe for the next 2+ years. What was annoying was the stares that we received from the women and men there.

Lining up in railings and waiting in pens did not help.

Neither did the long wait. Here's a tip: Fat people cannot stand for long, and we cannot squat properly.


Sunday, August 21, 2005

Boot Polishing and the Army Culture

I was preparing a pair of leather shoes and my suite for possible events that would require formal dress code. I seldom wear that pair of leather shoes, so I air it for a day or two and “kiwi” it this afternoon to keep the leather supple. Took me about 15 min to “kiwi” and brush shine it. Well, it looked presentable to me – dirt-free, shining slightly. What matter to me is that the leather was a little hard and dry before the “kiwi-ing” and now it’s in a better condition.

I started to wonder if the pair of shoes will be of “acceptable” standard in the eyes of CSMs?

It’s been two years since I last polish a pair of shoes – in NS days, even if you don’t do your area cleaning daily, almost everyone will spend some time kiwi-ing their shoes for roll-call every morning. If you ask a soldier why he was issued two pairs of boots, he would tell you one pair is for you to wear for two years, and the other pair will be used only in parades.

I remember during ATEC our CO told us to bring extra pair of boots as spare, out of goodwill, because we have swamp walks and it’s more hygienic to change into a new pair after the mission. For most of us, the 2nd pair of boots is our most “gilat” parade boots – our pride of two years of NS – who would bear to wear it outfield for “hygiene”?

Kiwi-ing parade boots is symbolic of the Army culture – perhaps someone should do a survey of how much time a soldier spends on kiwiing his boots, over the 30+ years of NS. One should see a decline over the years and be relieved that the Army is cutting down on meaningless activities.

I know many of the senior batch people have nightmares polishing their boots. We heard instructors boasted about their standard last time – requiring them to melt the Kiwi to form a uniform later, or use kiwi + water + Kiwi + water + kiwi + water (repeat N times) for a few days until the leather boot gave a metallic shine.

I am glad that we don’t have such strict requirements for our parade boots and parade 4 in BMT. We were told to Kiwi our boots (brush shine will do) and iron our number 4 for parade – which I think is fair enough. Just as I thought SAF has evolved into a more efficient organization, I was disappointed when I was posted to School of Signals.

During my 6-week course there, there were 3 muster parades, and we had to book in early every time for uniform and boots inspection. Our instructors told us about the water + kiwi + water + kiwi method, and said that it’s been a tradition there to have high standard boots – he showed us his METALLIC shine boots with pride. (Damn it, I am really amazed how he did it – the pair of boots just looked METALLIC).

So, LL, suck thumb, I spent a few hours on Saturday at home polishing my boots using the water + kiwi + water + kiwi method. As it was a new pair of boots, it’s harder to get the shine coz it seems to take many layers of kiwi + water + kiwi + water to see the effect.

On the actual parade, the WSM (wing sergeant major) didn’t really catch anyone’s boots, nor did the chief instructor bother to. And I wonder if my sergeant was exaggerating when he told us about the strict requirement for parade boots. May be it was really strict during his times. I don’t know.

(On a side note, School of Signals was renamed Signal Institute for attaining some ISO standard… I sincerely hope it’s not for the standard of parade boots)


If you guys read the NS35 years book (a picture book commemorating 35 years of NS), there’s an interesting story long time ago where (then) PM LKY inspected one battalion and asked the soldier why there was a can of Kiwi in the field-pack – “why you all still need to polish your boots in war time?”. No one seemed to know why or dared to answer, until one young lieutenant told PM Lee it’s to keep the leather supple and water-proof.

Satisfied with the answer, LKY moved on and inspect the tonners. He asked the men why they kiwi the wheels.

For a while, no one answered.

Then that same lieutenant said, “that’s just for your show, sir!” LKY laughed.

Friday, August 19, 2005

Through the eyes of a (former) maggot...

T'was the middle of the month of June,
Came in 200 flaccid and pot-bellied poly stuns,
Nerdy and pale totally unfit and untrained,
Scared like puppies they were absolutely restrained.

They have heard frightful horror stories,
Of suffering and crying recruits oh so scary,
Till they learnt of the company they're posted to,
Many wished that it was never true.

The instructors looked intimidating and damned,
Shouted at them in their first few hours in camp,
"Move it before I bust your ass"!
Rantings and screamings for hours it would last.

And soon enough they begin to learn,
How to get fitter how to not to yearn,
We trained them hard but no without a cause,
As tough as steel to last through the course.

Field camp came and field camp went,
7 days of hell they thought it would never end,
Leopard crawls as bashas fall,
Misery and suffering was all they could recall.

Technical packages was such a chore,
Back to study again oh what a bore,
Then again no one ever throws a grenade,
Without knowing its do's and don'ts in a snap.

Now its time for them to rest,
Major events were a thing of the past,
Marching in company level soon began,
Rehearsals for parades how exciting it went.

19 more days to POP!
Overjoyed and too happy,
But indeed no one leaves the company,
Without a tinge of soulful longing.

An evening reminiscent of my days as a recruit,
Remembering the events no matter happy or crude,
Definitely made me stop and ponder,
How's my buddies or my past instrcutors?

Now I see from a different light,
Still dealing with recruits I cannot hide,
But when the urge to kill comes up to mind,
Days of suffering would be the bind.

One batch came one batch went,
Soon it will be my time to wend,
Trained 3 batches of maggots yes I did,
And 3 more batches till I'm ORD-ed!!!

I can't wait to resume my life.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Tanning @ the Padang

Once again, we've taken on a new role for the next two weeks - sun tanning at the Padang. Well, seriously as my CO (commanding officer) puts it (as he spoke to us today), we are construction workers. Yeah, we are the ones to do all the manual labour as my battalion dismantle the stands. We are on a pretty tight schedule as well, with the army half marathon in about 4 weeks, thus for the 2 weeks we are working, we have to work like mondays to saturdays (football nights!)

Our CO came today due to an accident to one of my platoon-mate yesterday, though I'm not at liberty to disclose what happened as its supposed to be a hush-hush incident, what I can say is at the moment the stands aren't as stable as they were 1 week ago.

Disgusted people wearing our vest slacks through Raffles City, you could tell by some of their disgusted looks. However, I can't really be bothered about how people perceive us anymore, not when you are in the sweltering heat and all you want is a brief washup in a clean (and not mobile!) toilet. Besides, no one gives a damn whatever we are doing for our nation.

The upside of this though, it means I can stay out everyday (other than the transport fees which we can forget about claiming when in green), go out with the missus more often, actually not book in for almost 3 weeks, and most of all - nothing beats being able to sleep in the comforts of your own home. Seriously even if you were to ask me to do all the hard, manual labour for the remainding one year or so of my army life whilst allowing me to stay out, I wouldn't mind. Yes, I certainly feel brighter not having to be in camp.
Once again, we've taken on a new role for the next two weeks - sun tanning at the Padang. Well, seriously as my CO (commanding officer) puts it (as he spoke to us today), we are construction workers. Yeah, we are the ones to do all the manual labour as my battalion dismantle the stands. We are on a pretty tight schedule as well, with the army half marathon in about 4 weeks, thus for the 2 weeks we are working, we have to work like mondays to saturdays (football nights!)

Our CO came today due to an accident to one of my platoon-mate yesterday, though I'm not at liberty to disclose what happened as its supposed to be a hush-hush incident, what I can say is at the moment the stands aren't as stable as they were 1 week ago.

Disgusted people wearing our vest slacks through Raffles City, you could tell by some of their disgusted looks. However, I can't really be bothered about how people perceive us anymore, not when you are in the sweltering heat and all you want is a brief washup in a clean (and not mobile!) toilet. Besides, no one gives a damn whatever we are doing for our nation.

We have Tricon sponsoring our meals everyday, leaving the Padang guards closed to being super sick having eaten it for the past 2 months (well about once every three days). However, I foresee myself growing sick of it too eventually and probably abstaining from KFC/Pizza Hut for the subsequent 2 to 3 months after.

The upside of this though, it means I can stay out everyday (other than the transport fees which we can forget about claiming when in green), go out with the missus more often, actually not book in for almost 3 weeks, and most of all - nothing beats being able to sleep in the comforts of your own home. Seriously even if you were to ask me to do all the hard, manual labour for the remainding one year or so of my army life whilst allowing me to stay out, I wouldn't mind. Yes, I certainly feel brighter not having to be in camp.

My auntie upon seeing me today ... (thinking she was going to commend on my red lobster imitation):

"How come some parts of your face red and the rest not red?"

Myself "..."

Whilst walking with Pte Lee today, got reminded of something he wasn't really proud of when we 1st went back to camp from our course. We had a parade at that time so he wanted to shave his sideburns, but somehow or rather he shaved it all away right up to his forehead level! Haha the whole platoon were laughing their head off at that time and eventually he managed to salvage the situation after the parade by going to shave the rest out evenly.

Isit strange seeing a guy in uniform holding a stalk of sunflower walking through the City Link mall? Seems to be, apparently from some weird stares I got and as Pte Lee was saying, 2 gals who passed by us were mentioning something about "Sunflowers". Wouldn't happen in Europe would it?

Whilst walking with Pte Lee today, got reminded of something he wasn't really proud of when we 1st went back to camp from our course. We had a parade at that time so he wanted to shave his sideburns, but somehow or rather he shaved it all away right up to his forehead level! Haha the whole platoon were laughing their head off at that time and eventually he managed to salvage the situation after the parade by going to shave the rest out evenly.

Isit strange seeing a guy in uniform holding a stalk of sunflower walking through the City Link mall? Seems to be, apparently from some weird stares I got and as Pte Lee was saying, 2 gals who passed by us were mentioning something about "Sunflowers". Wouldn't happen in Europe would it?

Original Post | Linus' Daily Antics

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Mass Euphoria

Yep, the subject probably summed up the atmoshphere at the Padang and the surrounding areas, the National Day Parade not only got the audience in delirium, but definitely the onlookers all around from Marina Square to the Esplanade. To say there was pandemonium at the Esplanade would be a massive understatement, anyone who was in the area would certainly attest to that.

I was manning the underpass leading up to the Esplanade and giving directions and it got pretty hectic as it got closer, at one point of time I was literally surrounded by people asking for information. Well, fortunately for most who were asking questions about where to go to see this and that, I was probably one of the few who knew what happened, at what time, and at where. It was also probably because I was busy answering and slowly explaining to them where to see what, that I ended up being surrounded! Of course, I got the ludicrous questions like "Where is the Padang" not once but thrice. Pte Khor, you are not alone.

As the audience had mostly settled in, I was hoping to get the go-ahead from my officer to leave the area, for people were exiting from the underpass at a massive rate. As the sun set, more and more people set on the Esplanade and Marina Square.

There were throngs of people in the Esplanade, so much so that they had to setup barriers to seperate people going in and out and the shops at the Esplanade would definitely never see another night of such thriving business.

Helping out ensure that people did not try to illegally cross Raffles Avenue proved to be a headache, some clowns didn't heed our advice at all and persisted in crossing, moving further down before jumping over the barricades and orange netting. Some kids even went as far as lying on the road to take photos. I mean, its not as if I want to stop people from jaywalking, but if anyone were to get hurt, who would have to heed responsibility? That's us of course.

It got to a point where our officer decided to call us all away from the barricades. He then told the police there, "No one is allowed to cross the road [unless at the traffic lights], you are welcome to arrest anyone who flouts the rule." The police sure then put his words to action, and when someone didn't stop when asked to do so, one of the policeman took his baton out and wrestled the guy to the floor. Splendid.

What is undeniable at the end of the day is that Singaporeans are definitely still fervant about the National Day Parade, and for every one Singaporean that doesn't show an interest, there is another that is all ready to lap up the party, and for every one person who wants to sell their ticket, there are ten more ready to snap them up.

Original Post | Linus' Daily Antics

Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Borders of Lunacy

This was something interesting I forgot to post about during my last Padang guard duty. I was doing duty with this malay guy and as we were heading back to City Hall at night, a lady approached him and started talking to him as if she knew him. Since the topics involved the PAP, the Lee family and then Allah, I thought she was some sort of Christian preacher and thus kept my distance whilst trying to get him to move away. However, the lady was persistent and as we headed back, she followed.

Then, she started asking me questions like my name and stuff. I tried increasing my pace but she trailed us all the way to the entrance of City Hall. There, she probably revealed her true motive - asking if we would be around on National Day itself. Figuring she wanted to smuggle her way in or something during NDP itself, I told her I would be doing guard duty back in camp (which was true at that point of time) and left it at that thinking that would be the end of it. Then, she started asking if it would be the last time she was going to see us. Having told her it probably would, she asked me for my number and when I refused to give it to her, she was like "do you miss me already".

Alright, it was getting freaky, I had deduced she was either a christian preacher or someone who just wanted to smuggle in on National Day itself. What she said bordered on lunacy and I wasn't going to hang around much. Despite my "reputation" as an Auntie Killer, this was like too much to stomach. Damn pretty pathetic ain't it, no pretty gal comes up to me asking for my number and instead I get a zany lady coming up.

My weekend got burnt for the 2nd week in a row, due to some people who I don't wish to elaborate on, if not it might antagonize me even more. All I can say was that it pissed me off so much that I did something you could classify as insubordination.

There are a few interesting guys in my platoon I would like to share about. Of course, as many others, we have christen them with unique names.

Mr. Chou Chou (a.k.a Mr. Smelly)

For starters, he does resemble a pig (alright I'm being a little mean here but his behaviour certainly reminds me of one). He was thus dubbed chou chou by one of my platoon-mates for a real simple reason. Guess how he distinguishes his clothings from the rest on the rack outside? (I do so by my hanger). No, Mr. Chou Chou does so with the unconventional method of sniffing his clothes out. Yep, you heard it right, he sniffs through all the clothes to identify his distinct body odour.

Something hilarious about him that isn't exactly all that smelly, we were doing guard duty and he happened to be on sentry duty. Myself and 2 other friends were on desk duty. The gate was closed and a tonner happened to approach so Mr. Chou Chou was heard over the TRS ...

"Gate ... Gate ... Gate"

Hahaha I seriously had no idea why he was saying that as if a bomb truck was approaching but it certainly had us in stitches. Another time and the same thing happened. Finally, a 3rd time and we heard an encoded message which we deciphered and deduced it should have been "Gate ... Gate ... Gate"

However, all we heard was actually:

"zzzz ... zzzz ... zzzz" (muffled reception)

Mr. Guai Guai (a.k.a Mr. Think-Out-Of-The-Box a.k.a Mr. Lazy)

Well, let me declare that he is nowhere lazy, but simply cos' his initials read L Z Y so one of my friends decided to dub him that. He is the Pte Lee I've mentioned before, and the infamous one who volunteered for the stripsearch.

Haha, the thing is that sometimes he takes double time to think and he himself said that he could think out of the box. One of the examples he quoted us? That if we took one piece from the mastermind box, he could determine what colour it was, of which he picked 4 colours and said it was one of the four. Really out of the box thinking.

Original Post | Linus' Daily Antics

Friday, August 05, 2005

army food

Before i enlisted into the army, my impression of army food was that it is very healthy with nothing fried. How wrong i was.

I ate at the school 2 cookhouse. The food there is catered by NTUC. It tasted more like poison. I still remember the time I had porridge for breakfast. A spoonful of porridge tasted more like a spoonful of salt. But the only meal worth waiting for was lunch on Mondays. There was never anything better than eating a piece of fried chicken with rice, peas and carrots and a piece of corn. So much for cooking healthy food.

Although I was excused from going for field camp, I still had to eat the rations. That tasted just as worse as the cookhouse food. The dumpling rice is not fit for human consumption. The only nice field ration to eat is pasta. I find it nice and creamy. Also for the fact that I actually know what I'm eating makes the whole meal more enjoyable.

I remember after I finished BMT, I received my first issue of the Pioneer magazine. Ironically, the cover story was about army food. It couldn't have been more biased. The profiled the food served at BMTC (ironically the school 2 cookhouse) and my platoon mate was interviewed! He actually said the food was good. I wonder if that was said under duress.

After BMT finished, I was posted to Ayer Rajah Camp. The food at the cookhouse is catered by SFI and for me the food tasted much better. Compared to food cooked by NTUC, I find that the food cooked by SFI is more edible.

Earlier this year I was attached to Paya Lebar Airbase for a week. Lunch was catered by SFI and was laid out buffet style. It was absolutely marvelous. That was probably the first and only time I ever enjoyed eating army food. The food was so nice and hot and it wasn't falling apart like in tekong.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Thankless Tasks

Burnt my saturday and sunday and half of my monday, and rewarded with just about 1.5 days off, how nice once again, and at the same time meaning I missed my auntie's birthday celebrations. Really, I'm now an extremely disgruntled soldier, for all the effort and work we put in is simply going unappreciated and unrecognised. There are plenty of servicemen taking part in the national day parade, well some have it easy, sitting by the pavement as a marshall for the performers. Whereas, unlucky souls like myself man the roads, carry and put up barricades, put up with tirades by the public and more.

That is only the saturday bit of doing the national day parade, I play the reserve for the Padang guards, so whenever someone decides he wants to have a longer weekend, he takes a MC and my sunday sleep gets disrupted to rush down to the Padang. Having done ticketing calls and more, we also help out in packing and loading/unloading of funpacks up into containers. Sounds easy? Try carrying 10 funpacks at one go (approx. 30kg) and then up the container. Still pretty simple it seems, how about getting about 20 men to load up 10,000 or so packs a day.
Why pay people to pack and do the dirty work when we have NSF to do the job as cheap labour. Yeah fine, but to work us about 12 hours a day doing this kinda work? Precisely why I say its thankless because no one appreciates the work we put in. Kinda explains why you find some of the stuff in your funpack smashed. Yeah, go complain whatsoever, we don't really give a damn anymore.

However, we might be CHEAP labour, but when you get primary kids to come do some work, that really is called FREE labour. Yes, apparently the NEWater labels had some error so they got some primary school kids to come over and change the labels. Seeing the small fragile boys drag a bag of NEWater really left me pondering, how did their parents actually agree to signing the consent form to get them to help out? Doing their bit for the nation? Oh, spare me that crap.
Do you know why we will always get complains from the public? Simply cos' we are following orders, and this stems from the officers at the top themselves never coming down to the ground, so they never know what goes on exactly.

Note on Pte Khor
Pte Khor must really like me, well according to his partner. Apparently, Pte Khor is always raving about how good I am, and I guess since he didn't sneeze, cough and fart in my face (as he does to his current partner), I'm very much appreciated ... I guess.

Full of Shit
Everyone around seems to be loaded with shit recently - literally. Enroute to the Padang on sunday morning in the MRT, I was about to disembark with everyone @ City Hall when someone had left a memento before he left, he or she had farted! How nice then, when we were playing cards in one of the rooms whilst waiting to leave, Pte Khor also joined in and let ripped with a gas bomb of his own. It was really a stinker and despite opening the windows the smell still lingered.

It must be precisely because of people like Pte Khor who leave stinkers around. Whilst taking a bus to Bishan, some boys also left their mark with their own bombs. What isit these days with all that additional pollution?

Road Measurements
Whilst staying over to close the roads in the wee hours of Saturday morning, one of my platoon mates decided it was safe to jaywalk across the junction to 7-Eleven. Except, he didn't expect to run straight into a sergeant major from another company, who gave him 2 options - either he would have reported him to our sergeant major, or he went back to where he came from, and crossed the junction properly via the traffic crossing. So there he was, going one round around the junction, to an amazement of a tourist nearby, probably thinking soldiers have a new job - taking road measurements.

Original Post | Linus' Daily Antics

Monday, August 01, 2005

PES E people

having been a storeman during my NS days (I just ORDed in April) the one annoying thing I had to face day in day out was the fact that I was the only 'functioning' storeman most of the time. Most of the other storemen were absolutely lazy. Not to mention the fact that they were mostly PES E. What I don't about PES E NSF's is that when they are posted to their unit's, they don't have a clue about what the army is all about. Especially the less educated.

During my last 6 months of service, I was unfortunate (and very reluctant) to be 'given' an understudy by my incompetant RQ. This understudy (let's call him Dick) was totally useless and extremely lazy. He always slept in the store during office hours, sometimes when the door was wide open. Now, in my camp it was normal practice to smoke in the store. And as soon as Dick came to my store, he was happily smoking away. He even encouraged people who were newly posted to smoke.

Gradually he started showing his true colours. He constantly came late, even for his orderly duties. He was orderly on Christmas Day last year and turned up over an hour late. Once when he came late, he was reprimanded by my CSM. Not happy with that, he just gave the CSM a good stare. That wasn't the first time he did that. Whenever he was scolded, he always showed a lot of body language. The only thing that disappointed me was that he didn't get charged for that.

But there is a happy ending to this story. I was talking to a colleague a few weeks ago and found out that Dick had been charged. The story goes that he said that he wanted to go to the medical centre. But he never went and spent the whole day sleeping in one of the ops stores (they are not always opened up). When they couldn't contact him, they call everywhere including the medical centre who said he never came. So at the end of the day, all the stores were opened and they found him. He was charged and went in for 10 days. It just amazes me how dumb some people can be.

Saturday, July 30, 2005

I verily swear, I have, in one of my rare "Eureka!" moments, found the answer to the SAF's labour problems.
CIP-hour-hungry secondary schoolkids.

Imagine - they do menial work for us (compile reports, help conduct checks on equipment). We give them hours to top up their CIP. We involve them with community work (military defefence work benefits all leh), we get more things done, we see less flag day cans out there on the streets in the hands of bored-to-death teenagers. And they get their hours, and their CCA points. And they get a glimpse of life beyond BMT, a look at NS life behind-the-Carnival@Marina.

There are more deathly options available, of course. How about job attachment programmes? Experience the life of a clerk in manpower branch. Or a transport supervisor. Or an ops specialist. Or ordinary chiong-sua PS. Imagine, a chance to see life in the army even before you enlist. (And also to see how much menial sai-kang one can possibly handle). Brrr - you can hear the students shivering with excitement now.

If at all possible we should make this a compulsory programme (NS hours + CIP hours?), or increase the CIP hours requirement to a point where they have no choice but to come ;-) Singapore population is decreasing, mah. All you young-uns, time to do your national duty!

I can hear knives sharpening in the background already ^_^; but you have to admit, it is a pretty good idea...

Thursday, July 21, 2005

The Recrudescence

As the reserve for the Padang guards, I never expected to be called back into action ever again after my officer allowed them to stay out and not return to camp till after NDP - effectively meaning you work 1 day and get 2 days off. So it was to my astonishment when in the midst of a lunchbreak whilst packing the NDP funpacks, my sergeant called me over and said that one of my friend couldn't be contacted, and I was to pack my stuff and head down to the Padang immediately.

Apparently, the duty times had changed from 12 - 12 and my friend who was supposed to report at 11 am didn't turn up and 2 hours of incessant calling turned up fruitless. He did call eventually about 5 hours later, overslept and in a blur about what to do, so I told him the best option was to report sick and to claim he had taken medicine. I know not the best advice to give, but at least it saved his skin.

I had mentioned slightly under a month back that I hoped I would never see Pte Khor again, (though my friends did jokingly mention he did ask after me) and I really did think I would never see him again, but alas as fate would have it, I would run into him again ... and guess what was the first thing he said to me as I stumbled into the room ...

"Hey friend! Wah how come you come back liao ... hey join my detail leh ..."

Myself - stunned in momentary silence, trying to compose myself ...

"Erm no thanks ... "

Then as with little warning he was in there as I entered, I left the room abruptly, preferring to hide in the next room. Its not like I'm trying to be mean or what, but as you should know from my previous entries, I just can't stand him, and some of his antics hasn't exactly pandered him to everyone around him.

Apparently one night he decided to take a nap on the grandstands and his partner left him there, and called the other 2 guards to have a laugh at him. He intelligently dropped his mobile whilst napping, and suddenly back at the ops room, unwittingly confessed to his crime in front of the BOS (1st sergeant on duty with the group)

"Alamak I lost my handphone, must be dropped while I was sleeping"

Spilt right in front of the 1SG no less, he escaped with a chiding for dozing on the job, and subsequently returned to pick up his mobile.

The duty wasn't as frustrating as it was with Pte Khor, and went by without event, though as we left City Hall, his 3 friends stood by and watched as we were coming out ... to see Pte Khor carrying the rubbish bag, ensuring the security guard didn't see him, before dumping the rubbish into the Supreme Court dump. It certainly gives a whole new meaning to taking the mickey.

Linus' Daily Antics |
Original Post

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Equidistant of Emotions

The day started on a hilarious note, once again with my platoon-mate (yes the one who volunteered for a strip search at range, and slightly smarter than Private Khor (read Adventures of Private Khor & The Finale). Hmm, maybe I should give him a name - alright Private Lee it is.

Pte Lee: "Hey, you know today got JC students coming leh ..."
Moi: "Isit ... where?"
Pte Lee: "There the alpha recruits were carrying the signboards, CHIJ Toa Payoh, St. Michaels ..."
(BTW for the record, the erm signboards he were referring to were actually for the primary schools)
Sometimes I really don't know whether to laugh or cry.

The grave difference between the police and the army - police get ice mountain mineral water to drink, we get NEWater.

I'm always perplexed as to how my dad can put in so much effort and be engrossed in his work despite not getting the just rewards, and I fear some genetic inheritance might have set in along the years. Though I'm far from close to his dilligent attitude, I sometimes berate myself at getting "bullied" (just like my dad! ) - getting scorched in the blazing afternoon sun in the process whilst others hide in the shade (and getting sun burnt technically - my skin is reminiscent of my POP rehearsals ... oh but my former PC had it worst - his face was BLACK - literally ). Then, after the mobile column left, suddenly all the other 4 disappeared without a trace, leaving me alone there to man the area.

I've said before I'm not the most hardworking person you would find around, but I find it hard to dispense of all responsibilities and leave someone or no one alone to do all the work - maybe its an in-born or a generic trait, but perhaps something I should get accustomed to.

BTW the president made an inconspicuous entry to the Esplanade for a show at about 7.25 pm, oblivious to the surrounding crowds as all eyes were up to the skies looking at the aerial prowess of the Air Force. Just in case you were interested as my friend asked me today, yes the president has bodyguards everywhere he goes, coupled with ammunition. Well, they did join in my cousin's wedding when the president attended ... oh did I mention my cousin-in-law even made the president wait as they arrived late?

Linus' Daily Antics | Original Post

Thursday, June 30, 2005

Dark and stormy nights

It was a dark and stormy night[1].
This is rated the worst opening line in the history of English Literature for some reason.
By some coincidental quirk, ‘It was a dark and stormy night’ figured large during NSF[2] days and even now during NS ICT[3].
With hundreds of items of military equipment that each soldier was responsible for, from his bootlaces up to his night vision goggles, it was inevitable that the rough and tumble of combat training would render at least some of the equipment damaged or inoperable.
In the event that this happened (quite often), that particular soldier was accountable for the damage/loss, and this accountability entailed writing a detailed report of how the damage/loss occurred. As you can imagine, many incidences of loss/damage would be discovered a while after it actually happened. (E.g. you don’t realize something is lost until you want to use it). And very often, the soldier would have no idea when or how he lost or damaged that piece of equipment.
Nevertheless, a report or a statement, as the army loves to call it, had to be written. And all the statements I have read have begun with, “It was a dark and stormy night”.
“It was a dark and stormy night, and my company[4] (‘A’ Coy) was conducting combat team block and delay exercise in Area D at around 0200hrs on 010290. We contacted[5] enemy elements at around 0230hrs and had to perform hasty retreat. My platoon[6] (Pl2) encountered thick vegetation which we had to bash through in order to escape enemy, and it was then that the cover of my sharpshooter scope broke off my rifle. I discovered it missing a few hours later during re-org[7], and backtracked to try to find the cover, but in vain.”
Dark and stormy nights, thick vegetation and rapid movement are the invariable ingredients of all statements, owing to the need to illustrate the earnestness but ultimately the futility of the required search for the lost item.
These statements, handwritten and up to 8 carbon copies depending on the type of equipment (optics, signals[8] and armoury being the most severe), are then handed up to the immediate superior soldier, and then depending on the severity of the loss (night vision goggles lost equals official board of inquiry, or BOI), the damage/loss would either be written off, or the soldier responsible made to compensate monetarily or be punished militarily (anything from extra duty to detention[9]).
Being low-ranking combat troopers that we were, it wasn’t uncommon for blame to be placed on some of us by our superiors for the loss or damage of equipment. One of my favourite statements (I read many, because one of my many duties included being the armskote[10] in-charge) was about the loss of a tiny spring from the inside of a GPMG[11], which couldn’t possibly be misplaced unless the GPMG was disassembled, and even then, very diligent care had to be taken during the disassembly of weapons.
Anyway, the little spring was lost, and the battalion armourer[12] was consulted as to the official name of the spring, so that the statement could be written.
A story had to be made up and by a careless trooper, on whom blame had to be placed.
That soldier wrote:
“It was a dark and stormy night. My company (‘A’ Coy) was conducting combat team deliberate attack in Area D at 0300hrs on 020289. During the attack, I was the section MG gunner, and set up a support firebase. We contacted the enemy troops, and I finished about 200 MG rounds[13] of blanks. After re-org, our company was ordered to leaguer[14] at Tanjong Skopek at around 0500hrs. My platoon was ordered to clean our weapons because we fired many rounds. I stripped my MG on a groundsheet in order to clean it. However, as I was taking out the bolt carrier from the MG, the ‘Spring, trigger mechanism, GPMG’, suddenly flew out of the MG and into thick vegetation about 10m away from my groundsheet. Because we had to remain tactical, I could not use a big torchlight to search for the spring, but I asked my section[15] mates to help look for the spring. Suddenly, we were contacted by enemy troops and the whole company had to conduct hasty retreat, so there was no time to look for the spring. After re-org, I went back to the area to look for the spring in the vegetation, but in vain”.


Obviously fictitious statement so far, but this was the clincher of a last sentence:
“This would not have happened if my sergeant did not tell me to strip the MG. Therefore it is not my fault but my sergeant’s”.
Best of all, that soldier gave it to his sergeant for approval. Not only did he not get it, but got a smack round the back of the head from the sergeant and three weekends’ extra guard duty for his creativity.
These days, during our annual ICTs, statements still have to be made when we lose things. The only difference being that blame is agreed to be shared among all the civilian/soldiers before the start of any training for any loss or damage, and any monetary compensation required is also shared. This is so because we all want to expedite matters and F.O.[16] from camp as soon as possible.
 In order to expedite matters, a team of statement writers (I was one of them last year) is also selected beforehand so that statements can be handwritten quickly, and a random soldier picked to put his signature on them. These statements are then given to the superior officers, who view, sign and declare the item irretrievably lost, and consult the armourer or QM[17] on the replacement or repair cost. This is announced to the company’s men, who fork out whatever’s necessary, and then wait while accounts are closed for the year before we are allowed to go home.
The thing that of course remains the same over the past decade is our favourite military fiction that begins “It was a dark and stormy night”, and ends, signed off, with “Your Obedient Soldier”.
© CPL (NS) Lee Soo Yaw Benjamin, 4th July 2003.

[1] Bulwer-Lytton, Edward, Paul Clifford, (1830), p1.
[2] Full-Time National Service
[3] National Service (Reservist) Annual In-Camp Training
[4] A combat sub-unit of a battalion of around 90 to 100 men
[5] Not telephone call. Contact enemy means either we shot at them or they shot at us.
[6] A sub-unit of a Company (see note 4) of around 27 to 30 men
[7] Re-organisation – after every battle or contact, the unit or sub-unit counts their dead, nurses their injured and reports their status to higher authority.
[8] Communications equipment like radios etc.
[9] Military euphemism for Jail
[10] A secure room in which the company’s weapons and optical equipment are stored
[11] General Purpose Machine Gun
[12] The unit’s weapons technician or repairman
[13] bullets
[14] form up to rest and stand-by
[15] sub unit of a platoon, of around 7-9 men
[16] F*** Off
[17] Quartermaster – Military officer in charge of stores