Thursday, April 14, 2005
The Misadventures of Encik L
Enciks, a rare breed in the army, men folk who make it their life work to be the eternal torment of every NCO and the occasional officer as well. Who can say that they’ve never heard of those giants of RSMs and CSMs like CPT (Ret) ‘Tiger’ Hong Seng Mak and CPT (Ret) Shamsudin bin Shadan (CPT Sham incidentally is now a senior grassroots leader in Buona Vista).
The RSM/CSM (Regimental Sergeant Major/Company Sergeant Major for the uninitiated) are perhaps what I would describe as Ministers without Portfolio, i.e. they had to do anything and everything, Cantonese call this yat kiok tek or one leg kick.
From regulating drills and disciplining errant soldiers, the RSM/CSM usually commanded the respect of their men, even junior officers have to rely on the acumen of their Enciks in making the right decisions. There have been many a time when my first CSM, Encik A, saved my glute’s skin and the collective backsides of the company and its permanent staff.
"Misadventures of Encik L" is a series of stories of one unusual CSM who will ever reside in my memory.
The story begins when Encik A transferred out of the company into the Training Office, there was great contention as all of us weren’t exactly excited with a new CSM – the infamous Encik L. When he did arrived, he was immediately caricatured as being a ‘no-hoper’ (he looked a little like a plump giant balding hamster) who wouldn’t last the competitive spirit that governed our company.
As if to confirm our predictions, Encik L wasn’t the most inspiring example of garang-spiritedness when he took the company out on an introductory run.
“Early in the morning sun, we’re out running having fun, wayyy-looooww, wayyy-looooww, wayyy-looooww…” The plaintive cry of the snaking column of men and their sergeants wafted through the humid dawn air of Tekong as we keep a measured jogging pace.
Yes, not exactly an inspiring moment, no red rising sun in the background, no hazy mirage, no chirping of song birds in your ears (but helluva lot of giant mosquitoes and other blood-sucking Tekong mutants buzzing around). But this uninspiring moment was just about to take a turn for the worse…
I swear this is true… as the company turned back into the camp, Encik Y turned round and sort of ran backwards so that he could “inspect” his men and scream some vague vulgarity that would inspire the troops to respect him. The moment he finished that and decided to turn round, BAMMM!!!!!!!
WAHH KOWWWW!!!! He ran SMACK into a parked three-tonner!!!!
It was one of those arm flailing, head twisting, Stephen-Chow-moments. Steady dah! Must hurt like hell man. But with all the coolness Encik L could muster, he did some sort of awkward ballet (POI: Encik Y isn’t your model of litheness, rotund is the kindest word to use here) and steadied himself before nonchalantly half-run and half-stumble forwards.
All the platoon sergeants had to whisper sternly to the men “dounch u dare to laugh or u all sign extra” before all retreating behind a pillar to laugh their lungs to hell. At this point, I think Coy 2IC looked as if he was prepared to commit hari-kiri to redeem the company’s near miss with shame.
Seeing a three-tonner now will probably bring on a guffaw from everyone who was there that day…
More “Misadventures of Encik L” akan datang!