After National Service, ready for the real world
SIMON HIEW WEI LOONG, aka SIMPLE SIMON, reports from Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM), Shah Alam for the last time.
AH, WE finally saying goodbye. Although I am rather saddened by the thought of having to part with my dear friends, some of whom have become my best friends, I think it is about time the programme ended for the first batch of participants.
Call me ungrateful, but the final week was total boredom. On top of that, for some very strange reason, the facilitators became very, very rude,pushing us around, yelling at us and commanding us to do this and that. I wonder whatís eating them. We do ďbehaveĒ when we have to.
Iím just glad to be out. Last week, one of my uniforms got stolen and someone found the key to my cupboard and had broken into it, again. (The same thing happened to my locker when we were at Kem Setiu in Terengganu). Talk about bad karma.
There were also many fights and robbery cases reported lately. The third batch of participants caused loads of problems at our hostel. Although I have never been involved in any of the fights, itís scary just being an onlooker. I believe it will never stop until something bad happens to someone. Thank goodness I will not be here to be a witness.
On a more serious note, I think I have developed the confidence to speak out in public and stand up for myself. I find that the character-building classes have helped me change my attitude and outlook towards life. Iím a more positive person now, more determined to achieve my goal. Iím now ready to face the world!
Unfortunately, I do not think I have developed any kind of ďloveĒ for my country, thanks to those bad-attitude facilitators. However, I am thankful I am Malaysian; I think thatís enough love.
We had our first community service session last week. It was a nice activity to end the programme with. We went to the Tanjong Karang wet market for gotong-royong and also to some villages near Sg Sireh to help clean their surau.
It was a long haul getting to our destination from the hostel as the transport arrangements were terrible, as usual.
Overall, I think the safety and security at the camps and hostels should be improved. It was terrible to have to worry about our belongings every time we went out for activities. Having been a victim of theft twice certainly did not help either.
I will never forget my newfound friends. Thatís the best part of my NS experience I will be taking home from here.
PLAIN JANE, the nom de plume of TRISTYN SOLIANO, was moved to tears when it came time to say goodbye
IN the past two weeks, I have swept roadsides, visited a home for the handicapped, climbed Gasing Hill two days in a row under the hot afternoon sun, picked up rubbish all around Sepang and Petaling Jaya, and helped paint a playground.
All this was part of the community service module, the last module for our National Service (NS) stint. Surprisingly, it has been a really enjoyable and good learning experience although I must admit, Iím probably the one in my platoon who has complained the most.
I canít believe three months have gone by so soon. It feels like just yesterday that I stepped into the Kuala Kubu Baru camp for my first day. But boy, does time fly when youíre having fun! On the whole, I would give NS a six out of 10 rating because there is definitely room for improvement.
I have made so many friends from different backgrounds all over Malaysia, including Sabah, Sarawak, Terengganu and Kelantan. I will miss all of them, especially my three roommates Ė you know who you are Ė because I know I wonít see most of them again. They taught me so much and helped me grow as a person.
I think I have spoken more Malay in three months than I have in my whole life. NS has helped me realise how much I take certain things for granted and how truly lucky I am. Those who come from the city would probably agree. And yes, I have made friends with people from the kampung and they are in no way different from you and me.
As for patriotism towards the country, it always has and will be in me but I still want to study overseas. This is more for the experience and not because I look down on local universities.
At first I was really upset for being chosen to be part of the first batch because I was really looking forward to the Incubus concert. Now I am glad. As the pioneer batch, we did not know what to expect, not only us but also the NS committee and our coaches.
The equipment we got was brand-new. The facilities were very clean and our trainers were certainly more lenient with us. We were surely the most spoilt group among all three batches.
For example, at the Kuala Kubu Baru camp, we were allowed to keep our hand-phones during the week whereas the second and third batches only got to use their hand-phones on weekends.
However, I feel that the military component of NS should be done away with. We are still rebellious teenagers who will rebel even more when people are strict with us.
The modules after the military style training were more meaningful to us as we saw what we could do for the country.
I also donít think that boys and girls should be separated as much as we were. Itís not that we want to go dating or anything but because it is very old-fashioned to separate us. Allow us to mix freely. We are mature enough.
Itís hard to decide what the best and worst moments were as there are so many memories to choose from. I will start with the worst which no doubt includes falling in the mud and the first day of camp because it was so boring and I was not used to everything yet.
I also hated marching, being punished by the paratroopers for skipping class and waking up early for morning exercise.
As for our wonderful teachers back at the camp Ė they were truly friendly and supportive of us. I especially want to thank Michael Yeh who was a remarkable leader. He made the Kuala Kubu Baru camp the best camp in Malaysia.
I will miss hanging out with my roommates and my platoon who never failed to put a smile on my face. Learning to bathe with a sarong was a culture shock!
The opening ceremony was another highlight Ė it was such an honour to meet the Prime Minister and represent the rest of the NS participants.
Life on the UPM campus was a really good learning experience. However, I must admit that I still preferred life at camp. There was just something that made it a lot more fun.
Not having to study for three months was another plus point. At the end of the day, I must admit that NS wasnít so bad after all!