Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Enlistment Day.

hi all.....i just came back from pulau tekong today...went to see my friend off to NS.
here's a walkthrough of the process if you are interested.

at 0745-0815 hrs, you arrive at the SAF Ferry terminal in a super ulu place near the airport and alight
from the air-con tibs bus. You enter the terminal and are greeted by friendly gun-totting NS men carrying the
latest SAR 71 rifles. the guy on duty puts on his best smile and asks "hi, are you here for enlistment?" duh!
(produce the letter if you are)
They motion you to the security check where you have to put all ur belongings thru the x-ray
machine. No mention if its film safe or not.

noteworthy: punctuality is not a big issue here......we got there at about 830 , 15 mins off the stipulated time and slowly strolled into the terminal
to wait for the fast craft. no psychotic seargents there like jimmy to scream and get ya into push up position.

u wait for the SAF fast craft (and start to imagine the one in the latest 007 film).
soon, its time to board. flash your IC at the turnstyles laser beam and the gates open. (if u don't have ur IC, get a permit)
the gates open and a long jetty stretches out in front of you. you walk down it knowing u are leaving the mainland....
this part is akin to the stoic walk in the movie Armagedden, where u are on a mission to save the world....haha....or so they say.

the veseel is waiting and you realise that the SAF fast craft, is , in fact, sth like the batam ferry! what a pleasant surprise!
air-con on board with nice comfy seats and TV showing a safety video. you see people from all walks of life....the granny nagging
at her grandson, the Ah Beng with long brown hair, etc....

the ferry accelerates and u reach tekong in no time. (the going journey takes longer than the return due to direction of current at diiff
time of the day). u alight and another long walk down the jetty awaits you.
the BMTC facade appears to be a nice holiday resort, beach front, 4 story accomodation overlooking the sea.

noteworthy: as you walk along the jetty twd the main school, loudspeakers along the way play the latest rendition of "One People,
One Nation, One Singapore." propaganda?

u approach the main building and another friendly duty officer says...."enlistees here, family and friends there"
the first hint of separation.
so the enlistee is motioned into some building/secret chamber. family and friends board a bus which takes them on a tour
of the BMTC.....where the tour guide highlights the obstacle couse and medical facilities....
you alight and tour the medical centre....where they assure you that there are qualified medical officers here..... and a helicopter
on standby to evacuate the injured to a mainland hospital.

u then prooceed to the barracks.....12 to a room. 16 rooms in one block.... bright and airy room. one metal cupboard for clothes and a wooden
cupboard for shoes. again the officer on duty highlights the king coil bed and bed sheets that are changed for u once a week.
repellents....kiwi...6 rolls of toilet paper etc laid out in front of each bed.

proceed to the canteen.....the guy says that the food is for recruits is actually catered for by NTUC.....hence reassuring u that recruits, indeed
eat edible food. later, u proceed to the auditorium, where the enlistees are seated neatly in the middle rows. a lot of exchange of waves.
u sit thru a video entitled the first 100 days, showcasing the great things that BMT does to you. the CO (commanding officer then gives a speech)
and has come problems with pronouciation.....eg....he keeps saying "recruits" as "recoots"
the speech is kinda boring.....as a friend/family member, you are free to doze off.....but as an enlistee...
hmm....don't take chances.

next comes the oath taking ceremony. the enlistees rise. the oath flashes on the screen and suddenly the recruits start shouting it out. (military style)
u wake up with a start! wondering what has gotten into the new guys? brain wash / reprogramming session while we were away?
(remember u were separated at the jetty?)
the thing goes on.....and there is a clause in the oath..... "swear to defend Singapore.....not sparing my life blood in so doing...."
some parents get noticeably uneasy in their seats at this part....
everyone then rises for the national anthem. and the two guys on stage salute the state flag as the anthem is played.
oh wait...there's no flag....its a video of the state flag fluttering in the wind.
as enlistees stream out of the auditorium.....the irritating DJ plays westlife "i don't wanna say goodbye, cos i never wanna see you cry...."

proceed to the hall for lunch with the enlistees. lunch is surprisingly tasty and edible. rice, vegetable, ketchup pork, mince pork, vegetable soup,
water melon, syrup drink. not too bad tasting. quite palatable in fact. only grouch is that the portions are rather small. the syrup water is fine, but
smell of chlorine is quite distinct, so i just dumped it. (syrup made from NEWater?) ponder....

u have a great time over lunch....chit chatting....talking about the interesting characters around...planning for the next book out day.

after lunch....u dump ur trays... and proceed to the jetty for the final farewell. some guy bellows"Enlistees, say your final farewell!"
then the enlistees fall in in the distance, and family and friends wave goodbye. not very teary though. mainly the usual hugs, pat
on the back, parting words, "take care", and mutterings in dialects from the grandparents...etc.

yea.....then u poceed back to uur ferry. once again...you walk along the jetty and the loudspeakers and blaring.
this time, it is not "One People, One Nation, One Singapore"...its that Indian Song from National Day!...whatever its called.
wow! Multi-racial propaganda!

board the ferry....enjoy ur ride back....watch channelnewsasia on tv......wonder what your friend/relative is doing at BMTC now.
be sure to be the first off the ferry....so you don't have to queue for the bus, or stand on the bus....long way to Pasir Ris MRT.

yah...thats about it.