Like many young Malaysians, I was chosen to join the National Service (Program Latihan Khidmat Negara) in year 2007. I was chosen for the 2nd group (March-June), and placed in Kem Wawasan near Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
Chosen for NS, some people will be dancing in joy, while some will brandish their agony and despair for being "forced" to join the program. It's a love or hate affair, like many thing else. For me, I'm 50-50 when I realised I was chosen.
On the negative side, I was thinking will it be waste of time to spend 3 months to train in the camp when I can learn and explore more new things before continue studies?
On the bright side, I take it this is a chance to get to know more people, as well as experience living in a military life (not close to it actually), this will be the only chance in my life I'll be doing this (unless I'm joining the army, which is very unlikely).
My attitude towards NS changed, soon after I came back from it.
First of all, many people lash out negative feedbacks on this program, saying it's a waste of time, energy & resources. Heh, only those who didn't join the program see it for themselves will comment in this manner. I'm standing firmly for my stance, National Service, PLKN, is not a waste of time, energy and resources.
If you look at the statistics from JLKN (Jabatan Latihan Khidmat Negara) since the 1st batch in 2004, more than 90% of the trainees agreed that the program is beneficial as they learn lots of new things there.
So, what I actually gain from NS? Heh, I think the most important lesson I learn is mutual-respect between one and others. Although we're living in a multi-racial country, there's still unavoidable racial slurs passing around, including in NS camp, I believe many trainees had the same experience while staying in NS camp.
Well, for the case in Sabah camp, at the beginning it's quite obvious that trainees from Semenanjung will gather together while the local Sabahans are with their own kin. After some time, you'll see all of them will be mixed up together. Same goes to the minorities too, the most important is that all of us could get along well together. Without this, I dare to say you wont be able to enjoy the best out of NS!
Talk about those trainees from different racial background, we also couldn't forget religions as well. In Sabah, the Christians are "categorised" into few types (should I use this word?). There's the usual Anglican, Roman Catholic, Protestant, as well as their native SBS, SSB etc Christianity "types". Until now I havent really figure out what's all about, but I only know that some of their worship time is different, say, we're quite clear that they go for Church on Sunday, but for some of the Christians in Sabah, they worship on Saturday or Friday. I regret I did not ask my friends more details about the religions back then. :S
With all the diversity among the trainees, it's kinda surprising to see how all of us can get along well together. Here, the role of the trainers/teachers is vital. Kudos to all the trainers/teachers in Kem Wawasan, whose able to address our problems well. We're lucky to have great trainers/teachers there to help us out, especially those who're far away from home (well, how can you go back to Semenanjung from Sabah other than AirAsia? Swim? lol). Again, the trainers & teachers are the only place where you can channel all your problems.
Bear in mind, no matter how you complain to your parents, they cant really do anything to help you other than consoling through the phone. Unless the matter is serious, the parents can try to approach the camp's administration, or the person-in-charge of JKLN, Mr Abdul Hadi Awang & Mr Lee Lam Thye.
Another thing bout the camp I went..... the infrastructure isn't perfect. There's no direct electric current supplied (we're running on generators), and there's no chlorined water supply. The camp is located besides a river (Sg Papar), so that's our water source. There's a pump and filter to clear the water before it is channeled to the water pipes. However, I said it's imperfect, and the water supply is one of everyone's headache.
Sometimes, the pump stalled, means we wont be having water supply to do daily chores, how scary... And sometimes, the filter spoilt, making the water murky and dirty. We've to bear the circumstances and we've to use the "teh tarik" water to do things, use it to wash our cloths, and to bath with it! OMG!!
Hahah, when I think of that now, I guess that's some sort of weird experience. I dont really think the other camps will have problem like this, or maybe I didnt heard of it? Heheh.
It's quite unfortunate for me as I've to leave the camp earlier in order to continue study. I think I only stayed in the camp for 7 weeks (close to 2 months), and then I was sent back to KL.
When I first get into the camp, I've plans to "escape" from it, but the tide changed direction when I'm close to end my NS life sooner than expected. I'm a little regret to get out from there so soon, because the best of NS is the days before the upacara penutupan (closing ceremony). :(
I'd like to share with you some pics I took when I'm there.
Our weekly time-table. This pic is taken on the day I'm leaving, 6th May. (click for full view)
Hari Terbuka, Open Day for the camps.
Boys' nightmare lol.
Rainbow over the camp admin office.
We've to keep our boots shining all the time by polishing non-stop!
M-16 Rifle practice.
Community Service at Beringgis beach.
"Datang dengan paksaan, Pulang dengan kenangan." Our camp's motto. :)
A video tour to Kem Wawasan.
Rehearsal for the Open Day, featuring Jay Chou's "Fearless".
Last word from me, joining PLKN is really an unforgettable experience. I think it's a good training ground to build up a person's independence, and somewhat prepare to face the world out there, the life after school.
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