Tak kenal maka tak cinta. Jom Kenali Universiti Awam (UA) Malaysia.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

National Service: Boon or Bane? (Part I of II)

Written by Michelle Tam

I had the fortune (yes, fortune) to be among those selected to undergo National Service (NS) back in 2005, and ever since then, I've been firmly convinced that NS was a boon for me in many ways.

I know that many of you probably have some sort of distaste for the program - it's hard not to when you hear all sorts of horror stories from some who have undergone training and utterly hated it. However, since I had a pretty good time during my 3 months there, let me highlight some of the better parts of NS that become forgotten in the deluge of negative news about it.

This will be in the style of a FAQ - these are the questions I most commonly encounter from those curious about NS, so here's hoping it will help those of you who have been selected or are just plain curious about NS!

Where did you serve?

I served my 3 months out in Kem Rachado Bay, located in Tanjung Tuan, Port Dickson. It's supposedly one of the smaller camps in Malaysia - the canteen was barely a minute away from most dorms, and our training grounds and obstacle course were close by the dorms as well. One of the unique features of my camp was the fact that it literally straddled two states - one half of the camp was in Negeri Sembilan, and the other half was in the state of Malacca! Also, we were within walking distance of the beautiful (but purportedly dangerous) Blue Lagoon beach, which we used for our water based activities, unlike other camps which had to utilise man made pools.

What was your daily routine?

My daily routine was pretty much the same from Mondays to Fridays, and if I remember correctly, Saturdays were 'half days' and Sundays were days of rest.

We would be awakened by the azan, or the call to prayer, for our Muslim friends right before dawn, and while they shuffled sleepily to the surau, the rest of us non-Muslims would get ready for the day. After they were done, we would gather at the assembly area to sing the NS anthem and the Negaraku, and also recite the Rukunegara, if I remember correctly. After that, we would do our morning exercises, which would vary from simple twist-here-twist-there stuff, push ups, star jumps, to lots of running. Think running on the beach looks good in romance flicks? It's actually quite torturous and worse than running on concrete roads - double the effort to lift yourself up after your feet has already sunk into the soft sand.

After the morning exercise, we would go to the canteen for breakfast, before rushing off to shower and freshen up before morning classes began. There were several modules for our classes, some of which being Character Building, and another I remember was Nation Studies or Kenegaraan'. There would be a short morning tea break after an hour or so of class, and after that tea break, we would continue our classes till lunch. After lunch, there would be the physical training modules like march pass and obstacle course training which will normally take up the whole afternoon, before we indulge in some 'lighter' activities in the evening, like netball for the girls and sepak takraw for the boys.

After evening sports, we would freshen up - bathrooms are almost always full, because with the oppressive heat and the different sets of uniforms we had to wear, it got really hot and uncomfortable - and adjourn for dinner. ,After dinner, another round of classes would begin before we had our evening tea at around 10.30 pm, with lights off at 11 pm. But the day isn't over yet - at least, not for those on night duty. Those on night duty would have hourly shifts until 4 am to round the camp and make sure everyone is in bed and not, say, attempting to scale the 12 foot wall in the obstacle course.

Continue reading: National Service: Boon or Bane? (Part II of II)

Related link: Official website of Program Latihan Khidmat Negara (PLKN) | Photo by owaief89
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  1. Hello Mich, nice post here!
    I was planning to write bout NS stuffs, but you've written it hahah!

    Luckily what I plan to write is slightly different so we won't clash lol.

    Looking forward for your Part II. :)

  2. CLF : thanks for reading CLF! stay tuned for part II which i am working on :) oh, and i'd love to read what you have to say about NS...always interesting to see how other people view it.

  3. Hey there,
    I have been to NS too.
    Mine was at Terengganu named Kem Latihan Cheneh Cemerlang (KLCC).

    My NS training program is slightly different from yours though such as my full day off are on Saturday and my half day off are on Friday. Maybe because of the different areas.

    Maybe I will blog about it too.=p

  4. kinki : hello fellow ns trainee! indeed your days off are different...i guess those are the little variations across the nation according to the states we served in =)

  5. hey michelle!!

    My name is Sara and I will be a future NS trainee at Rachado Bay Camp. I really would love to know more of this camp before I will go here so would it be ok for me to post some questions. I really think what you wrote in this article is really interesting and I look forward for your reply!


  6. Malaysia national service? is a laughing stock

  7. hye..
    i was in the NS camp for last two years and i still remember every single things that i've done there..
    i love NSTP so muchhhhhh....
    by the way i used ur information for doing my assignment..

  8. hey all...i have to agree with all of you . i recently finished my group 1 ns training in dusun minda resort kuala nerang kedah . i might sound like a nut crack but i would go again if i am given a second chance . Ever since the ns training was introduced in 2004 , i could only think of 1 thing , will i be chosen ? and guess what i was! and since i was looking forward for the experience , i had great time there . teachers are so cool and the activities there are so tiring but look on the bright sight you get to loose weight and gain strength..hahaha owh the most important experience of course would be your friends ! you just can't get enough of them . my advice , just go for it ! enjoy till the last day <3 i bet if you were to cry on the first day and wanting to leave the place eagerly , you would be doing the same on the last day but you would be crying not to leave the camp. trust me , been there done that before :)feel free to ask me anything about ns experience . i'm fresh :p

  9. ex NS trainee from sabah here! :)

    NS was a really good experience for all who were involved, i'm sure.
    and salute to all the trainers cause i think they are really awesome, being able to cope with so many teenagers.
    my fav - character building. the activities were more fun and interesting compared to the rest.
    ps : i love TTS! :)

    of all the money the government has put to use, plkn is the way to go. regardless of what ppl think.
    it's an experience for teenagers to be more independent, (if they let themselves try)

    one downside that i have from my experience, is that i found out that racism pokes out like a sore thumb.
    chinese still prefer to be with their chinese gangs, malay with malays etc.

    i'm chinese, and in the camp, i prefer being with malays.
    i learn A LOT about their lives and their hardships.

    In my camp, (SanShui Tawau) the land is really uneven, as in uphill downhill.
    we take about 5mins just to get to the canteen, or the classes (uphill) in high heels *oh crap

    my fav. baju loreng. we look cool in those, don't cha think? XD

  10. can i know how the bathing system would be in the PLKN?

  11. NS is a waste of time n money. Why FORCE people to participate ! Its not suitable for everyone. There are many other ways to achieve the same objectives. Why dump the 18 year olds in prison-like camps in the jungles n no-mans land - Just to teach them how to make friends with other races??? Come on !

    The trainers at the camp were not professionally trained, the camps lack security and was unhygienic, there were no medical personnel except for 2 incompetent army doctors and the programmes at the camp were dead boring !

    There are heaps of other programmes that the authorities could implement for the teenagers, if they care to go the extra mile n THINK .


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