Every able-bodied male above the age of 16 will have to sacrifice two years of their prime in the military, and in the process, sacrifice their privilege to take a seat on the MRT.
Because we are born with a penis.
To better prepare you for your two-year sentence, my friend, who wishes to remain anonymous, will be pushing out a series of posts that will walk you through the Basic Military Training (BMT). They’ll include lessons, learning experiences and general Dos and Don’ts picked up from the dreaded eight-week stint. This is not one of those hollow, stupid-ass guides GoodyFeed churns out regularly – he’s not here to tell you 7 reasons why a NS boyfriend makes the best boyfriend, nor is he going to tell 10 army dishes you can make in 10 mins to impress bae. No, the information is genuinely useful and will be of significant help when you enlist and wave goodbye to freedom.
Note that the following applies only to the Basic Military Training Centre, known colloquially as Tekong.
1. “Sergeant is king.” – FACT
Many of the “higher ranks” such lieutenants are usually quite chill and don’t even shout often. It seems that, apart from recruits, the higher the rank, the less you shout.
2. “The food is terrible.” – MYTH
I mean… it’s not that bad, considering that there is ice-cream once a week. You’ll also get hokkien mee, sausages, fries and fillet every once in a while. Breakfast usually consists of eggs, kaya toast, and a cup of Milo.
Outfield rations are a totally different story though. There is no one who would finish field camp and go
“I want to eat the rations again.”
3. “You get to interact with people of a wide variety of backgrounds.” – MYTH
HQ will try to put people of similar educational level together (it’s pretty obvious). That being said, there will be completely different people. Those who watch porn for four hours a day to those who have never jerked off and never ever want to in their entire life for some reason.
4. “Rush to wait. Wait to rush.” – FACT
You may sometimes expect to have to rush to a lecture theatre just to wait one hour for the officer to arrive. Last parades may be dragged, only to have admin time burnt.
5. “There is Wi-Fi at Tekong.” – MYTH
You only have access to their Wi-Fi if you use their tablet to learn army-related stuff…
6. “People use vulgarities a lot.” – DUH
Welcome to the f***ing army.
7. “You have to sing a lot of songs.” – FACT
Even from the cookhouse to the company, be prepared to march and sing everywhere you go.
Literally f***ing everywhere.
(did I mention that there’s a lot of vulgarities in the army?)
8. “There are very few females around.” – MYTH
To be frank, female recruits are not that rare. If you don’t spot them often, take a look at your surroundings. You might be in danger, or a place you’re not supposed to be. However, female officers are a rare species. They’ll usually be seen leading a platoon of female recruits and sternly warning the oogling males to not make any wooing noises. You might also see some warrant officers, but they are usually in their forties or fifties.
If you’re thinking of interacting with them however, forget it – you’ll have a better chance of escaping Tekong unnoticed.
9. “Your commanders watch you eat and punish you for not finishing the food.” – MYTH
The commanders eat at their own tables at the other end of the cookhouse. They really, really don’t really care much, except maybe for the time you fall in. You also have the right to tell the aunties/uncles to not put the food you don’t want on your plate. You too can ask for less if you are given too much; you can also ask for more, albeit only for rice, veggies, soup and sauce. Sadly, you are not allowed to add extra meat.
10. “You have to eat chicken everyday.” – FACT
Not complaining though… maybe SAF can look into providing shabu shabu and wagyu beef as well.
11. “If you sabo your mates, they will throw you a blanket party.” – BOTH
It really, really depends. There are cases where people do end up hurt because of these ‘parties’, and in other cases, people take a more passive-aggressive approach and discriminate against the sabo king instead. I guess this really comes down to the people and section you are assigned to, whether they will continue perpetuating or even ‘executing’ the stereotype or not.
12. “Bring as many portable chargers and wires as you want.” – FACT
Who in the world brings “spare batteries” for phones these days?
Wall chargers aren’t allowed though.
13. “I will develop a sense of patriotism.” – MYTH
At times, you’ll feel proud and all to be marching as soldier, but other times, you’ll think, “f*** this shit”. It is very common to develop conflicting feelings, especially at the start.
14. “Tekong Cough doesn’t exist.” – MYTH
The SAF claims it doesn’t exist, but you’ll see for yourself soon enough. Tekong cough is a highly irritating cough that will hit roughly about one week after your enlistment. Most of these coughs are dry and uncontrollable in nature, but for others, phlegm and other flu-like symptoms will appear as well. It’ll persist anywhere from a few days to more than a month. It worsens at night and the fact you’re supposed to shout throughout the day won’t help your predicament one bit. The standard cough syrup, displayed on the counter before the patients are even done with the consultation, appears to be ineffective and overused. Some say the cough develops because of the water on the island, while others claim its the drastic regimen, but whatever it is, the infamous Tekong Cough acts like a reluctant rite of passage for us teenage boys. Able-bodied men are enlisted to help battle against enemies (because sadly, the lives of men are expendable), but ironically, the first battle most recruits experience will be against this pesky yet formidable opponent.
15. “Your sergeants will visit your bunks to talk to you about life.” – LOL
Your sergeants have more shit to do than talk to you about your life. There will be an interview by the Platoon Commander in the first few days though, to see if you are facing any difficulties or problems.
Do you have any more myths and facts you wish to share with us? Let us know in the comments section below!
In our next instalment of The BMT Cheat Sheet, we’ll be looking at some tips, tricks, Dos and Don’ts to make your NS life much easier. I have been scouring the Internet and local forums for similar information and trust me when I say you won’t find such life hacks online.
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