Thursday, June 27, 2013

What's Going Behind The Scene?

My group of friends in Taiwan for ATEC! Can you spot who is the Commando Officer? He is combat fit but doing admin

Looking only at the title of this post, many of you would be guessing that I might be touching on some topics on movies or some productions. Nope, I am going to talk about something which most Singaporean Guys will dread: National Service (NS).

Of course, I am not going to talk to you in detail of what is NS. In fact, I going to brush away all the misconception that people has of NSF Clerks. Recently I read a blogpost on this, and I though it might be good if I am able to blog about it so some of you may be able to relate it? It's going to be a more balanced point of view, since I was at both ends of NS before. 

So here we go!


Take a look at this photo, boy who turned into men. Upon completion of their Basic Military Training (BMT), we get to experience the proudest moment of our life. Being part of the passing out parade marching on the Marina Floating Platform (which happens for most NSFs). And of course, tons of family members and friends witnessing the whole thing.

Who doesn't want such scene to happen to themselves, especially when Singapore's male who reach age of 18 have to serve NS. But guess what? I never get to go through this at all. Now here is how my version of NS life goes. 

I enlisted into NS as a PES B soldier, which means that I am combat fit. In fact, I was in the PTP batch, where my BMT actually lasted for 4 months long. During the course of my BMT, there was once where we had a route march training, and suddenly, my legs just "disappear" because I can't feel a single shit. 

Later I was diagnosed that I am down with bulging disc, which makes my unsuitable to be combat fit. Thus, I was down PES to C2L9. Which isn't that bad, but I changed vocation and became an ASA, or simply put, a clerk. 


Now here is where ALL the misconception comes about. 

Whenever I tell people that I am now a clerk, the few things which they will say are so predictable:
1) WAH! GOOD LIFE LIAO LO!!!!
2) NOT BAD WHAT! EVERYDAY SIT IN AIR-CON ROOM AND LEPAK (RELAX)~
3) I SO ADMIRE YOU! EVERYDAY CHIONG-SUA VERY TIRING EH!!!

And the list can go on for sure. That pisses me off. Or in fact, all the clerks.

Alright, on first impression, what they said actually do make sense. Just take a look at the photo above, as compared to imagining us sitting in office doing administrative work. NO doubt why people always think so of us. 

Here are some examples of how in some way or rather, we are not really who you think we are.
You gotta be enlightened and make less sweeping statements, if not you're just so so ignorant. 


IT IS NOT A CHOICE
Indeed, there are many people who keng their way to down PES and become Clerks or even storeman. But you all have to care for the feelings of those who are "born" to be like this. Simply put, most clerks are clerks due to some limitations in what they can do due to their body condition.

I bet there are people who also wish they are healthy and participate in activities as well.
I do miss times when I was combat fit and training together with my section mates.
However, an injury is an injury. You get it means you get it. 

Being down PES to me wasn't a choice as the Medical Officer felt that I was in no condition to continue training at all. Which brings me to the point that, those who are enlisted as PES C or PES E soldiers, are being categorised as so, because of their conditions. So, spare some thought and speak with some intelligence before opening your mouth.


WORKLOAD

The grass is ALWAYS greener on the other side. 

Making total sense out of this sentence is what we always witness in our day to day camp. Combat-fit soldiers coming into offices and telling us "Not bad ah, so shiok, just sit down in air-con room and chill"
Know what? Feel like stuffing a whole bunch of markers up you asses! 

I do not deny the fact that it is very very hard for guys who are out there int he fields training under the hot sun, or even having to have their outfield in the cold nights. I give it to you guys and take my caps off too. 
That being said, isn't it insensible to claim that our workload is so minimal and we've nothing to do?

We all have our fair share of work.
For me, I am planted in Head Admin Office, which is the manpower branch, where we handle all kinds of administrative work .Basically almost everything will come to us.
My job within the branch is to handle several important admin work (can't divulge much). 
Confession: I do really thought I was going to heaven when being re-vocated to being a clerk.
But my task proved me wrong, inf act all the clerks in my unit proved me wrong! 

Into the job for just a few short 3 months, made me realised that the job is so not easy at all!
Being the administrative vessel of the Battalion, we actually work through day till night. Definitely no 8-5 for us. We even stayed overnight for weeks or months and working till wee hours just to get things right.

This links to another point, a major point in pointing out that we clerks are not so useless afterall.


RESPONSIBILITY

Combat-Fit soldiers have their responsibility to ensure that they know how to use their weapon, familiarize with the routine that they're doing etc. 

For clerks, every single thing we do matters. Why? One small mistake could actually result in dire consequences. In what sense? Let me state an example, taking myself into the situation. 

I handle courses, so all nominations go through me. Hell those courses are damn important, as some of them actually helps the servicemen to advance in their route in service. Thus, just imagine if I am a cockster and screwed up the nomination, for example, if I forget to submit the nomination. That's it. The servicemen can forget about advancing in his army life and some are training courses which are essential and of utmost importance.
If that doesn't sound serious enough , here is another one. Overseas Admin. 
Handling near to 300 people's flight just for an overseas exercise is a total killer. I totally experienced that.
From photo taking, to writing detail on each photo, pasting them onto 4 nominal rolls (that's like 1000+ photos!!!) and ensuring everyone is going to board!!! All these for every single personnel... 

I shall not elaborate on how disastrous things can be if it isn't handled properly right?


ALLOWANCE

Here comes the sensitive topic of all time. Since all guys have to serve National Service in Singapore, which takes up around 2 years of our time, the only thing that really really kept us going is the allowance that is given to us every month. 

But then again, of course, there are differences in allowance as well, depending on your rank. 

CONFESSION: As I didn't pass out from my BMT, I am currently still a Recruit. For 1 year plus already. 
My allowance for every month is only $450 max. if they do not deduct those insurance etc. 
That's like even MUCH lesser than what I earn for working part time previously.  

As for the combat-fit soldiers (CPL at least), in my unit, they earn around $800+ per month? And they also have like some risk allowance/pay which is around $300 extra! Officers needless to say, they are already earning 4 figure allowance just by serving as an NSF and not Regulars. 

 Most of us clerks are earning like peas, and our responsibility is no much lesser than what the rest are going through. Like I mentioned earlier, each and every single one of us have our own fair share to play. No one is more important than the other. But then, just wanting to point out the fact that, we clerks, are really not getting the amount that is proportionate to what we're doing, don't even mention about getting more. 

At least for combat-fit group, they do get their so call fair share, right? 

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Definitely my post does not really tell you everything, nor do I claim that it is all so accurate that you've to agree with what I've blogged. My purpose is just to tell you all my point of view, since I've been through both before. 

Honestly speaking, all of us are just serving our 2 years of National Service. 
We are just playing our part, focusing and trying to excel in whatever is being task to us. 
There is no need to look down on others. No one is indispensable, yes. 

Then again, just think, without one role being played, it could actually make a huge difference. 

Ending off with this quote:
We do not do different things, we just do things differently. 


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