Skip to main content

He's heavy, he's the camp commandant!

Mohamed, my 17-year-old nephew, came home for a few days from National Service camp during the Chinese New Year holidays. He had been at the camp (somewhere in Malaysia) for three weeks then and the boyish enthusiasm bubbling up inside him was apparent. He shared his experiences -- good and bad -- with relatives who were curious to see how he had got on at the camp with other "wira (heroes) and wirawati (heroines), as the participants are called.

Mohamed was positive about his time there expect for one thing: he could not understand why the camp commandant -- a Major in the Malaysian army -- is overweight and unfit.

Mohamed and his mates had expected to see a military man with the physique of an athlete ala "Will Smith". Instead, they saw a fatty who seemed a likely candidate for The Biggest Loser programme. And the two officers who came together with the commandant were similarly heavy and seriously in need of regular hard workouts. Mohamed and his friends exchanged glances when they were introduced to the commandant and his officers at the "meet and greet" session with camp personnel. They later discussed their disillusionment.

But their faith in the uniformed units was somewhat restored when an admiral came to the camp a few days later to talk to the participants about careers in the navy. "The admiral was in great shape and looked very sharp in his uniform; we were impressed," says Mohamed.

What were the camp organisers thinking? You can't fool the Net Generation, which has grown up with computer games and everything associated with communications and media technologies. My nephew is a serious gamer and he is really into war games.

He is in awe of warriors from the past and aspires to be like them. He thinks the flag bearer of an army was the most important person in ancient times because he would be the first to give his life up for his country during a war. His idea of a warrior is one who is healthy, strong, loyal and has high moral principles.To his great disappointment, the commandant at his national service camp did not live up to expectations. His sense of humour is his saving grace, says Mohamed.

It is difficult to watch my nephew's thwarted expectation. The only thing I could do was to offer him quiet support and to gently tell him that all teenagers experience disappointing situations every now and again. I remind myself that he has to go through adverse conditions such as failure, disappointment, loneliness and grief in order to discover unknown and interesting things about his character. He must acquire the ability to feel better quickly after something unpleasant. And I think he handled this particular tough moment very well.


Comments

Popular Posts

My year at The Rakyat Post

Dec 31, 2014, the last day of the year and the end of my one year stint at The Rakyat Post , an online news portal.
Educational is the best way to sum up my year at The Rakyat Post.
Leaving your comfort zone is intimidating at first; it has a steep learning curve. But now I wish I had done it sooner and the whole exercise reaffirms my motto: “learn, learn, learn”.
Einstein was spot on when he said, “Learning is not a product of schooling but the lifelong attempt to acquire it”.
When I left theNew Straits Times to join The Rakyat Post on Jan 3, 2014, I didn’t know what to expect.
Nelson Fernandez, also known was Mohd Ridzwan Abdullah, had invited me to join him at the website this time last year.



He was charged with assembling a team to provide content for the portal. And I am glad I said yes.
Switching from traditional journalism to online journalism is challenging, as anyone who had made that transition will tell you.
Editorial content is disseminated by way of the internet as opposed to pub…

In the waiting room

People are always waiting for something.

They could be waiting for the train, an opportunity, promises to be fulfilled or the return of a loved one.

But "what does waiting mean in our lives and what is life without waiting?"


That question was posed by Danny Castillones Sillada in his article "What is Life without Waiting?" (The Metaphysics of Waiting).

The passing of the old year demands another round of gloomy introspection and Sillada's article came at the right time, given the value of waiting in our lives.

"Waiting," he explains, is "an emotional and mental state, which is preconditioned to anticipate someone or something to arrive at a particular time and place".

Sillada tells us that there are two types of waiting: empirical and metaphysical.

The empirical form of waiting is "where the certainty of the waited and the occurrence of event are tangibly expected to happen within a particular time and place of the waiter".

But wh…

Why Shamsul Amri dislikes Facebook

People who do not use Facebook fall into three broad categories.

The first group is completely indifferent to it, the second finds it mildly irritating and the third dislikes it intensely.

Malaysia's prominent sociologist Professor Shamsul Amri Baharuddin is of the last type.

I made the mistake of asking Shamsul, who is director of the Institute of Ethnic Studies at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, if he was on Facebook, the social network which was hatched up in the dormitories of Harvard six years ago.

"I have a face and I keep thousands of books. Why do I need Facebook?"

How do you react to that reply?

I didn't. I meekly invited him to elaborate on his reasons.

"Facebook will take away my soul and I won't allow that to happen because I am a believer," says Shamsul fiercely, who launched into a tirade of accusations against Facebook.

Ninety per cent of the things you read on Facebook are either petty, bitter, rude or offensive.

"I refuse to rea…