I want to share a story about ‘collective idiocy’ that involved your father.
When I was an Army recruit, my training camp was back in Pulau Tekong and when it was time for us to book in, we have to find our own way back to Commando Jetty. So when it was time for us to book in, it is no surprise that you will see many botak (bald-headed) recruits on the same bus, since we are all booking in at the same time.
So this fateful night, we were on the bus, and heading towards a common destination, we all have to alight at the same bus-stop and of course we need to press the bell so that the bus driver will know there are passengers who were alighting.
What happened was a matter of group-think towards collective stupidity.
We all, the recruits in the bus, knew we are all alighting at the same stop, and we all waited for one of us to press the bell, and anyone of us can, but no one did!
So we looked wide eyed as the bus zipped past our stop and everyone started pressing the bell in frantic. Too late, the bus driver simply ignored us, and take it that the bell we pressed was for the next stop.
So the bus alighted at the next stop and the whole group of us has to dumb, dumb walk back to the earlier bus stop and towards Commando Jetty. No one said a thing about the incident, we didn’t have to, we all made a fool out of ourselves, and now thinking back more than 21 years later, the whole incident seems petty hilarious.
The same ol’ National Day, same ol’ song, same ol’ nationalistic fever…
We Singaporeans aren’t a very patriotic lot, or it is very hard for the authorities to make us Singaporeans love our country.
Many of us feels that it is a government propaganda to sing song, does the National Day Parade to a great fanfare, put out spectacular fireworks (a.k.a burning taxpayers’ monies) and fly noisy planes, fly a really delicate and fragile giant Singapore flag.
Many of us has a misplaced association that the country is the political party. Or some of us like to hijack our nation’s birthday and politicize 9th August, every year.
Well, granted that Singapore has a kind of unique history as the ruling party, is singular to Singapore. So much so that, you cannot mention Singapore, without mentioning the ruling party, People’s Action Party (PAP). Certainly, one can say that without the PAP, there can never be modern Singapore. We can never be where we are without the invention and intervention of PAP.
For our country to mature, we need to move away from this mindset.
Yes, Singapore, as a country, and Singaporeans as people of this country thank the PAP for good governance and giving us what we have today.
But the National Day is not about the PAP.
Singing Majulah Singapura isn’t pledging allegiance to the PAP. Serving in the Singapore Armed Forces isn’t protecting PAP. We say our pledge, isn’t sucking up to PAP. PAP is PAP, PAP isn’t Singapore, and Singapore, for its whole is larger than PAP. Remember, Singapore was here first, long before there is a PAP.
Of course, key founding members of the PAP was involved in creating the National Anthem, the pledge, and lay the foundations of nation building. The PAP pioneers created the countless of civil service and government infrastructure we enjoy (and cuss) till today, and for the near future.
But saying these is not the same as being a PAP-centric person.
So boys, I say my pledge with pride.
I sing my National Anthem with pride
I hold my flag with pride.
That doesn’t mean I love the politics of the land. I love the land.
I served in the Singapore Armed Forces knowing that when the time comes, I will point the rifle at the enemy of my land. I’ll protect Singapore, and the PAP will happen to ‘enjoy’ that protection by default, the other political parties will also enjoy that same protection. The SAF protects Singapore, and whoever and whatever is on this land.
Because when the enemy wants to invade us, they wouldn’t care if it’s the PAP in charge or someone else, they want our land, our people and all that we love. Our enemies want our destruction and end. Those out there who wants Singapore dead and gone, wants everyone dead and gone, ruling party and all.
So learn to sing our Singapore songs with pride, I know we Singaporeans have a sense of quiet modest, confidence, we don’t thump our chest a lot, nor brag about our achievements. So it is alright that on one day, every year, 9th August, let’s celebrate our nation building. Put all petty politics aside, and like the Hard Rock slogan says, “Love all, Serve all”. And true to our Pledge “…regardless of race, language or religion (and politics too)”.
During my National Service, there were plenty of time for me to come into contact with dogs. While as a Regimental Policeman, I have to duty to ensure the integrity of the camp I’m guarding are robust. Dogs on the other hand, will always have their ways to get around chain linked fence. If all else fails, they simply stroll into my camp via the very main gates we were guarding.
I’m quite lucky to have served National Service in days where there is no Al Quaeda, no Daesh(ISIS), and security in camps isn’t as tight as it is now. I was posted to the guard room, and technically served as a security guard. I got Mondays to Fridays 8.30am to 5.30am. which was great, the night shifts was covered by the guys in the camp. Life was easy, the only ‘security threat’ was not properly registering the visitors.
So there was this brown mongrel. My friend Jerome, called her ‘BiBi’ as she kind of looked like one of the Chief Clerks in the camp. Actually she don’t, but the name stuck. Bibi came and went, like all free roaming dogs do, we feed her when we can and the relationship was very laissez faire. She came into the guard room, we feed her; she leaves, she leaves.
But she was pregnant. we knew that and didn’t think too much of it. Well, we were eighteen then, what do we know about doggie parenting?
We came to camp one day and the guys who manned to night guard duty told us that Bibi did something in our cell.
You see, back then our guardroom has about 12 holding cells for prisoners, but most of them were unused, and became makeshift storerooms. although a couple of them were clean and unoccupied. Other than the stacks of newspapers we put there.
So Bibi went into that cell, made herself cozy, by spreading the newspapers out. Promptly gave birth to her offspring there.
It was the most b-e-a-u-t-i-f-u-l thing to me. The experience is not anything I could have had. Bibi was there, there was 11 of them, but 3 died at birth. the rest of the 7 scurried to Bibi’s nipples for their suckle of life. They all scrambled like hungry little rodents, and despite of their eyes has yet to open, they know where the nipples are, and homed in on it. There were one or 2 weaker ones, who couldn’t get to the nipples for refuel, I helped moved them a little and positioned these weaker ones for their nourishment.
Bibi trusts me.
I didn’t know maternal instincts until I met Bibi. Of course her giving birth wasn’t a total secret in camp, many of the camp guys camp to see and yeah, that’s all they get, a look, they couldn’t touch the pups, they could try and all they got was a low warning growl from Bibi. These guys were strangers; for me and my RP friends, we held her, we could hold her children. There was no issue. For me, to have a dog trust me instinctively and intrinsically is one of the greatest honour I could have as a human being. It is a big deal as an 18 year old then.
The pups were small, I can hold one in my hand, and as pups, they grew fast and grew so full of energy. And so playful too.
Unfortunately, sometimes, ignorance and playfulness can cost them their lives.
Puppy vs 3 Tonner
I came to camp one day and learned the unfortunate demise of one of the pups. The night duty guys told me that one of the puppies, a lovely little brown patch of furry energy, decided to take a nap on the road, just outside my guardroom, the wee hours of the morning.
A 3 tonner came and went, unfortunately didn’t see the puppy, well it was night and dark, the little mutt was barely visible. The result was predictable, road kill.
I think the most fortunate of all the pups was this little black thing called ‘Blackie’. He was picked up by a Commando Major, and the soldier took it in ever since. Even when the Major retired and joined the Police Force, Blackie followed him. I’m sure the Major would have given the mutt a good life, all the way to the end.
I’m still in touch with the Major every now and then, and he does tells me Blackie’s still with him, but that has been a couple of years since I last caught up with the old soldier, I wonder if Blackie’s still alive, or old age has finally caught up with the mutt.