Condensed thoughts.

This is one of the downsides of not having a mobile data plan – being unable to share my very interesting thoughts (yeah, right) with all of you ON THE FLY.

However, the corollary of that would be permanent cyborgism i.e. if I had a mobile data plan, I’d probably be Tweeting and Facebooking non-stop like some of you losers (wei… just kidding).

So in no order of merit but in some order of chronology, here is what has happened over the last two days:

  • Was travelling along Upper Thomson Road yesterday, on my way to Khatib Camp, when I went past Nee Soon Camp. Both sides of the road were lined with cars. I was like: WTF? Is there some large-scale mobilisation or something like that going on? Was simultaneously worried and intrigued at the same time.
  • I realise I have a very deep fascination with military camps – so long as I’m not forced to have to stay in one.
  • Military facilities e.g. camps, live firing areas, etc. in Singapore have some of the most beautiful architecture or scenery in the land but unfortunately, the majority of the people who have the privilege to appreciate this beauty are Philistines. Philistines, I tell you!
  • I have a newfound love and appreciate for the word “Philistine”. Other words I love but rarely have a chance to use: zeugma, anthropomorphic and bond-free.
  • On my way back from Khatib Camp, travelling along the same road, I discovered the reason for the rows of parked vehicles: Friday prayers!
  • It’d be nice to work for PIONEER again. That way I can write and live out my concurrent fascination/repulsion for all things military in Singapore. (There are downsides to this but I shall not discuss them today.)
  • I’ve finally learnt how to work the Closed Stacks system at the National Library. It may be a tad premature to make this judgement, but IMHO, the NUS Closed Stacks > National Library Closed Stacks system.
  • In any case, the Lee Kong Chian Reference Library experience, much like The Jimi Hendrix Experience, has been quite good and user-friendly, so far. Good work, the two librarians – yes, you; the ones who Googled my name.
  • I miss being a student! Somewhat.
  • Munshi Abdullah is hilarious. For some good chucks, please read The Voyage of Abdullah (959.51 ABD).
  • Popcorn. To be elaborated on in a future post (hopefully).

That is all. You may now express your adoration for me by clicking the ‘Like’ button below this post.

Der Wanderer über dem Nebelmeer.

The Crow by Caspar David Friedrich.

3:44:21 PM Laremy: hey
3:44:26 PM Laremy: wanted to ask you
3:44:31 PM Laremy: what is the ***[redacted: number of days]*** call-up for?
3:44:36 PM Melvin: lol
3:44:38 PM Melvin: ***[redacted: military activity]***
3:44:40 PM Laremy: oh
3:44:43 PM Laremy: i must go too?
3:44:58 PM Melvin: yah
3:44:59 PM Laremy: oh
3:45:07 PM Laremy: so even the ***[redacted: sub-unit]*** does ***[redacted: military activity]*** ?
3:45:13 PM Laremy: i thought we should be doing ***[redacted: more appropriate military activity IMHO]***
3:45:18 PM Melvin: yah so they say
3:45:32 PM Melvin: if nothing is done for us i will express disappointment
3:45:37 PM Laremy: how?
3:45:43 PM Laremy: shake your head and tsk very loudly ah?
3:45:44 PM Laremy: hahaha
3:45:52 PM Melvin: hahaha perhaps

Let us hop on the PIONEER bandwagon, you and I!

Why? For context:

  1. I think most people should know by now that I have a keen interest in issues that deal with the Singapore military and with National Service.
  2. I’ve also been reading David Boey’s blog quite a bit.
  3. Mr Wang’s latest post provided the impetus to write about something close to my heart.

So I was once a PIONEER writer too.

Fortunately or unfortunately, it didn’t happen during a posting while I was serving my NSF. I managed to score an internship with PIONEER under the Singapore Civil Service Internship Programme in the ‘summer’ of 2006.

According to Edgar Lee, one of the Senior Editors then, the choice was between myself and another girl. We weren’t shortlisted; we were just two kukubirds who were interested (or silly) enough to apply for that position.

Well, I thought I got it because I sounded earnest enough during the telephone interview. Actually, I got the gig because the other girl didn’t pick up her phone.

Oh, well.

The internship was one of the best things to ever happen in my life. I had just finished my second year of University, and was somewhere between being willing to write well and being able to write well.

I thought I was destined for academic mediocrity, but the stint at PIONEER was the turning point.

Being forced to write coherently – and consistently – helped me to see what I was doing wrong before, and provided me with more self-awareness when it came to improvement.

You can check out a list of the articles I wrote here. There is a distinct immaturity in each article but I improved at a very rapid pace.

To illustrate: this is the first article I wrote, this is an article from the second month of my internship, and this is the last article I wrote. See the difference?

Anyway, unlike many other people, I haven’t cancelled my PIONEER subscription.

I still read the magazine every month with a fervour: ripping open the plastic sheet that PIONEER comes wrapped in; devouring the publication from page to page.

Is it because I am a military nut? No. I follow what the SAF does  “out of a desire to ensure the system is accountable for the lives of Singaporeans who step forward to serve in uniform”.

That is my only motivation, and PIONEER provides me with one of the few links that I have to a military system that has much room for improvement.

In fact, PIONEER magazine itself provides the most apt example of the change that needs to happen.

The publication is a symbol of how the Singapore Armed Forces wants to portray itself – a glossy, polished, professional entity.

But silences speak the loudest words, and the features that are missing from PIONEER are the very same ills that plague the SAF.

For example, there are no critical commentaries from learned individuals that analyse and evaluate military policy. Neither is there a forum page for soldiers and citizens to air their views.

In spite of this, I will continue to subscribe to PIONEER.

I believe the day will come when more citizen/soldier involvement and engagement takes place. PIONEER, like Singapore and the SAF, has evolved slowly, but surely over the last few decades.

This evolution isn’t going to stop – unless something happens to derail progress, of course.

Change will happen, and I look forward to being able to thumb through an issue of PIONEER and feeling like it’s worth more than the forty cents per issue I’m paying now.