NS Survival Guide

24 January 2010

A basic guide on Malaysian National Service or Program Latihan Khidmat Negara.

Being in the National Service Malaysia, there a few need-to-knows on the camp before you actually go. This is to ensure that you're ready for the worse things you can get in the camp.

PLKN Logo for show.

What to Do Beforehand
Before going to National Service, you are provided with a few forms. You will notice this orange and yellow form which is for your medical check-up. This is important, because if you don't do the medical check-up, they will still accept you irresponsibly and if anything happens to your health, your family will be the ones to blame for not bringing you for a check-up and they'll think you're pretending to avoid the training.

State all your medical history to your doctor, your allergies especially and some that couldn't be checked. Normally for these "uncheckable" disorders, you probably had seen a doctor earlier or since you were young. If so, have your doctor write a letter on your medical history to aid the check-up in the government hospital or clinic.

After you've done your check-up and filled in the permission forms needed, you may proceed to the gathering area...

Also, learn to wash your clothes, iron clothes, polish shoes and so on.

What To Bring
- Buckets or Pails for Washing Clothes
- Detergent
- Toothbrush
- Toothpaste
- Clothes Peg
- Clothes Hanger
- Your Own Pajamas/Public Clothes/Undergarments
- Biscuits
- Cereals
- Money & Coins
- Identification Card (NRIC)
- Slippers

Yeah they said no need to bring pails, but they wouldn't provide you anyway, so just bring your own. Cereals and biscuits are crucial and I will explain why later.

What You Don't Need to Bring
- Iron
- Cigarettes
- MP3s
- IPods
- PSP or other sort of electronics
- Cup Noodles
- Medication (only pills for gastric, vomiting, etc. allowed)
- Coffee / Milo

They will take all your cup noodles so there's no point in bringing them.

Yeah, cute pretty girl with a bunch of brownies for show.

After packing all your stuff, you're ready to register for National Service. When you reach your gathering area you should see a few booths with the name of your camp. Parents will wait outside of the fenced area. Present the forms needed and you'll be directed to a bus where you will then proceed to your camp.

Note: IF you did not do your medical check-up, they will still accept you. This is a problem as once you're in the camp, you might not get your medical check-up. If anything happens to you, they assume you're just faking it because your medical report says nothing. If you die, they won't take the blame because you had not done your check-up. Demand a medical check-up no matter what, even if you have entered the camp.

Be Prepared For These Situations
Inedible Food
This seems to be the most common problem on almost all camps. The food will be extremely bad, it's not your typical kampung-style. Most probably your food will consist of stale eggs, dead chicken, stale fish and so on which they got for a very very cheap price. Vegetables will be half-cooked and the meat will be fried as solid as rock and you can't even stick a fork into it.

This is why cereals and biscuits are crucial because these are the stuff you will eat if you cannot eat any of the food there. Most people experience diarrhoea and vomiting, but some couldn't take it and have indigestion and persistant vomiting until sent to hospital, THEN face the same problem again.

Even if the camp tries to cater for your menu, they will still serve the same thing. Don't bother with them because it's a waste of time so just get your cereals and bread.

Yeah, rotten apple for show.

2. Filthy Surroundings
There will be many many insects because your camps are mostly near the jungle. Cicadas are most probably the very common insects you'll find lying everywhere on your bathroom. The people you live with are various people and you might not get used to it because they might not be as hygienic as you are. Dead insects in your shower room, dead stuff everywhere.

Some people wear shoes into dormitories even when they're muddy or wet. Be prepared for full-time cleaning or you'll have to bear with it.

3. Strenuous Activities
If you do not really participate much in sports or activities in school, or simply just not physically strong, you will suffer. Especially for girls, marching under the hot sun for 2 hours is enough for them to pass out. So remember to voice out if you really can't take it, or just pretend dizzy so you could rest. If you feel too strained doing the activities in the camp, you could pretend to be sick just to get the extra few hours of rest to ease yourself. Heck, just pretend to be a weakling and relax.

Yeah, all standing still, no movement just for show.

4. Less Sleep
Even if you can withstand the vigorous activities, you wouldn't have enough sleep. On a daily basis, you would probably sleep at around 12am after everything's finished. You would have to wake up at 5.30am in the morning and get ready to assemble. However, Muslims will wake up much earlier at around 4.30 to 5am who will maybe cause a ruckus or noise loud enough to arouse you from your sleep.

So you would only have about 4-6 hours of sleep. With the food you're gonna get, and the constant lengthy activities, most people will be visiting the medic very often.

5. Boredom
As if the food and environment is not enough to kill you, you will be going through various boring activities. You will be going for character building classes which makes not much of a difference. The only fun part is you'll get to play games with your friends in the classes.

And they'll tell you that you have to share everything in class...pour out your personal stuff with people you completely don't know. Your best bet is to just sit down and pretend the class is very exciting, tell utter lies about your life and just look at some pretty girls.

At night you will watch character building videos. If you enjoy watching Malay dramas or movies, then it might suit you. Else, just fall asleep. I also forgot to mention that sometimes you will need to sit in the canteen or hall for hours doing nothing for no apparent reason.

For a first-timer, jungle-trekking, abseiling or firing a M-16 might be pretty fun. You will be restricted to many stuff you could actually do, and it might take away all the fun. For example, you might think getting a chance to hold a rifle is fun, but in the camp, all you do is go prone, fire some shots and that's it. No reloading, no pulling bolt, no checking barrel, no turning safety off, no nothing and you only get to do that once in 3 months period.

Yeah, fo' show man, for show.

6. Unfriendly or Grouchy People
You might meet unfriendly people who might actually be just frustrated and strained, but it's best not to start any arguements or fight within the camp. Just retain calmness and walk away if you need to.

However, most likely you'll be making lots of friends and cracking lame jokes. Most of the time there will still be separated groups of people of different races, but it's okay and there wouldn't be much racism. Girls and guys are obviously segregated except in certain activities only.

Yeah, girls only area, for show.

Safety Issues
Remember, your own safety comes first. If you feel that your life is at stake, tell your trainer and don't do it. If you don't know how to swim, do not try water sports. If you cannot pass motion or vomit, seek the medics immediately and call your parents. If you couldn't get pass motion or vomit, it means waste substances aren't coming out from your body. If it's not out, you will die. This is a case which happened in Malacca, where a girl, Too Hui Min died of colon infection.

A short info, colon infection is based on the food you take. The food gets stuck in the colon, you get constipated, stuff ain't coming out and you get infection. This may seem like a small matter on the outside, just plain stomach pain and constipation. You think it's curable by medication. Doctors say it's a small problem. But where do big problems come from? They come from these small problems.

Parent's Guide
Child's safety comes first.
If you think your child's life is at stake or if your child is unsafe, you can visit your child. If they do not allow you in, cause a ruckus and be upset. You are the parent, you have every right to ensure your child's safety and you don't need to care what the hell is protocol and what the hell doctors say. If you feel your child is in danger, you should be there. National Service is not prison.

2. Understand National Service's protocol.
The problem with how trainers and these people work is that they don't even know their protocols. Their work and coordination is all messed up and you'd probably have to wait unnecessarily. However it is, you must know that they could give your child a leave if your child is quite ill. This allows your child to return home and get treatment from your own doctor instead.

You cannot do medical check-ups yourself after going for the camp. Your child must be escorted by trainers if a check-up is needed.

If anything goes wrong, you can complain to the headquarters in KL. Annoying them is better than nothing if all else fails. You gotta make some noise if there's a problem.

3. Visiting Time
You are allowed to visit your child on Sunday every week. At least that's how it was on my camp. You can bring food, items and stuff for your child.

This is better than PLKN fo' show a hundred times man.

Last Notes
- Be strong mentally.
- Be street smart.
- Be a good actor.
- Do not hide anything from your family.
- Just do it.
- Do not strain yourself.

Overall, National Service is good for discipline and character building. But let's just face the fact that smokers will still be smokers, mat-rempit will still be mat-rempit and idiots will still be idiots. 3 months of training will not make a difference in lifestyle or thinking. If someone wants to change, they'll change.