the first bird

there’s just 3 more days before i go for the induction + kenegaraan (nationalism? err…?) program that’s compulsory for all house officers to attend before starting our stint as employees of the ministry of health.

i went to a kenegaraan camp just after form 5, 7 years ago. back then it was a week long and was held at a campsite somewhere in hulu selangor. i joined a cohort of jpa medical scholars bound for russia and we made for our destination from the intec campus in shah alam.

each day started with a taklimat moral at 5am for the non-muslim participants while our muslim friends went for their morning prayers. while i was perfectly fine with waking up with the azaan, i was not okay with some of the things the speakers said to us during the lectures.

in a nutshell, they weren’t very 1malaysia. for a camp intended to drill the history of malaysia through our skulls so we won’t kacang lupakan kulit, they sure had strange tactics.

anyway i was only 18 at the time and definitely alot less informed than i am now. although i felt insulted some mornings, i was more focused on getting through the week, passing the exam i had to take at the end of the camp and heading back to my college in singapore. regardless, there was a niggling feeling that whatever went on during that camp wasn’t quite right, that i am entitled to my own opinions and not whatever was fed to us over the course of 6 days.

this time the whole program – which used to last 2 weeks – will be conducted over a period of just 4 days in a pretty sweet-looking (from the website anyway) hotel. i guess it’s because we’re adults now, not children, and we’re technically colleagues of the people running the camp (or it could be that there isn’t enough money for a lengthy program anymore, i dunno).  the kenegaraan bit has been reduced to one day.

i am somewhat relieved that i won’t have to go through what i did 7 years ago. i don’t think i’d be able to sit-down-be-quiet-nod-yer-head-like-dis should i be subject to 6 days of…that, like my senior did last year.

what does frustrate me though is that not one, but two people have already told me to shut my mouth and contain myself from even rolling my eyes if my colleagues in the government say something stupid. keep your head low girl, just go with it. the bird that makes the first sound will be the first to be shot.

they have my best interests at heart i’m sure, but i can’t help but feel like they’re suggesting i do exactly what has been allowing the dissatisfaction and distrust that simmer beneath our happy slogans to continue burning for another 50 years.

still, i value their wisdom and respect the fact that i am after all going to be a government officer. i will have to make an effort to bite my tongue even if my colleagues say anything that goes against whatever our dear leader preaches. i just hope i’ll be able to forgive myself afterwards.


One response to “the first bird

  1. I always think – just speak. Say what you have to say, you will make some enemies, but you also gain a fair bit of respect from others. Be firm, but never be rude.

    5 years in a GLC doing exactly that, and I don’t think it has done me much harm.

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