Saturday, June 26, 2010

Royal Military College - RMC

By today, many would know what RMC is again. The news first broke out via MalaysiaKini and then it spread to The Star, Utusan Malaysia, The Sun and NST.

This time, it's hardly anything proud. While the Old Putera Association (OPA) is having their annual activities around this time, this incident really does not auger well for both the college and the alumni.
Investigation is underway and OPA President has decided not to go ahead with this year's Old Putera-Present Putera (OP-PP) Game. This is indeed sad, as a lot of Old Putera (OP) look forward to return to the alma mater and reminisence of their days in college.

I for one, only know what the media reported and i shalt not speculate what actually happened and how it happened.

Instead, i want to share, briefly, what RMC has done for me and how it has made me who i am today.
Room 5, 1992
I joined RMC in late 1991. Immediately after the results of my SRP (Sijil Rendah Pelajaran) was announced. There i was, 15 years old and with a very colorful background (in school) and with pretty alright exam results enrolled into RMC together with another 45 newboys. The orientation were brutal. A whole month of it. We were separated from the "wolves", so to say and were considered as "jaded". The "seniors" were visiting us every night and day and we were always anxious about it. 

As the days goes by, slowly, one by one new boys started dropping out. Homesickness seems to be the main reason. Who wouldn't? Living under the comfort of the home for a full 15 years and then leaving home proper for the first time.

It was no secret that i cried after two weeks, when we were first allowed to call back home. Just 14 days and RMC has made me appreciate my parents and home more than i ever thought i will.

In that first one month, the new boys were taught all the basics and must do and don't do. At the same time, seniors dropped by and confuses us more. Yeap, we were a bunch of confused lads. It was sad to see the new boys getting a hashing.

I was pretty well "decorated" back in school before RMC. I was a school prefect for as long as i can remember. I head a few associations and clubs. I excelled in sports (that require strength) and i am super confident about my ability and capability. I guess that has helped to a large extend - short of making me cocky.
Standard 6. SRK Taman Melawati. Spot Me.
There were four of us from the same school that passed and was chosen to join RMC in 1991. There were 10 of us from the same school that went for the interview. Most did not pass because of medical. You have no idea how strict the selection criteria that went in - you felt as if they were choosing a race horse!

Back then, there were about 380 odd boys in RMC. We were taken in and were joined with another bunch of 15 years old that has entered RMC after Standard 6. In the group of Seniors, there were at least 4 boys that i know, and could relate as we went to the same primary school. One would think that is some reunion.

Wrong.

Being a military institution, RMC is very unique. We are the only school in the whole country with the prefix ROYAL to it. We are also the only school where being a "cadet" is not an option or an extra-curicular activities. We are the only school where men are separated from boys. For a 15 years old like me, it was both exciting, and dangerous.

The initial 45 new boys became 42 by the end of the 30 days orientation. By mid year of 1992, three more left and that left 39 of us. The 39 of us, with the existing 84 "Seniors" make up the Fourth Former of RMC to 123 Budak Boy.

I was in Bravo company. There were separation anxiety as the other three buddy that was my classmate for 3 years prior to RMC were assigned to Delta (Faris Ismail), Foxtrot (Aminuddin) and Golf (Iqbal Farim).

After 30 days and a small "passing in" parade (where i won the best dressed newboy), we were absorbed and lived with the seniors (eventhough they were same age as us). 

Here is where the pressure starts - The Seniors felt that the New Boys might not be "up to mark" for them. We (new boys), might not be their equal. We were given a lot of "special" attention for a whole year.

Whoever that thinks "orientation" is about collecting signatures and singing silly songs to your seniors will be in for a shock. Our "orientation" is a whole year long process - some even felt it was a two years affair until the day we left RMC. 

There were a lot of "Hell". Punishments meant to mentally strenghten our mind and physically pushing us to the limits. There were a lot of "fatigues" or tasks - it range from as simple as doing laundry, polishing shoes, ironing clothes and to as niche as massages. In short, the juniors or new boys are nothing but dispensible assets.
Form 4. Annual Camp. Gunung Raya. Langkawi.
The rest of the year in Form 4 were just flashes of memories that involve the basketball court, the takraw court, the pavilion, the laundry, the ironing, the shining of boots and belt buckles, the hell, the change parades, the inspection, the show parades and the mental taunting.

Then, there was the initiation of one from going up from Form 4 to Form 5. The "Commissioning" night. It is similiar to the Military tradtion of hashing of one officer that has finally commissioned and become a rightful member of the instititution.

Commisioning night is brutal. Anything goes. I remember going under the metal double decker, standing on top of metal wardrobe, being made to run with underwear outside, humilated, man-handled. There was always a fire poker or two amongst the seniors. There were always someone backing you up and do not believe in these tradition.

For all it was worth, i took it all in my stride. I don't come from a well to do family. I certainly am not a cry baby. I am also made to appreciate and brought up to be grateful for what i have. Those has helped me to pull through those harrowing first year.

Was it worth it to endure 365 days of "hashing"?

I used to believe i have to do it to be "accepted". I always want to be and hope to be part of the "batch". 

Things became a bit bad when i was given a rank. Junior Under Officer. It is like being a prefect, only more glam. You get ranks and title and a room to yourself.
Form 5. Prep Room. No.3 Uniform.
It became bad as the rank has sort of became a hindrance and drifted me further apart with the "batch". Some do not think i deserves it as i spend all but a year in RMC. Some think that others are more deserving. How i got the rank? I am not sure. But i believe it was a mixture of a lot of factors. What did the rank did to me?

Having the rank was when i first learnt how to manage people. I was put to be responsible for a group of newboys that came in end of the year - a new group of New Boys. All 16 of them in Bravo Company.

I recall to have to deal with people that has not slept with a chinese boy before (in the same room, not what you think it was). I recall them having doubts if what i offer them was halal.

But this is RMC. This is the only boarding school with a mixture of all races and religion. We do not tolerate each other, we embarace each other's differences and we learn to live with each other as a community.
Form 5 1993. After SPM.
However, there were still a big gap between us, the newboys and those that entered in Form 1. We were often refered as "intake". We are never equal. Infact, some crazy fler even gave us "hell" when we were in Form 5 - because he can.

I saw that as a power trip and the need to "convince" himself that he still got it. What baffles me most back then was the 39 of us actually adhered to the orders!

In November 1993, we bid out adieu. Passing out parade marks the very last day we were all to be known as Budak Boy or Putera. 
Passing Out Parade 1993. Spot yourselves ;-)
Along the years since 1993, all 17 of it, i've met most, if not all those that were in the same year as myself. I've gotten myself involved with OPA and had served in the Alumni as an EXCO member for a good 3.5 terms. Along the way, i've made friends i never did back in RMC - where situation and peer pressure most probably became the biggest hindrance for some of us to be close.

I am very close to some OP which are 2 or even 4 years my senior. I felt accepted by those of my age and has made good buddies with them that could look beyond me, and my "intake" as equal. I found brothers i never had with a few of them. Someone that if i were to go to war and fight for my Tanahair, Malaysia, i know they will look out for me as much as i will look out for them. We were closer outside of RMC. Way closer and way more matured compared to 17 years ago.


Rankholders 1993
I've learnt a lot a lot a lot of things along the way in those two years in RMC. It has made me wiser. It has shaped me for who i am. Those endless fatigues of laundry, shoe shining, belt buckle shining, inspection, punishments, military training and above all that, academic obligation from 0745 to 1400 every weekday has made me into a multitasking monster.

It has made me able to perform well at work. It has made me able to carry on the lifestyle i have now - training and working and family time. 

RMC has in many ways, enriched me and brought the best out of me - after i left many years later.

Today, i read with a lot of sadness. To find a 16 years old killed in RMC. Classified as murder. This incident such as this SHOULD not happen in a place that has given me so much memories in such short time, and that has created more impact in my whole life compared to anything else.

Royal Military Colleage - Your Legacy will live on. We are in a very challenging time and very uncertain time. But one thing i know. I will continue to vouch for you. I will not forget what you have done for me. 

Life is nothing if it is just happy memories. Thank you to all of you that is reading this that is from RMC.

Serve To Lead.



14 comments:

  1. Good writing Ee-Van though I can't recall the person who gave you hell when you were already in F5.

    That post-SPM group photo, do you have a hi-res copy?

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  2. TAA - thanks. I wrote from the heart. I guess you cant deny the rift too... Good thing is that was 17years ago. I guess a lot of us has since grown up and is more matured.

    Infact, thanks to sports, i gotten close to a lot of you. No regrets knowing some that has been sincere as much as i've been sincere too.

    As for who that was - doesn't really matter anymore. At the very least i can use that to pinch a teh tarik or two from him ;)

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  3. No high res pic la. Its in 3R at best.

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  4. The stad 6 pic, u the kid standing right behind the teacher ?

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  5. it is indeed sad that ragging continued till this day, under the closed eyes of the wardens....

    someone's son died due to somebody's son who thinks that he is of a higher status than humans.....

    perhaps, an eye for an eye would soothe the parents' feeling....

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  6. Barath - i never change..

    Iman- the leader of the pack has a well connected family... Someone told me its all the way up there...so perhaps, they did think they are God.

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  7. OP Stupe,

    While it was tragic, we must support the alma mater & OPA developing new techniques to inculcate the spirit of the RMC Charter.

    I was at the OPA dinner, we had a large crowd from my batch OP75, even met many seniors, 2nd 3rd & 4th years who were responsible for our discipline and shaping us new boys into the proper budak boys.

    RMC is the only Malaysian Institution that practice the spirit of being Malaysian, way before the 1 Malaysia slogan was coined.

    Insyaallah, as the saying, when the going gets tough, the tough gets going, keep the OP spirit high bro.

    OP Mood 75
    Kemaman

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  8. Hmm... you don't kick a person in the stomach whilst doing pushups and not expect some injury. That's just wrong.

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  9. OP Mood,

    I think the OP spirit is there, just that it is often misunderstood and abused.

    Some think they can inoculate the spirit by shouting and giving punishments while some feel that positive reinforcement helps better.

    But when you were the minority (as in number, not race), there is very little you can do.

    To some, it's a matter of survival and sticking together to pull through the days.

    That was what kept each and every batch close to each other.

    Now, you factor in "intake" like me, which comes in half way in the secondary education - this is where we do not belong to anywhere!

    I have the putera spirits in me. I still fell very passionate about RMC - but thre is nothing one person can do.

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  10. OP Stupe,

    I would like to relate my own experience. Most of my career as working man, I worked alone in remote places, like my current assignment in Yemen, and before that in Sudan, Vietnam & Myanmar, I was alone, note only as minority in the true sense, but all alone bro, to survive in a notorious and non-friendly environment, I realise I don't need numbers, but the required surviving skills & spirits and the belief in what I am doing, let good judgement prevails.

    OP Mood@ kemaman

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  11. Iszo - a friend has been kicked on the arm and landed on his wrist...it broke of course, and his hands can never be stright for the rest of his life.

    SO, kicking in the stomach and (and i was told) wearing a drill boots while doing that...it's just accident waiting to happen.

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  12. OP Mood - you are right, but thre will be others (during those times) that do not want to see you "not being done anything"...and hence some of us were treated like their favorite pastime activities. Your son too, would know how it happened.

    As we all grow older, we start to realise how wrong these things are...and how back then, no one retaliate.

    ReplyDelete

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