Friday, March 6, 2009

BTN Bits: Kenegaraan Luar Negara 26 Feb - 2 Mar 2009

"Dah kena brainwash...?"

Hubby gleefully greeted me when I came back from U.S. on Monday evening. For those who are wondering, no, I didn't go to the U.S. I was in Ulu Sepri, N.S to attend Biro Tata Negara's (BTN) Kem Bina Semangat (literally translated: Courage Building Camp :P).

When I went to work blur and serabut the next day, speculation was rife that I have been fixed.

"So, were you brainwashed?" asked my sister who called on Tuesday evening out of curiosity rather than concern.

I hate to disappoint, but the truth is: BTN was pretty harmless.
"So", they asked, "What's with the blur look?"
I said "It's because I slept for 4 hours only everyday. That's Why!"

BTN camps have always been perceived by many people as the place where "they brainwash you". I myself have heard of this. Therefore, when I was ordered to go there, I was actually looking forward to experience being brainwashed. He! He! Anyway, I was also feeling a wee bit uneasy because I've also heard people saying that the place was "keras". Indeed it was. Huge rocks here and there. He! He! But on the first night there, the person sleeping next to me actually kena usik... I actually felt tak sedap hati but forced myself to sleep only to wake up at 2.00 a.m wanting to pee!

the jungle behind our dorm

Anyway, going to the BTN camp was like going back to boarding school. We slept on doubledeckers, wore uniforms, were on roll-calls, ate and bathed together. Yeah, some of the ceramahs can be pretty mundane but others were informative and fun. Who would have thought that a ceramah on Malaysia's struggle for independence became a tengok wayang session? Yep, folks. We watched Shuhaimi Baba's "1957: Hati Malaya". Wow! A touching movie that moved some of us to tears.

from left: gorgeous mum, WWW, and Dr. Laksmi
In another ceramah, the presenter drove home the fact that ethnic-cleansing (of the Malays) actually happened in our country as early as 1511. Most of us were stunned because we never really saw it that way. Based on records found overseas, literature and historical research, it was deduced that the conquerors killed the Malaccans, burnt their homes to the ground and destroyed places of worship and tombs (no prize for guessing where the stones used to build the A-Famosa came from... ). I mean don't you ever wonder why you can't find any historical evidence that shows that Malacca was once a great Malay sultanate? (Do I sound like I've been brainwashed now? Hu! Hu!). Come to think of it, I learnt more about the country's history in the 5 days I was there, then those years in school! Social contract, Perkara 152, 153, 181? Bring 'em on, (poyo)!

From left: Faye, WWW, Nurul & Sazuliana
LDK came next after a few days of ceramahs. Our guards were high because we thought nak kena basuh. Heard one or two complaints from other groups but my own group was O.K. Got a cool facilitator who listened patiently to all our views and never once forced us to accept his opinion or values. He was totally impartial. Bangga jugak sebab he was an ex-Jenan (ever heard of Jasmi Ismail, class of '76?). Talking about Jenan, met many people with the Jenan "connection". Husaini, our Penghulu was the elder brother of a school mate (Mat Da @ Hazril). My dorm-mate, Sai was the wife of a Wira junior.

From left: Raman, Husaini, Yang & Fadzly

Moahzam and Harry Porter @ Ong
What I like most about the BTN camp? I met lots of people from different backgrounds. I slept next to an anasthesist; the person sitting next to me during the ceramahs was a vet; youngsters as young as 24 going for their PhDs; our joke-cracking Dr Love@ George of the jungle; our sporting Pak2 Trainer (siapa kata diorang garang?), etc.

With the Pak2 Trainers on the last day
The riadah sessions in the evening was fun. We wiggled and jiggled to Poco-poco and some traditional dance moves. Tapi ada jugak yang tak best. For instance the session where the trainers called Latihan Tembak Kaki. Ingat apa ke bendanya. It was a series of exercise which made us sore all over especially our legs. In the end, everybody was limping as if shot at (different parts of) their legs. I was also very disappointed when the trainers called-off the kembara due to bad weather. Dang! Dah berangan-angan nak naik flying fox. Hu! Hu!

the murky river after a heavy downpour
Anyway, at the end of the day, we were there to be assessed. Ya lah, all of us were scholars bound for foreign lands. Mestilah kena nilai samada patriotik atau tidak. There were physical , oral and written tests. The ultimate test? The patriotic song presentations. He! He! My group didn't win but we sure made jaws drop with our rendition of "Tanah Pusaka". Berguna jugak pengalaman nyanyi choir kat Jenan and UPM...

With Fadzly, bakal "Master" chef
So, folks, what do you think? Have I been brainwashed???

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