Sunday, 15 April 2007

X-Kenyir...challenging mind & body

Recently I was involved with the X-Kenyir. In case you haven't figured it out, it stands for "Exercise Kenyir". It was the brainchild of the Director General of the Malaysian Civil Defence Force.

There were 3 phase that the teams have to complete.

Phase 1

The teams must depart from base camp and head for Sg Cicir by speedboat. The journey takes about 1.5 hours. Upon arrival, teams must hike up the Gunung and camp for the night. The next day, they have to trek back down and head back to base camp.

Phase 2

Teams must depart from from base camp and head for Gua Bewah. The journey takes about 2 hours. Teams must complete 2 sections. Section 1 is where the team must rappel down about 100 ft, administer first aid and secure the victim, and then hoist up the victim including all team members. Section 2 is where the team members conduct search & rescue (SAR) in the cave itself, locate the 5 victims, administer first aid and evacuate them.

Phase 3

Teams must complete 2 sections. Section 1 is where the 'rescuer' must throw a life line 25m to a victim and succesfully conduct a water rescue. Section 2 is where the 'rescuer' must enter the water and swim 50m to the victim and do a chest tow back to shore.

The competition is by zone, namely the Northern, Central, Southern, Eastern and West Malaysia. The first place went to Eastern. Best leader award went to Lt (PA) Zabri from Terengganu.

Where was I amidst all these events? I was there on the rescue boat, part of the water rescue dive team. I went diving 3 times while I was in Kenyir. Collected some 'kupang' about the size of a boy's palm which was in abundance (because no one crazy enough to dive there kot). I came face to face with an ikan toman (snake head), medium size. As I was just wearing my lycra shorts and without a dive knife, I was afraid that the sight of my exposed thighs were just too tempting to the ikan toman. It just stared at me without any sign of backing off. Since I was in his terratory, I bowed out. Learn to respect other life forms...human or otherwise.

Wednesday, 28 March 2007

What makes them special?

The 'new' Ketua Pengarah (KP), Lieutenant General (PA) Hj Nasir bin Mat Dam has continuously emphasized on the need for better training and preparation in face of disaster. He also emphasize on the need to get recognized trainers to run such training programs. Recently, JPA3 had recruited more than 300 new officers to fill in the various vacancies in the department. As 'permanent' staff, KP had ordered that they have to go through 6 months of intensive training, covering all aspect of operations.

One of the course is the Search and Rescue (SAR) course - Jungle Survival phase, which I had the pleasure to witness. The course was conducted by PASKAU - Pasukan Khas Udara, the Royal Malaysian Air Force elite commando unit somewhere in Perak.

I was asked to accompany some high ranking officer, acting in capacity as ADC. On the morning when we were supposed to depart, KP decided to pay a visit as well. So on the spot, contingency plans were put in motion. In the Fortuner was just me and Bada the driver, while Colonel rides with KP in his Perdana.

Our first stop was ITU, or Institut Tentera Udara. We were greeted by the Commandant and his senior officers. After lunch, we had a session at the shooting range. Surprisingly, our KP was quite a marksman. One thing that strikes me is his perseverance in trying to achieve perfection.

After that it was off to the training site, about 2 hours away. The participants had just completed the Mangrove Survival phase for 2 weeks. On the day we arrived, they had started the Jungle Survival phase and had gone nearly 5 days without any 'proper' food. Armed with just a parang and the clothes on their back, they were left to live off the land. They had to make their own shelters, utensils, 'bubu' and animal traps. It was a test both mentally and physically.

(Left) - Participants taught the different types of plants
- Participants taught how to make traps
- Participants treated to their 1st solid food in days. Some even shed tears.

It makes me wonder at times as to what drives a human to endure pain, hunger and suffering for the benefit of others.

(Left) - Participants tested in identifying the different types of plants
- Me with 'Pak Yeop', a veteran retired commando. A true Malaysian made 'Indiana Jones'.
- Only practical style of training classrooms. Nature is the ultimate classroom for survival training.

Someone worth mentioning...Pak Yeop. He is a veteran green beret (Commando). He is 60+ years old but he still goes into the jungle to look for herbs. He even outpaced us 'younger' people. You can just about ask him anything regarding what's the remedy for this, what's the remedy for that. The good thing is, he process the herbs that he collects and sells them in capsule form. Looking at his 'very healthy' condition, I can't help but believed in his remedies.

One thing that came to my mind...will he pass on his knowledge & wisdom to someone else? I sure hope so as its very priceless.

Friday, 16 March 2007


Recently, while looking for some important documents, I came across my old photo albums. They sure brought back memories, good and bad. Among the 'happy' photos were those from my ROTU or PALAPES (Tentera Darat) days back in USM.

(Left) - At 3 Artillery Camp in Kamunting during our annual training stint
(Middle) - Shooting competition where I represented 'Alpha' Company in M16 category

(Right) - A night out to Taiping town.

(Left) - Running from base to the top of Maxwell Hill
(Middle) - Photo after I came out from compass marching

(Right) - Strike a pose.

ROTU stands for 'Reserve Officers Training Unit' or its malay acronym PALAPES stands for 'Pasukan Latihan Pegawai Simpanan'. During the 3 years, one is groom to be an officer...and hopefully a gentleman. My number was 7503008. I was the IC (in-charge) for my level and also represented Alpha Company in the shooting competition.

(Left) - Cleaning my M16
(Middle) - Who's the fastest draw?
(Right) - Preparing to move out.

As a Cadet Officer, one is not allowed to use the bus. Instead you must use a taxi, plus you must be all dressed up in white shirt, tie and dark trousers whenever you leave the camp for a night out in town.

(Left) - 1st check point before entering the jungle
(Middle) - One of the check point
(Right) - Drill time

My proudest moment was when I was chosen as "Best Cadet Officer" and received the Combat Benet. Looking at the photos made me realised how time flies. Cannot believe that these photos were taken xx years ago.

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