These three letters are synonymous with indoctrination, politics, mental and physical 'torture', and the like.
Biro Tata Negara - responsible for handling the infamous Kursus Tata Negara and recently the Kursus Kenegaraan.
'Not again...' I mentally sighed as I held the calling letter in my hand. I was to report at the Balik Pulau BTN camp on the 22nd of October. This would be the third BTN camp I attended, and being an old hand at the game, it wasn't so much the 'torture' (that's just urban myth to scare
people from attending BTN) as it was the boring lectures about Malaysia this, and Malaysia that... All the things we learned at school regurgitated back to in a space of 5 days.
And it wasn't that it was that bad of a course (based on the previous ones that I had attended). but it was just that there was so much work to be done at the office, and also it meant time away from my son and my newly-pregnant wife.
But there was nothing I could do as it was a prerequisite for all prospective students, whether for Masters, PhD or Sub-specialization, who were going overseas for their studies.
So I grit my teeth, packed my bags, and took a connecting flight to Penang.
Upon arrival, I hailed a taxi, and we hunted for the camp. Believe it or not even the taxi driver had never been there before because it was so remote. The only mobile network which covered the area was Celcom (no doubt installed after a Celcom bigwig was put through the course there!).
But find it we eventually did, and a beautiful place it was indeed... fresh ocean breeze blowing through the dormitories... the waved creating a lullaby with each kiss to the shore... If it had not been for the impending activities and lectures I would have broken out a picnic basket.
Instead this was the sight that greeted me.
And these were my fellow 'detainees'. All with the same unhappy look, filled with gloom at the prospect of spending 5 whole days there.
I could see that this was going to be a loooooooong week ahead...