Recruit sketches Pulau Tekong BMT scenes for keepsake as in-camp photos not allowed

Recruit Asher Ong's work was featured on the social media pages of BMTC.

Nigel Chua | September 02, 2021, 08:42 AM

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A recruit in the midst of Basic Military Training (BMT) has earned overnight fame for his sketches capturing snippets of life and training on Pulau Tekong.

The poignant moments and familiar scenes captured in black and white on Recruit Asher Ong's notebook are likely to be instantly recognisable to anyone who has spent a part of their National Service on the island.

Ong's sketches were uploaded to the Basic Military Training Centre (BMTC)'s social media pages on Aug. 31, and have attracted thousands of reactions since.

"No in-camp photo? No problem!" said the post's candid caption.

Iconic BMT scenes

The detailed sketches in Ong's notebook include depictions of iconic scenes such as booking out of camp via the SAF Ferry Terminal:

Getting transported in a 5-tonner transport truck:

Going down to the live firing range:

And lining up to draw arms from the armskote:

Training notes and records

Ong's sketches also consisted of training notes, presumably taken down in the course of countless lessons that soldiers go through during their basic training.

Here's a sketch of the SAR21 assault rifle with each of its parts labelled, including close-up perspective sketches of key components such as the gas regulator.

A similar sketch, of the hand grenade used by BMT recruits, was accompanied by safety information, and even the commands that would be used by the safety officer — something that Ong would undoubtedly have had to be familiar with.

On one page of his notebook, Ong sketched the safety vehicle — complete with details such as the cross logo attached to the side of the vehicle, and the wheel chocks placed on the front wheel.

He also sketched the scene at the live firing range, and recorded details such as the lane he was assigned to, as well as his eventual result.

Unique experiences, observations, and memories

BMTC's post explained that Ong took to sketching parts of his daily training and activities, in order to remember his BMT experiences.

Indeed, Ong's notes in the margins of his notebook document some of his unique experiences and observations, as well as his personal reflections.

After all, it wouldn't have been possible to chronicle these experiences in other forms of media, given the restrictions on the use of recording devices like phones and cameras.

But Ong would also periodically post photos of his sketches on Instagram stories with added captions, and has saved them in his Highlights on his Instagram profile — true to form for someone of his generation.

Ong is quoted in BMTC's post as follows:

“It keeps me focused on the purpose of my training for myself, my community, my nation. One thing I have learnt through drawing is that there are so many interesting and beautiful things about the Army. Drawing has helped me to slow down and appreciate the aspects of BMT.”

Reactions to the post were overwhelmingly positive, with many commenting on Ong's talent and the quality of his drawings.

Some even said that they would pay for the drawings, if they were offered for sale.

You can see BMTC's post — and more of Ong's sketches — here:

Top photo via Basic Military Training Centre on Facebook

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