A feared Chinese drill sergeant who flew into a rage, threatening fire and brimstone because cadets did not clean their bathrooms and dormitories to his satisfaction, got the shock of his entire military career when an eager-to-please cadet got down on all fours and licked the toilet to prove to the sergeant they had done the job thoroughly.
Sergeant Cai Peng, at the Sichuan Vocational and Technical College of Communications in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, ordered students undergoing military training to clean their dormitories and bathrooms.
Each bathroom included a pit toilet with a porcelain seat.
Sergeant Peng warned the students to ensure that their dormitories and bathrooms were spotlessly clean. But when he returned to inspect, he was furious because he thought the cadets had done a shoddy job. He began shouting at them, threatening harsh punishments.
But one of the students, Ho Liao, summoned up courage and stepped forward to address the feared instructor, saying he was confident they had done the job thoroughly and that he could prove it if the instructor gave him the permission to proceed.
“Excuse me sir, but I don’t agree and with your permission I would like to prove it.”
Surprised that a lowly cadet would dare speak up while he was rebuking them over a job poorly done, the instructor permitted him to provide proof.
Ho promptly got down on all fours in front of the pit toilet and began licking the porcelain seat. The dutiful cadet likewise licked around the bathroom floor and finally the dormitory floor. After going through the bizarre canine-like motions he rose to his feet, snapped to attention and saluted smartly.
“He told us he had wanted the floor good enough to eat off. We felt we delivered that, and I just wanted to prove the point.”
Sergeant Peng could only look on with open-mouthed amazement while Ho demonstrated conclusively that the students had cleaned the dormitories and toilet thoroughly.
Without any further comments or threats of punishment, he dismissed them.
Chinese high school students in their first year and college freshmen are required to undergo “military training” as part of the patriotic education program launched by the former Communist Party Chairman Deng Xiaoping. The training was made compulsory for all high school and college students in 2001.
Enforcement of military training in schools is unpopular among students and their parents. It has been criticized due to the perception that the drills are unduly harsh. The Los Angeles Times reports that last year, a boy collapsed and died during strenuous drills and a girl committed suicide after being harshly treated by an instructor.
The training program has also been criticized on the ground that rather than training students for direct military combat roles, it involves mostly political indoctrination and orientation to instill a sense of patriotism and loyalty to the state.
But this is not surprising: The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is maintained and organized as the armed wing of the Chinese Communist Party rather than as a professional fighting force. Thus, training tends to focus inordinately on political indoctrination and ideological orientation.
Sometimes discipline breaks down when students are unable to bear the rigor of the drills: A fight broke out between students and instructors at a school in Hunan province last year, in which several people were injured.
[Image: Wikimedia Commons]