No, this was said to be the temporary building for the Anglo Chinese Girls’ School, back in the 1950s. For those of you who don’t know, Anglo Chinese Girls’ School (or ACGS Ipoh) later became Methodist Girls’ School (MGS). Of course, the MGS building now looks nothing like this one pictured above.
MGS Alumni, we’d love to hear from you! 🙂
Nostalgic flash back in Ipoh ACS – The little park in the site of the current Carpentry Shed 1953
Prior to the erection of the Carpentry Shed, there was a little park of green grass with a middle line of trees, one of which was a frangipani tree of nearly 12 feet tall. The park was bounded by a bamboo plant fence parallel to Lahat Road, the main entry road to the Ipoh Anglo-Chinese School (ACS) Main Building, the impenetrable fence (south) and a deep grassed slope (west). On top of this slope was a School Residence (see illustration above). From the park looking towards Lahat Road, you can see the Hindu Temple.
Some students waited in the park to be picked by private transport. Many activities occurred in that area within a space of 30 mins after school.
When a piece of leaf from the palm tree was found, it was everyone’s favourite to do “bob sledging” down the steep slope. You climbed to the flat top, position your bum on the end of the wide leaf (bark side), move it on the edge of the slope, and with one shove, you make a quick descent to the bottom of the slope. It was a cheap thrill. Sometimes, your pants could be severely stained if you accidently slide off the leaf and continue downwards without it or you simply fell off.
The frangipani was a source of entertainment and prankish behaviour. One day, whilst I was sitting under the tree for shade and was waiting to be picked up,I felt something wet dripping on my head. My hand reached for the spot and felt wetness. I inspected my fingers and found the wetness was caused by a sticky white liquid. At first, I thought it was bird shit but the consistency and the smell (rather sweetly) eliminated my first guess. On looking up the tree, I discovered that the latex from the tree was dripping on my head. What a sigh of relief because if that was bird poo, it was considered unlucky and to reverse the curse, I would have to buy lollies and shared it with my friends. However, I did remember seeing someone known to me, had climbed up the tree as I was sitting down. He had cut the bark of the tree (or carved a grove in the bark similar to tapping rubber). The latex then flowed to the opening and when it accumulated, gravity did the rest. It was the “dripping latex on your head” trick. I had a fight with him then but we remained friends.
After learning the trick from him, I was able to do it to another person. You climbed up the tree and waited for the next victim to sit in the spot where the cut in the tree would result in the latex falling into his head or body. All you need is a good pen knife. All bad things can be learnt from ACS boys if you are willing to learn.
The little park is only second to the ground below the gymnasium for fighting. Many scores were settled in the park after school. It was a good place because the teachers were busy preparing to go home in the teacher’s office and the park was unsupervised. I had cut lips, sore arms and black eyes during my early primary years. As a young boy with classmates 2 years older and bigger, you need to defend yourself when they dislike you being more intelligent than them or you being the teacher’s pet. Or they were just bullies. Once you have established that you can fight back and not necessarily win the fight, you have gained their respect and they will not touch you again. The motto “I can bleed all over you” .was a principle that we smaller beings lived by in ACS. Despite these fights, we were all friends in the later years and we seem to have forgotten our past disagreements.
My maternal uncle attended the afternoon school in ACS called the Methodist Afternoon School (MAS) with Mr Wong Wai Lam as the Principal. He parked my Grandfather’s green Vauxhall near the little park and he had the driver’s window wound down so I could use the horn to summon support if the boys tried to wallop me. His classroom was in the Main Building where he could see the car from where he sat. Fortunately, I did not use his service because I was able to take care of myself.
The ice-cendol Indian man always came and parked his tricycle store in the front lawn between Lahat Road and the bamboo fence. If I had 10 sen in my pocket, I would also get a bowl of ice cold cendol. Very tasty and when I think of it, my mouth watered. As boys we were curious to investigate whether there is any truth in the matter about earthworms at the bottom of the cendol pot. The Indian man obliged us by scooping out the green cendolwith his large spoon and declared “see, no earthworms”. We were satisfied. I found out the truth whilst I was overseas when the discussion of the earthworms in the cendol pot started again. Yes, there were earthworms but they were carefully wrapped in a white piece of cloth and it sat on the bottom of the pot. Some said that it reduced the chances of the coconut oil in the coconut juice turning rancid, ie an anti-oxidant. Believe it or not!
One last comment on the bamboo fence – there were no fighting spiders living there but you can make a single note flute by pulling a young shoot of the bamboo and pulling other joints out and use the one part with a leafy stem. You can make a single note by either blowing into it or sucking it. Another old ACS boy trick.
I believe the fence on the south boundary did have some spiders (fighting ones). True or False?
P/S Does anyone remember the rabbits that were kept at Horley Hall, adjacent to the railway line?
As stated in the poster, this event is scheduled for the 4th of August 2012 at the Grand Valley Ballroom, Kinta Riverfront Hotel & Suites. The party, themed “Friends Forever”, kicks off at 6pm. Spread the word, folks 😉
For reservations and more info, do contact: Ms Lim (05-2532882); Mr Chow (012-5283212); Ms Yau (012-5125693); Ms Doreen (019-5103270).
We have here the 3rd installment of UV’s account….about his teaching experiences in and around Ipoh. Happy reading 🙂
Teaching In and Around Ipoh
Teaching is not merely the passing on of knowledge to students. It involves and interaction that is rather complicated. A student learns through various ways. [This article, being mainly for lay people, will not dwell into pedagogical terms but would be using layman’s terms.] Unfortunately, many teachers during my time still depended on the textbook or the ‘chalk and talk’ method. That is, the teacher would write on the board a lot of notes and try to explain and idea by merely talking.
Most of the students will be busy scribbling notes onto pages and pages of their exercise books, word for word and trying desperately to listen to their teacher. Sometimes, the teacher would scribble and talk (facing the blackboard) at the same time. This is when some naughty students will do cheeky things behind the teacher’s back.
Such teaching methods should be obsolete by now but unfortunately old habits die hard and many teachers today are doing the same. Another batch of teachers don’t even bother to write notes, they merely open the textbook [insisting that every child must have one too, if not the child would be punished] and read from it, and from time to time, instruct the students to underline important sentences or phrases. To ensure passes in their subjects, these are the parts they will set questions on during the examinations.
These are teachers that do not prepare their lessons or had done so once [underlining their own textbook so that he or she remembers where to tell his or her students to do so]. For years, until the textbook is changed, they would use this same old textbook [facts may have changed a lot] to ‘teach’!
However, there are others who would prepare their lessons meticulously and bring along to class maps, charts and models to make their lesson interesting. They would involve their students in activities necessitating them to move to the front of the class or into groups for group work and discussion. The lesson is different every time the teacher steps into class. The students are never sure what to expect. Motivation for learning is high.
Many teachers too resort to interesting anecdotes or simple but unforgettable stories related to the theme of the lesson. Students may forget the facts but will never forget the stories told and eventually recall the facts the story is based on. Some teachers use a joke to set the mood for teaching, but sometimes this would backfire on the teachers. The students are set wrongly and look forward to a period of fun and follies!
In MGS Ipoh in the 60s and 70s we have all sorts of teachers as described above. Boring teachers or interesting ones are remembered. The in-betweens are forgotten. When I started teaching, I modeled myself on some of the best teachers I had in ACS Ipoh. My Geography teacher, Mr. Yee Sze Onn impressed me so much that I gave up a place in Business Management when offered to me to take up Geography as my major from the Second Year of my Degree course instead. [I was called directly a ‘fool’ by the head of the Economics Department then.] When I started teaching in MGS Ipoh, I was one of three graduates, the most junior of the lot. I decided to emulate Mr. Yee and asked for a Geography Room to be set up and it was granted. I had a sand tray set up so that I could make landscape models to explain to my students what features I was teaching. To my horror, stray cats made it their toilet!
I had a map tracing table specially built so that I can trace maps and diagrams. MGS was one of the few schools with an epidiascope that could project pictures or diagrams from text book on to a screen [but the bulb was so powerful, if we leave it on for too long it would singe the page the map or diagram is on] and this was used for projecting maps, diagram and pictures in class or in the Geography Room and used for making charts. There were storage places for rolled up maps and drawers for topographic maps. Globes were available for teachers to take to class. A fantastic collection of pictures and charts, made by me with the help of my senior girls were available as teaching aids.
I give credit to the other teachers of Geography that came before me for a good collection of Geographical materials. It made it easier to put them into a room and made available for all teachers of Geography to use. Unfortunately, teachers being human would borrow items from the room and not return them to the proper places. Very often they became the ‘property’ of those teachers who kept them in the Staff Room beside their favourite place of perch for ‘easy excess’ whenever they go to class. This I consider as selfish as it deprives other teachers of the use of those items.
I also took it upon myself to take my pupils to field trips. Geography is not a subject you learn in the classroom alone. You need to make the students see what is really outside on the surface of the earth. When we teach the rivers and their various stages, we could show them a real river at its various stages. On one such field trip to a waterfall in Buntung [Guntung], we climbed up the steep slope of the waterfall and on descending; a student slipped and slide down to the base of the fall. Luckily for me, she only sustained a small cut to her chin which she wore till today. We rushed her to hospital and sent her home after that. It cut short our field trip. I never took my later students to the same waterfall again!
Visits to places of interest were another thing that made studying of Geography interesting. I organized [like Mr.Quah Guan Teik an ACS Geography teacher of Lower Secondary classes] field trips to Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Lumut and Penang just to name a few places. These trips were to visit port facilities, factories, airports and other major landmarks in Malaysia. I even organized a trip by air to Penang and back just to ensure the students could see the landscape from the air. We raised funds to subsidize the fare for selected pupils who were the ones involved in fund raising.
Many of these were organized in the name of the Senior Geographical Society of the school of which I was the advisor. I remembered in those days, the USA Presidential Election was on and I would allow my students to hold elections for positions in the society based on the American Presidential Election system. This enabled them to learn about the American Election System, part of what is termed Political Geography and compare it with our own system.
I continued teaching Geography even when I became the Senior Assistant of the school. My love for this subject never faded until now. I wonder how many of my students went on to teach this same subject and did what I did when I was teaching it. I would love to hear from some of them who did.
Here’s part 5, from UV.
Episode 5 – Schooling in Ipoh
After two years with the brightest of ACS for this batch of students which included Yee Woon Chee, Nga Tung See and others who constantly hogged the first and second place in the form, my various extra-curricular activities took its toll on me. In the crucial Lower Certificate Examination (Form 3) year I went to the ‘B’ class again.
In Form 1 and 2 I had Mr. Rasathurai for Mathematics. Incidentally, he was the son of the Head Master of the TR ACS Branch school. Later I understand, Mr. Rasathurai’s daughter became a teacher too and I think I met her once in Taiping when I was giving a talk to one of the schools there. Mr. Rasathurai was a fantastic Mathematics teacher but his jokes were even more fantastic. He would not fail to crack a joke every time he is in class and until today we can always recall some of them and oft-time we would use it whenever we are called upon to do some Master of Ceremony work.
In Form 3B in 1960 I was taught Mathematics by Mr. Balagopal. He is most noted for his bicycle and simple rattan woven bag. This greying, almost bald Indian gentleman would come into the class in a no-nonsense manner and would solve Mathematics problems rapidly on the blackboard for us to jot down, those who couldn’t solve them the previous day. Then he would stop half-way and asked some of us to complete the solution. Most of us couldn’t or would try and make some awful mistakes and he would be at at back, rubbing it with his open palm a few times before raising it to slam it hard down on our back! It would usually be accompanied with the words, “Idiot, it is?” Then we know for sure it isn’t the right solution! However, one would never forget how to solve a problem let it be Arithmetic, Algebra or Geometry after that whacking!
Mr. Balagopal gave me a strong foundation both in Mathematics and Mathematics 2 and it helped me qualify the next year for Four Science A. I have him to thank for this but I never pursued a career later in life that would require my using my Mathematical skills.
In Form 3B too we were blessed with Mr. Oh Boon Lian, our Geography teacher. No one would dare play the fool in his class. He wasn’t Mr. Quah Guan Teik who would cry when boys do not pay attention to his lessons. You pay attention to every word that comes out of Mr. Oh’s mouth when he is in class, so I missed nothing during his lessons. That was the start of my interest in Geography. In those days we had to learn all the Southern Continents and the whole of South East Asia for the LCE Geography syllabus. That is why today; those from that era could tell you the capitals of practically every country in South America, Africa and States in the Continent of Australia and New Zealand.
The Lower Certificate of Education Examination was a major hurdle to cross. It would decide whether you continue in Form Four in the Science or Arts stream. Most of us would sit for seven subjects. Others may also offer languages like Chinese, Tamil and Punjabi. O yes, I took up Latin in Form 1 and 2 but learned more to take punches for not being able to conjugate Latin verbs from our teacher who taught us during Saturday mornings for free! Some of you might recall him. He was the one instrumental for the start of Berita ACS! (No, not Mr. Jamit Singh)
When I visited Venice, Florence and Rome after I retired, I recalled some of the words I learned in Latin class but it did not help me at all when I was lost in Rome and luckily English was such a universal language, I was able to find my way back to my residence using it.
Science always intrigues me since Form 1 when Mr. Low Kum Wai started teaching us. He would make science come to life with all his stories of how to apply Science to our daily lives. I can never forget his lesson on friction when he described how he nailed nails into the sole of his clog and when cycling fast at nigh down the road he would let it glide over the surface of the road and would leave a trial of sparks to attract the attention of young girls! That’s Mr. Low Kum Wai and his Science lessons. How can one ever forget the facts with such a tale to fascinate you?
History was boring as usual. With the ‘What is Bronze’ teacher (see Episode 2) spending the whole year asking us to define bronze as the main part of our History lesson in Standard Four, I never took a liking to History in school. All we need do then was to buy a revision guide book written by a particular Indian gentleman (not a teacher in ACS) and memorize it and we are sure to pass! I did that for Form 5 too and even scored an A!
However, History was still the British version unlike what we have today. We learned Colonial History and History of the British Empire. We learned about Ancient Civilizations. We learned very little of Malaysian/Malayan History as there was so little of it except from book written by Englishmen! Parameswaran was a Hindu Prince then and Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat were heroes! I have often been involved in arguments with younger people over this! They do not learn what I learned in the past about these same characters!
In this episode I tried to give you an idea of what being in lower secondary was like. It was not so much the subject matter but who your teacher was that made you remember enough facts to pass your crucial examination! The teaching methods (Pedagogy) may be unique but it was effective, at least, for me. Learning was fun despite the threat of a major examination. Why so? It was so because our teachers made it fun! Even the whacking on the back with reprimands of “Idiots” and “stupid rascal” never deterred us from wanting to study and perform well.
What has changed today? Should a teacher lay a finger on a pupil the press will make a big issue out of it, police reports would be made and politicians will cry blue murder. I too have cried for the ‘blood’ of some teachers who went beyond the point of decency in handling students (especially girl students). Times have changed and teachers no longer can do what their own teachers did. I would accept a lot of things teachers did to my son but I don’t think he would accept the same being done to his children.
Do we call those days when I was in Lower Secondary school the ‘good old days’ or the ‘bad old days’? It depends on who is reading this. You share your comments on this, please.
Here’s part 4 of our series, written by UV.
A photo of the Author, in a Boys’ Brigade uniform during a Methodist Intermediate Fellowship programme. The American boy in the picture is the son of Bishop Lundey (Lundey was the pastor of Ipoh Wesley Church then).
Episode 4 – Schooling in Ipoh
I crossed over into secondary school education at the same time Malaya achieved independence. In January 1958 I entered Form 1. I was among the elite of ACS Form 1 students, many of whom today are famous professionals or business captains. Having taken things easy for the last few years in the 2nd class each year, to catch up and change my style of studying was rather difficult.
In the secondary school I became interested in singing as the teacher in-charge was a charming lady, Ms Wong Suet Lan who was also my Form Teacher. I joined her junior choir that would sing for some church services. It was this year too that I took part in a Christmas play and played the role of Joseph. Of course there would be a Mary and of course my friends would link us together for years to come, but we never became more than just choir mates.
In the primary school days, my parents would send me to Sunday School conducted by Wesley Methodist Church Ipoh. Here I obtained my religious education in Christianity. I was also involved in the Methodist Intermediate Fellowship and the Boys’ Brigade (2nd Ipoh Wesley Company). I have already selected my path I wanted to follow from those early years. The Church would become a very integrated part of my youth.
I took my studies as something that was essential but I would not devote all my time to it. I decided that my extra-mural activities must also play a very important role in my life. My parents, thanks to them, left me alone and never pressured me like some modern parents do to their children to just study and do nothing else. In this way I had a very full and rich life in my lower secondary school days. It was because of this that I never imposed on my own children the need to just concentrate on studying.
I never attended a single day of tuition throughout my school life. My tutors were my fellow classmates who were better in certain subjects than I was and I too became their tutors in subjects I was better in than they. You would be surprised that the telephone was a great way to communicate with your classmates to ask for help in doing homework in the late 50s and early 60s.
Yes, singing was fun. Parading under the hot sun every Saturday Afternoon when it was not raining with the Boys’ Brigade was great training for discipline. I had to spend the whole morning on Saturdays to polish my shoe until I could see my face on its surface, polish the metal buckle of my belt, all the metal badges and make sure my shirt and pants were starched stiff and ironed smooth. After Boys’ Brigade meetings, the whole group of us would then adjourn to the Kidd Road bus station for a cool drink or the famed ABC (Ais Batu Campur or then known as Ice-kacang). Our mode of transport was our bicycles. [Some of my BB friends have already contacted me through this website.]
During the holidays we would go hiking or camping. The Kinta River was the favourite spot for hiking or camping. We also attended an all-Malaya gathering of Boys’ Brigade Companies know as the National Boys’ Brigade Parade (same as Jamboree for Scouts). It would take place in various towns in Malaya. I attended those held in Penang, Kuala Lumpur and the local one in Ipoh.
Methodist Intermediate Fellowship was a church organization for youths below 16 years old. Here we were involved in social activities centred on Christianity. We had an elected organizing committee like any society with counsellors giving guidance. Here too we had the opportunity to socialize with girls. Something other boys my age never had, except for those girls in their neighbourhood. Many of these girls were from Methodist Girls’ School, Ipoh but there were others from other girls schools too. Here too developed some puppy love among the boys and girls.
Life was rather interesting in those early days in lower secondary. I would continue with more interesting in-depth stories in the coming episodes.
Today we’re featuring the 3rd installment of UV’s Schooling Days.
Picture of the ACS Primary Building (from the 1800s), taken from the Kinta Valley book.
I didn’t do too well in my first year in ACS Ipoh. I was placed in the ‘B’ class the following year. It knocked the pride out of me and possibly the high expectations my parents had of me. It also set me off, young as I was then, to accept disappointments and being taken down a peg or two. I settled in easily in the new ‘B’ stream. Practically all schools stream their students according to their academic performance during that time. There would be class positions and ‘Standard’ positions based on the total marks of all the subjects. So if you are first in class in the ‘A’ stream you may be first in Standard but should there be someone from the other streams obtaining a higher total than you, you may end up being second in Standard. Nobody wants to be the last in class (even in the best class) or worse still, last in the Standard!
It was this system of evaluating a pupil that started this silly race to be academically ‘excellent’ in our Malaysian education system. Parents talked about their children having obtained this or that position in school. “O, my son was first in class”, a proud parent would proclaim proudly while another would sheepishly say, “My son only came out 10th.” So what if he is first or tenth or for that matter last? Is his future determined by the so-called ‘position in class and Standard?
Mixing with boys who ‘were not so clever’ so to speak widened my outlook in life more. It proves to me that I am also someone who is not at the top all the time. My desire to lead a life of a boy in the Fifties just started then. The pressure was off and I could do with the minimum of studies and get by. I started playing games amongst my neighbourhood friends; go on cycle rides every evening and practically the whole day on weekends. Life was great!
I had my first sex education in Standard 4B in ACS Ipoh. There were some ‘naughty’ boys who would tell you tales of ‘sexual exploits’ (more like peeping) that they had experienced and one even showed what masturbation was in class! (I hope I am not censored.). Yes, during the Fifties we were not so fortunate as to get all the pornography via the Internet. It was all related through word of mouth from ‘experiences’ someone had. All the innocent ones (me included) would listened attentively to ‘juicy’ tales from the more ‘experienced’ fellas.
I had a lady class teacher then, Mrs Lee Hoo Keat, the daughter of Mr Aw Boon Jin, our Junior Supervisor. ACS was divided into Primary, Junior and Secondary then. Mrs Lee was a tall lady and would often come to class dressed in ‘samfoo’ (a Chinese form of attire made up of a pair of pants [straight cut] and a short blouse of the same floral cotton material. While she teaches, she would be seated behind her teacher’s desk and she would cross her legs and swing the leg that was placed above the other. Eventually, her shoes, which she put on loosely, would fly off her foot and fly out of her desk region and someone has to send it back to her. The boy seated at the front of the row that was nearest to her desk has this task.
Our English teacher was Mr Aw Boon Jin and we would dread his periods. Every mistake we make would be ‘rewarded’ with a swipe of his thin cane that he carried around across our palm. I learned my English Grammar and spelling very well those days. Even worse would be detention after school for serious and repeated mistakes. I was detained once and my brothers left me behind and I had to walk home. It was a lesson well learned.
History was taught by Mr. Wong Chong Choon (we nicknamed him ‘Choon Toi’ because he was rather mean to us). He would from the first day of his History lesson about the Bronze Age asked us “What is bronze?!” For weeks that would go on and none of us ‘stupid’ fellas could answer him. This would go on for practically a whole term and he would never give us the answer. I think I did not find out exactly what bronze was until very much later. I remembered this teacher in particular also because he made a classmate of ours stand on a chair with his pants off as a punishment! I can’t imagine what would happen to a teacher who does this today!
In Standard 5, I once had a hockey stick landing on my head by a teacher for talking while he was teaching. I too will never forget him. He was Mr. Ng Pak Hing, a brother of the famous Dr. Ng Yoke Hing, Chairman of the Board of Governors of ACS Ipoh. I never told my parents about this incident until I left school. Luckily I must have had a thick skull then. Punishments were dished out in all sorts of forms those days and we do not go crying back to our parents for obvious reasons. Our parents will blame us for being naughty and that was why the teachers punished us. We also took our punishment like a man and would consider it sissy to tell our parents.
In Standard Five, I had a very interesting teacher. He was Mr. Robert Leong. He runs a small shop in Anderson road (half a shop) selling comics and other gadgets. Because of his outside trade, he would tell us fantastic tales from comic characters like Superman and Captain Marvel. These characters come to live the way he told the stories with gestures, facial expressions and ‘sound effects’ (made from his vocal organs only). This would then make us interested in the comics he sold. No, I am not saying he sold them in class too! We would then go out and hunt for them and long for each new one. He was very creative too as he would invent new stories and characters with superpower. Once he told us how his ‘hero’ could fly because he ate lots of onions and let off gas to propel him into the sky!
Yes, we had some interesting teachers then. Soon it was the year for the Secondary School Entrance Examinations. If you fail this examination, you cannot get into Secondary School. You would become a Primary School dropout! The year was already 1957. It would be Merdeka soon. The Examination would be post Merdeka. By the time I was admitted to ACS Ipoh the Primary School Grading System had already been changed. It was from Standard 1 to Standard 6. (Primary 1 and 2 were dropped and the old system of Standard 1 to 9 abandoned. Secondary school started from Form 1 to 5 as it is today with Lower and Upper Six for those who wanted to go further to Universities.)
I took my studies more seriously by then. I spent more time reading and learning but still played a lot with my neighbourhood friends. I continued with my model making hobby and played with self-made toy soldiers and table-soccer. I too was very creative and imaginative in the way I created my own play things and battle scenarios. I use my bed, mattress, blanket and pillows to create battle terrains of various types for my mock battles that would last hours. I love to read war comics. Since my brother-in-law was an ardent fan of those war comics depicting battles of World War II, I had the opportunity to read lots of them. These gave me a very good background of military tactics and strategies and reading books about pilots (Biggles) and war heroes was my craze.
The end result of my taking my studies seriously was I passed very well and for a ‘B’ class boy to end up with the 12th position in Standard was a surprised to my teachers. I remembered Mr. Ng Ah Fook announcing the result to my class and when he called out my name and position and I was not really overjoyed, he showed a shocked face. I had never been excessively overjoyed by any major successes in the academic field no matter how good the results may be. To me, it was merely another hurdle to cross and the next one to face.
Here’s the 2nd Episode from UV-Valiant Knight.
The Central Mental Hospital, TR. This picture was taken in 1952; the Writer’s mother is seated next to the Matron (an English Lady).
Aerial view of the ACS School, Ipoh
Mr. Samuel Welch later joined the newly formed Royal Malaysian Air Force and became a very high ranking officer before retiring. He married a woman police officer, Blossom Wong, who became famous when she was the bodyguard of Queen Elizabeth II when she visited Malaysia.
I remembered the time when Mr. Welch was teaching us English and we were reading from the reader a story about Red Riding Hood and he wanted to dramatize the story. He got some of us to act out the various parts. Unfortunately, I was given the role of Red Riding Hood and had a handkerchief for a headscarf and rosy cheeks plastered on by using a red chalk! From that day, my classmates always teased me and being new and quiet, I was nicknamed a sissy! I only managed to rid myself of this ‘title’ in Standard Four when I took on the class bully in a fist fight!
This class bully was much taller and of a bigger size than most of us and he would pick a fight with anyone at any time. I decided to put a stop to this and decided that the only way to get him out of my back was to fight back. Fist fight was common in boys schools then. Disputes would be settled with a fist fight that eventually would end up as a wrestling match. Usually the weaker boys would be beaten up, have their shirt and pants dirtied or torn, sometimes they would end up with a black eye or two black eyes, a bloodied nose and swollen cauliflower ears. I was lucky to end up with a dirtied shirt and had to answer to my parents as to why it was so.
Fights in school were not tolerated and if we were to be caught, we could be caned by the Supervisor or the Discipline Teacher. Mr. Aw Boon Jin was the Junior Primary Supervisor (as he was called then) and he has a thin cane that would land smack on your open palm. It was a real sting and one would carry the cane mark for at least a day. One has to hide this from one’s parents or else one would get another caning at home!
I was saved by the bell that ended our recess (a short break for pupils to ease themselves and have a bite to eat). Pupils in primary schools usually bring along some packed food from home with a bottle of drink. Most students then would use a tomato sauce bottle that would contain a pint (we were using the British Measuring System then) of drink. I love coffee and this was the drink of the family. Real black coffee from ground fresh coffee beans would go into the brewing of the drink. I suppose that’s how Ipoh White Coffee became so famous today. Most Ipoh folks were great drinkers of coffee. We never had Tupperware then and we make do with containers made of metal that once contained sweets or biscuits. They were of all shapes and sizes and displayed colourful pictures of people or scenery.
Big bullies would demand a share of one’s food or drink. Many pupils would rush to the canteen (also known as the ‘tuckshop’ in ACS Ipoh) to buy some food and a drink. One could easily get a bowl or plate of noodles/rice for ten cents and a drink for five cents. In ACS Ipoh then, we had to line up to exchange our coins for tokens (made of metal) and use these tokens to buy food from the various hawkers. The ‘contractor’ (one who runs the cateen) was the late Mrs. Ng Ah Fook, the wife of a teacher in the school. Mr. Ng Ah Fook later became the Headmaster of the ACS Primary School.
There were various stalls in the canteen. Since recess was short and there were hundreds of us from each session (Lower Primary would have their recess first, followed by Junior Primary and then Lower Secondary and Upper Secondary), the bowls and plates of food would all be dished out and neatly arranged on the counter of each stall and all we had to do was take one and pay with our metal token and go to the side for the soup to be added if it is a soup noodle bowl we took. There were hardly any changes in menu! Day in and day out we ate the same stuff. Next we would queue up for a drink and this was when we had to be very careful not to spill our drinks. If it should spill on someone, a fight may result there and then and we would not get to eat or drink that day. Worse still, we would be hauled up for caning.
To avoid all the hazels, most meek and mild pupils will bring their own food. After all, home cooked food is always the best and you can sit anywhere to eat. There was no rules to say one has to go to the canteen to eat. One could bring any kind of food, too. There was no such thing as ‘halal’ or ‘haram’ food.
Most pupils will also use the interval time to ease themselves. ACS was and still is, notorious for poor toilet facilities. At my time, there was only a toilet way behind next to the Horley Hall (hostel for outstation pupils) and it was so far away that one had to run there and back if one wanted to eat as well during the break. Then, it was so small that not all can use it at once and a long queue would result. Inside was an open system where all the boys would line up on two sides of the building and pee into a drain that runs the length of the building. Sporadically, water would sprinkle from a lead pipe that runs about 4 feet from the floor and if you are unlucky, water might splash onto your shoes or pants while you are peeing! The stench was overwhelming. If you have to do the ‘big one’ you have to wait even longer for your turn and you wouldn’t want to eat after you have finished. The flush system would not work so regularly for each user! So the excreta of the previous user would remain while you add yours and so forth.
Yes, life in the Primary School has lots of interesting events. These are common, I suppose in all schools during the early Fifties. We only had a few teachers and they taught us various subjects. Specialization was not common. Our class teacher would normally teach us the important subjects like English, Mathematics, Geography and History. For Art we would have a different teacher as this subject needed talent on the teacher’s part. During my time, there was this old teacher, Mr. Wong Hean Lin who would remain in his Art Room and we would all move to his room to learn drawing and painting.
Most of the time he would give us a topic for imaginative composition and we spend about two periods producing something on a large piece of art paper. We had to bring our own pencils, water colour, brushes and water containers (usually a small glass bottle [Brands Essence of Chicken bottles were the first choice then]. After each lesson we had to wash our brushes, palettes and containers and this would be the time for some bullies or cheeky characters to flick their brushes still wet with colours on someone’s shirt or pants. Here again a fight would start!
Serious fights might at times occur. If such a fight was scheduled, it would usually be arranged for the fighters to meet after school behind the famous gymnasium of ACS Ipoh. This way out corner of the school was selected because it was secluded and out of the way from the school’s office and Principal’s house. All those with news of the fight would gather and it would be a real show then. Very often, it would only be stopped when one of the fighters plea for mercy! It could be rather bloody at times, being fought with bare fists!
We have here a contribution by one of our readers – UV -ValiantKnight. He would like to share with us his childhood memories, especially from his schooling days at the Primary branch of ACS (in Ulu Kinta). Below is his story, together with a couple of pictures. Happy reading!
S.K. Methodist, Tanjong Rambutan
T.R. Methodist Church
Schooling in Ipoh
Would you believe it if I told you that I started schooling in ACS Ipoh’s branch primary school in Tanjung Rambutan (Ulu Kinta)? Yes, there is such a place as ACS Ipoh’s branch primacy school then in the early 50s. This school is now a full fledge primary school. However, back then, it was only a branch school housed in a church building (TR’s Methodist Church (Chinese) but used by all congregations – Chinese, Tamil and English).
I went to that school because my mother was a nurse (the first Mental Trained Nurse certified by the Registrar of Nursing, England) in Central Mental Hospital, Tanjung Rambutan (now renamed Hospital Bahagia Ulu Kinta). Yes, my siblings and their school going friends were object of teasing and ridicule when they were dropped at their respective schools in Ipoh by the CMH bus! However, many from this unsavoury place associated with mental disease became famous Malaysians.
I never had the experience of travelling to Ipoh by this bus. I was registered in the ACS Ipoh Branch Primary School and my father who was a temporary teacher there took me to school on his bicycle every morning until he left to join the Home Guards during the height of the Emergency. From that time on, I had to walk about 2 Km from my mother’s nursing quarters to school and I usually take a short cut along the railway track that ran from just behind my house to the front of the school.
It was safe then to let a 6+ walk alone along a railway track then. If this happened today, I would not be here to write about it. I would be joined by a young friend who was the brother of a famous radio announcer later in life.
There were not too many pupils in the school and there were only 3 classes, Primary One, Primary Two and Standard One (that was how classes were graded then, it later became Standard One to Standard Six and now it is Year One to Year Six.
What I remembered about this school most was its horrible toilet! It was a small outhouse away from the main building and a huge jar (I could barely pee into it being rather short then) where all the boys had to urinate into (to be used by vegetable farmers). The stench was horrible and flies were in the hundreds. I refused to go (if possible) and so cultivated the ability to hold on with my bladder full until I reached home each day. One day, I could not and wet myself and that was a day to remember! I think my classmates also cannot forget that day to my peril. However, it taught me a lesson in life.
When I became a teacher and should a pupil ask me for permission to go to the levorotary I would never deny him or her! It also taught me that one cannot be in full control all the time and that nature has its way to let us know that it is in control. A few years later, a friend in class did something worse; he could not hold back ‘the big one’. I was sitting next to him and one could imagine the stench! I helped clean up the chair and floor because I was next to him and also I remembered what happened to me a few years before that day. Of course everyone nicknamed him “Lai See Poh” (a lady that dirtied her pants with excreta) from that day onwards, but he was OK in life despite that name!
I am sure many of you did experience this when in school, either as the one performing these acts or had friends in class doing them. Care to share?
This is the staff of the Anglo-Chinese School (ACS), Ipoh.
Could anyone tell us the year (a rough guess would do too)? And, perhaps if you can remember these teachers – we’d love to hear from you 🙂
I’m sure some of you ACS-alumni out there are already searching your ‘database’!
We thank Joshua Anantham for sending us this photograph.
The Anglo-Chinese School (ACS) was the first English school (and first Christian mission school too!) in the Kinta Valley. This school was established by the Methodist Episcopal Mission in 1895. It was said that just five days after his arrival, Rev W E Horley opened ACS in a small attap-roof Malay house rented from Datoh Panglima Kinta Muhammad Yusuff.
Here we have Std. 5C, from 1968. Our donor Mr Sundralingam is somewhere in the picture. What about you? I’m sure we have some former ACS boys out there (especially from this class!). What about the teachers shown here – are they still around?
In one of our previous blogs, Katherine Wong shared with us about fund-raising at her alma mater – Main Convent, Ipoh. Today we thought we’d put up a little something about an ACS fun fair.
On the 3rd of August 1957, Anglo Chinese School (ACS), Ipoh, had its first Food and Fun Fair. The event was in aid of school funds, and it was a great success too!
Among the highlights of the day were this ‘happy couple’ (see picture below)
I wonder where Mr Low Kum Whye (the groom) and Mr Choy Yoon Choon (the bride) went on their ‘honeymoon’! Strict as they were, some teachers really knew how to have fun!
To our fans out there (alumni from ACS), do tell us MORE about your FUN-tastic teachers and life as it used to be!
In response to a request herewith our version of the history of ACS Ipoh. If you believe we have made any mistakes please let us know.
“The Anglo-Chinese Boys School Ipoh was the first English school, as well as the first Christian mission school, in Kinta. It was established by the Methodist Episcopal Mission in 1895, ten years after the founding of the Methodist Mission in Singapore. The first attempt to found the school in Ipoh was in November 1894 when Rev TW Stagg was sent by the Methodist Episcopal Mission in Singapore to Ipoh to make the appropriate arrangements. The school was to be opened on the 1st day of 1895 and pupils were to be charged $3 per month. The fee was not affordable for the local people and the school closed down in June that year.
The task of re-starting and, in reality, founding the school was then given to the Reverend W.E. Horley, a young Englishman who had arrived in Ipoh on 31st July 1895. He played an influential role in the educational and spiritual development of the youth in this country.
Just 5 days after his arrival, on 5th August 1895, Rev. Horley opened the Anglo-Chinese School in a small attap-roofed Malay house rented from Datoh Panglima Kinta in Ipoh at Changkat. The land was adjoining the Police barracks, just behind the first Land Office. This was later demolished to provide space for a new mosque. It was Mr. W. Cowan, who came from Taiping, to take over the duties of Chinese Protectorate from Mr. Barnes, who encouraged Horley to go ahead with the plan. Hence, the lower part of the Datoh’s house was enclosed to become the schoolroom.
It is said that Sir George Maxwell, who in one of his letters described the new school house as being “painted a rich blue with yellow shutters” and legend has it that this is reason why blue and gold were chosen as the School`s colours in the 1920s.
Initially, four boys turned up- two Malays and two Chinese; one of them was Che Wan, who became Datoh Panglima Kinta. Another of the first students, Khong Tak Nam, became one of the first two students to pass the Senior Cambridge Examination in 1902, and went to England to study medicine at St. John’s College, Cambridge.
Very quickly the enrolment increased to 60 boys and in 1895, Horley’s application of a four acres land for school and church purposes, was granted by Kinta District Officer, Mr. R.D. Hewett. The land was situated at Lahat Road. Money was donated by the local European, Chinese and Tamil communities, to support the construction of the school.
The first building of the Anglo-Chinese School, a double-storey timber structure with a central tower, was completed at Lahat Road, in May 1896, it was known as Horley Hall. It remains standing today (2007) and houses the school museum. This, the oldest Methodist building in Peninsula Malaysia, doubled as a school from Mondays to Fridays and a church on Sundays. The school numbers increased rapidly, with another timber building being erected in 1898, which became the Primary school.
As the school’s enrolment grew to 200, facilities were erected for boarders. The first batch of boarders moved in in 1901. In the same year the first Cambridge Class was started by Mr. S.H. Wood. 2 years later, towkays Foo Choo Choon and Loke Yew donated the Commercial School (now used as classrooms) to the school. Incidentally a large part of the expansion and upgrades to the school were funded through the generosity of Ipoh’s local wealthy tin miners while the government only contributed a token sum.
The number of students continued to increase and by the time there were 250, 60 coming from Batu Gajah by train. Other buildings followed in 1904, 1914 and 1918.
The main building, a landmark, Edwardian-style, building, standing parallel to Lahat Road, with its prominent quoining, was erected and opened in 1914. It cost a total of $93 000 and was designed by Mr. C.H. Le Brooy. Rev. Horley obtained a grant of $25 000 from the government to assist in the completion of the building. Subsequent additions from 1938 were made in the same style. It was C.H. Labrooy, who also designed the Ipoh Railway Station and Ipoh Town Hall. The formal opening of this building was on 30th March 1914 by His Excellency Sir Arthur Young. Further buildings followed.
The next few decades were marked by many firsts. The first annual ACS school play – a tradition that has remained until today – was staged in 1915. Rev. L. Proebstel helmed the production of ‘Julius Caesar’ that year. In 1921 the second scout troop in the state of Perak (and the first in Ipoh) was formed in the school by Mr. A.B. Samuels. This led to one of the school’s historic moments when a rally was held at the school, in 1934, to welcome Lord Baden-Powell, the first Chief Scout.
‘The Voyager’, ACS’s annual school magazine, was first launched in 1926 and in 1936, Mr. P.B. Bell launched the construction the first science laboratory among Perak schools. The new block, also consisting of a carpentry workshop, was officially opened in 1938.
With the onset of the Pacific War, the British Army requisitioned the front portion of the school as their Ipoh headquarters. When the British troops withdrew in 1941, the school was taken over by the Japanese until their defeat in 1945. The school reopened its doors on the 26th of September 1945 under the first local principal, Mr. Aw Boon Jin.
In the decade that followed, the curriculum was expanded to include various languages, more science subjects and woodwork up to School Certificate Level. In 1949, ACS was the first school in Perak to offer post-Senior classes, the equivalent of today’s Form 6. In 1956, Mr. Teerath Ram took over the administration of the school. He was a visionary leader who instigated many changes including the separation of the primary and secondary sections of the school, the construction of several new blocks housing classrooms, a teachers’ lounge, a lecture theatre, an improved library and a new canteen. He was also responsible for the construction of the recreation centre and the swimming pool – the pride of the school of which the school teachers contributed $32 000 of the $140 000 building cost – as well as the $250 000 indoor stadium, named “Teerath Ram Hall” in his honour.
Several upgrades to the school were undertaken in subsequent years, including the building of an Audio Visual Aids (AVA) Room, the setting up of the School Band, and under Principal Thomas Kok Hee Fatt, the modernising of the school saw the set up a Computer Room and four additional AVA rooms. He saw the significance of sports and of creating a comfortable and pleasant environment in which the students could excel, doing his part to make the school greener. He also introduced the Eagle as the school mascot in 1999.
ACS has in its alumni several prolific sportsmen including the badminton players Mr. Teoh Seng Khoon (Thomas Cup 1949 and All-England 1949) and Mr. Cheah Soon Kit (Thomas Cup 1992); Malaysian Olympic representatives Professor Thong Saw Pak (weightlifting, Helsinki 1952), Mr. Philip Sankey (hockey, Melbourne 1956 and Tokyo 1964), Mr. Chet Singh a/l Sarmukh Singh (hockey, Tokyo 1964) and Dato Poon Fook Loke (hockey captain, Montreal 1976 and Los Angeles 1984). The school also produced top national swimmers Allan Ong and Anthony Ang.”
This small photo just two inches wide is marked on the back as above plus Standard IIIA. It is written by the same hand as the other ACS Senior Cambridge Class 1950 on this blog. Did the school change its name from ACS to MES in 1951? Is there anyone out there who attended the school at that time? Please let us have any information you might have. Thanks.