SMI’s Diamond Jubilee, 1972
Yuk Kwan Chinese School, Batu Gajah
The Main Convent had a Kindergarten?
The Teachers of SMJK Poi Lam, 1970
We’re featuring another photograph about SMJK Poi Lam. From what our donor (Veronica Woo) told us, the Poi Lam Alumni will be having a gathering this Saturday. With that in mind, how many of you former Poi Lam teachers/students recognise this (see below)?
This is a photo of teachers of SMJK Poi Lam, Ipoh during the school general assembly on 12 November, 1970. SMJK Poi Lam, a Chinese-based secondary school, was founded by the Perak Hock Kean Association in 1955. In the early years, the school started off with only three classrooms and an enrolment of 120 students. Then, in 1962 SMJK Poi Lam was granted status as a government-aided school. The first principal of the school was Mr Ng Cheng Aik who retired in 1976 after 21 years of service in the teaching profession.
Two Memorable Reunions
These pictures were sent to us by Lam Lai Meng, an Alumni of MGS.
This first picture needs no explanation.
The second picture was taken at the Regal Lodge, Ipoh. This large group met on 16th of February 2010, during the Chinese New Year period.
Lam had this to say about this picture:
“CNY 2010 photo – no. 4 and 5 are husband and wife teachers Mr and Mrs Ho Ho Chuen. Mr Teh Chin Seong is no 6 and his wife is no. 7. This could possibly be one of the last photos of Mr Teh before he passed away a few months after Feb 2010.”
Are you somewhere in any/both of these pictures? Do point yourself out….and DO tell us about this reunion!
The MGS Mural
Lam Lai Meng sent us this 1967 picture of some MGS girls painting a 3-panel mosaic like mural, on the wall above the Principal’s office. The mural is said to depict women in various occupations. The Teacher standing on the far left is none other than Mrs Vivian Chong.
To the MGS Alumni reading this: Recognise yourself in the picture? For those who have not seen the aforementioned mural, here’s a preview (picture below).
The Much Awaited Reunion!
During the past weeks we’ve had hints about an up-coming reunion for the ACS and MGS Alumni. Here’s the official advertisement.
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).
To the alumni of NTPS Pasir Puteh: does this (picture below) ring a bell?
The lady seated in the front row is none other than the ‘elusive’ Mdm Chow. How many of you remember her? As SK (our donor) told us, Mdm Chow keeps a ‘low profile’. Nevertheless, I’m sure her students will always remember her dedication and patience in ‘shaping’ the future leaders. 🙂
Memories from Ave Maria Convent, Ipoh
The Staff of 1967
We have here a 1967 staff photo from Anderson School, Ipoh. Were YOU in this group? Do you recognise the teachers? We’d be glad to have some names (and perhaps a few fond memories too!) 🙂
We thank Chan Weng & Lim Kok Sin for this photo.
to get a better view, click the photo 😉
This photo was first published in http://p21chong.wordpress.com/?s=anderson+school+teacher+1967
Episode 4 – Teaching In and Around Ipoh
Enjoy the long awaited Episode 4 recalling UV’s many ‘adventures’ during his career as a teacher!
EPISODE 4 – TEACHING IN AND AROUND IPOH
Teaching is not essentially academic in nature. It involves an overall development of the child. A teacher is not only expected to teach subjects offered by the school but also to train the child to adapt to society. This can be achieved in many ways, from being a personal example to being involved in training them in games and guiding them in activities related to clubs and societies formed within the school.
In MGS Ipoh, the excellence in ensuring students giving their “Utmost to the Highest” is ensured by not only maintaining a high standard of academic achievements but also to excel in games and other social activities. In this episode, I would particularly like to highlight sports and games.
It is most common for men teachers in all girls’ schools to be assigned to training the students in games. The late Mr. Teh Chin Seong was assigned not only as the Sports Secretary (a job without extra pay but lots of extra work) but also to other activities like being a coach in the various games the school was involved in.
I was not exception. The very first year I started work in MGS Ipoh, I was assigned as the softball coach. Softball was not a game that many schools in Ipoh were involved in. There were actually only three schools initially taking part in competitions in 1968. They were St. Michaels, Anderson and MGS Ipoh. Those were the schools participating in the girls’ competition. Later, more schools joined in. St. Michaels and Anderson had girls teams because they were Sixth Forms schools with girls.
That year, MGS Ipoh was to chair the Competition Committee of Softball for the Central District of the Perak Schools Sports Council. This was before the new system of Malaysian Schools Sports Council was established. Then Perak was divided into 3 Zones, Northern, Central and Southern. It was the responsibility of the school to organize competitions for the Central Zone. Unlike now, Principals of chairing schools were not the chairpersons. The teachers of the games were! Thus it was that I, as a greenhorn chaired the competition committee of Softball for Central Perak that year.
It was a simple task as there were only three girls team and two boys teams involved. What a game to be involved in to learn the ropes. That year, Saint Michaels came out champions. I wonder how many of those players of the three teams are still around Ipoh today. I would love to hear their comments. MGS Ipoh’s team was thrashed that year. That made me very determined to improve the team’s performance the following year and intensive training took place.
In the years that followed, softball team of MGS Ipoh became strong and it was not uncommon for us to beat teams with scores like 10 – 0, 20 – 0 and even once 70 -0. This happened because many new school teams started entering the competition, among them being Raja Perumpuan Ipoh, Menglembu Secondary School, Perak Girls School and a few lesser known schools like Sri Intan and Sri Puteri. SMI and Anderson continued but their girls’ teams could no longer dominate the game. In the early seventies, MGS Ipoh’s softball team was the strongest in the state. However, strong opposition started coming from Nan Hwa Sitiawan and eventually Ave Maria Convent, Ipoh. The latter would eventually be a school that dominated softball in the 80s, 90s and even today.
The Perak State Softball Association was formed and it encouraged the game among school children. However, many schools could not adopt this game because of the high cost of equipment. I became the secretary of the Association for some years and since the Pengarah of Education Perak was automatically the Vice-President, it wasn’t easy to serve in the Association when you are a teacher. However, being a Maverick, I considered him as an ordinary person with the official post and not my boss! A few times I did cross swords with him on Association matters and many within the Education Department thought I would be hung out to dray for crossing him. However, he was a true gentleman and leader and never let outside activities cloud his professional judgement!
Eventually I qualified as a State Softball Umpire and also a National Softball Umpire and did my duties in various games conducted all over the country. My involvement in Softball saw me being appointed as the Kinta District Softball Technical Chairperson, the State Coach for the Softball School boys and girls team and being involved in the organisation of various softball competitions in the State.
When I was in Sam Tet, I assisted the school coach in training the boys too. This school team was the strongest in the State of Perak for a long time. However, when I was promoted as a Principal I was sent out of Kinta District to Kuala Kangsar District and I stopped my softall activities. I hung up my mittens, gloves, bat and mask for good. However, the years of demonstrations of softball skills to players caused me to suffer from wearing out of both my hip joints and knee joints. Recently, I had a bilateral hip-joint replacement and need to go for knee joints replacement soon.
The role teachers play in promoting sports is vital to the nation. It is a pity that so few teachers take this role seriously and learn to be good at doing this task. Through the years, with neglect by school teachers who are not fully qualified in the games they are assigned to and the lack of interest in this task has resulted in the deterioration of the standard of sports in Malaysia. Teachers, lay the foundation for sportspeople of the nation and if the foundation is weak, everything after that would be flimsy!
Teaching In and Around Ipoh – Episode 3
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.
Schooling in Ipoh – Episode 8
For those who have been waiting patiently, here is UV’s Episode 8 of ‘Schooling in Ipoh’! 🙂
Episode 8: Schooling in Ipoh
Life in Lower Six quickly went by. Soon we became the seniors and new Lower Six students were coming in. Many of those, especially those from MGS Ipoh were my friends from MYF (Methodist Youth Fellowship). ‘Ragging’ was the usual activity for these new Form Six students. It was really mild as each one had to appear before the whole Upper Six and was asked various questions. It was more like an introduction of themselves to their seniors.
With that done with, academic work became our priority. We have the HSC (Higher School Certificate} Examination to worry about. This is one hell of a tough nut to crack! We sat for four main subjects: English (English Literature), Geography, History and Economics as well as General Paper. There were 3 papers in English and Geography and History and Economics had two papers each. The minimum requirement for entry into local university (Only one then in Malaya – University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur) was two A Levels Principals and two A Levels Subsidiary passes (equivalent to an Ordinary O Level pass). If one does not pass with at least a Six in all the papers in a subject, one would be given a subsidiary pass.
Most of us would be concentrating on getting at least two Principal passes or three at best but the brighter ones would strive for 4 and even try to score distinctions in as many subjects as possible. Arts students are not noted for academic excellence and to get one or two distinctions would be very outstanding in those days. I decided to go for three and decided to leave English out, merely hoping to score a Subsidiary pass in that subject. Why? Our English teacher was Mrs. Teerath Ram Senior. She was boring to tears and I could never appreciate her teaching. I think the only thing I learned from her was the title of the poem about Omar Kayam! Until I started teaching poetry to some students as a private tutor, I really did not know what the content was!
In order for us to pass those three papers even at Subsidiary Level, we had to beg Mr. Chin San Sooi to give us extra lessons on poems. Passing the paper based on Shakespeare’s plays was not difficult as we could learn on our own with the help of guidebooks (something very popular in the 60s among students). However, the Romantic novels were left aside by those, like me, who didn’t want to get a principal pass. Thanks to Mr. Chin San Sooi, many of us were even able to get a principal pass, the writer included!
I banged on getting a distinction in Geography, as it was my favourite subject and taught by my favourite teacher. History was great when we had the late Ms Tye Soh Sim (Mrs. Eddy Chin) teaching us in Lower Six, but unfortunately she left for a scholarship to do her higher degree in Canada at the end of our first year. Ms Chong Nyuk Mui took over the subject. I was her ‘artist’ drawing those Historical Maps on the Board for the rest of the pupils to copy. I vaguely remembered they were European maps (rather difficult to draw) as we were doing European History from the 15th Century till Modern Days!
Economics was taught by a Ms. Wan and later a Ms. Tan. I remember Ms.Wan as someone who would come to class wearing cheongsam. She has a ‘unique’ way of pronouncing certain words and names. I can always remember how she would call Chevarani (Mrs. Siva now). Most of us would try to suppress our laughter each time she called her to answer a question. Many a times, the class almost brought her to tears! She left teaching after a short period with us. Ms Tan took over and was a direct contrast. She spotted the then fashionable slanted white framed glasses. She wore mainly Western dresses and was slim and petit. Many of the boys must have ‘fallen’ for her (writer not included). Her teaching was excellent as most of us did well in this subject (except for some girls)!
General Paper was taught by Rev. Butler White, a pastor of Wesley Church but also taught as a teacher in ACS Ipoh. His lessons were never dull. I did not shine in this during my Form Six days. I was only a moderate writer then and still is now.
In Upper Six, the Prefects were being scrutinized to be selected as Head Prefect and Deputy Head Prefect. Manogaran would has slotted easily into the Head Prefect slot and the post of Deputy would go to a Science Stream Upper Six Student (if any qualify) or an Arts student when they fail to get one from the Science Stream or the Girl Deputy Head comes from the Science Stream. However, Manogaran was a playful character and very often seen by the teachers to ‘misbehave’. His greatest sin was to go around poking girls on their side of their waist to make them scream and was caught doing so, one day, by a teacher! He was therefore not made the Head Prefect but the Deputy Head Prefect. The Head Prefect posts went to Yap Teong Aun (became an Engineer later) and the Girl Deputy Head Prefect went to Ung Swee Kim (daughter of the famous Mathematics teacher from Anderson School, Ipoh, Mr. Ung Kwek Chow).
At the end of the year, we sat for our examination in MGS Ipoh. Yes, the Arts HSC Centre for us was in MGS Ipoh and not in our own school as we had no hall big enough to accommodate both the Form Five Examinations and the Form Six Examinations. I already had my scooter (Lambretta) license in Lower Six and I transported my good friend, Loh Chin Hin from Rose Garden, to MGS every day we had a paper.
The examinations were soon over and it was a period of waiting for the results which came some time in March the following year. Some of us went to work, others took up various courses. I did neither but lots of church works – helping in the office, etc. When the results came, most of us qualified to enter university but some couldn’t because of financial restrains and so had to go into teaching colleges.
I was fortunate to get into University of Malaya, although at first I wanted to opt for law in University of Singapore, but because PSA sent me a set of application forms for University of Malaya and stated that I was on the reserve list for a Teaching Bursary, I submitted my application for an Arts Course in University Malaya instead. They never granted me the bursary! My parents struggled to pay for my fees and boarding.
On a sad note, Mrs. Teerath Ram died before the results came out. It was rumoured that she took her own life by burning herself at the back of her house. When my results came out, I dreamt of her walking from her house (in the school compound) towards the porch of the Main Building of ACS Ipoh and asked us for our results. I was there, in the dream, with a few of my classmates. I woke up with a start! It was so real. She was dressed in her usual flowing saree!
Life in school as a student ended in December 1964. I would return to ACS Ipoh not as a teacher but as a Principal 46 years later! I never taught in ACS Ipoh although I was a teacher, Senior Assistant, Afternoon Supervisor and Principal in other schools in and around Ipoh before returning to ACS Ipoh.
Schooling Days – Episode 3
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.
Schooling in Ipoh – Episode 2
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!
The Teachers of ACS
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.
HIJ Convent – Class of ’64!
Recognise this? This picture was taken outside the Secondary School Assembly Hall, of the HIJ Convent, Ipoh. We were also told that this was the 1964 Senior Cambridge Class. It was sent to us by Sybil. Thank you for sharing it.
Calling all Convent girls – are you somewhere in this picture? If so, do tell us where you’re standing…and perhaps name some of your friends too. We’d also like to know who the teachers were (seated, front row); not forgetting the Nuns as well!