Time may blur the memory, but friendships forged in
school stay strong. That’s what a group of old boys learnt recently.
top: Ng Kim Boon, Khoo Kee Ming, Gnanam Duraisamy, Tan Chang Soong,
Renuka Sodhy, Khoo Suat Pheng, Chong Sun Yeh
bottom: Padmini Menon, Tay Leng Kuan, Norman Foo Yeow Khean,
Poon Yew Chin, Au-Yang Chee Wah, Chew Hon Nam, Wong Yin Fook
Five decades after leaving school, the Upper Six
class of ‘61 invited Victoria Institution alumni from 1941 to 1988
to meet up for a big bash early July. Five school captains and three
head girls were among 200 former students who came together for the
Grand Golden Reunion at Putrajaya Marriott Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.
Many of the VIOS (VI Old Students) have kept
in touch with each other over the years, “but meeting face-to-face
has made the e-mail exchanges all the more significant,” says Renu
Chander, who is from the class of ‘61.
Although many VIOS have lived, or are currently
living, abroad, the ties that bind have remained strong, Chander
adds in a report on the event, compiled in collaboration with other
ex-students. “The goodwill that provides a mantle of friendship to
VIOS worldwide is legendary.”
Friendship and joyous rebonding was evident
throughout the reunion weekend, which kicked off with a game of
golf at Bangi Equatorial Hotel.
The School of Hard Knocks:
Where superannuated students work for free
The next morning, more VIOS reconnected during
a tour of Royal Selangor Pewter, led by its Datin Paduka Yong Mun Kuen,
an alumnus herself. They visited the School of Hard Knocks, where they
fashioned their own pewter bowls and carved their initials on these
souvenirs. The tour was especially memorable for those who had been
on school visits to the pewter factory in Setapak, Kuala Lumpur,
during their schooldays.
Things stepped up a notch after the group arrived
at Marriott Putrajaya. For many, the thrill of seeing old, familiar
faces again for the first time after 30 or more years led to cries of
Some of those present were family members who had been
separated by distance and the decades; reuniting at the VI event led to
poignant hugs and handshakes.
The presence of three beloved teachers – John Doraisamy
(Economics), Yeoh Oon Chye (Biology) and Vincent Voo (Art), who were
accompanied by their spouses – also brought back endearing memories of
lessons taught, and learnt.
These teachers have frequently expressed pride in
their students’ achievements. Now in their late 70s or more, they were
literally aglow when surrounded by old boys who are now “luminaries” in
various fields. Among the latter were Cheong Kee Cheok (ex-dean, Faculty
of Economics, Universiti Malaya); Chew Kia Ngee (former deputy executive
chairman, PriceWaterhouse Coopers, Singapore); Johan Shamsuddin (ex-president
of the Petaling Jaya City Council); Norman Foo (professor emeritus in
artificial intelligence and knowledge systems, University of New South Wales,
Australia), and Gnanam Duraisamy (former director of our National Blood Bank).
Many seniors graced the occasion -
Top: Sheila Sodhy, Krishna Rajaratnam, Lee Choong Keet, Jagdish Chand Bhandari,
Ismail Omar, C. Thavarajah, Isher Singh Sekhon
Bottom: Leong Siew Mun, Chia Ah Bah, Wong Wai Yew, Goh Yoon Fong,
M. Shanmughalingam, Chew Chye Guan, Daniel Thuraiappah
Their juniors too -
Top: Yim Yoke San, Kan Ah Chye, Alice Lee, Phua Juay Chee, Lo Ka Hang,
Ann Foo-Flowers, Koh Tong Chui
Bottom: Cheng Hoong Keong, Tang Wing Chew, Cheong Kee Cheok,
Chris Liew Peng Fook, Quah Chooi Hon, R. Thillainathan, Mizanur Rahman
The excitement and joy of recognition was apparent,
Chander says. Someone let out an incredulous cry, “Is that you Gunslinger?”,
followed by a hearty exclamation, “You look the same!” There were a few
tears too, as names of old flames cropped up and long-buried emotions
The reunion was “particularly memorable” for the oldest
VIOS present, Chew Chye Guan, 87, as his daughter had flown back from New
Zealand to join in the celebration. The octogenarian’s stories held many
in awe for a good part of the evening.
After a group photo, organising committee chairman Khoo
Khee Ming toasted the class of ‘61. This was followed by a rousing rendition
of the school song, and the cutting of a cake.
Chung Chee Min was then presented the Outstanding Victorian
Award for his 600-page illustrated The V.I. Anthology which was published
last year. Then VIOS Eddie Foo ("The Elvis of Singapore") and VIOS Bala Mahesan
("The Satchmo of Penang") entertained the guests.
After breakfast the next morning, the VIOS continued to
catch up with each other and make plans for further meetings.
“The bonding was rich with nostalgia. It was a feeling
of warmth and affection that transcended time, place and all superficial
differences. The spirit of VI of the 50s, 60s and 70s was rekindled,” reminisced
Outside Malaysia, VIOS hold frequent get-togethers in
Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Vancouver, London, Cambridge, Washington D.C.,
Next year, from Aug 31 to Sept 3, the VIOS group in Britain
plans to hold another grand reunion at Cambridge University. Naturally, all
alumni from around the world are welcome to join in the fun.
Until then, the class of Upper Six 1961 is proud to have met
in 2007, 2009 and again this year. No one would dispute that their golden
reunion is the grandest, so far.
Post-dinner revellers from various cohorts
The V.I. Web Page
Created: November 23, 2017.
Last update: November 25, 2017.