Under Ten Headmasters

Daniel Chan Weng Khuen:
V.I. Pupil, Teacher, Senior Assistant

He had nineteen years association with the V. I. - first as pupil, then as teacher, and finally as Senior Assistant/ Deputy Headmaster. As a staff member, Daniel Chan handled every portfolio in the school except Senior Arts Master. He had joined in Form One in 1958, left after 1959 to join the Royal Military College and then rejoined the School in Form Six in 1963. After graduation from the University of Malaya with a science degree and a Diploma in Education, he was posted to his alma mater as a biology teacher from 1970 to 1979. He served as its Senior Assistant from 1980 to 1982 succeeding Old Boy Vong Choong Choy. Then followed a stint from 1982 to 1986 as Principal Assistant Director, Wilayah Persekutuan. From 1986 to 1991, Daniel was the Principal of the Anglo-Chinese School in Ipoh. He retired to Sydney, Australia in 1991.

In all, Daniel Chan studied or served under ten Headmasters in the V.I. from Dr. G. E. D. Lewis in colonial days to Encik Abdul Rahim Abdul Majid post-independence. He recalls his unique V.I. perspectives that span the fifties to the eighties.




Memories of My School Days

t the Batu Road School, we primary school pupils didn't have to polish door hinges and sweep the floor. Once I joined the V.I. this became a daily duty. Still, I always looked forward to cleaning the classroom every day and brasso-ing the door hinges until they shone. The skills of organisation and team spirit were put to test in this cleaning endeavour. I have forgotten whether our class ever won while I was the class monitor. But we did win the title of Cleanest Classroom at least once and it definitely was a great Daniel BRS feeling to be awarded the cleanliness plaque by the H.M. during the school assembly. We would then display that plaque at the front of the class, hanging it from the same hook that supported the speaker box from which we would get an important announcement now and then. Then, in the seventies, some bright spark painted the hinges the same colour as that of the doors. By the time the H.M. - Mr Victor Gopal I believe - found out, it was too late and that was the end of a proud V.I. tradition.

Every V.I. boy learns to swim but I almost had a disaster once when I was in Form 1. I was quite tall for my age and so was told to go to the deeper end. There I developed a cramp and Mr. Lian Chee Seng, the swimming master, had to plunge in to save me from drowning. When I was fished out I was really shaken!

School sports 1959

The V.I. enjoyed the best sporting achievements during my years in VI. If I am not wrong we were champions in all the major sports. In athletics, V.I. boys were representing the State in the adult categories, for example, Kok Lit Yoong was the 400 yards champion in the Selangor AAA. In the other sports like swimming, V.I. swept the board, garnering all the trophies in the Selangor Schools swimming meet. These were the golden sporting years of the V.I. until the Royal Military College came into the picture.

However, it was not just good sportsmanship nor the support we had from the HM's and staff that impressed me. I learnt some lifelong lessons at the V.I. Once every two years the school rugby team would travel to Ipoh to play against Anderson School and then to Kuala Kangsar to play against the Malay College. In Ipoh we had to walk from Anderson School to the town. As usual we had to take short cuts and walk along the dark lanes. There, youngsters as we were, we observed the prostitutes as they plied their trade. It was so shocking that I vowed never to have any dealings with them, to remain pure, so to speak (what a prude!). Well, this very same accusation was levelled at me much later as a staff member when I declined to join some teachers to go to the Imbi Road social escort parlours.

During my Form 1 and 2 years, having the senior and junior teams train together gave juniors like me a sense of pride in wanting to do well for the school as the seniors showed the way. Later, when I was in the Sixth Form, I reciprocated in a like manner, training my juniors in turn. Much later, when I returned to VI as a teacher, what I had learned during my school days I passed on to the next generation of Victorians.

School Athletes 1959

In the picture above I was the youngest then - in Form 2, while the others were in Form 3 and 4. In RMC jargon, I was the Jambu of the Athletics squad. I don't know why I could run like the wind but I enjoyed every moment on the sports field despite being asthmatic. I suffered at night coughing badly, but fortunately I was rid of it by the time I was in Form 6. How did I manage that? Maybe the immense enjoyment compensated for the agony.

Our Class 3 team consisted of (front row, from left) Ranjit Singh, myself, Arumugam, Tan Ah Ter, Tso Chih Ping and Jalaluddin. The regulars in the 4 x 100 yards U/16 relay members were Ah Ter (starter), Chih Ping (2nd leg/runner in the straights), myself (3rd leg) and Arumugam as anchor man. We won many a race but I wonder what happened to the trophies and medals I won during State meets and in invitation relays at other schools' sports meets. I must have thrown them away when I went to the A.C.S. Ipoh. I can remember some of the other athletes: seated third left is Zambri (440 yards sprinter), standing second from left is Bobby Lee with his Elvis haircut, and standing at extreme right is Kenny Siebel, a 110 and 440 yards relay member.

In my Form 2 year, some representatives from the Royal Military College (based in Port Dickson at that time) came to give a talk to the whole school during a special assembly. RMC They were looking for recruits for the Boys and the Cadet Wings of RMC. About fifty of us were interested and we took back application forms for our parents to sign. Next thing I knew I was invited with about six other VI boys, including Tan Ngee Tiong, my classmate since Batu Road School days, to go down to the RMC for two-day physical and mental tests followed by interviews. Only three of us went - myself, Ngee Tiong, and Ali Mansor the rugby player who was with me in the triumphant Selangor Rugby game in which I scored the winning try. Only the boys from top schools in each state - such as the MBSKL, St. Johns, MCKK and King Edward VII in Taiping - were invited and only 50 were given places each year to enter RMC. All together there were only about 300 students in the Boys wing from Forms 3 to Upper 6. That was how I ended up in the RMC.

Life there was rather regimented:

0600 hrs - Reveille.
0645 hrs - All dressed and ready for inspection of our dormitory. Take our anti-malarial pill. If there is dirt on the finger tip of the senior doing the checking we have to do fatigue duty like cleaning the toilets or tidying the gardens.
0700-0730 hrs - Breakfast and announcements for the day.
0800-1230 hrs - Normal school lessons taught by local teachers or by uniformed officers. We have to be in well-pressed, smart uniforms throughout the day.
1300 hrs - Lunch with everyone together (8 companies of 35-40 students each).
1400-1430 hrs - Compulsory rest in bed.
1430-1600 hrs - Do homework, relax or do fatigue duties.
1600-1800 hrs - Compulsory time in the College field, either to watch, cheer or do sports practice.
1900-1930 hrs - Dinner; first come first served. Sometimes only the gravy was left if you were late but at times there was lots of food left, too, especially when the students got turned off by the mass-cooked, institutional food!
1900-2100 hrs - Prep time, do studies/homework under constant supervision by the senior boy of the group.
2130 hrs - Lights out.

On Fridays we had free time in the afternoon which was spent brasso-ing our belt buckles and polishing our shoes till we could see our faces in them. We also cut each other's hair. That's how I learnt to trim and cut the hair of my sons who only went to the barber for the first time when they were 20 years old!

The Saturday regime was:

0800-1030 hrs - Marching and drilling till we were perfect; we took turns to give the orders and commands.
1100-1230 hrs - Change into our sport/work clothes for a cross-country run and swim/exercise in the sea or pool. Then the rest of the Saturday was free, to relax, read the papers or go to the RMC library.

Sunday was up to us, so I went to church. We had military trucks to take us to and from services. Once a month, parents were allowed to visit us or vice-versa, but when we went home, we had to be back before 1800 hrs. We had to check in and out through the gate which was manned by regular soldiers, so no tom-foolery was tolerated.

What did I learn at RMC? Lots - leadership, discipline, confidence, and how to speak to and deal with people. These have been part of the building blocks of my leadership roles in various educational areas in Malaysia as well as in Australia. The training was and, probably still is, superb at RMC. Suffice to say the military experience has helped to shape my character and my usefulness in society. Then, in 1962 - my Form Five year - I sat for the Sixth Form Entrance examination and failed! I could not continue on to Form Six. It was a life defining moment for me as I bawled buckets and wrestled with God and all that... why, me, why?

Fortunately, by that time the Education Department had started Further Education Classes (FEC) at the V.I. which were conducted in the evenings and open to members of the public. It was a godsend for those who had to work to support their families but still wanted to advance in life. Now there was indeed life after Form 5 when they could study part time at the FEC for about 3 or 4 years to get their Higher School Certificate and then proceed to the University. So I returned to KL and enrolled in the FEC. Technically I was a V.I. Lower Six pupil but in the evening classes!

YOC and CCY

Two of my teachers were the V.I. teachers who taught in the morning. For Biology I had Mr Yeoh Oon Chye who assured my mum that I would make it because of the positive attitudes I had. He himself was then reading for his Masters degree at the Science Faculty at the University of Malaya as he was without an honours degree. Oon Chye later became my referee when I applied for a posting to VI. My Chemistry teacher was true blue V.I. Old Boy Chang Chi Yeh who had recently graduated with an honours degree in chemistry. The physics teacher was a Mr. Koschey from the MBS KL. He had a very thick Indian accent and I'll always remember his statement that "The puntamantaal ewe-nits of fffziks arrh lang, mass and tye-em." Translation: "The fundamental units of physics are length, mass and time."

My FEC day would start with my doing homework and self-study at home in the morning. That demanded some discipline and, certainly, my sojourn in the RMC helped me to stay focussed. I would reheat or cook food according to the instructions my mum had left me before she left for work. After lunch, I would take a short nap and then I would take a bus before 4.00 p.m. from my house at Jalan Maktab to avoid the mad rush of people going home from MINDEF. It took an hour to reach the bus terminus at Jalan Ampang. From there I would walk all the way to the V.I. Sometimes I would have a chat with some old V.I. friends at the school padang before lessons started at 6.00 p.m. Lights blazed late into the night at the V.I. in those days as it served two sessions - the day students and the evening students. Classes ended at 9 p.m. for me but, thankfully, my mother would pick me up then; otherwise, I would not get home till 10.30 p.m. or 11 p.m.

I recall two fellow FEC students who were not satisfied with their HSC results and wanted to read medicine. Later when I joined the University I saw them again at the first year science course which were taken jointly with the first year medical students. So they had made it, driven to snatch another chance to get back into the mainstream of life for new opportunities. How you end up is more important than how you began. Life is a marathon; the one who can endure, perservere to the end and succeed is the winner. Although I was a sprinter in athletics, I have always had admiration for the marathoner. And eventually, at the end of the third term in 1963, I managed to get back to the morning session at the V.I.

Dr Lewis had left a year back and Mr Alan Baker was now the new Headmaster. I had been in Davidson House when I was last in the V.I. and now, on becoming a Victorian again, I was reassigned by the luck of the draw to a different House - Shaw House! I now reintegrated myself into the fabric of the school. Clubs and societies have always been a very important feature in a school, even more so in the V.I. where everyone in those days had to be a member of at least two clubs or societies. Such extramural activities were to build up character in a person, develop one's leadership and organisational skills and to establish rapport and contact with other people. They also inculcated one's self-confidence and taught one to be independent and self-reliant.

The V.I. Christian Fellowship had such objectives, teaching its members to know that there was meaning in their lives if they could relate this to their faith in God. The Fellowship was so large, about 80 to 100 strong in my time, that they had to use the VIOBA for meetings. The meeting time was between 12.30 p.m. and 2 p.m. as very few other societies held meetings at this time. As many of its members were also student leaders in the other societies there was no clash of meeting times and this time was soon accepted as reserved for the Fellowship. In fact even V.I. Prefects meetings were sometimes deferred as many of the Prefects and Head Girls were members of this Fellowship. In those days, many V.I. Head Girls happened to come from the BBGS where scripture had been an important subject. Such was the influence of the Fellowship that faith in spiritual matters Hockey XI 1964 gave one a proper bearing on one's outlook, be it of a physical or mental aspect. And that is why I have such a strong belief in Jesus that I have always given much credence to the outward workings of this faith. As a result, during my teaching days, I became teacher advisor of this V.I. Fellowship till I left for the Education Department.

I was a member of the 1964 V.I. Hockey First Eleven which had moderate successes despite not having any outstanding players. We won eight of 13 encounters with other schools and drew one match. The Captain was Yap Sze Pin (centre) and Vice-Captain was Tan Kee Kwong (Dr. Tan Chee Khoon's son) sitting second from the left in the picture above. I am seated at extreme right with my brother, Peter, right behind me. I played the forward inside right position whilst Peter played left. The most memorable game I had was when I was struck right on the forehead by a sliced ball from about 15 metres away It was hit by M. Shanmuganathan, the national hockey fullback and captain of the Malaysian team, during an Old boys versus Present boys match for the Daniel Shield. I was knocked out for a good two to three minutes!

The teachers who taught me

Mr. Ramachandran, my Form 1 and 2 Maths teacher. An excellent teacher, a humble man who rode to school on an old motorbike while his wife drove an MG sports car.

Mr. Anantakrishnan, the maths teacher who arrived every morning to school in a taxi. When asked why, he would work out the economics and the mathematics as explanation. Who could argue with that? I remember his son, who taught briefly at VI, would echo the same sentiments as his father.

Encik Hassanuddin and Mr. Rajan - one threatened me while the other bribed me to decide whether to play for the School Rugby First Eleven or for the Hockey First Eleven when I was in Sixth Form. I chose hockey. I wonder what would have happened if I had chosen rugby under Hassanuddin!

Mr. Valentine Manuel was a middle distance runner and was also the Athletics Master. For warm-ups, he got the U/15, U/17 and the U/20 sprint teams to line up one after the other on the school 440 yards circular track. Once we started jogging, the last person in the line would then sprint forwards past his teammates and take the front place. Once he did that, the current last person would the same thing he did and so on, round and round we would go. It was tiring but effective, besides which I got to know my seniors such as Kok Lit Yoong and Chan Yew Khee.

The H.M.s who ruled me

HMs

Dr. G.E.D. Lewis was the rugger-mad H.M. when I first joined in Form One. Since I was a sprinter in the under/15 4x100 yards team, I was made to play as the right wing in the U/15 rugger team. One day, Dr. Lewis pulled me to one side and said, "Son, you see that right corner flag? That is where you must always go for!" It was no surprise that I became his blue-eyed boy because I scored a try in the finals of the Under/15 Selangor Schools Rugby Championship. So much so that after I had joined the Royal Military College, when I returned to the V.I. for the team's group photograph, I was told to sit in the front row. What an honour!

Mr. Alan Baker, poor man, had to fill the giant shoes of Dr. Lewis in September 1962 and naturally paled into insignificance. I rejoined the V.I. in 1963 and knew him as headmaster for only five months before he left, the last colonial to head the school. But Baker maintained the discipline and high educational standards of the school that Dr. Lewis had set. He was a quiet man and played, I believe, a good game of cricket as expected of a typical Britisher. He always had a smile for everyone.

Mr V. Murugasu was HM for the remainder of my Sixth Form years Muru was one tough cookie! He once shouted, "Get out of the field!" to a boy's father who was dressed in a colonel's uniform. After parking his car along the road closest to the school field, this parent had committed the grievous sin of walking straight onto the V.I. field from the side. No one was allowed to access the field this way; one had to walk along the road to the pavilion and then descend to the padang from there. Boy, Murugasu was livid and even though he was aware of the man's army rank he retorted, "So what?" I was in the field training with the hockey team when I heard his shouts. I don't know whether Murugasu meant to ask me to find out about the officer but I knew what two crowns on his epaulette meant. The next morning Muru was ranting to the school assembly that parents were not to park there as it was causing congestion for the afternoon school traffic. On graduation I was posted back to the V.I. where Muru was in his final weeks as H.M. I was never interviewed by him as was normal practice at that time. I cannot remember clearly if I served maybe one month under him or not at all as I was busy preparing for my Diploma in Education exams.

V.I. Romances

If this sounds exciting, well, it must be remembered that VI. students came mainly from two feeder schools, Batu Road School and Pasar Road School - both boys schools - so we poor guys did not have much exposure to studying with the opposite sex. Whatever "experience" we had on this matter finally came when the girls from BBGS, St. Marys and other schools joined the Sixth Form classes. A few incidents come to mind:

One boy, HH, was offered 50 cents to steal a kiss from a certain student, SS. So one day, just outside the assembly area in the Sixth Form area when we were about to go for our library session, HH nonchalantly walked up to SS. She was busy talking to some other girls and boys when HH gave her a quick peck on her lips... and was rewarded with a tight slap from SS! He was duly compensated with the 50 cents from the instigator, of course. HH lived at that time in government quarters close to mine and we had a good laugh about the incident. Flashing his toothy grin, HH was, in fact, quite jubilant about his achievement, saying it was still worth it!

Stories were reported by students about furtive kisses/clinches between certain V.I. boys and girls and even between certain male and female staff members that provided grist for the rumour mill. Also in the sports field there would be tender moments between certain top athletes and sportsmen and their admiring female fans hanging around to give moral support. That between AL and BL was particularly hot! Among my own classmates there have been a few romances ending in marriage, for example, between Lim Kah Pean and Leong Mee Mee.

Definitely Cupid had a field day at the V.I.! My batch seemingly had more things going for them in romance. I suppose that during our Sixth Form years, there were lots of opportunities for boys and girls to mix together in an informal manner, away from the school, as we were involved in organising cultural shows, canvassing for advertisements for school publications, selling lottery tickets in public to raise funds, and so on.

As for me, well, there was some fluttering in my heart for a certain V.I. girl. However it ended when she sang me a song which still haunts me till today. The song went like this:

"Don't you imagine that I still adore you,
No, I don't care tuppence for you,
When I called, you wouldn't let me
Come inside, it did upset me,
Don't you imagine that I still adore you,
No, I DON'T care tuppence for you !!'

I was a real green horn, schooled neither in Mills and Boon nor in Barbara Cartland's romantic novels. So to this day I do not know what it was that upset her. But you get the feeling that "hell had no fury than a woman scorned." I understood the sentiments in her song and so ended forever that fluttering in my heart for her. She was pretty though, but I have found a prettier girl who during University days I courted and have been married to some 33 years now. To my wife Lydia, sorry darling, but I can still sing that first girl's song; it must have made a lifelong impression on me!

Our School Trip to India

In 1964, it was decided to organize three separate tours to India, Japan and Thailand. One tour is hard enough for any school to organize but this was the V.I. and three simultaneous tours were something no one had ever done. We spent months of hard effort such as selling lottery tickets to the school at large and organising shows to bring in revenue for what was innocently called the V.I. "Underprivileged" Students Fund. Ha! Victorians underprivileged, indeed! The 'Underprivileged' label was to get tax exemption from gaming and entertainment taxes as well as satisfy the Foreign Affairs Department that the V.I. was cleared to go! Trust the shrewd thinking of Mr. K. Anandarajan, my Upper 6 General Paper teacher, who conceived this ploy.

Those interested in the tours were asked to select which of the three countries they wanted to visit. The method of deciding was based on what ranking a student had in terms of the points collected, each point being a dollar collected. In addition, the revenue raised from shows was converted into points and this was divided by the total of students involved. The pupil who had the most points had the first choice to decide which trip he wanted. Then the one with the next highest ranking had his choice if it was still available and so on. I had raised quite a lot of points - thanks to my dad and mum - so I could easily get my choice of ... India! I chose this destination Ship Deck because I knew I would never ever visit India on my own or with a small group; the other places I could always go on my own in future. We left for India in the first week of December, one week after the last H.S.C. paper.

My parents and other parents sent us to the S. S. State of Madras at Port Klang. They could go on board with us as the ship did not sail until the evening. One girl brought a whole trunk of foodstuff along with her which explained her roly poly size at the end of the trip! We were housed in the bunk area next to where they stored the onions. For toilet and washing-up facilities we used the common facilities in the second class cabin area. The stench of rotting onions was so unbearable especially to some girls - my own sister vomitted - that Mr Ganesalingam, our chief teacher-in-charge, spoke to the Captain and they were given the sick bay at the top deck at the rear of the ship which was like a covered patio. We had no mattresses but we had already been told beforehand to buy sleeping bags as they would be needed throughout our trip in India. Some pupils had zipped up ones but I bought mine at Chettiar Street which was similar to what pilgrims used, that is, it had a thick brown vinyl sheet which had two large pockets to house the ends of a thin mattress which was then rolled up and tied up with an attached strap. So each of us had two items -our bedding and a luggage bag.

Seshan

There were 34 of us and five teachers - Mr Ganesalingam, Mr Terry Rajaratnam (the cricket master), Miss Guinness (a British volunteer teacher of Guinness Stout lineage), Mr Chandran and Mr R. Seshan. Strangely, the latter was never named in the subsequent article on the trip which was printed in the Victorian. In addition, as I recalled during the trip, he was seldom referred to throughout the tour as a teacher and he was given fewer important responsibilities. Later, in the 1970s, when we were colleagues I asked him why he was ignored, his reply was "I am from a lower caste, the Harijans, and, therefore, deemed untouchable. "What!" I replied, horrified, "Are you serious?" "Definitely," was his reply. Poor Mr Seshan was not only untouchable; he had also been unmentionable. How sad!

We spent the first night out in the so-called open space, relieved that we did not have to endure the stench and the ignominy of sleeping semi-caged in bunks set aside for us poor "underprivileged" pupils. Some of the girls came up, too, as they could not stand the stuffiness of the cabins. But this privilege came with a price as we had to stage a concert and a debate to entertain the officers of the ship! The concert was in the form of a T.V. presentation with Nano as the presenter introducing the show with "This is T.V. V.I.....!" He then went on to read some news items, and then introduced a fashion show, followed by some slapstick humour. The concert ended with a Malay dance and a girls choir going through a large repertory of songs. The other unexpected price we had to pay was that the ship's officers were getting a bit Ghandi's tomb pally with two of the girls, so the word was sent out that we should keep an eye out for those flirtatious sailors with those proverbial girls in every port. Fortunately, nothing happened.

When we arrived at Madras, Yong Siew Choon and I went to contact the money exchange man. We had paid for a higher exchange of Indian rupees for our Malaysian dollars in Kuala Lumpur and were now hoping to get a better exchange rate in India. We were instructed to take a taxi from our dormitory to meet the man at a certain place in the city. On meeting him, he asked us to take another taxi with him to a Chinese restaurant. On entering the restaurant he asked us to wait in a cubicle first so he could check if he was being followed. Only then did he gave us the rupees we wanted and vanished after that. Very cloak-and-daggerish!

At a dinner organised by a college, I asked Sivanathan, my good friend from Form One days, why he didn't touch the six sauces with chutney and some greenish stuff on the table. His reply: "You must be joking. We ourselves never had those funny looking things in our diet." I had thought that it was strange food only to the non-Indians. Sivanathan and I had been close friends because I used to drop in at his father's news agent cum grocery shop in Imbi Road quite often as it was near to my church, Jalan Imbi Chapel, the same Chapel that had started the B.B.G.S. and the B.B.B.S. in Petaling Jaya. It was through Sivanathan that I got involved with the committee of Leong Thong Ping, Leong Mee Mee, Loe Yee Mei, Janice Liao. The six of us did the V.I. fashion and cultural show at Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.

Sleeping on our wanderings through India was an experience. We slept in colleges and schools, sometimes on mattresses set on school tables. Our sleeping bags came in handy most Elephant trek times and I don't recall any discomfort at all. However, the two-day return train journey from New Delhi to Madras was remarkable. We were all in one carriage and slept sitting upright as there were no sleeping berths. We just sat packed closely to each other so we would not fall over and kept dozing and waking all the time. Some were lucky to have a shoulder of a companion to lean against and sleep on. We were kept awake, too, by the hordes of people hanging onto the carriage steps to get free rides. It was a practice that was difficult for the Indian Railway authorities to combat. Sometimes an entertainment group would come into the carriage give a show but one had to watch one's belongings. Still it was an enlightening experience, especially at every train stop where there were the 'char' or tea hawkers. I didn't know whether the tea was from clean tap water or not.

In New Delhi, Rosemary, Yee Mei, three others and myself went to a church service on Christmas Day in New Dehli. It was completely in Hindi but we could hum the Christmas carols. Simla But we did not experience snow till we arrived in Simla, a hill resort for the rich and famous. Its quaint English style architecture, the flora and the dress of the people there evoked comparisons with England. It was snowing and so we had a white Christmas there. We were scheduled to go on to Srinagar in Kashmir but the Indo-Pakistan war had erupted a few weeks before we departed from Malaysia and so that leg was cancelled.

In Simla I exchanged with a local a drip-dry shirt for a walking stick and a fez. When I told someone about this he said I had been conned. Well, to me it looked a fair exchange; but to him, my drip dry shirt seemed a lot more expensive than what I received. My asthma came back during my stay in Simla and so it was a low period for me. However, after I had pepped myself with Vitamin C, the return trip to Madras turned out quite pleasant.

Two Classmates

I had lots of interesting characters as classmates but let me talk about Ow Peng Kooi as we go a long way back to primary school days. We spent a lot of time together; besides being in the same class in primary school, we had maths tuition together with his sister in Standard 5. During those two years of tuition we became close friends as Kooi's mum and my mum were nurses. We were tutored by Mr. Ma Lo Ka, later the Selangor Education Officer, but how we got him I haven't the foggiest idea, but he taught well enough for us to go to V.I.

Peng Kooi, his sister and I used to call each other nicknames such as Rose Chan, Beh-Beh-Hoo and Paeng Kwai - it's not difficult to identify who is who! Well, we did have some good times together playing soccer in his big house and compound. His father, Ow Keng Law, was a film director and executive director of the Malayan Film Unit and so was given big superscale quarters. Peng Kooi and I drifted apart when I went to RMC and he went and did a matriculation course overseas. Only recently have I been reunited with him after 40 years when I visited Vancouver where he practises as a dentist.

S. Sivarajasingam joined the V.I. in Form 6 at the time I rejoined and so being 'freshies' we became close friends. As he is also in Sydney we have kept in close contact. We were the only two who went to the Science Faculty in the University of Malaya. Siva became a biochemist and later received his doctorate in biochemistry. He taught in UKM as an associate professor and held the chair of genetics at Universiti Malaya. He was also a visiting lecturer to the Armidale University in New South Wales. We always joke that we were the only two who did not do medicine in our time but we have nevertheless become successful in our own spheres. We were late developers! If Sivarajasingam had become a doctor of medicine, I think he probably would still be in Malaysia and not have come to Sydney.

As for me if I had become a doctor of medicine, I would have killed many patients as I cannot stand blood. The sight of surgical needles going into a human skin would make me faint. Once when I took my then five-year-old son to the hospital to have a cut above his eye sutured, I nearly fainted and the hospital assistant had to tell me to leave the room. He could see the paleness on my face as the blood drained away and my legs went wobbly. So that's how I became a teacher! Actually I have always wanted to be a youth worker and being a teacher suited me fine. So despite all the time expended on my V.I. extracurricular activities, I managed to scrape into M.U. and got my Honours degree in Science without repeating or referring at all. It was/is God's Providence that I am what I am, still involved in education and it is getting easier now, teaching English to new adult migrants in Sydney. I will probably be teaching till I am 67 as I am enjoying myself!

The Teachers I worked with

VICC Guard of Honour

Some of the teachers who taught me became my colleagues when I joined the V.I. staff in 1970. Others I got to know over time and became my subordinates when I became Senior Assistant:

K. Durairajah became Science Science Master because of a slip of my tongue. Once Mr Tan Cheng Or asked me which of the two of us, Durairajah or myself, was more senior. Without thinking, I blurted out, "Durai," and so he was made Senior Science Master after Loh Kung Sing left. Actually I was more senior, being a D1 officer whilst Durai was D2! Anyway I did become Senior Science Master five years later, succeeding him, for a strange reason. According to his wife, Durai experimented too much in astrophysics and metaphysics. His soul apparently did not return to his body one day and so he died. That was the story, anyway!

D Prakash

Dharam Prakash was a most unassuming man and we got along famously. He was one year ahead of me when we were V.I. pupils and as a teacher. Still, when I was made V.I. Senior Assistant before him and he was sent to Sekolah Alam Shah instead, there were no hard feelings. He was very philosophical - at least to me - about such promotions. We had lots of good times together in the evenings gossiping about his "Arts" superiors in the school. He seemed very comfortable joining my table whenever we had a V.I. occasion. He would come to my place for Chinese New Year almost every year. In fact, most of the V.I. headmasters like Somasudaram, V. Gopal, Baharum, Rahim Che Teh, and Shukor Abdullah have been to my house for the festivities. Maybe I was thick-skinned enough to invite them but they would still come!

Oh Kong Lum was a serious, religious guy from a strict Brethren background but was effective as Senior Assistant. Kong Lum mixed very well with students and was the teacher's Lim Chooi Tee equivalent in sports, that is, he played well in any sport for the staff teams.

Hassanuddin

Hassanuddin bin Abdul Aziz was in charge of the cadets and the band. He always commanded the Guard of Honour for school functions until the 1970 Speech Day when I took over his duty. After that, I told him that the students should do it and not the teacher. And so it was from then on! Maybe because of my days at the R.M.C. and at the V.I., later when I was Headmaster of ACS Ipoh, I was interested in the ACS acquiring a band. They eventually got one and then I started a bagpipe band by writing to the V.I. principal and, through Jimmy Chu's help, started the first school bagpipe band in Perak.

N. Anandakrishnan was an unassuming person. Although only a D2 officer, he took on a lot of responsibilities besides cricket. He himself had never played cricket yet he was out in the school field fully in charge and worked very hard. It was good to have a worker like him for he would take on any duties I assigned to him when I was Senior Science Master. Andy is now a grandpa, his daughter having married to Punch Gunalan's son.

T. Thiruchelvam was the Athletics work horse. He exuded infinite patience in being coach to long distance runners, and finally ending as a Grade I Big Walk state coach.

Othman

Othman Mohd Ali was an Old Boy and, as School Football Master, gave one hundred percent support to the V.I. He would always be on the field after hours - coaching, refereeing and running up and down with the boys. He was a diabetic and a less dedicated person would have cited that affliction as an excuse to ask for a less strenous teaching load in class and on the field. Yet when I had to give him some relief work when I was Senior Assistant because certain teachers were always absent on the days whenever he had two free periods in a row, Cikgu Othman's answer was always "Can do!". He was a true gentleman. Each day, with clockwork regularity, he would wait for his wife to come between period 4 and period 5 to take him to a private clinic in Jalan Imbi to have his daily jabs of insulin. A true devout Muslim, he had all the marks of a great teacher with a great love for the V.I. It is V.I. teachers like Cikgu Othman who ensured that the greatness of the school was maintained and who would again be capable of returning the V.I. to its glorious days of the 1960's.

Our Two Super School Clerks

Richard Pavee and Anna Yap were permanent fixtures in the school office. They seemed like an odd couple, an unlikely clerical duo - one was quiet while the other very vocal. Yet they made a lovely couple at work and as they strolled back to their car at day's end along the corridors. I did not know of their dalliances - after Pavee's wife passed away in the sixties - till Anna Yap I visited Anna one Chinese New Year with my wife and met Pavee there as well. Well, they were like a very efficient tag team. While one did the clerical part, the other would do the typing, and vice-versa. There was never one angry word exchanged between the two of them. However, if sometimes you got on Anna's nerves, Pavee would chuck some angry words at you in her defence.

The whole V.I. clerical machine depended on them and so, in turn, was the running of the school. Which of us did not have a testimonial or leaving certificate typed by either Anna or Pavee? Think of the tens of thousands of examination entries, results, ministry reports, miscellaneous letters and forms churned out by this pair over the decades! Even after he retired in 1970, Pavee still came in to help in the office, perhaps for expediency so that the long journey back to their Taman Batu Caves house would not be a chore if Anna had driven alone.

Until 1972 school test/exam papers had always been typed free by Anna (and by Pavee before he retired) but Mr Somasundram felt that it was not fair for Anna to shoulder that workload without Pavee and so all teachers had to do theirs by themselves or pay Anna a fee for the work. Yet Anna continued to type all my V.I. test questions for free despite the questions having to be in a certain format according to external requirements, making the job even more challenging. I think I offered her some payment but she refused it - Anna had her favourites! Of course, I was quite thankful because my typing skills were non-existent at that time. When Anna herself retired, the school had to hire three or four people to replace her and carry her workload! Pavee passed away in 1991 while I was in ACS, Ipoh. I got into contact with Anna immediately to offer my condolences.

Quotable H.M.'s


HMs

Each Headmaster I served under has left me with memories of his personal philosophy and approach to managing the school:

Mr. Tan Cheng Or - "Don't worry, it will be O.K.!" - punctuated with his peculiar laugh - was his philosophy . And with that the issue would be resolved! He had been the Director of Studies at the RMC and so he knew me even before he joined the V.I. Cheng Or was never without a cigarette in his mouth and this habit was as bad as that of the other chain-smoking H.M. - Victor Gopal!

Mr. S. Somasundram- He was the friendliest H.M. I have known. When he heard that I was getting married in July 1971, he asked "How can I help?" When he heard that my wife was from the Teachers Training College at Larkin, Johore Bahru, he discovered that his own wife had taught my wife in Domestic Science there! So, after renewing ties, Mrs Somasundram offered to bake and decorate our wedding cake. Wow! It was very professionally done, too, of course!

Besides this, Soma - as we used to call him - was responsible for organizing staff hockey and cricket teams to play against other teams such as the diplomatic corps team. We won some games as we had Oh Kong Lum, Robin Goh, a Malaysian national hockey player, while I played as wicket keeper. The V.I. pupils were inspired by our sportsmanship and teamwork. Later at A.C.S. Ipoh, I got a teacher cricket team and badminton team going too, and in badminton I played doubles.

Mr. Victor Gopal - "Daniel, you can't solve all the school problems!" To my suggestion that it would be on his conscience, he said: "No problem just ignore it, zap it out of your mind and you will be sane." He was a larrakin (an Aussie term meaning a person full of jokes), a sort of a happy-go-lucky guy and was in the staffroom quite often, mixing with a select group of teachers.

Encik Rahim Che Teh - He always went by the book - "That's the peraturan, the Educational Department regulations ..." As the Senior Science Master at that time I was against implementing the Malaysian Science Syllabus with emphasis on using Bahasa Malaysia as medium of instruction because students would lag way behind other developing countries. I am now being proven correct when Dr. Mahathir decreed recently that Maths and Science must be taught in English. I was streets ahead in having this thought some thirty plus years ago.

Encik Baharum Othman - "Your good friends are the ones you must give more work and responsibilities. They will accept them as they are your friends. They will understand you with your S.A. job." Probably he wanted me not to pamper my friends with lesser responsibilities and load others with more instead. It taught me a great lesson. When I became the H.M. of A.C.S. Ipoh, I treated all the teachers as my friends like having my coffee breaks with them in the school canteen and asking them to call me Daniel when out of ear shot of the students. The strategy worked and I had no problems getting work out of them especially when there were lots of demands from the Perak Education Department.

And this from Baharum as well: "One thing you must keep daily contact with - look at the school accounts everyday. The one thing the authorities can ever have a case against you is when you keep sloppy school accounts. You may not be good as a H.M. but they can't make a case against you for that." So I also had this advice to follow later when I went to Ipoh. Obviously Baharum himself kept his books so well that he could take time off to play golf! He loved that game, playing in the morning or in the afternoon.

Encik Shukor Abdullah - "Why is there a shortage of funds in certain accounts and how come the H.M.'s have not done anything about it?" He was the man with the "Why" and "How come" questions. It was no wonder he obtained his Ph. D. at Harvard University! Shukor also brought to book the culprits responsible for school fund shortages. Like Baharum, he too taught me the importance of looking into the accounts book which, being an audited document, a H.M. can legally be dismissed for if things were not in order. That's why I insisted later at A.C.S. Ipoh on inspecting updated school accounts every day or, at least, every other day.

Encik Abdul Rahim Abdul Majid - I served under Abdul Rahim for a month or so because Shukor held back my promotion so that he could go before I did. If I had gone off before him, Shukor would have had to train a new S.A. and that would have set him back in terms of seniority. (He once told me that in the Education Service it mattered a lot if someone was ahead by just one day!) As the S.A. I was then doing the slotting of the teachers' timetables with the help of Mrs Chew Poon Khiang at times.

Teacher and Senior Assistant

Although I was in charge of both U/15 and U20 hockey teams, I managed well because I got the seniors to train the juniors and to have warming up excercises together. Then they had to practise hitting balls to each other regardless of whether their partner was in the junior or senior team and to have a practice matches together so the seniors could pass on the fundamentals of the game.

I remember G. Tharmasegaran in the first year of my teaching career. He was actually the 'coach' of the U/15 team of which his own brother was a player. Tharmasegaran was so grateful to me for giving him the mentoring experience that, recently, when I was flying Malaysia Airlines he invited me to the cockpit of the plane he was piloting from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur. He must have seen the passenger's list and so Daniel Teaching came to fetch me to the cockpit, introduced me to the co-pilot and the navigator and then got the stewardess to serve me a drink! So the lessons I gleaned in training as a schoolboy under my seniors paid off, helping me pass on this mentoring technique so that all benefited. The sports teacher did not have to work hard but smart, the juniors were inspired by the seniors, and the seniors were given the opportunity to mentor the juniors. It was a win-win situation similar to what Mr. Valentine Manuel had promoted in the late fifties.

I remember drawing up the House games schedule while I was acting in the capacity of Sports Secretary after Lenny de Vries went to take up a position in the U.S.M. in Penang and before Chan Teck Heng came on board two terms later to fill that position. I remember, too, in the early seventies, organising the FEC classes - the same classes that had saved me! But when the number of students was eventually insufficient to fill the classes, the FEC was scrubbed. This was around the time when TAR College was founded.

When I became Senior Assistant I became the eyes and ears of the Headmaster regarding the teaching staff and the students. Although I did not have the authority to administer punishment I had to let the V.I. HM know the feelings of the staff and pupils. Some HMs took on their responsibility more than others and became more successful HMs and were respected for that. On the other hand, some V.I. HMs never left the HM's Office, preferring to be arm-chair administrators catering only to the whims of the Education Department Officers. I was supposed to keep the V.I. running smoothly whenever the HMs went out for their many duties. When I deputised for them, I just played it cool as I could not make drastic decisions like purchasing stuff. The S.A. was also in charge of the V.I. Prefects Board. I worked with the staff and various groups and submitted their findings and recommendations to the HMs for approval. At Board of Governors meetings I took the minutes.

Most HMs had the weekly chore of signing off the Teachers' Record books, in effect giving official approval to their teaching plans for the following week. This was practised till Baharum's time after which, as S.A., I would sign them instead. This I did it on a Friday afternoon instead of on Mondays to avoid a situation when the teachers would be technically without a record book in front Daniel 1972 of them when they were teaching and that was not on for pedagogical purposes. But I always breezed through the checking on account of what Bernard Koay had said above!

House meetings were then held every Friday after school at the hour they had been held for decades. There, the skills of leadership, people management, organisation, control of information flow were tested, honed and learnt. It was a great tradition until compulsory attendance at Friday prayers for Malay pupils was introduced under Encik Rahim Che Teh, the peraturan H.M. He had, until he joined the V.I., served all his time in Teachers Training Colleges so he did not know how to bend the rules. He would tell House Masters to end the House meetings abruptly at a certain time whether the matters at hand were concluded or not, as it was time for Friday prayers. I can still visualise him now, in his Malay costume, strolling with the Malay boys, including those from the V.I. hostel, to the Masjid Negara which is a five to ten minute walk from the school. I believe this strict adherence to peraturan was the beginning of the end of serious House meetings and House activities.

Incidentally, talking about bending rules, I was rather good at that! Once when separate reports for two or three of the V.I.'s societies had to be submitted to different department heads in the State Education Department, I simply appointed one teacher to be in charge of those two or three affected societies instead of getting two or three other teachers to do similar reports!

I enjoyed all the Daniel Shield Old Boys versus Present Boys games as a student as well as a teacher and Old Boy. Lots of rivalry but all in good fun and I believe this cemented many a friendship as well as enable one side to learn from the other. Life in the V.I. was very enriching and I enjoyed my life in the V.I. both as a student as well as a teacher and during my Senior Assistant years. Maybe if I had continued my teaching career in Malaysia and enjoyed the favour of the powers that be in the Ministry of Education, I could have ended up as V.I. Headmaster! Who knows?? If you have a dream, it can happen!

Some Pupils I taught

My students - the thousands that I have taught - I wonder what they think of me? I can only hope their opinion of me will be as kind as mine of my teachers. When I think of Levi Yee who was in the first Form 6 class that I taught in 1970, I find a very good and lasting example of my first harvest, my first fruits, the very first products of my teaching career. Well, Levi Yee told me then in Form 6 that his ambition was to join the Lutheran Clergy. I said if he did so he would have the opportunity to become the first Malaysian-born Lutheran Archbishop. I did not know how prophetic my words were, for today Levi is the senior pastor of the Renewal Lutheran Church at Petaling Jaya with six other assistant pastors! If he had been a traditional believer, he could have ended up as a Lutheran bishop. However, Levi, now known as Dr Joshua Yee, became charismatic and thereby forfeited that opportunity.

I went to Joshua's church on a Sunday on my last visit to Malaysia and found that he had a thousand strong congregation. Most of his congregation were CEOs and business executives who had discovered the strategies of successful professional business by attending Levi's business meetings on weekdays! When a tired and desperate businessman wants to know the secrets of being successful, he is directed to the 'grotto', a small airy room, and told to get his strategies from God, that is, to pray and find the secret from God and not from the pastors. I remarked to Joshua that he had been a very focussed individual and single-minded person even in his school days. He, in turn, complimented me when, on introducing my wife and myself to his congregation, he remarked that I was the most patient teacher that he had ever had, one who would never get angry at all the questions he bombarded me. Well, Joshua had always had a lot of questions and I would always give free advice. Maybe that is why my calling was to be a teacher!

The other student I have been keeping in contact with is Dr. Foo Chi Chean. He has been my dentist for nearly 21 years, ever since he started his dental Foo Chi Chean surgery for about the same number of years. When he was in the V.I. in my Biology class he would ask me how he was doing and I kept encouraging him, saying that he would succeed if he just heeded the advice that I gave him. Well, Chi Chean obtained a distinction in H.S.C. Biology and then went on to become the first batch of Dentistry graduates from the University of Malaya. And, of course, I became his patient!

Once I had such bad gingivitis that Chi Chean recommended conservative treatment to arrest my poor dental health. On my last visit in December 2003 I received a good report from him. How could I not when almost all my teeth are capped or bridged - by Chi Chean! Only now do I understand that I had had complete dental cosmetic surgery and that he had been the saviour of my teeth. You know, it pays to be kind to your students. You can get a big discount for your dental bills, if nothing else! There are lots more examples of the good rapport between teacher and students but it will take volumes to document them but suffice to say it has been great to teach in the V.I.!

Excellence in the V.I.

The seventies saw the decline of the V.I. In my opinion this was due to several factors:

• HMs were not as dynamic as those during the fifties and sixties. Shukur Abdullah was about the best after Dr Lewis and Mr Murugasu. Well, he has now become, at long last, the Director-General of Education. I wonder, were I were still in Malaysia, if I might have got an opportunity to be V.I. Headmaster through Shukur? Dream on, Daniel!

• By the seventies the V.I. no longer got the cream of the top students from Batu Road School or from Pasar Road School. The best students went to MARA and were then sent overseas to do their matriculation. The second best went to the Asrama Colleges which had sprouted all over the country and took in both Malays and non-Malays. So the V.I. came in a poor third.

• Students who lived near the school such as Davidson Road and Shaw Road and others were now taken in, despite their low academic qualifications. So there was definite dilution of quality.

• When the Federal Territory was formed in 1974, it had its own Education Department and nine administrative units, each headed by a Principal Assistant Director. (I became one such PAD in 1982.) It was a decentralising exercise for all states so instead of the action taking place in schools, the department called the tune. The name of the post sounds big only for one's ego as it was just a senior time scale position, lower than the post of an A grade HM. So most HMs were rather condescending towards their PAD whom they regarded as merely acting on behalf of the Pengarah/Chief Education Officer. Still, the PADs drew up most of the policies for the Pengarah to launch and they were the enforcers as well. Adhering to the numerous peraturan to the letter was and still is the bane of any HM. However, some of the peraturan that had to be implemented were without sound educational or pedagogical principles, that is, they did not ultimately benefit the students in their studies nor in their extra-curricular activities.

• As I found out as a principal much later I, too, like the V.I. principal, had to attend two to three meetings a week. So who was in charge in the V.I. in the HM's absence? The Senior Assistant or the Senior teachers! Four new positions were created in the teaching service then with the same senior time position as the SA, adding confusion upon confusion. Some HMs, of course, were happy as they always would have a S.A. as scapegoat if things were not well in a certain area. When I was a principal, I hated going to these meetings as it was more of the same - just talk with nothing concrete. The meetings were merely used for telling principals what could have been easily conveyed in a circular to them. It was a way, naturally, for the PPDs and PADs to glorify their positions and themselves.

• The end result was that the HMs themselves lacked the drive or initiative for any innovations beneficial to their schools. Instead they slavishly buried themselves in ever more paper work to satisfy the PADs overseeing them. Consequently, these HMs degenerated into mediocre educationists over time. The situation worsened with the creation of a new set of 'emperors' - the PPD (Pegawai Pelajaran Daerah) who were higher in rank than the HMs and ruled over each district. If you had a nasty PPD you had had it! If our Dr. G.E.D. Lewis had had this complicated arrangement in his time, he would have been stressed out completely with peraturan, peraturan and more peraturan and, definitely, the V.I. would not have had its Golden Years!

• Our sporting standards also declined partly due to the RMC being admitted into the Selangor school competitions when it moved from Port Dickson to Sungai Besi in 1960. So we ended up losing to them and with every loss there was less support and enthusiasm for our losing sides and our players were disheartened. For example, despite having national player Robin Goh and Yang Siow Meng in the VI staff our hockey teams still lost. Definitely, our calibre of sports was lower compared to that of earlier years. Up till then VI's better students had always been able to handle both studies and sports as well. Now, the all-round poorer calibre of students meant our boys had to concentrate on their studies to the detriment of sports. Private tuition was in vogue at that time, too, which was an indicator of the problems. And peraturan, as always, was a factor.

• Another factor was the introduction, during Mr Victor Gopal's tenure, of the two-session school for all schools nationwide except Asrama schools. According to the infinite wisdom of our educational and national leaders, having two sessions of students in a school was seen as maximising the use of facilities and saving money and making everything cost-effective. Well, it proved to be the death knell of the VI's position as a premier school. It saw the introduction of seven Form 1 classes in the first year; then, in the second year there were 14 classes. All the Sixth Form classrooms and the front east wing of the school together with the lab classrooms were surrendered to this huge mass of new boys.

• Because we now had lower secondary students in the afternoon session, all extra-curricular activities by the morning boys had to be minimised or curtailed so as not to create too much noise. Consequently, the seniors' "big brotherly" help in studies and sports for the younger ones withered away, speeding up the demise of the VI spirit. Once this traditional transmittal of the VI spirit from the seniors to the juniors was snuffed out, new students did not have the slightest clue as to what made the V.I. so unique like during its heyday under Dr. Lewis and others.

Daniel at ACS

Will the V.I. will ever return to those Golden Years of my time? Well, it needs a crisis to galvanise the staff/boys/Old Boys. If we had a very dynamic HM who was unafraid of the folks in the Education Department and who had 100% support of the Director of Education, then maybe things could happen. For example, Dr. Lewis in the fifties had this problem with Gang 21 but made an example of them. Lewis made his staff and boys spend long hours in the field and in the classrooms but they all understood why they did that. And he imposed discipline as well. These were the hallmarks of his administration. It is not only an expat who can do this - an Asian/Malaysian can also do this and - as a good example - I need point only to a V.I. teacher, Loh Kung Sing, who was my colleague in the seventies.

When he became a headmaster, Kung Sing, too, had gangster problems in his school at Old Kuchai Lama. But, with the cooperation of the staff especially the discipline master, he tackled the gangsters' Tai Kor and won him over by meeting him in his territory Loh Kung Sing and making a deal with him. He showed respect to the Tai Kor and persuaded him that the gang's violence which resulted in loss of equipment should be a thing of the past.

While in the Wilayah Education Department, I had the privilege of making an official visit to his school with other officials and gave him an excellent report. Kung Sing's school had established an espirit de corps among the teachers and pupils as in the days of Dr. Lewis. As proof, his school swept the board in athletics against the mighty RMC and other schools. And as you walked around his Kucai Lama School, you could even hear a pin drop. Only the voices of the teachers could be heard and they did not have to raise their voices at all. Kung Sing eventually had to leave to helm the M.B.S.K.L. and I, the A.C.S. Ipoh. The lucky Headmaster who succeeded Kung Sing reaped the Excellent Headmaster award in Wilayah and had a fantastic raise in pay, far outstripping those of existing HMs.

So who says excellence cannot return to the V.I. some day? It is waiting for the right leadership!


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Epilogue

fitting subject for my epilogue is the birth of the Sydney Chapter of the Australian ex-Victorians. This came about through my two V.I. classmates and friends, Michael Tan Ngee Tiong and Ken Lim Choon Kean. To merely say that my association with the Victoria Institution was only 19 years as I have written earlier is grossly untrue as the birth of the Sydneysiders Victorian Chapter will mean many more years ahead of close association with these two friends who had started schooling with me in Standard One at Batu Road School.

Just imagine, we three came separately halfway around the world from Malaysia to Sydney, Australia, and we are still keeping company! In between, though, we had lost track of each other for at least forty years!

Michael Tan was with me at BRS, then at VI and then together at RMC. I left him at RMC and then went back to VI to do my HSC. Michael went from Sixth Form, RMC, where he had attained the rank of Junior Under Officer (JUO), to England where he did his Chartered Accountancy under a Federal Scholarship. After doing time with the Government, he was with Hong Leong and many other private companies. Being a bachelor, he did many things which I will one day ask him after we both are fully retired. In Australia retirement is normally from 65. He went to Taiwan and got hitched (again I must ask him how he did it!) at an age considered in our generation as being a bit old. He did it at 37 and I got married at 26, the average age at which most men would have tied the knot.

Ken, on the other hand, went from BRS to VI and then went to England where he did his HSC and read for his accountancy degree and then worked in England for at least 20 years. He married a nurse there but delayed fatherhood till very much later. Then he decided to move to Australia. Sorry to keep you all in suspense but what has this to do with the birth of the Sydney Victorian Chapter?

Well, I met Michael after a ten-year gap when he invited me to his sixtieth birthday dinner. He did contact me earlier about ten years ago but I wasn't ready at that time to get sentimental with old classmates. Then Ken emailed to me after reading my memoirs above. When I heard they had both been in Sydney for the last twenty or so years but hadn't known of each other's existence here, I decided to be a "KPC" (Kay Por Chi) and link them up. Then I thought: "Why not try contacting other VI boys to make the effort more worthwhile?" Web pagekeeper Chee Min played a part behind the scenes supplying me with Sydney email contacts and we took off from there. The list grew until we had twenty people at the inaugural meeting of our Sydney Chapter at my house at Maroubra on the 14th of August, 2005. We have since gone on from strength to strength and have had another chapter gathering in 2006 with over seventy Victorians including ten from Melbourne. 

While I was starting off the chapter here, I contacted my old VI mate, Lawrence Chee Yue Poy, in Melbourne to get the VI connection going in his place as well. Hey, VI boys (and girls) are great organisers, as we all know! The Melbournians had their gathering in February 2006. At that reunion which I attended, I met up with my VI batch of 1964 - Lawrence Chee, Lee Ban Yew, Phua Juay Chee (VI School Captain of 1964) and N. Ganesan - and also my pupil, Peter Ooi, now a doctor, plus many more ex-Victorians.

This year we will be having yet another VI reunion on 7th October 2007 when we hope both Koh Tong Bak (VI 1962) and his brother, Tong Chui (VI 1964), who will be visiting from the US, and other recently located Victorians will join us. The place has been booked for a Sunday buffet lunch where I hope we can get a hundred Victorians  assembling to meet, yarn and reminisce. And we hope to have Chee Min here the following year so we will have an excuse for the next annual reunion! Meanwhile, here in Sydney, we have just initiated another activity and have begun meeting on a quarterly basis over a cuppa at Gloria Jean's Cafe, Crows Nest, owned by Rohit (Victorian 1996), son of Dharam Prakash (Victorian 1961).

So you see, if not for my two classmates Michael Tan and Ken Lim, these ex-Victorian groups in both Melbourne and Sydney would not have materialised. I would not be connected to both local chapters and I would not be writing this epilogue!


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Daniel passed away suddenly on June 12, 2011 while on a cruise to Norway.




VI The V.I. Web Page


Created on August 31, 2004.
Last update July 1, 2007.

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