by Loh Kok Kin
Victorian 1991 - 1995, Chairman of the V.I. Museum Board 1995
[Extracted, with some additions, from
The Victorian, 2001]
ave you ever wondered why Hollywood producers
earn much, much more than world-famous history professors? Well,
movie audiences generally find ‘correct history’ to be boring and
few care for the proof or disproof of a historical fact. For
example, in real life, Maximus was a failed gladiator, but look
what Hollywood did to his image in the blockbuster movie,
Gladiator! But who cares? It’s more fun to watch the
fantastic, the sensational and the legendary come to life. People
like that "nice and good" feeling coming out of a movie
instead of reading up on historically accurate but dull and unvarnished
The Victoria Institution is no different. Take for example,
the claim on page 66 of the 1988 Victorian that ‘Legend
has it that if the HMS Malaya Bell is rung, the whole of Kuala
Lumpur will be engulfed in a disastrous flood.’
Where does this come from? A way to find out is
to ask the Old Victorians about it. As it turns out, no one in
the 1950s or 1960s has ever heard about it! That is not surprising
because it turns out that this claim started in The Seladang
January-April 1971 edition. The title on page 8 proclaims: ‘Legend
of the V.I. Bell: When the bell tolls, KL will be drowned in flood
How did this "legend" start? One must understand
the context. In January 1971, unusually heavy rains flooded many
parts of Kuala Lumpur. Soon after, a Lt Kamaludin b. Suhaimi wrote
to the Straits Times, wondering - wrongly of course - whether
the floods were caused by the ringing of the V.I. bell. (He was
referring to the H.M.S. Malaya watch bell which hangs under the clock
tower.) The Seladang reprinted Lt Kamaludin’s letter but,
with the intention of giving the lie to such an claim, published below
it an interview with Mr. Richard Pavee, the longest serving school
clerk and old Victorian. The article quoted Mr Pavee's telling of the
historical background of the bell saying that the claim about the bell
causing floods was just sheer nonsense.
How did this "legend" become famous? Unfortunately,
later generations of Victorians who came across this article simply
looked at the title of the article or at Lt Kamaludin's letter and
decided to believe the claim without reading the refutation that
followed! Such is human nature. Thus a V.I. myth was born through
sloppy reporting and even sloppier reading and comprehension.
There are two lessons to be learnt from that. Firstly, the V.I.
publications have a very important role to record and preserve the
ACCURATE history of the school. Misleading titles, misprinted facts,
careless mistakes or outright untruths cause many Victorians to
absorb, learn and pass on historical inaccuracies. Secondly, a
historical inaccuracy, once created, is very difficult to erase.
Thus, the ridiculous legend of the V.I. bell survived for 30 years!
It is very important for all Victorians to ask himself or herself
about the credibility and origins of the ‘fact’. Ask "Is
that believable?" and "Where or whom did that
claim come from?". Repeating minor untruths, like rumours,
causes ugly distortions. It’s relatively easy to start a nuclear
chain reaction, but it is very hard to stop it.
This article analyses some other V.I. myths and is structured
as follows. Each point starts by stating the claims as they exist
now. Then, the 'facts' and their possible origins or sources are
presented. For easy reading, these will be followed by the conclusion,
instead of the analysis. The analysis will be presented in the final
part of the article and will ask questions like "Why does the
legend or inaccuracy exist?", "Why can't this myth be
true?" and "Are there better explanations?". By
thinking systematically, we can hopefully get logical and convincing
arguments that will put an end to these V.I. myths and re-establish
accurate V.I. history in our minds.
CLAIMS AND RESPONSES
1) NOT TOTALLY CORRECT :
The school was born on 14 August 1893
a) On 15 June 1893, the first Board of Trustees for the V.I.
was formed to run the new school (The Victorian 1954).
b) On 14 August 1893, Lady Treacher laid the foundation stone
of the V.I. and this is recorded on the school plaque which today
can be found under the school porch..
c) On 15 January 1894, the V.I. started its first, unofficial
classes at a Government English School (A Short History of the V.I.:
1893 – 1961 page 2).
d) On 1 July 1894, the building of the V.I. was completed (The
Straits Times 2 July 1894).
e) On 30 July 1894, Mr B.E. Shaw officially opened the new
building. (Sixty Glorious Years in The Victorian
1954 by the V.I. Headmaster, Mr G. P. Dartford). Interestingly, it
was on 30th July 1954 that the V.I. celebrated the 60th Anniversary
of the School! The 1954 school magazine (page 16) actually referred
to 30th July as Founders’ Day!!
CONCLUSION : The officially accepted establishment date is
14 August 1893. However, there are many other dates when the V.I.
first ‘came into being’, so let’s not forget them.
2) NOT TOTALLY CORRECT : The first
V.I. headmaster was Mr Bennett Eyre Shaw
a) Mr G.W. Hepponstall was headmaster in a temporary building
in High Street, from 1893 to 1894 (A Short History of the V.I.:
1893 – 1961 page 18).
b) Mr Bennett Eyre Shaw was headmaster of the old V.I., High
Street, from 1894 to 1922 (A Short History of the V.I.: 1893
– 1961 page 18).
CONCLUSION : Mr G.W. Hepponstall was the first unofficial/acting
headmaster of the V.I. while Mr Bennett Eyre Shaw was the
first official headmaster of the V.I. He is also the longest
3) MYTH : The school philosophy
has always been ‘To be a Scholar, Sportsman, Gentleman/ Lady’
a) This slogan never ever appeared in The Victorian
before 1989, except once, a different context, in the message of
the headmaster Mr V. Murugasu to The Victorian of 1966,
in which he claimed that a V.I. boy of his time was already
a "gentleman - scholar - sportsman". (see above extract)
b) The next time it re-appeared was in the 1989The
Victorian Editor-In-Chief’s opening message on page 3.
c) This slogan was first officially labelled as ‘School
Philosophy’ in 1991, appearing in the Peraturan Am Sekolah
and on the board outside the hall where it still stands today.
CONCLUSION : Indeed, this slogan is the official school
philosophy today. However, we must recognise that the school only
recently (1990/1991) started using this officially. Offhand
remarks don’t count as the official school philosophy.
4) MYTH : The school motto
has always been ‘Be Yet Wiser’
a) In October 1953, the founding editorial board of The
Seladang first thought of the name for the publication and a motto
('Be Yet Wiser') for it. (Source: Mr R. Nithiahnathan, founding editor).
b) In 1964, there was a General Knowledge Quiz written by
a Seladang sub-editor, Haniff Majeed (The Seladang 1964). In
the VI Affairs section, Question 21 asks ‘What is the school motto?’.
The given answer was ‘Be Yet Wiser’ although, in fact, the school never
had a motto (V.I. The First Century : 1893 –1993)!
c) Today, the motto is officially recorded in Peraturan Am
Sekolah on page 2.
CONCLUSION : ‘Be Yet Wiser’ is now recognised as the school's
official motto because the school administration took on a de facto
(and mistaken) school motto. The date of adoption is unclear. However,
we know for sure that before the mid-1960s, no school motto ever
5) MYTH : The School crest has
been represented correctly in The Victorian of the 1980s and
a) The school crest was designed by Mr G. Burgess in 1930.
In the December 1930 issue of The Victorian, the quote/citation
says : "The shield, it will be observed, carries the letters
V.I. in dark blue on a light blue ground, thus displaying the school
colours. The star and crescent and the head of a Seladang will be
recognised as symbolic of the State and its people. The key is the
Key of Knowledge and the goals, wide and narrow, are the Goals to
be won, not only on the football and hockey field, but in the world
after school days are over."
b) Later editions of the School magazine, for example, The
Victorian of 1993 (page 171) or The Victorian of 1984
(page 180), claim that the Seladang represents a unique species of
animal (symbolising the uniqueness of Victorians) and that the
star and moon represent Islam as the official religion. (The
Victorian 1984 also claims that they come from the national
flag.) It is also claimed that the steps are the steps to
success (The Victorian 1993 (page 171)).
c) These later ‘versions’ were copied into the Peraturan Am
Sekolah (see page 2 of the booklet).
CONCLUSION : Clearly there are contradictory versions. Thus
the quote/citation from 1930 should be referred to as the correct
one because it is closest to the time when the crest was designed.
Always refer to the original to avoid mistakes.
6) MYTH :The present day school badge
follows the design and colours of the original school crest.
a) The December 1930 issue of The Victorian has a copy
of the original design (without colour). That edition also has the
original quote/citation for the school crest (see point 5 above).
b) The crests above the stage in the hall and above the front
door of the hall reveal the Seladang, key, goals, star and moon and
the border of the shield (the non-blue symbols) to be gold
c) The non-blue symbols are all gold in colour in the 1958 and
1959 Speech Day Programme Booklets and in A Short History of
The V.I. : 1893 – 1961 page 25.
d) Mr Toh Boon Huah, student of the V.I. from 1933 to 1938 and
a teacher of the school from 1946 to 1961, has confirmed that
the non-blue symbols were originally gold even during the 1930s.
CONCLUSION : We must refer to the original design to avoid
mistakes. The present day iron-on school badge shows a distorted V.I.
crest. The Seladang’s horns are too short, the moon is too large and
the goals are of the same size - which is wrong as they are supposed to
be "wide and narrow' according to the original citation! In addition,
the original colour of the non-blue symbols is gold.
7) CONFIRMATION :The blues of the
school crest are the same as those of Oxford and Cambridge.
a) The VictorianDecember 1930 has the original
citation/quote for the school crest (see point 5 above). Notice
that it doesn’t mention Oxford and Cambridge (Oxbridge).
b) Nonetheless, students from the 1950s knew the blue
colours on the crest as the blues of Oxbridge. Their teachers
like Mr Lim Eng Thye and the no-nonsense V.I. historian Mr Ganga
Singh (who was teaching in the V.I. when the crest was designed)
would have corrected them if this was not true.
c) Mr Toh Boon Huah, student of the V.I. from 1933 to 1938
and a teacher of the school from 1946 to 1961, has confirmed
that the story about the Oxbridge link was already around when he
was a student in the 1930s.
CONCLUSION : The light and dark blues do represent Cambridge
and Oxford Universities respectively.
8) MYTH :The ‘smiling sun' and
'radiant moon’ symbolize certain V.I. 'philosophies'.
a) These quotes/‘philosophies’ never appeared at all in any of the
Victorian magazines before the 1980s.
b) In the 1980s, quotes about those objects began to appear.
They were called the ‘philosophy behind the sun and moon’. In
The Victorian of 1989, (pages 41 and 42), the
captions proclaimed ‘The Smiling Sun – Symbolises magnanimity in
victory and the radiating rays denote disseminating knowledge to
young Victorians and others’ and ‘The Smiling Crescent Moon –
Depicts fortitude in defeat and learning could still be achieved
from our victors. The star represents hope that success may follow
c) There are different versions of that quote. In The
Victorian of 1991 (page 20) the quote says ‘The sun
symbolises courage and bravery. When light triumphs over darkness,
Truth emerges’ and ‘In the darkness, a crescent moon radiates with
hope; portraying a Victorian’s Spirit to succeed in the face of
CONCLUSION : The ‘philosophical quotes/captions’ were coined
by the writers simply aesthetic purposes in The Victorian.
There are no ‘philosophies’ behind those symbols.
9) UNSOLVED MYSTERY :The 'smiling
sun' and 'radiant moon' may have come from the Old V.I.
a) An article in the Straits Times of 2 July 1894
on the new V.I. building on High Street mentions that ‘…the main
roof is broken at each end by the half timber gables over the
project class-rooms in front, and at the side of these gables are
gablets containing carvings, representing the sun and the
b) The Old Boys of the school remember that the
sun and moon now at the front of the school hall,
were already there in the 1950s.
c) But in the pictures of the Japanese Surrender at the V.I.
on 13 September 1945, those artifacts (the sun at
least) are missing! Were they taken down and hidden away before the
Japanese took over the school and only restored after the war? Or
were they never there before the war and only hung up after the war?
And if so, why is there a light patch on the wall in 1945 where the
sun would have been?
CONCLUSION : Did those objects (the sun and moon in the hall)
come from the old V.I.? This is an unsolved mystery. They may be
over a hundred years old and then again they may not be.
10) MYTH :The shape of the
main building is based on the V.I.'s "E philosophy".
a) The "philosophy" of the E-shaped building was "explained" to
everyone for the first time in The Victorian 1989
(pages 41 and 42). The two-page foldout entitled "The Philosophy
of Victoria Institution Handed Down Through The Ages" showed a
picture of the main V.I. building with the declaration: "to provide
education of the ELITE so that they can EXCEL in all fields and
achieve EMINENCE in society".
b) The Malayan Daily Express of Wednesday 27 March
1929 reported on the opening of the new V.I. building. In the
report, the only mention about the shape was ‘…… the building is more
or less in the shape of an E’. Nothing else.
CONCLUSION : The "E philosophy" appeared for the first time as
a filler for the pages of The Victorian of 1989. The
writer invented rather imaginative meanings for the letter 'E'. This
filler was only there for aesthetic purposes, like the verse ‘We the
Victorians, The spirit of the school…’. There certainly wasn’t any deep
or mystical 'philosophy' that guided the architect and the building
contractor in the design and construction of the present school
11) UNSOLVED MYSTERY :
The V.I. was used as a military centre by the Japanese.
a) From March 1942, almost immediately after the British
surrendered; Malaya, Sumatra and Singapore were combined
under the rule by the 25th Japanese Army headquartered
in Singapore (page 98 of Southeast Asia Under Japanese
Occupation by Alfred W. McCoy)
b) From April 1943, the 29th Japanese Army took
over control of Malaya and their headquarters were based in
Taiping, Perak until the end of the war in 1945 (page 98 of
Southeast Asia Under Japanese Occupation by Alfred W.
c) The Kempeitai (Japanese Secret Police) Headquarters in
Kuala Lumpur was in the Lee Rubber Building, which still
stands at the corner of Jalan Hang Lekir and Jalan Tun H.S.
Lee (‘Letters & Comment’ Asiaweek 15 September
1995 and various Malaysians who lived through World War 2).
CONCLUSION : The school grounds were never used as the
headquarters of the Japanese army in Malaya or the Kempeitai
in Kuala Lumpur.
12) UNSOLVED MYSTERY :
There was a war time secret tunnel from the VI to
the MBS or to Chinatown.
a) Dr G.E.D. Lewis, V.I. headmaster 1956-1962, when questioned
about it in 1998, dismissed the idea of the tunnel.
b) Mr T. Thiruchelvam, a former History teacher of the
school and an Old Boy himself, remembers that a team from
the Malaysian Historical Society once performed studies on
a possible ‘tunnel’ but no tunnel was detected.
c) In the 1980s, an American geophysicist used his radar
device to test for a possible tunnel running from under the V.I.
stage to Rex Cinema. It drew a blank (V.I. The First
Century : 1893 – 1993 on page 272).
d) In 1998 Mr Thiruchelvam and Mr Chung Chee Min examined a
possible ‘secret tunnel’ near the hostel (see pics above) which had
first attracted the notice of VI Hostel boys in the early 1990s. Mr
Chung returned later for a second visit with another Old Boy, Mr
Cheong Chup Lim, a former DID (Jabatan Parit dan Tali Air) engineer,
who identified the 'tunnel' as merely a part of a drainage system
(prefabricated from concrete, with smooth, perfectly rounded walls!)
for funnelling excess water from the nearby Stadium Negara drains and
it was, definitely, not a secret tunnel. This pipe could not have
been tunnelled into the earth anyway; it had to be laid by trenching.
At any rate, Stadium Negara was built in 1960, long after the war.
CONCLUSION : There is no proof and it is hard to say
that the tunnel exists/existed or that it doesn’t exist.
It is an unsolved mystery. But analytical questioning seems
to suggest that this myth is hard to believe.
13) INCORRECT :
The school song has been sung in the 1990s with the following lines rendered as:
"All who PASS through this our school",
"Not one race but one WITH feeling",
"That INSTRUCTIONS be not all",
"With such zeal and WITH such measure".
FACTS : (all references taken from the original lyrics
found on page 14 of The Victorian 1949)
a) All who passed through this our school
b) Not one race but one in feeling
c) That instruction be not all
d) With such zeal and in such measure
CONCLUSION : Careless singing has caused the song to be sung wrongly.
Though only one word in a line may have changed, the entire line takes on
a whole new meaning. We must pay attention to details.
ANALYSIS AND OPINIONS
Now that we know the myths and the facts, we have to
understand where we went wrong. The main question is "Why should we believe this?". The
analysis is below. However, note that some of the answers
are ambiguous. They are the unsolved mysteries of the V.I.,
and we may never know the exact explanation for them. Nevertheless,
it is important to know and understand these unsolved mysteries
so that we don’t invent new myths.
1) The birthday of the school: ‘Birth’ is extremely
vague and could refer to any of the dates quoted above. In
writing history, be specific about the event that happened.
So, was the school wrong in celebrating its Centenary in
1993? No, the school was not wrong because it is can be argued
that the laying of the foundation stone on 14 August 1893
meant there was no turning back. So the V.I. ‘came into being’
on that day. As well, a precedent for 1993 had already been
set in 1968, when the V.I. celebrated its 75th
Anniversary. But let us not forget those other dates!
2) The first headmaster: This is another example
which shows that it is very important to be specific when
writing history. It is more correct to say that Mr Hepponstall
was the first unofficial headmaster while Mr Shaw was the
first official one. Mr Hepponstall was in charge of administrative
matters during the building of the V.I. premises, and also of
the temporary classes. He did this from 1893 to 1894. Mr Shaw
only arrived in Malaya on 25 June 1894 (V.I. The First
Century : 1893 – 1993 page 15). He was the first headmaster
to be in charge in the official school premises.
3) The school philosophy: Mr Murugasu’s use of the
phrase in 1966 was probably not an official declaration of
the school’s philosophy. He probably used it the same way
that a society report nowadays would use ‘Majulah Sukan Untuk
VI’ or ‘Berkhidmat Untuk Negara’. Besides, Victorians and
teachers of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s have never heard it
used. If it were the official school slogan, shouldn’t they
have heard of it? The message here is that even though the
goal of past Victorians was also ‘to be a Scholar, Sportsman,
Gentleman/ Lady’, it was only recently that it been adopted
as the explicit and official school philosophy.
4) The school motto: That 1964 quiz answer was
clearly wrong. But from then onwards, students believed that
the answer was correct and started passing it on as V.I.
tradition, for example, in the Editor’s opening message in
The Victorian of 1971. Over time, this erroneous fact
was believed to be true by students and staff because nobody
ever corrected it. So, eventually, the school administration took
it to be the official motto (the date of adoption is unclear).
Thus, the school acquired its motto by accident because people
continued passing on the mistake of 1964! The lesson here is that
it is important to check out any historical ‘facts’ before using
5) Interpretation of the school crest: The December
1930 citation should reflect the original ideas and intentions
of the designer, Mr G. Burgess, a former Art Superintendent of
Selangor. So it is wrong to ascribe new meanings to the Seladang
and to the key that are different from those in the original
citation. And in 1930, there was also no mention of 'steps'!
However, the symbolism of the star and moon is a different
matter. In the original citation, they symbolise the state.
Note that in 1930, there was no Malayan or Malaysian nation
and so there was no national flag (The Victorian of 1984
was wrong). The state refers to Selangor. The star and moon
thus come from the Selangor flag; the original version
before it was slightly modified in 1965. So indirectly,
the star and moon on the crest do symbolise Islam
vis-à-vis the star and moon of the Selangor flag,
NOT the Malayan or Malaysian flag.
6) Design and colour of the school crest: The
star and moon must have come from the original Selangor flag
(see the analysis of point 5). This is important because it
gives us the correct design - the crescent moon is thin and
should not engulf the star, unlike many ‘versions’ of the
It is also important to note the length of the Seladang’s
horns (in current ‘versions’, they tend to be too short),
the lower jaw of the Seladang (it should be almost fully
hidden), the size of the goals (should be narrow and wide)
and the shape of the shield.
Meanwhile, the Seladang, key, goals, star and moon and
border of the shield (the non-blue symbols) have been
coloured white, silver or gold over the years. Historical
artefacts like the crest above the stage and living memory
(Mr Toh's) point to gold as the original colour. Are these
proofs believable? The crest above the stage has been
around not too long after the crest was designed in 1930
as Mr Toh remembers. It is in a very unreachable position
and so it is very unlikely that it would have been painted
over. As well, in many school publications like those
mentioned above, the colour of these symbols is gold. So
the artefacts suggest gold as the original colour. Meanwhile,
Mr Toh was a Victorian just a few years after the crest was
designed. Thus, he would have seen the original colour as a
student. All these proofs seem believable.
7) The Blues of the V.I. crest: First we must
note that the blue colours often have the wrong hues. In
most of today’s ‘versions’ (like the school badge), the
light blue is too deep-toned, like cobalt blue. The light
blue on the original crest is more like cyan-blue while
the dark blue on the original crest looks like navy blue.
What about the interpretation of the blues? Since the
original quote/citation doesn’t specify it, we don’t know for
certain whether Mr Burgess intended the blues to represent
those of Oxbridge. But this story has been around for a long
time, even when old V.I. teachers (who were around in 1930)
were still teaching. Teachers like Mr Ganga were very strict
about Victorian traditions and would definitely have come
down hard on anyone who created any myths about the V.I.
But this story about the Oxbridge link was not refuted by
these teachers. Why? Was it because they already knew of Mr
Burgess' intention to use the Oxbridge colours? In addition,
Mr Toh (who was a student just after the crest was designed)
confirms that the Oxbridge story was already around just
after the crest was designed. So it is unlikely that it is
8) The ‘philosophies’ of the smiling sun and moon
: V.I. boys of the 1950s or 1960s never heard of
those ‘philosophical quotes’. This is not surprising
since the captions only started coming out in the
Victorian magazines in the 1980s. Why were they
written? They were probably used for improving the
magazine’s aesthetic design. So these quotes are not about
any philosophy nor the meaning of the symbols. Rather, the
writers wanted some whimsical poetry about them and this
ended up in the magazine. The lesson is that one should
not ascribe meanings to objects which never had any meanings
in the first place.
9) Origins of the smiling sun and moon: It is
tempting to say that the sun and moon in the hall today
are the same sun and moon from the Old V.I. High Street
which were then transferred over when the school moved.
But there are two arguments against this. Firstly, the
Straits Times article does not mention ‘SMILING
sun’ nor ‘SMILING crescent moon’. So we are not sure
whether those ‘sun’ and ‘moon’ are the same ones that the
school has today. Secondly, why weren’t they in the Japanese
Surrender picture? Is it because these objects are post-war
objects? Nonetheless, there are two opposing arguments.
Firstly, the two objects are not present in the Japanese
Surrender picture because they were temporarily removed, either
just before the war (for safe-keeping) or were in Hall all along
but removed just for that 1945 ceremony. Secondly, the designs of
these objects look like nursery rhyme designs. Why nursery rhyme
designs for the V.I.? Remember that the V.I. began in High Street
as an infant school. So it probably used decorations for young
children. Even after the V.I. became a full secondary school
in 1929, these objects may have been kept as historical artefacts.
But, overall, we are not sure whether these objects came
from the old V.I. or were new objects installed in the new V.I.
10) The ‘philosophy’ of the E-shaped building:
Why was this E-shape concept never described nor
highlighted when the school was opened in 1929? The
Malayan Daily Express sounded almost dismissive
and off-handed in describing the ‘E’-shaped building. If
there was actually an E-philosophy for the brand new
building – the pride of Kuala Lumpur - wouldn’t the
newspaper have been more emphatic and excited? Why did
it take so long for The Victorian to publish the
philosophy for the first time (70 years after the
building was finished!)? How did the 1989 magazine find
out about it if the philosophy had never been stated
11) V.I. used as a Japanese military centre:
This claim probably started because the
Japanese-British surrender ceremonies took place on the
school grounds. After seeing the photos of the signing in
the hall and the samurai sword handover, it is easy to
assume that the V.I. was chosen because the Japanese used
the school as its headquarters. This is VERY DANGEROUS! We
must not jump to conclusions. We should only make a claim
when there is evidence to show it, otherwise, it is only a
rumour, or worse, a myth.
12) The V.I. tunnel : The important word
here is ‘rumour’. The tunnel may exist, or it may not
exist. Without proof, we cannot know for sure. So it
might be helpful to ask some speculative questions.
If there was a tunnel from VI to MBS who would be using
it? Why would they need it? Where and why would it end
at MBS? (Don’t forget that the V.I. and the M.B.S were
deadly rivals in those days!) How come no one at MBS has
ever mentioned such a thing? What route would it take?
Don’t forget that prewar there was a steep hill sloping
down from the V.I. where the Stadium Negara is now. (It
was Coronation Park before the Merdeka.) As it
headed towards the M.B.S., wouldn't this tunnel, if
indeed it existed, have to plunge down very steeply to
avoid coming out into the open into Coronation Park?
13) The school song lyrics: Using different
words would imply different meanings. "All who
passed through this our school".
Singing ‘pass’ suggests the general student population
compared to the past tense, 'passed', which specifically
refers to the Old Boys. "Not one race but
one in feeling". The incorrect
‘with feeling’ phrase suggests that there may be
many emotions and feelings. But ‘in feeling’ refers
specifically to a united emotion. "That
instruction be not all". The plural
‘instructions’ means a set of directions and orders,
while the singular ‘instruction’ means lessons or
education. "With such zeal and in
such measure". The grammatical difference between
using ‘in’ and ‘with’ can be found in a good dictionary.
When I was a student in the school, I blindly believed
all the V.I. traditions and history that was told us by
the seniors and propagated by the school publications. I
must confess, too, that much later, I in turn wrongly
passed them on to my juniors. We really thought all of
those ‘traditions’ and ‘facts’ were correct. I would
have changed my beliefs then if someone had done some
research and showed me that I was wrong. I hope all Victorians
share this feeling. Since Mr Doraisamy’s seminal book ‘V.I.
The First Century : 1893 - 1993’, much truth has been
uncovered. For example, there is an article on pages 153 to
155 of The Victorian 1998 entitled ‘Exploding Some V.I.
Myths’. There we may learn that the V.I. palm trees were not
planted for the teachers who died in the war, the school bell
did not sink with the Repulse, the 206 toilet was only
built after the war and Mozart did not compose the music of the
school song. These articles do not force us to accept their
claims. Rather, they provide proof and analysis to support
their claims and asks the reader to decide for himself or
No one has a full picture of the V.I.’s long history. Most
of those who were around in the early years are now departed.
It will be a slow process to (re)discover everything. But to find
solid proof is important so that everyone can analyse the truth
about V.I. history. Analysis needs questions like "Is the proof good enough?", "Who is the
person who is writing this?" and "How does he or she know this?". These
are not easy questions but we all have to ask them. And
even after forming an opinion, we must be willing to change
it, if more solid proof is found later. This is the theme
underlying all serious research and this article as well.
As I write, these are the facts as I know them and I use
them to make my analysis. But proof may be found later that
says that I am wrong. If so, then I urge all Victorians to
use that proof well, so that we continue to build a more
accurate understanding of the long and glorious history of
our dear school.
I acknowledge the assistance of
Mr Chung Chee Min (Victorian 1953-1959, Editor of the
Victorian 1959 and former teacher 1965-1967), Dr Chong
Siew Meng (Victorian 1962 – 1968, great-grandson of
Capitan Yap Kwan Seng), Dr T Wignesan (Victorian 1946 –
1950 and an academic in Paris) and Wilson Wong Jun Jie
(Editor of the Victorian 2001) in helping to compile
this article. The information is primarily gleaned from
interviews with Old Boys and former teachers, photos shared
by Old Boys and historical publications and documents of
the school and National Archives.