A Concise History of
by Chung Chee Min
This is an attempt at a concise, accurate and up-to-date history of the Victoria Institution for Victorians old and new. It draws on material from past efforts and from school publications. Various errors (some glaring) from past historical accounts have been corrected, omissions righted and new material added to make this history current as of 2002. I would be grateful for any comments.
ollowing the establishment of the British Protectorate in the Malay Peninsula in 1874, economic development in Selangor accelerated with the growth of the rubber and tin industries and the laying of a rail link from Kuala Lumpur to Klang in 1890. With demand rising for an English-educated work force to fill the ranks of the government service and the mercantile sector, the Capitan China of Kuala Lumpur, Yap Kwan Seng, together with Towkay Loke Yew and Thamboosamy Pillay were three prominent Kuala Lumpur residents who convened a public meeting calling for the establishment of an English school. They promised to give $1,000 each.
Sir William Hood Treacher, the British Resident in Selangor, was very supportive. However, the chief obstacle in the way of realising their aim was a lack of funds. As it happened, in March 1893, Sir William discovered a sum of $3,188 of unspent money in the Treasury which had been raised six years earlier by public subscription for the erection of a permanent memorial to commemorate the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1887. He then suggested to the donors that the sum could be used to build a school. With their agreement, this amount became the nucleus of a building fund for a memorial school that would be named "The Victoria Institution". The Sultan of Selangor, Sultan Abdul Samad, donated a sum of $1,100 and became one of the two patrons of the school – the other being Sir Cecil Clementi Smith, the Governor of the Straits Settlements. Soon, further public donations and the Selangor government’s contribution of $7,000 brought the total money available to $21,291, sufficient to begin building a government-aided institution "to be maintained primarily for the purpose of providing instruction in the English language to day scholars of all nationalities and classes resident in the State and for other educational purposes." [The various races were at that time referred to as "nationalities" and, until 1972, Kuala Lumpur was part of Selangor.]
The First Board of Trustees of the Victoria Institution in 1893 consisted of Sir William Treacher (President), Raja Sulaiman (a grandson of Sultan Abdul Samad, he would later ascend the throne as Sultan Ala-iddin Sulaiman Shah), Capitan China Yap Kwan Seng, Loke Yew, Rev F W Haines (the Inspector of Schools), A R Venning, Dr E A O Travers, F G West, K Thamboosamy Pillay, Ong Chi Siu, Koh Mah Lek and Tambi Abdullah. On the 14th of August, 1893, Lady Treacher laid the foundation stone for the School in High Street. (The original foundation plate is today affixed to the front façade of the present VI building.) The first block of the Victoria Institution was completed in 1894 and Mr. G. W. Hepponstall was the acting Headmaster pending the arrival of Mr. Bennett Eyre Shaw from the Grammar School at Bishop's Stortford in England. Situated on an eight acre site in a loop of the Klang River, the School - with four staff - was officially opened by Mr Shaw on 30th July, 1894. Mr Hepponstall had originally been the Headmaster of one of the earlier English schools in Kuala Lumpur, a plank and attap building located at the junction of High Street and Foch Avenue (now Jalan Cheng Lock). His 96 pupils formed the nucleus of the initial enrolment at the V.I. which started with 115 boys from Primary One upwards. Mr Shaw was paid $2,400 a year and the assistant masters $780, $600 and $360. The government gave the school an annual grant of $3,000 and total expenditure was estimated at $7,425.
As the first Headmaster, Mr. Shaw initiated traditions and practices that would be emulated by other schools. He envisioned an education not merely for examinations but for life; his main aim was to produce good citizens. Without neglecting academic standards, Mr Shaw introduced and developed a variety of school activities designed to give a balanced education. He made drill and gymnastics an integral part of the education. He gave out prizes to those pupils with good attendance records and introduced a report card system to monitor the boys' progress and conduct. The first Prize Day was held on 21st December, 1894; this was also the year the Treacher Scholarship was founded in honour of Sir William Treacher to given to the best boy in Standard Eight (now Form Four) Junior Cambridge Examination. The Rodger Medal, awarded to the boy who had the best School Certificate results, was founded in 1895 in honour of Mr J P Rodger (later Sir John Pickersgill Rodger, the British Resident in Selangor and President of the VI Board of Trustees from 1896 to 1901). Three years later another practice was initiated with the holding of the first VI Sports Day. In 1906, musical drill displays became part of Sports Day. Another scholarship, the Nugent-Walsh Scholarship, was founded in 1909 as a memorial to a prominent Kuala Lumpur citizen to be awarded annually to the boy who stood second in the Junior Cambridge Examination. The first recipient in 1910 was Yong Shook Lin, who later became a noted lawyer and legislator.
The growth and development of the VI was rapid. A total of 201 boys were registered in its second year of operations, including nine local Malay boys and a Sumatran Malay. By 1900 there were 423 pupils; two years later, the VI had 532 pupils and, by 1924, the number had ballooned to 950. In 1899, a two-storey building (Block No. 2), consisting of six classrooms on the ground floor and masters’ quarters above them was constructed but this was hardly adequate for long. A gymnasium and another two-storey building (Block No. 3) containing a laboratory and three classrooms were added in 1903. In 1909, Block No. 4 was constructed, consisting of three classrooms on the ground floor and a large hall on the first floor. In 1921, a temporary building with three classrooms was erected to relieve the pressure for space.
The VI Cadet Corps dates from 1900, when the St. Mary's Boys' Brigade was founded by a VI teacher, Mr. A.C.J. Towers. It became the VI Cadet Corps in 1901 and was the first of its kind in the country. The Corps had its first camp in Port Dickson in 1902 and, in 1909, its drum and fife band was formed. Mr. B.E. Shaw also founded the School Scout Troop - the First Selangor Troop - in 1910, the very first Scout Troop in the country. Another of his legacies was the inauguration of the House system in 1921, under which the School was divided into five Houses for competitive sports. With three masters in charge of each House, they were known as the Red, the Yellow, the Brown, the Green and the Orange Houses.
In 1900, one of the earliest products of a VI education, Chan Sze Pong, became the first winner of the newly instituted Queen's Scholarship for an undergraduate degree course at a British University. He had also been the School's first Treacher Scholar and the second Rodger Medallist. Three years later, his younger brother, Sze Jin, also from the VI, won a similar scholarship to read law in England. His youngest brother, Sze Onn, was Rodger Scholar twice and was recruited by Mr Shaw. Sze Onn was trained with three others - Ayadurai, Syed Jan and M. H. Foenander - in the first batch of local teachers at the VI in 1904 and they were subsequently appointed Pupil Teachers. Indeed, Mr Shaw's policy of recruiting his Old Boys - the best Old Boys - to return as VI teachers paid off handsomely. Dozens of such Old Boy teachers, who made up the majority of the staff, worked diligently beyond the call of duty for the love and glory of the School. Many made teaching their life career and gave twenty-five to thirty years of their professional lives to the VI, churning out a second and even a third generation of VI teachers. Others went on to be headmasters of their own schools throughout Malaya, seeding them with Mr Shaw's ideals and vision.
With the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, several VI masters enlisted, namely, Goodman Ambler, James Carr, C G Coleman, William Dainton and George Barber. Fighting for the Royal Fusiliers, the latter was killed in action in the epic Battle of the Somme in France in 1916. The other teachers survived the war and returned to their duties. VI Old Boys also fought in the war; two who gave their lives were J H V Thornley and William C Curtis. Sergeant Robert Chan Hong Seong, of the Mesopotamia Transport Corps is believed to be one of several other Asian Victorians in the Great War. He was awarded the Iraq Medal.
After 28 dedicated years, Mr. B.E. Shaw finally retired as the longest serving Headmaster in February, 1922. Before he left, there was a meeting of Old Victorians in the School Hall in Block 4 which unanimously approved the formation of the V.I. Old Boys Association. Mr Shaw was elected as the Patron and the first President was Chan Sze Kiong, brother of Queen's Scholars Sze Pong and Sze Jin. Through the generosity of Towkay Yap Fatt Yew, the Old Boys were given a spacious club house at 17, Rodger Street (now Jalan Hang Kasturi). (Incidentally, the second VIOBA President, who served from 1926 to 1934, was none other than K T Ganapathy Pillay, the son of one of the School's founders, Mr Thamboosamy Pillay.)
Mr Shaw’s successor, Richard Sidney, had enlisted in the army in 1914, trained troops behind the front but had not seen action himself. His relatively short period as Headmaster from 1923 to 1926 was marked by the highly innovative and far-reaching changes he introduced. He reorganised the school into ten Houses, named after either founders of the school, old teachers or supporters of the school, namely, Nugent Walsh, Thamboosamy, Rodger, Hepponstall, Yap Kwan Seng, Treacher, Loke Yew, Steve Harper, Shaw and Davidson. Mr Sidney also introduced the first Speech Day in 1923 and changed the school hours from morning and afternoon sessions to the present system of one long morning session. A great and lasting institution was also created on April 6, 1923, when the first School Prefects were installed in a short but impressive ceremony. The first School Captain of the VI was Othman bin Mohamed who later became, variously, a Mentri Besar of Selangor, the High Commissioner for Malaya and Singapore in Britain and the Acting Deputy Chairman of the Public Services Commission.
The first school magazine, The Victoria Institution Echo, was published in April 1923; it was renamed The Victorian after two issues and continues to be published to this day. Mr Sidney introduced an annual Conversazione, which was essentially an open day when parents would be invited to the school to view school work and watch various activities like pageants, dancing and massed displays. It was during Mr Sidney’s reign as Headmaster that drama became prominent in the School's extra-mural activities. A Malay play, Chitra Raja Besi, written by teacher and Old Boy, M A Akbar, was staged at the Kuala Lumpur Town Hall and the money earned was set aside for the formation of a School Orchestra. During Mr Sidney's tenure the VI Musical and Dramatic Society (VIMADS) staged public performances of Shakespeare plays - Twelfth Night and Henry IV (Part One) - which carried the School’s name far and wide. One year the VI boys took their play on tour to Ipoh, Penang and Singapore. Debating was also a popular activity and VI boys arranged many debates among themselves and with other schools. An outspoken person, Mr. Sidney agitated for a new site for the VI and urged that the VI concentrate on secondary education only. While his vision was not achieved during his time as Headmaster, it was realized within three years of his departure.
The Klang River which then meandered through Kuala Lumpur in those days proved to be a bane to the school. There was the odd crocodile which lurked on the river banks next to the school to contend with but, of far greater inconvenience, were the occasions when the river burst its banks during the rainy season. Kuala Lumpur was flooded in November 1902, and again in December 1911. As the floods occurred during holidays, the work of the school was not interrupted. However, on March 8th, 1917, and October 27th, 1918, the river reached the ground floor classrooms and the school had to be closed for several days. The threat of more flooding and the noise from engineering workshops just across the river prompted the School’s trustees to look for a more suitable site. In 1919, the Government had offered a valuable piece of land of about 25 acres in Batu Road and plans for a school to accommodate 1,000 boys had been drawn up. The contract for the building was ready for signature when the town-planning expert prohibited the erection of the school building on that site. The rubber slump then prevented further action for several years. The overcrowding in the school and the extensive floods of 1926 which caused the school to be closed again for a few days led to a final decision on an alternate new site on Petaling Hill which was then a former Chinese cemetery converted to a golf course.
But the winds of change were blowing even before that. On September 1st, 1925, the VI ceased to be a semi-private school and was taken over completely by the Government. From then on, future Headmasters would no longer recruited by the trustees of the School; instead, they would be officers from the Malayan Educational Service. Equally significant, the staff would no longer be personally recruited by the VI Headmaster but by the Education Service. The School's first civil servant Headmaster was Mr G C Davies who helmed the School from 1926 to 1930. He had been in the armed forces during the First World War and was a strict disciplinarian who never allowed the scholastic activities of the school to play a subordinate part to extra-curricular activities. Mr Davies oversaw the historic move from the High Street premises to the brand new building on Petaling Hill. On September 21st, 1927, the foundation stone for the new VI was laid by Sultan Ala'idin Sulaiman Shah, witnessed by the Director of Education, Dr R O Winstedt, and other dignitaries. After eighteen months of construction (the contractor was Low Yat), the building was ready and on March 26, 1929, in front of a large crowd of Kuala Lumpur dignitaries which included many Old Boys, Sir Hugh Clifford - the President of the VI Board of Trustees in 1901 and now the High Commissioner of Malaya - opened the new VI. The ceremony was also witnessed by the first VI Headmaster, Mr. B.E. Shaw, who had been invited back to Malaya by the many Old Boys who had been taught by him.
The new VI became a secondary school with 500 boys from Standards Six (Form Two today) to Senior Cambridge. Its old primary pupils in Standards Five and below remained in the High Street premises under the headmastership of A.W. Frisby and they later transferred to the newly-built Batu Road School in June, 1930. BRS and Pasar Road School, which was built in 1925, then became feeder schools to the VI. Because of the sharp reduction in its number of pupils, the School’s ten Houses were halved to five – Thamboosamy, Hepponstall, Yap Kwan Seng, Treacher and Shaw were the ones that survived. With brand new science labs, the VI was now able to introduce science as a subject, the first school in Malaya to do so.
In 1930, when Mr Edgar de la M. Stowell was the acting Headmaster in Mr Davies’ absence, the VI finally acquired a crest of its own, one that would serve as an instantly recognised identity over the years. It was designed by Mr G. Burgess, the Art Superintendent of Selangor, who incorporated in it elements of the Selangor flag. In his short stay of six months, Mr Stowell also introduced cross country running to the VI boys.
Mr Davies’ successor was another Mr Shaw - Frederick Lloyd Shaw - who guided the school from 1931 to 1936. Mr Shaw revised the Prefects Charter, particularly in respect of the specific duties of prefects. In 1932, a great VI teacher and Old Boy, Mr R. Thampipillay, retired after over 34 years service with the school. He was presented with the Imperial Service medal at a ceremony in the School Hall. The following year, the School Football Eleven won, for the second time since 1926, the Thomson Cup for inter-school football supremacy. Boys entering the VI were now selected from Maxwell English School as well as BRS and PRS. The 1933 enrolment stood at 530.
Equipped with its own laboratories and using course material developed for tropical schools by its own Senior Science Master, Mr F. Daniel, the VI began in 1930 to offer science as a subject to all Standard Six and Standard Seven boys, and to certain classes in Standard Seven and the Senior Cambridge. A biological garden was maintained on the School premises with many representative species of flora planted for teaching purposes; rabbits and guinea pigs were reared for biological dissections. Such was the demand that pupils from other schools went to the VI for science lessons in the afternoons; in the evenings, classes were taught for teachers, European officials and technical officers of various government departments. Latin, too, was taught, but only to select classes. There was also a matriculation class to prepare pupils for admission to first year courses in the University of London. Colours were granted every year to outstanding boys in football, cricket and hockey and half-colours for badminton and athletics. There were screenings of documentary and feature films on Friday evenings in the School Hall. The thirties were a particularly busy and typically successful period for the VICC which projected, through ceremonial parades on Empire Day and the King's Birthday, its very favourable reputation. In May 1935, for instance, the entire Corps and Band, 150 strong, took a leading part in the King George V Silver Jubilee Parade at the Selangor Club Padang.
Mr. Shaw was succeeded by Major J.B. Neilson, who was Headmaster for nearly a year. Mr. C.E. Gates assumed the headmastership of the VI in June 1937. During his tenure, an up-to-date swimming pool with springboards, steps for high diving, shower baths and circulating chlorinated water was opened in June 1938. (A human skull, overlooked during the exhumation of the former Chinese cemetery was unearthed during the construction of the pool.) From then on, VI pupils could now receive swimming instruction as part of the school curriculum. It was also used by most schools in Selangor which had weekly periods of swimming allocated to them. When Mr B.E. Shaw retired in 1922, the V.I. Old Boys’ Association had made repeated appeals to the government to recognise his contributions. Finally, in 1938, Gaol Road, the stretch in front of the VI, was renamed Shaw Road in honour of the longest-serving VI Headmaster. (Shaw Road was renamed Jalan Hang Tuah after Merdeka).
During his reign, Mr Gates could point with justifiable pride to his three VI pupils who won Queen's Scholarships for degree courses in England – Ismail Mohd Ali (later Tun Ismail Mohd Ali), Yap Pow Meng and Rodney Lam. In 1939, every V.I. boy was grouped into one of three classes according to an individual athletic coefficient calculated for him. This enabled the boy to compete in a range of track and field events that contributed points to his House. In July of that year, the founder of the VICC, Mr. A. C. J. Towers, visited the VI on the occasion of the fortieth birthday of the V.I.C.C. and presented the band with a silver-mounted drum major's staff. The VICC had grown during the thirties: in 1930, the strength of the Corps was 145 Cadets (45 of whom were recruits); by 1941, there were over 300 V.I. Cadets organised as a battalion of three companies. In this final year of the Gates era, the school had 19 staff and 510 boys; there were 15 classes including one matriculation class.
With war clouds gathering, the School Hall was requisitioned by the War Taxation Department, military barracks sprouted around the school and many of the European VI masters were called for military training. Thirty Malay ex-Cadets volunteered to form an all-Malay platoon in the F.M.S. Volunteer Force and when the Selangor Local Defence Corps was formed and an appeal was made for Asian volunteers, the first forty men to be enrolled were ex-cadets of the VICC! From its well-stocked cadet store the School gave the LDC service rifles, 0.22 rifles, rifle slings, webbing belts and other equipment. Teacher Gorbex Singh helped organise the Air Observer Corps and the Southern Section of the A.R.P. And then it all ended suddenly, just after the Cambridge examinations, as the Japanese Army poured rapidly down the Malay Peninsula towards Kuala Lumpur at the start of the Pacific War in December. The science laboratory assistants, Basir and Ahmad, hastily buried some of the equipment and chemicals in the school grounds. Mr Gates remained steadfastly at the School until the enemy was almost at the gates. With the British in full retreat and chaos and looting everywhere, the loyal School clerk, Mr Richard Pavee, bravely stood guard over the school premises with his cadet rifle to ward off looters before Kuala Lumpur finally fell and three and a half years of Japanese Occupation began.
Many Old Boys contributed to the war effort. The Talalla brothers, Henry and Cyril, had joined the Royal Air Force much earlier and flew fighter planes against the Germans in the European theatre. Cyril was credited with several kills and was awarded a D.F.C. (with a bar). Henry Talalla was killed in action when his Typhoon was shot down over Normandy in 1944. Old Boy Peter Barraclough flew for RAF Bomber Command while Pilot Officer S.I.S. Kanwar flew for the Indian Air Force. Captains Gurbax Singh and Tharam Singh and Lieutenant H I S Kanwar fought in the Indian Army, while Sulong bin Hamzah and Salleh bin Hassan served in the Malay Regiment. Yaacob bin Abdul Latiff (later Mayor of Kuala Lumpur), Bun Tsan Chuan and Captain Syed Shaidali saw service in the Malayan Campaign. (After the war, Tsan Chuan was awarded the Military Medal while Shaidali took part in the Victory Parade in London and even met Mr Winston Churchill.) Ng Kum Heong fought the Japanese in the FMSVF Armoured Car Regiment, while Old Boys Leong Hong Teck, Bun Pak San, Wong Ah Yam and Tan Sim Hong fought in the Burma Campaign as Chinese Army soldiers. Chang Sow Khong was an artillery sergeant in the Australian Army, fighting in New Guinea and the Philippines and was later attached to General MacArthur's Headquarters as an intelligence officer. Rajion and Harry Lau served in the Red Cross until the surrender of Singapore. Victorians even fought as guerillas - Mohamed Yakim bin Long was part of the Malayan Guerilla Force while Leong Chai Mun and G N Frank were in the famous Force 136 that harassed Japanese forces behind lines. Another Old Boy, Charles Stratton Brown, served in the Royal Navy and narrowly survived an attack on his ship, HMS Barham, when it was torpedoed by a German submarine in the Eastern Mediterranean in 1941. For sheltering, feeding and helping British Servicemen during the Occupation, Old Boy E.L. Schubert, a civilian, was awarded the Supremo’s Certificate.
Gorbex Singh was detained by the Kempeitai for 70 days and eventually released. He went on to hide the Malayan resistance leader, "Singa" or the "Lion of Malaya" in his house and arranged his escape. (Gorbex was awarded the M.B.E. in 1949.) However, most of the expatriate VI teachers who took up arms were incarcerated as internees or prisoners of war. Those who survived the ordeal included F C Barraclough, E A H Ellis, C Forster, L I Lewis, W H W. Little, G G L McLeod, and D K Swan. Four former VI headmasters were also interned - the loyal C E Gates, H R Carey, J B Neilson, R J H Sidney - as were future Headmasters F Daniel, E M F Payne and G E D Lewis. (Of course, the venerable Mr B E Shaw was already retired by then in England but, despite his old age, he served as an air raid warden in London during the German blitz.) The VI teachers who died in captivity were G C Tacchi, H D Grundy, E W Reeve, G Burgess, A C Strahan and T L White. The siege of Singapore in February 1942 claimed the lives of at least two Old Victorians; a former VI teacher and Member of the Singapore Legislative Assembly, Mr Tay Lian Teck, was killed when his ship was bombed by Japanese planes and the 1938 Cricket Captain Hera Singh (brother of Gorbex Singh) died in a Japanese bombardment at the Medical College where he was a student. The 1930 School Captain E R de Jong, R Seimund, Lee Pet Seong, Lim Siew Weng, Wong Tin Leong and H A Leembruggen were reported missing or died as prisoners of war.
The VI’s commanding location on Petaling Hill made it an ideal choice as a Japanese headquarters. According to Old Boy Harry Lau who had been given employment by the Japanese and who had actually visited the VI to collect his uniform, the VI was not a military but an administrative establishment of some sort. During the Japanese occupation of the VI premises, however, the school’s library books, trophies, equipment, laboratory apparatus (including the secretly buried hoard) were either stolen or destroyed. The climax of the Pacific War came with the destruction of Hiroshima and Nagasaki on 6th and 9th August 1945, respectively, after which Japan surrendered unconditionally. For Malaya, Wednesday, 12th September 1945, was Victory Day and an impressive ceremony was held in Singapore with Lord Louis Mountbatten accepting the formal, unconditional surrender of all Japanese forces in Southeast Asia.
A separate surrender ceremony took place in Kuala Lumpur the following day, 13th September, 1945 at 2 p.m. at the Victoria Institution Hall. In a twenty-minute ceremony, Lieutenant-General Teizo Ishiguro signed the surrender on behalf of the Japanese forces while Lieutenant-General O.L. Roberts was among Allied signatories. The VI was then commandeered by the British Military Administration which would run the country until late 1946. On 22nd February, 1946, another surrender ceremony was held in front of the VI porch when General Frank Messervy of Malaya Command, then headquartered at the VI, accepted the surrender of residual Japanese units holding out in scattered parts of Southeast Asia. Deprived of its premises, the VI resurrected itself through afternoon sessions at Batu Road School beginning 22nd October, 1945 and then moved to the defunct Maxwell Road School premises after five months. While there, the School's scouts and cadets were represented at the Victory Parade to celebrate the end of the war at the Selangor Padang. The VI finally returned to its proper home in September 1946.
Mr M. Vallipuram, an Old Boy and former Senior Master on the prewar staff, was appointed VI Headmaster – its first Asian Headmaster - during those nomadic days. (Incidentally, with peace now restored, the long-awaited results of the 1941 Cambridge examinations were finally released!) Mr Vallipuram retired just as the school moved back to its own building and Mr Ng Seo Buck, another Old Boy and master, was appointed Acting Headmaster. At a special assembly he broke to the School the belated news - delayed because of the war - that the VI's first Headmaster, Mr Shaw, had died two years earlier in 1944. Mr Ng performed his duties for about three weeks until the new VI Headmaster could arrive from recuperation leave in the United Kingdom.
He was none other than Mr. Frederick Daniel, the Senior Science Master of the thirties, who had pioneered the teaching of science in the VI. Apart from being a brand new Headmaster with the daunting responsibility of rebuilding the VI from an empty shell, Mr. Daniel shouldered another big responsibility - the duties of Science Supervisor for the whole country. An official reopening of the School by the Governor of the Malayan Union, Sir Edward Gent, was held on Friday, 11th October, 1946, as a morale-booster to put the famous VI spirit back to work. In addition, the School's Golden Jubilee was belatedly celebrated that evening with rousing speeches by dignitaries and sketches interleaved with musical pieces by the resurrected School Orchestra. The actual event in 1943, of course, could not be marked because of the war.
Entry to the VI was now lowered to Standard Five (Form One today) instead of the prewar Standard Six. Three Houses, extinct since the nineteen twenties - Loke Yew, Rodger and Davidson - were resurrected in June 1947 to bring the number of houses to the present eight. This was to accommodate the huge influx of boys from the feeder schools as well as over-aged VI boys who had missed school during the war years. To clear the huge enrolment bottleneck in the lower forms some boys received double or even triple promotions within one year, such was the disparity in age and ability as a result of the war. School activities were reorganised and new periods were allocated for educational radio broadcasts, swimming, concerts and vernacular languages. Metal school badges were issued to the boys for the first time.
Clubs and societies were formed or revived as the School slowly picked itself up – the Science and Maths Society and the Photographic Society were brand new Societies born in the Daniel era. In 1948, the very exclusive 1939 Literary Circle founded by Mr N S Buck was revived and merged with the prewar Debating Society and the Historical and Civic Society to form the Literary, Debating and Historical Society. Two years later, it split into the Historical Association and the Literary and Debating Society. With the school enrolment ballooning to 800, the Annual Athletic sports were finally revived in 1947, with the Sultan of Selangor and his consort gracing the occasion. As all the prewar challenge trophies had been stolen, borrowed trophies stood in for them during the prize-giving! When the replacements were eventually acquired through donations, the most poignant was the Victor Ludorum trophy, donated by the widows in memory of the six VI teachers who had died during the war.
In 1947, the HMS Malaya, a warship built in 1915, had completed its service and was to be decommissioned. As the VI was the premier school in Malaya, it was decided that the watch bell of this ship which was built from donations by the people of Malaya during the First World War be presented to the school. The original bell was allotted to Perak and hung in the Perak Council Chamber. On 12th September 1947, the second watch bell of HMS Malaya was presented to the VI by Rear Admiral H.J. Egerton. The ceremony was broadcast live on the radio and witnessed by many dignitaries including the Governor, Sir Edward Gent, and the Sultan of Selangor. This gift replaced the original school bell which had disappeared during the war and, for a year or two, it was rung every morning by the School Captain to signal the start of school. It was also used by Mr Daniel to summon the School to special assemblies.
The Laxamana Cup was presented in 1949 by the Tengku Laxamana of Selangor for an annual football match between the Victoria Institution and his old school, the Malay College, Kuala Kangsar. The first match was played on 12th March, 1949, at the VI field and ended in a 1-1 draw. A few days later, on 17th March 1949, Mr Anthony Eden (who was the wartime Foreign Secretary and who would become British Prime Minister in 1955) visited the school and officially opened the new VI library at its new premises in the science wing. The library, which had lost all its books during the war, had been restocked through many generous contributions from Old Boys. It had seating accommodation for 80 boys and room for 10,000 books. Honour Boards inscribed with the names of various games captains and scholars were affixed to the walls of the new library. Mr Eden also unveiled the school war memorial in the library to enshrine the memory of those teachers and Old Boys who had given their lives in both world wars. Eleven yellow flame trees were also planted by parents, the School Captain and the Headmaster, in the following order, in the memory of: G Barber, G Burgess, H D Grundy, E W Reeve, A C Strahan, T L White, M Daniel (wife of the Headmaster), E R de Jong, Henry Talalla, R C Seimund, Harold Leembruggen. Many of these trees are still flourishing today.
Mr Daniel was regarded as a strict man who believed in discipline, cleanliness and the dignity of work. Without fail he would walk around the school premises every morning to inspect the grounds. Mr Daniel re-introduced the prewar tradition of daily classroom cleaning. The brass hinges and knobs of the classroom doors had to be polished by the VI boys every day before lessons, and marks were awarded every day by prefects who inspected each classroom. A challenge shield would then be presented at the school assembly to the cleanest classroom of each week which then earned the privilege of hanging that shield in the front of the class for one whole week. Mr Daniel loved the school so much that he spurned the comforts of the nearby Headmaster’s house and chose, instead, to live a spartan existence in a small corner room in the School building itself.
There is one legacy, however, that Mr Daniel will certainly be remembered for. There had been at least two failed attempts by the School in the past to have a distinctive School Song of its own. Mr Daniel commissioned Mr G F Jackson, an English literature teacher, to compose those three immortal verses of the School Song that are known today by all Victorians and sung to the tune of the medieval students’ song, Gaudeamus. Mr Daniel also inaugurated, on November 21, 1948, the annual series of games between Present Boys and Old Boys for the prize that is named after him – the Daniel Trophy.
Mr. E.M.F. Payne succeeded Mr. Daniel as Headmaster in May 1949. During his tenure, the Detention Class (more popularly known as D C) was introduced for the punishment of errant boys. Post Certificate Classes were introduced to prepare pupils for university (the University of Malaya had just been established in Singapore in 1949). A veritable social revolution occurred in 1950 with the admission to the School of its first girl, Miss Yoong Yan Yoong, from the Methodist Girls' School. Miss Yoong, who had two brothers in the VI, later read medicine at the university and is now retired as a doctor in Johor Baru. In 1951, the Science and Mathematics Society organised a Science Exhibition, initiating an annual tradition that spanned more than two decades. The same year, King Scout K. Yogarajah was the sole Selangor representative at the World Jamboree held in Austria.
The VIMADS of the nineteen twenties was revived as the VI Drama Society that same year. Its first play, Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice, was publicly performed the following year to critical acclaim. This set another tradition in motion with the school thereafter producing a major play annually for a good twenty years. During Mr Payne's tenure, basketball and volleyball were introduced to the school for the first time and rugby, last played in the early 1930s, was reintroduced. In November 1951, the School was presented with a gilt-framed oil portrait of Queen Victoria painted by Mohammed Hoessein Enas, an artist from Java noted for his portraiture of Malay royalty. This was an enlargement of a smaller engraving that had been presented two years earlier by the High Commissioner, Sir Henry Gurney, who had planned to personally hand over his latest gift but had been assassinated a month earlier. The Queen Victoria portrait hung at the back of the stage until the early sixties when it was removed to the school library where it still hangs over the entrance. The first Pure Science class was set up in 1952 in Standard Eight (now Form 4) offering physics, chemistry and biology as subjects for the School Certificate examination.
Mr Payne left the VI in May 1952. Between 1953 and 1955, there were three Headmasters - Mr G.P. Dartford, Mr A. Atkinson and Mr P. Roberts - in rapid succession. 1953 witnessed the birth and rebirth of several school icons. The first VI monthly newspaper, The V.I. Voice, was launched in June, 1953. It was renamed The Seladang in October, 1953, after the animal in the school crest symbolizing the state of Selangor. Making its debut in The Seladang's masthead, was its motto - Be Yet Wiser - the final part of a popular proverb. This was expropriated after a few years and foisted as the motto of the School. The Seladang continues to be published to this day. The VI Cadet Corps, which had lain dormant since the Pacific War, was finally revived. The school celebrated the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in June with concerts and ice cream treats for the boys. The VI building was one of many in Kuala Lumpur to be floodlit for the coronation revelry. 1953 also saw the birth of a specialist science journal, The Scientific Victorian, published exclusively by the members of the VI Science and Maths Society. A proper school uniform - all white - was introduced and all boys began wearing metal school badges, a practice that had lapsed since Mr Daniel's time. The School prefects started the tradition of wearing light blue shirts in place of white ones. Twelve years after its sudden demise, the VI Cadet Corps - minus its band - was revived with 80 recruits, more than double the expected number. Two years later, a separate band platoon of eighteen boys was formed equipped with instruments donated by the Education Department.
In 1954, under the Headmastership of Mr A. Atkinson, the VI celebrated the Diamond Jubilee of its opening. 30th July 1954 was commemorated as Founders Day with a revival of the prewar Prize-giving ceremony. On that same day the Sultan of Selangor laid the foundation stone of the VI Old Boys Association Club House, the building of which the present VI boys had spent many months soliciting donations for. The School had 38 staff teaching 28 classes totalling just over a thousand pupils, including 17 girls, in 1954. The Post School Certificate, now renamed Form Six, had five classes. A V.I. Flight of 25 boys, was formed as the No. 1 Squadron of the Federation of Malaya Air Training Corps.
When Dr. G.E.D. Lewis took over as Headmaster of the VI from late 1955 he initiated a golden age for the V.I. in terms of innovation, and in superlative results in sports and academic endeavour. He air-conditioned the library and restocked it with more reading materials. He also uncovered evidence of secret society members in the School and dealt with them forcefully, rooting out gangsterism in the VI. As a counter to such nefarious activities, Dr Lewis established Club 21, an exclusive group - limited to 21 students at any one time - of those who were meritorious achievers either in extra-mural activities or studies or both.
In 1956, Dr Lewis initiated the first of many far reaching changes for the VI – he introduced a new Speech Day format which combined exhibitions of school and society work with a prize-giving ceremony and a school concert, a format which lasted well into the 1970s. Like so many of his predecessors, he was a strict disciplinarian and believed in all-round education for the VI pupils – working hard and playing hard. He regrouped the boys into three age classes – fewer than the cumbersome postwar five classes – so that each House could then have enough players per age class for competition in the various sports. He reintroduced compulsory cross-country running and refined the prewar points system whereby every boy who ran within a certain time, or jumped over a certain height or threw a javelin, shot or discus over a certain distance scored a point for himself and his House. The annual athletics sports did not escape change either. Inspired by the Olympic Games, it now began with an impressive march past with an athletes contingent leading the eight house contingents. Houses were required to erect their own tents from which their members watched the proceedings and there was a formal closing ceremony, with bugles sounding the Last Post, after the prize-giving.
In another innovation, VI girls now wore their own distinctive uniforms - light blue blouses and dark blue skirts. In addition, a Senior Girl, with the rank of prefect, was appointed to represent the burgeoning number of girls in the school. Miss Teh Paik Lian became the first Senior Girl in the VI in 1956. She later returned as Mrs Ee Thian Hong to teach mathematics at the school. To cope with the increasing demand for post-secondary education, a Form Six Block consisting of four classrooms, a lecture hall, three well-equipped laboratories, and an adjacent animal house were built in 1957. Erected at the same time was the VI Hostel to accommodate increasing numbers of out-of-town boys, some coming from as far away as Kelantan and Trengganu. That same year, The Analekta made its debut as the arts students' counterpart to The Scientific Victorian. Under the terms of the Education Ordinance of 1957 all Malayan schools were to be administered by Boards of Governors. Two thirds of the VI's first Board of Governors in 1958 were Old Boys and the Chairman was prominent Old Boy Yaacob bin Abdul Latiff. That year the School had 1,030 pupils of which 162 were in Form Five and 140 boys and 31 girls were in the Sixth Form. Dr Lewis built a new school canteen in 1960 on the site of the School carpenter’s workshop. The library was simultaneously extended into the boys' lavatory next to it and a new replacement lavatory was built next to the canteen. Many societies and clubs sprouted during the Lewis era, catering to diverse interests ranging from aeromodelling to swimming to philosophy.
In academic prowess, Victorians were second to none. In 1956, Ooi Boon Seng aced his Senior Cambridge examinations with eight A1 distinctions and was the toast of the school. Year after year, Victorians were winning more than their share of scholarships, including the prestigious Colombo Plan Scholarships. Complementing the Treacher and Rodger Scholarships, the Lewis Prize was founded and awarded to the best student in the Higher School Certificate examination; the first winner was Khoo Choong Keow in 1958. Unafraid to commit the VI boys to any challenge, Dr Lewis initiated many annual bilateral meets with other schools in various sports, the most famous being the annual VI-Federation Military College athletics meet which pitted VI’s best athletes against those of the country’s military school. Dr Lewis will also be remembered as the Headmaster who promoted rugby tirelessly and made the VI a school rugby power. In the early sixties, the crown prince of Brunei joined the VI, a testimony to the high standing of the School. He, of course, is Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah today. One of Dr. Lewis' more lasting legacies for the school was to commission Old Boy R. Suntharalingam, then a VI history teacher and later a professor of history, to write an official history of the school. On the book's publication in early 1962, every VI pupil had to sit a written test on the contents of that book.
As new educational policy required that all schools be self-supporting, another of the legacies of Dr Lewis before he retired to England later that year was the establishment of the V.I. Endowment Fund. Within a year, Old Boys and parents had donated more than $25,000 to that Fund. Mr. A.D. Baker became Headmaster in September 1962. Although he would be the last expatriate headmaster of the School as the process of Malayanisation ground on after Merdeka, the VI’s stirring record of achievements in sporting and academic fields was maintained during his short tenure. In his time, Davidson House was renamed Sultan Abdul Samad House in 1963 and the sad news was also received of the death of Mr C.E. Gates, the last prewar Headmaster. Succeeding Mr Baker, Mr. V. Murugasu, who had been a postwar pupil at the VI until 1950, took over the reins on 1st June, 1964. He had been a House football captain and secretary of the Geographical Society during his VI schooldays. After graduating with an arts degree in English, he had been Headmaster at two other schools and at the Day Training College, and a deputy Chief Education Officer before being posted to his alma mater.
Mr Murugasu was a rigid disciplinarian, in the mold of his old Headmaster, Mr F. Daniel. He did not spare the rod and he emphasized the equal importance of studies and extra-mural activities. He implemented a system that awarded certain points for each extra-mural activity that a pupil participated in. The School’s superlative academic and sporting achievements continued to elicit regular headlines and flattering coverage in the local papers. Seeking to avoid stereotyping of lower secondary pupils by the 'A', 'B', 'C' or 'D' categorisation of their classes, Mr Murugasu replaced these with 'North', 'South', 'East' and 'West', not necessarily in the same order. His VI dress code required pupils to wear canvas shoes instead, and only Sixth Formers were allowed to wear long pants and leather shoes. Hair styles and hair lengths were strictly enforced.
The postwar explosion in the number of clubs and societies that saw the numbers jump from three in 1948 to 24 in 1962 soon resulted in inertia and falling memberships due to competition and overlapping activities. In 1964, the Geographical, the Historical, the Economics, and the Senior Literary and Debating Societies were amalgamated into the VI Arts Union. In a triumph of planning and organization, the new Union organized three simultaneous overseas tours at the end of the year for one hundred pupils and a handful of teachers. One group sailed to India, another to Hong Kong, Japan and Vietnam, and the third went overland by train to Thailand. In a similar move, in 1966, the Society of Drama, the Art and Craft Club and the Musical Society merged into the Cultural Society. Still the thinning of literary talent and support took its toll on The Analekta which folded after its eleventh issue in 1967.
Expatriate teachers began returning to the VI in the early sixties, this time as volunteers from Australia, New Zealand, Britain and the United States. The first American Peace Corpsman, Samuel D. Edwards, joined the V.I. staff in 1965. On January 31st, 1966, the School marked the news of the death of former Headmaster, Mr Richard Sidney. He had lived in Malaysia after his retirement from teaching, publishing Young Malayans, a monthly English magazine for youths. The VICC Band acquired their first bagpipes and were commended by US President Lyndon Johnson (a Texan) who heard them playing The Yellow Rose of Texas when he was driven past the Band during his visit to Malaysia in 1966. He got down from his limousine and shook hands with the Drum Major. A bust of the President was later sent in appreciation to the school! 1968 marked the 75th anniversary of the founding of the VI which was celebrated with great pomp and pageantry, with the Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, in attendance. Mr R Thampipillay, one of the early pupils of the VI and a VI teacher for over 34 years was a special guest of honour. The school had 1392 pupils and 56 teachers in that historic year.
1969 was a watershed year as the May 13 incident resulted in the unprecedented cancellation of the school annual athletics meet. The annual school play was also abandoned just as rehearsals were in full swing. Red Cross Society members on the other hand offered their services to the National Red Cross during the crisis. This was also Mr Murugasu's final year at the VI as he was transferred to Malacca. The following year, Mr Richard Pavee the school clerk officially retired. A pupil of the school from 1918 to 1927, he had started employment at the school in 1935 and had known every VI Headmaster from Mr B.E. Shaw on. He was literally an institution within an Institution. Mr. Tan Cheng Or was appointed headmaster in 1970 and, after just over a year, was succeeded by Mr. V Somasundram in 1971. Old Boy Oh Kong Lum served as Senior Assistant under him and was the first of four consecutive Old Boy Senior Assistants. A special school assembly was called on August 13th, 1971, to pay tribute to former Headmaster Mr F. Daniel, who had passed away in England two weeks earlier at the age of 72. The first ever nationwide Teachers Day was observed on May 16, 1972, with a special assembly followed by staff-student games and a lunch reception. In August of that year, the VIOBA celebrated its Golden Jubilee and a dinner for 320 Old Boys and their friends was held in the School Hall.
Mr Victor Gopal became Headmaster in 1973 and will be remembered as the Headmaster who commissioned teacher, Puan Zainab bte Yusop, to write the Bahasa Malaysia version of the School Song. In that same year the Parent-Teacher Association of the VI was formed. A fundamental change occurred in The Victorian when it was decided that it would solely serve as an annual report without any literary features in 1973. Its traditional cover design which had been used every year from 1930 was replaced in 1974 with a picture of the School clock tower. The cover design has continued to change yearly according to the whims and creativity of the editorial board, but the literary features eventually returned in 1977.
1974 saw many other changes. One was the renaming of Hepponstall House as Lee Kuan Yew House, honouring the distinguished Old Boy who had been an outstanding sportsman in his school days in the 1920s and a VIOBA chairman. More club and society mergers took place that year with the Arts Union absorbing the Commerce Society and the Junior Literary and Debating Society as well, while the Cultural Society combined with the Persatuan Bahasa Malaysia, the Chinese Language Society and the Tamil Language Society and renamed itself the VI Cultural Union. In that historic year, the Science and Mathematics Society, the Junior Science Group, the Electronics Society and the Automotive Club similarly merged into the VI Science Union. With these three giant Unions the total number of school clubs and societies shrank to a manageable twelve. The Board of Chairmen, an umbrella grouping comprising the chairmen of all the School's clubs, societies and uniformed bodies, was formed around this time to coordinate the various activities of their own organisations in order to avoid clashes and duplication. Sadly, in this period The Scientific Victorian fell victim to lack of support and ceased publishing.
In 1975, eleven Second KL Scouts went on the first of many successful expeditions to Gunung Tahan. On April 1st of that year, a roller skating rink, built from donations by the PTA and other well-wishers, was declared open by Old Boy Mr Lee Kuan Yew. Measuring some 30 metres across at its widest, the oval-shaped track was located near the site of the present day surau and gave the VI boys an alternative sport to enjoy. But badminton, not skating, was the VI's watchword, for by the late 1970s, the VI had become a badminton power. Because of its hostel and excellent facilities many of the country's best badminton talents were being transferred to school. The VI under-18 and under-15 badminton teams were earning fame and glory. In April 1977, the VI retained the King's Cup in the Malaysian under-18 badminton championship after crushing the Anglo-Chinese School Ipoh 5-0 in the boys' final. With this win, the VI gained the distinction of being the first school in the country to win the coveted trophy three times in succession. Mohd. Misbun bin Haji Sidek was declared VI Sportsman of the Year for 1978. He and his brothers and other ex-Victorian shuttlers would eventually constitute the bulk of the 1992 national team that would bring the Thomas Cup back to Malaysia.
In 1976, under the headmastership of Encik Abdul Rahim bin Che Teh, a new scout den, costing over RM10,000 and designed by Old Victorian Fong Ying Hong, was built from funds raised by the School. Another Old Boy was Senior Assistant at this time - Vong Choong Choy - who served until 1979 when Encik Baharum bin Othman became Headmaster. Because of large numbers of pupils from the rural areas who comprised 40 percent of the school population, afternoon sessions had to be conducted which had a detrimental effect on extra-mural activities. Nevertheless, the VI won the Interschool Sixth Form Science quiz for the fourth time and also became Malaysian schools cricket champion.
In 1980, Encik Baharom was succeeded by Encik Abdul Shukor bin Haji Abdullah, a Harvard Master of Education graduate. With the completion of the Form 1 and 2 Block in 1981, the VI could now revert to being a single session school, with extra-curricular activities held in the afternoon. Encik Abdul Rahim bin Abdul Majid was the next Headmaster, serving six years from 1982. Two more Old Boys served as Senior Assistants during the eighties - Daniel Chan from 1980 to 1982, and Dharam Prakash who succeeded him and served until 1986. Two new martial arts associations were formed in Encik Abdul Rahim's first year. They catered for students interested in judo, wrestling, self-defense and the traditional Malay martial art of silat. Inspired by the emergence of information technology, the VI Computer Society was inaugurated in February 1983, and was presented with a computer by distinguished Old Boy Tun Ismail bin Mohd Ali, the Governor of Bank Negara. In April 1983, the VI Red Crescent Society, which had started as the VI Junior Red Cross Link of the Federation of Malaya Red Cross Society, celebrated its silver anniversary. The School's ninetieth birthday was also celebrated that year. The anniversary cake was cut by Old Victorian Tan Sri Dr Tan Chee Khoon who also donated $20,000 to a scholarship fund. The VI Cadet Corps celebrated the anniversary of its founding with a tattoo that became a biennial event thereon.
In the late seventies and the eighties, the clubs and societies started fragmenting and splintering, creating a record number of clubs and uniformed groups in the school - 32 by 1986. In 1979, the Science Union called itself the Science and Mathematics Society again, the Junior Science Group having split off years earlier. The Economics Society had, in 1985, a brief existence, while the Historical Society peeled away permanently in 1986 from the Arts Union which itself finally became defunct in 1990. It was reborn in 1991 as the Literary and Debating Society. The Geographical Society was revived in 1994 and then merged with the Historical Society to become the Historical and Geographical Society in 1996. As the Cultural Union gradually changed its focus and became the Persatuan Persuratan dan Kebudayaan in 1986 and then the Persatuan Seni dan Budaya in 1990, special interest groups emerged - the Hindu Club in 1985, the Classical Music Club in 1992, the Chinese Language Society in 1993, and Kelab Seni Pentas dan Teater in 1996.
A new school canteen was built in 1985. The School's swimming supremacy was maintained that year when its swimmers bagged a total of 27 golds, 18 silvers and 3 bronzes at the MSSMWP Meet. Five VI water polo players represented Kuala Lumpur in an inter-city tournament at Perth, Australia. At year's end, the VI cricket team which was Federal Territory school champion for five consecutive years went on a tour of Peninsular Malaya, winning five matches out of six.
In early 1987, there was a proposal by the educational authorities to replace 'Victoria' in the School's name. A petition initiated by the prefects and vigorous protests by the V.I. pupils as well as prominent Old Boys like Tan Sri Hashim Mohd Ali, Tan Sri Zain Azraai and Justice M. Shankar resulted in the withdrawal of that proposal. The School was renamed Sekolah Menengah Victoria instead. The 1987 World Jamboree in Sydney was attended by representatives of the First and Second KL Troops.
Under Headmaster Encik Shuib bin Dahaban, who assumed his duties in 1988, there were 79 staff. By now there was recognition of the need to preserve the School’s past for future generations of Victorians. A large room was acquired that year for a museum to display all manner of interesting Victoriana accumulated over almost 100 years. Interhouse competition in all sports except athletics ended. In athletics, the various Houses continued to vie for the championship through "standard sports" (previously known as qualifying rounds in track and field events)and through events on Sports Day itself. In other sports, the School maintained teams for Inter-School competition and, indeed, as the nineties began, the V.I. was a sports powerhouse. It could lay claim to winning all the state water-polo championships since 1970, except for a loss in the early eighties. Between 1985 and 1994, the VI lost the state football championships only three times and the School cricketers were invariably state cricket champions each year. The VI Literary and Debating Society (VILADS) - a vibrant society of the fifties and early sixties - was resurrected in December 1990 with the aim of upgrading English language proficiency in the school. It also participated in an inter-school drama competition, recapturing as well the spirit of the defunct Dramatic Society of yesteryear. In 1991, on the occasion of the Asian Track and Field Championships held at the Merdeka Stadium, a $400,000 115-metre synthetic track was built in the school field for use by the competitors as a warm-up track. It is the only school track in Malaysia that is recognised by the Asian Track and Field Federation.
16th July 1992 was the day the VI welcomed its first lady principal, Puan Robeahtun binte Haji Ahmad Damanhuri, who had been a member of the staff in 1973 to 1974. She became fully involved in the upcoming VI centenary events as chairperson of the school committees planning for those events. The centenary athletics event was held on Saturday, 20th February 1993. The guest-of-honour was Dr. Mani Jegathesan, an Old Boy of the VI and semi-finalist in the 200 metre sprint event in the 1964 and 1968 Olympics. The centenary tattoo was held on the night of 10th April with the Assunta School and the Tunku Kurshiah College bands participating as well. On 8th May, the VI held its centenary concert in the Kuala Lumpur City Hall auditorium as a tribute to the School’s founders and to the people of Kuala Lumpur. On August 7, a Speech Day was held with the Minister of Education as Guest of Honour who declared open the newly-built four-storey twelve-classroom Sixth Form block and launched a two-day Exhibition as well. The exhibits, of science, arts and extra-curricular interest, harked back to two decades or more ago when such events were annual affairs at the VI. The in-house celebrations climaxed at the VI Open House on 13th August at the quadrangle with a countdown to twelve midnight to mark the hundredth birthday of the VI the next day.
A grand banquet was held at the Shangrila Hotel on 14th August itself where Old Boys and Girls, their spouses and well-wishers dined with the likes of the Prime Minister, the Sultan of Brunei, two cabinet ministers, five ex-Headmasters including 81-year-old Dr G E D Lewis who had travelled from London, several Tan Sris and two of the oldest Old Boys, aged 82 and 83, who could be traced. The last event was on 19th August when a permanent VI Museum was officially opened by Mr. Gnanalingam, a parent, who had very generously financed the construction of the Museum which occupies two adjoining classrooms on the ground floor of the main building.
In 1995, the library was again upgraded to cope with the increasing numbers of students. The VI was provided with four computers, making it one of the first schools to have Jaring Internet facilities. Puan Robeahtun was succeeded in December 1995 by Encik Othman b. Husin, who held the post for less than a year. Puan Salha bt. Othman became the second lady principal in 1996. On 27th July 1996, the VI Mosque (Surau Abdul Kadir Mat) was officially opened. It had been designed by Hajeedar Majid, an Old Boy, and financed by the Sultan of Brunei. Dato Seri Najib b. Tun Haji Abdul Razak, the Education Minister, paid an official visit to the VI in September 1996 and attended a School assembly. After a lapse of fifteen years, the Laxamana Cup was revived in August 1997 and renamed the Piala Sultan Azlan Shah. In 1998 the VI Prefects Board celebrated its 75th year of existence with a dinner attended by ex-Prefects from past years. The guest of honour was the 1949 School Captain, Dr R.S. McCoy.
The 1998 Commonwealth Games had rich VI connections. The chairman of the organising committee was none other than Old Victorian General Tan Sri Hashim Mohamed Ali. The VI field was designated as one of the venues for the international cricket matches and a second sports pavilion, a permanent addition to the School's frontage, was built for that purpose. The VI Cadet Band performed in the opening and closing ceremonies of the Games. Indeed, throughout the 1990s the VI Cadet Band had been the most visible standard bearer for the school. It had won the gold many times in National Day parades and in National School Band Competitions. It had also participated in marching band festivals in Sydney, Australia, in 1996, and in Yokohama, Japan, in 1998. In 2000, in Calgary, Canada, the band boys brought back a gold medal from the World Championship for Marching Show Bands.
A new Headmaster, Tuan Haji Baharom b. Haji Kamari, assumed charge in January 1999. The first VI Heritage Night was held on 17th July, 1999, to pay homage to the School’s founders, and to celebrate the School’s successes and achievements. In 1999, Ho Sui Jim scored an amazing 10 A1s in the SPM examination, topping the exam and deservedly winning the Rodger Scholarship. (This feat was repeated in 2001 by Emmanuel Anandraj Selvaraj.) In April of that year came the sad news that former Headmaster Dr G E D Lewis had passed away in London. The school roof was re-tiled for the first time in 70 years and new water pipes laid. Incidentally, the act of laying the latter resulted in the accidental unearthing of an old Chinese burial urn near the swimming pool, a reminder of the original purpose of the school grounds. This attracted media coverage and an archaeological team from Muzium Negara Antiquities Department removed the urn for further study.
The aging parts of the four clocks in the school tower had broken down many times over the decades. A long campaign to replace the clocks finally came to fuition when, under the efforts of Old Boy Dato’ Jaffar Indot, Chairman of the VI Foundation, four new electric clocks were installed and officially launched on the night of 12th August, 2000. That year, too, the talented actors of the VILADS publicly staged a selection of dramatic pieces entitled Mad Cows Dancing Free at the Actor’s Studio in Dataran Merdeka. Three of the four pieces were written by the boys themselves. The VILADS repeated its success the following year with Would You like a Cigarette?, written and directed by seventeen-year-old Avinash Pradhan, son of a former School Captain. On 22nd April 2001, the VI held a carnival in conjunction with the Daniel Shield games. At the Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur Schools Marching Band competition at the Titiwangsa Lake Gardens, the VI took top spot and also won the Best Drum Major title.
In mid-2002, Tuan Baharom was transferred from the VI and Tuan Haji Taslim Sarbini took over the helm of the School. He had been Headmaster of two previous schools and had worked with student associations overseas before that. The Headmaster's bungalow, dating from the 1930s, was demolished in August and construction begun for two new hostel blocks to accommodate a total School hostel population of 400. The VI story is definitely far from over.
The school’s philosophy of a balanced education of mind and body as envisioned by its first Headmaster was embraced by generations of Shaw’s successors. That it worked can be seen from the products that walked through the portals of the school that is better known as the Victoria Institution - educationists, lawyers, doctors, engineers, civil servants, captains of business, scientists of all disciplines, judges, cabinet ministers, politicians, chief ministers, sultans, generals, think tankers, writers, poets, dramatists, artists. Many studied in the best universities in the world and have reached the commanding heights of Malaysian society and owe their very success to the unique all-round education they had received at the V.I., an education that gave them countless opportunities to organize and lead and to develop mind and body in tandem.
The Victoria Institution, 2000
Last update on 9 June 2007.