UNDER THE SHADOW OF A GREAT NAME
The tigers' population was increased by one when I registered for admission to Form 3 in January 1964...long...long time ago! Before this I was studying in ACS Sitiawan but followed my late father when he was transferred to Taiping. Based on my 'report card', I was admitted to Form 3 'C'. I know what you are thinking...no problem. I used to tell my wife that if I stayed on in Lumut, I don't think I could even pass my LCE (Lower Certificate of Education). You see, I really enjoyed my childhood days in Lumut. After school and Quranic reading class...with the sarong as a cape (like superman) I ran to the beach and dived into the sea with members, crabbing during low tide, catapulting fish and fishing...but not studying! Well, the transfer was indeed a blessing in disguise.
Oh ya...let me tell about meritocracy (quality control?) during my era. I finished my primary education at a Malay school - Sekolah Kebangsaan Lumut. There was no such thing as SMK then and no 'automatic' promotion, too. All Standard 6 students must sit for an examination and only on passing will make you eligible to continue to Form 1. If you fail, you can 'retain' for another year..again depending on age. The next filtering system was LCE. Again, if you fail...good bye Form 4. Here was another restriction...if you fail English, then you are not eligible to sit for SC (Senior Cambridge)...qualified only to sit for MCE . However, you are given a chance to sit for SC if you pass the QT (Qualifying Test) while in Form 4. It's not over yet. If you're interested to attend Sixth Form, then you must sit for the Entrance Test. If pass, you are a Sixth Former. When the results come out in about March and you fail your SC/MCE...bye...bye Sixth Form.
On passing Standard 6 examinations, I chose to enrol in Remove Class instead of Form 1 Malay Medium at ACS Sitiawan. I also wanted to speak LONDON like my friends...he...he..he.
I managed to scrape through the LCE and my results qualified me to sit for SC/MCE....not bad eh? I was placed in Form 4 Commerce . During my time, there were 4 classes only - Arts, Science, Commerce and General. Both Commerce and General classes were housed on the first floor of the "Sheffield Hostel". One of the classes on the ground floor was a Form 4 Malay Medium - a co-ed class.
Oh ya...There were only 3 co-ed classes in the school then, i.e. Tingkatan 4 Aliran Melayu, Lower and Upper Six. The girls were from TMGS and Convent. Only KE VII had sixth form classes those days. And there were only 4 secondary schools then, i.e. KE VII, St George, TMGS and Convent, in the area.
We simply loved to stand on the veranda to watch the girls below walking to their class. What do you expect of the boys...we were not angels! And don't expect us to admire those beauty of nature in silence. I'm sure the girls were flattered by the attention given to them. But of course, their teachers were not happy and both Commerce and General classes were ordered to shift to the main building. My class was separated from the Principal's office only by the Administrative office. Both these classes stayed there till we completed our schooling in 1966.
When we were still at the Sheffield Hostel, our Science teacher, nicknamed 'Abang Kartun (AK)', simply loved giving test every Friday. I never liked Science and Mathematics....something which I really regret now. Overall marks was 15! For the first test, most got about 7. Yours truly got 3 only. So our beloved AK told the class that those who got below 5 would have to attend detention class on Saturday morning. Oh...oh...detention class meant no 'cheap matinee' at Rex, Majestic, Odeon or Carlton theaters. You see, most of the Saturday mornings my friends and I would go to see this morning movie - 3rd class for 40 sen only; 2 front-most seats. When the film started, we conveniently moved to 1st or 2nd class seats - wherever vacant seats were available...he..he. So, no choice but to study just to avoid detention class. This marking process continued until we reached the breakeven point of 50%. To Cikgu...thank you because I managed to get C6 for General Science. To me...a real achievement considering I never liked the subject.
On a sad note, we lost a classmate - arwah SHAFIE. He and our senior were swept away by a strong current and drowned when they went for a swim at Makotiong, Tupai (I can't remember the name correctly). I remember him very well because his table was right in front of me. During one of those weekly science tests by AK, he was busy copying not realising that AK was looming over his shoulder. What do you expect? Immediate 'O' and detention class the next day. Al Fatihah to arwah SHAFIE!
Forgot to tell you. When I first joined KE, the principal was Cikgu Bion Dury. He was succeeded by none other than the most famous, the late Long Heng Hua, popularly known as Pak Long. When he first came to the school, in early 1964 I think, he was driving his green Morris Minor with a "W" plate. Later on he used Worlesley.. It was he who introduced the School Song -" King Edward's Will Live Forever... As Long As the Taiping Hills Stand."
Oh boy....he was a real disciplinarian! When you see the 'Office Boy (OB)' coming to the class with reports cards (RCs)...most of us would start sweating. He would hand over the RCs to the teacher who would then call out selected names to see the Principal. We, the priviledged few, then, had the pleasure of 'chit chatting' with Pak Long. Yours truly and a few others obediently followed the OB to Pak Long's office. Once inside, he looked at my RC '....4 reds...choose'. Reading...failed 4 subjects and choose which cane from a number of canes available in a big vase. 1 stroke per failed subject. Bend down and....whack....whack....whack....whack! Mind you...we were still wearing shorts then. Only when we were in Form 5 we started to wear the white long pants even though it was optional except during assembly when it was compulsory. What a painful experience!
Another unforgettable experience was when I was in Form 5. During recess time, my friend and I enjoyed throwing chalks at each other. By coincidence, Pak Long passed by and the chalk hit him. He 'invited' both of us to the tuck shop with a cane in his hand. You can guess what happened next...Well, in front of the rest of the students ...whack....whack....whack! Another painful experience...but still managed to put up a 'painful' smile!
As commerce students, we were encouraged by our teacher, Aloysius Kong, to take typewriting class held at night. So, we diligently learned 'the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog'. And we had to sit for the PITTMAN Elementary examinations. I passed....30 words per minute. We were also asked to sit for the PITTMAN Elementary and Intermediate Book-Keeping examinations in preparation for the Principles of Account subject in the SC/MCE examinations. I passed both the examinations. Mind you, those days I am talking about the conversion of Pounds, Shillings and Pence...not RM, and there was no such thing as calculators.
After the results of the SC/MCE were published in The Straits Times in early 1967, we all departed to chart our course in life. In May 1967, I was accepted for a 2-year course as an Army cadet Intake 11 at RMC and commissioned in April 1969 as a 2Lt in the Artillery Regiment (Arty). My first posting was to 3 Arty, Kemunting Camp. I made it a point to pay a courtesy call on Pak Long. Well...well.. he still remembered me! In 1973, I switched to RMAF as a Nuri pilot.
My wife, being a teacher herself, told me that she can only remember students who are either extremely excellent in their studies or extremely naughty. In my case....maybe just an 'in-between' for Pak Long's standard! An ex-TMGS, she was an Edwardian too, for a short while before continuing her Lower Six at Tun Fatimah, Johore. You can read her blog - sitiroffinimy.blogspot.com.
To Zainal Thani, Nazri Khalid, Mohd Noor, Anggamuthu, S. Subramaniam, Zaini, Radzi, Isa Abdullah, M. Subramaniam, Logarath, KY Siow, Isa, Hussein Mohd Noor, arwah Azizan Ismail, Wan Sahir, Ramani and others whom I can't remember ...Those were the days...My Friends!
To my teachers...the late Pak Long, Miss Yap, Miss Chee, Aloysius Kong, arwah Ibrahim Maya, the late Francis Chang, Abang Kartun and others whom I can't recall....No matter what....you have my utmost respect.
This song is dedicated to all my teachers ...Sir,...THANK YOU!