Tuesday, 29 March 2011

REMEMBERING MSS ASHBY ROAD IPOH 1957

When we were in
Ashby Road
a few memorable events took place that we cannot forget. One of them was the Asian Flu which struck the School. The School almost closed down with many of the classrooms turned into sick bays. Teachers became part-time nurses. We remember Mr. Michael Liau coming round   announcing in not very good Bahasa Malaysia “Banggun Makan Ubat”. Fortunately no death was recorded.

During the year a batch of new students joined us. They were put in the Remove Class. They came from all parts of the country. They were very proud where they came from. One night we were in the classroom with Mr. Marshall helping us with our Prep work. We saw one small boy who had just joined the School coming from the dormitory walking towards the classroom block. He was called by the teacher and was asked where he came from. The teacher just wanted to know if he came from his dorm or the toilet because he should be in his classroom at that time. The boy said proudly “I come from Province Wellesley, Sir”. We all laughed at him. Mr Marshall. the wit he was asked “ did you walk all the way here?” Jaafar Kamin (Now Datuk) came from this second batch. So in I957 we had two classes, Remove Class (or Tingkat Khas) and Form One. I think the enrolment was 360 students. It is worth mentioning that we had a Siamese pupil by the name Chairon Nai Dam joining the School. He came from Kedah. He was to become a very successful student excelling in most academic subjects including Ugama Islam. He became a Police Officer and was killed in an aircraft accident while on duty as the Aid De Camp to Tan Sri Ghazali Shafie then a Cabinet Minister.

We remember that the teachers who came from the three races in Malaysia i.e. Malay Chinese and Indian were truly dedicated and if I may say so showed the true spirit of 1Malaysia well before the present Prime Minister introduced it. They did nothing less than their best to educate us. I may even go further and say that the Non Malay teachers were generally more dedicated and hardworking than the Malay teachers with the exception perhaps of the Headmaster and Cikgu Perdaus who was the Deputy HM and doubled up as the School Steward before Encik Abdul Hamid Arup was appointed to that position. Encik Hamid was the father of our illustrious Tun Ahmad Sarji bin Abdul Hamid, the former Chief Secretary of the Government. We remember seeing young  Ahmad Sarji living in STAR staff quarters (which was in front of White House where I lived) when he was still a student in the University of Malaya in Singapore. We have spoken of Mr. Marshall and Mr. M. Liau. The other notable teachers who taught us were none other than Mr. Lau Hut Yee, now affectionately known as Pak Lau, the late Mr. Choong Swee Chin and Mr. Baskaran. The fact that we were Malays and they were Chinese or Indians made not the slightest difference. They were simply devoted to their profession. They taught us in the classrooms, instructed us in sports and games, led us in our other extra curricula activities, supervised us during prep hours at nights, took us out on excursions, were with us during meals and saw to it that were safely in beds at the end of the day. I remember many a times Mr. Marshall would pass by my bed and said softly “Good night Damha Fossuy, which was my name spelt backwards)”. Mr. Marshall of course had many times lost his temper with our impertinence at times. He could whack you with a long ruler or chase you out of the class. If you did not play cricket well or as instructed he would say “You belacan fellows can never play cricket.” We of course did not mind. The same thing can be said of Mr. Lau. I saw him  getting very very  angry twice. We kept guinea pigs in the  Science Gardens and had a duty roster for attending to the animals after School. One day somebody when feeding the poor animals forgot to lock the door of animals’ house and they escaped. Mr. Lau’s face turned red and lectured us how useless and irresponsible we were. He was also in charge of the Red Cross Society. There was this competition to draw posters about the Red Cross. I cannot remember  what  the occasion for the competition was. On the day we were supposed to hand in our entries not many of us had completed our assignments. Oh my God! Mr. Lau just could not stand our “tidak apa” attitude. He would not listen to my defence, which I still maintain was a good one. I told Mr. Lau that the competition should be voluntary and I was not at all good in Art (after all it was taught by Mr. M. Liau  who was not trained to teach Art, his forte being Mathematics, and I always got an E in Art). Mr. Lau would not listen to such impertinence. I and other like minded boys were kept back after prep hours and told to finish the damned posters (excuse me) and it did not matter to him if we did not get to sleep after that. You are a great teacher Pak Lau. No wonder you won the Tokoh Guru Award.

I said a few of the Malay teachers were not on par with the non Malay teachers as far their dedication was concerned. There was this handsome Malay teacher who was supposed to teach us Bahasa Melayu. He practically taught us nothing.  He was very popular though. How could he not be? He would come to class and ask us if we would like to listen to him telling us a film he had just seen. Sometimes these Holywood films took a few lessons to finish. At other times he would come to class with Utusan Melayu and read patriotic stories. I vividly remember him reading a news item about a delegation of Chinese politicians led by one Mr. Lau Pak Kuan who had an audience with Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II in London petitioning her not to grant independence to Malaya. You can imagine our teacher was of course very angry with Lau Pak Kuan.

No comments:

Post a Comment