Sunday, October 26, 2008

My Schooldays 1967-1968

I have delayed writing this post due to my inability to find out the name of my form teacher during my fourth form in 1967. Non of us could remember with everybody saying it was more than forty years ago and some claiming senility as an excuse. What is wrong with us that we cant even recall who our form teacher was after benefiting from his/her guidance while in school?

Actually what happened was our first form teacher in form four, a Puan Rahmah Ariffin had to be retired on medical ground. Her place was taken over by another teacher which non of us could recall for sure. It was also due to the short duration before school ends for the year that the other teacher took over. The teacher who took over didn't have much time with us to leave much impression on us as even the best brain in the class the likes of Major (R) Chong Chow Kar(Civil Engineer), Zainal Abidin Hussein(Electrical Engineer), Lim Siong Peek, Azmy Omar, Ibrahim Hussein, Ab. Rahman Ismail (Graduate Teachers), Napsah Mahmud (Administrator), Ghani Senik (Food Technologist), Ashaari Amin (Reseacher) and most others that I called can't remember. Can't blame them as like me, all of them are approaching 60 in one or two years time. Above all they may have overworked their brain so much that most of the remaining cells in their grey matter are useless already. Well even my own brain which is rarely used can't recall so no big deal OK?
Anyway Puan Rahmah Ariffin left a big impression on me. I am truly indebted to this lady. She was instrumental in getting me a Federal Minor scholarship which I received during the second half of the year in 1967. That scholarship entails me to a RM20.00 monthly allowance for the rest of my schooling days till end of 1968. It was timely as after my half brother got married and has his own family to look after he ceased to provide me with the same amount monthly.

I can still visualize the day when Puan Rahmah came to me in class with a form to apply for a scholarship which I had to fill in immediately, get it signed by my father and certified by the Penggawa (Headman) of my mukim (area). That task was no small feat for me. For one my father was living some 10 miles away in my village and it will mean a bus fare of 50 sen return. A big amount of money then.

Somehow I managed to return home only to find that father was miles away tending to the family's rubber small holding. The place was unknown to me and he will only be back by nightfall and by then the Penggawa's office would be closed. Though the Penggawa was related to me, he refused to sign it before my father put his thumb print first, saying that signing blind wasn't the right thing to do. I had to wait for my father to come back that night and get the Penggawa to witness my father's signature the next day.

My dad had to leave for the rubber small holding before daylight so I had to get his thumb print that night. It would be interesting to note how ingenious we were then as there was no inkpad whatsoever for my father to ink his thumb with. Since I had once seen other people inking their thumb using a piece of daun sireh (arecapiper) applied with a thin layer of cooking oil and exposing the oiled surface to the soot of the kerosine lamp, I decided to do the same. Presto, we had a perfect thumb print of my father's right thumb and it was countersigned by the Penggawa the next day. He testified that my father's income was no more than RM70.00 per month. I still believed that we were not far off from that figure then as the rubber small holding was still young and untappable. We lived a subsistence life by eating the rice from our own plot of padi land and on vegetables that mother planted. Our family's cash income came from the sale of 'tembakau darat' a form of local tobacco for use with palm leaf ciggarettes.
I came late to school the next day to submit the duly completed scholarship application form as my mum had to find RM3.00 to pay for my fare back to Pasir Mas and the extra will be some pocket money.
Puan Rahmah believed my explanation of why I was late.

Out of the forty pupils in my class, I was the only one given the form. How did she picked me out to be the lucky pupil? My guess was my earlier meeting with the Senior School Assistant, En. Ab.Rahman Ali to decline my appointment to the school prefect board. (En. Rahman Ali later became the Kelantan State Education Director before being transfered to Negeri Sembilan and later promoted to the post of Director of one of the departments in the Ministry of Education). I cited the inability to buy a pair of white pants which was the uniform for prefects then. En. Rahman assured me that he will look into my problem. Later he sent me to Kuan Sin Tailor in town to have my uniform measured and tailored. The two white trousers cost a total of RM40.00, a big sum by my standard.

The tailor shop remains the same till today when I went to photograpgh it.

Mr. Eng Fook Seng is now 66 years old so he must be 25 years old when he did my trousers. He said the same trousers would cost RM60.00 if he were to do it now. My neighbour Abang Lah who is his regular customer came to the shop while I was there.

It was not long after that Puan Rahmah suffered a mental disorder and she was retired on that ground. Our class was without a form teacher for quite a while. Some of us said that a Peace Corp volunteer by the name of Mr. Gerald Bax who took over from her while Ashaari Amin was later steadfast in his belief that it was our Mr. Loo Hock Guan that took over. Till this day nobody can say for sure who was our form teacher after Puan Rahmah.
Since in 1967, the teacher's union had a boycot of all extra curricular activities, there was no production of the school magazine for that year on which we could have fallen on as record.

I remember buying a pair of ready made black pant and a tailor made shirt from the first RM120 backdated scholarship. It was so much money for someone who dont even have RM5.00 to his name. For the first time in my life I made a purchase of a pair of 'Obermain' leather shoes from Golok which cost me RM12.00.Those clothes enable me to once again go out to town to meet my friends. I ceased to go out to town when a friend chided me for wearing the white school pants whenever I went out. Well that was all that I have got. Any outing activities organized by my class was off limit to me.

Form four was then considered as a honeymoon year as we will only be facing the School Certificate of Examination and the Malaysian Certificate of Examination in form five. These exams are really the same exam as the former can only be achieved if you obtain a pass in the English subject.
Some of the teachers who taught us then were Mr. Loo Hock Guan who taught us English, Puan Zaharah Zohdan who taught us Arts, Mr. Pang Chok Chu who taught us physics, Mr. Toh Kin Woon (Datuk Dr) taught us biology and chemistry, Mr. Mark Anthony taught us woodworking while Mr. Anandan took care of those who opt for metalwork. Mr. Thanda taught us English literature and till this day, I can still remember the story of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Can't recall much about the rest of the teachers.
With the boycot by the teachers, 1967 was an uneventful year.

Yours truly is standing second from right. The other male prefect standing on the left is the late Rahim Jusoh who passed away recently due to colon cancer. He is survived by 3 wives and a number of children. You see we don't have a teacher in our class photograph.

The Prefect board of 1967 with the the late Mr. Yusoff Ghouse in the dark suit while the Senior Assistant En. Rahman Ali flanked the head boy Shaari Yahya fourth from right. Can you spot your's truly? He is standing behind Datuk Mustapha Muhamad the present Agriculture Minister, that is if you can recognize him.

1968 was the evenful year. With the teacher's Union problem resolved with the Ministry of Education, extra curricular activities seemed to be carried out with a vengeance. School societies were so active that every nook and corner of the school was used for activities. Even the school canteen, hostel's dining room and shade trees was not spared. The school had a double session then and without a hall, the teachers were at their wits end trying to hold activities for the societies they were in charge of.

The Class of 68 with our teachers. The form teacher was Miss Wong An Yin later Mrs. Foo Say Ghee but she remains Miss Wong to us.
Sitting: En. Ismail Mat (BM), Ustaz Nawi (Ugama) Mr. Thanda, Mr. Gerald Bax (Peace Corp) Miss Wong Ann Yin (Geography), the class monitor Mahmud Awang Kechik (Datuk Dr) Mr Pang Chok Chu (Physics) Chegu Shukri, Mr. Loo Hock Guan (English and English Literature). Yours truly is standing behind Mr. Thanda. Not in the picture is Mr. Toh Kin Woon (Datuk Dr.) who taught us Biology and Chemistry.
1968 was a significant year as this year the sixth form Malay Medium classes was started. This year the baton of the headboy was passed to the sixth form student by the name Ismail Yusoff (Dato').

The Prefect Board of 1968 with the School Board of Directors and the Honourable Minister of Education, the late Tun Khir Johari. Yours truly is the first from left in the middle row.

The late Mr. Yusoff Ghouse was our Head Master then and he was a man who made the teachers payback what they missed doing in 1967. To cap the year we had the sports day and the School Exhibiton day. The exhibition day's opening ceremony was done by the Honourable Education Minister himself. Can you guess who? The Minister was a close friend of our Head Master and hailed from Penang. He was the late En. Khir Johari (Tun).

Yours truly dressed to kill in his tailor made shirt, Obermain shoes (made in Thailand) bought with the scholarship money, white school pants (made by Kuan Sin Tailor and paid by the Parent Teachers Association fund) posing with his close friend Azmy Omar in front of the old main market. On the site of the old market is the Bangunan Serakai Mas built after the old market was gutted down by fire.
The final event of the year was the inter house debate. The final was between the Yellow House represented by Chong Chow Kar (Major Retired), Rohani Ibrahim (Dr) and another debator whom nobody could remember.
Yours truly was the proposer representing the Blue House and seconded by Alexander Chan and another third speaker which nobody can confirm but I vaguely remember a soft spoken Wee Mek Chu who could be the third speaker.
Mr. Loo Hock Guan the English teacher chaired the debate.
What about the topic? I would say the topic is pretty sensitive by today's standard.
"Houses Of Worships Are A Waste of Money". Would any teacher dare to suggest such a topic for students to debates nowadays? Well the debate went well and the students came in full force to witness the great debate. They stood there till the result came out.
Forty years later I called Major(R) Chong Chow Kar who led the oppositon team and asked him if he remembers anything about the debate. He said he can't remember much.He even enquired as to which team won the debate. He forgot that the team led by him won the debate.
1968 was memorable in that I met my future life partner. She was a newcomer to my school when she joined the form four class at Sultan Ibrahim School. She ramains my partner till this day after we got married in 1973 when I was 23 and she was 21.


sakmongkol AK47 aka Mat Tomoi said...

this is the kind of story that makes my eyes watery. thank you for the memories.
with warmest regards/ariff

Zawi said...

Bro Ariff,
I am honoured to have you comment on my blog. Were you one of us at SIS? I remember an Arif Fadhillah as among the hostelites in SIS. Pray tell me if you are him.

Akmal said...

Pak Zawi,
Told you, this is interesting :)
I wasn't there for the obvious reason, but what you wrote, I can feel it; the emotion, the atmosphere.
I like that debate topic, you know. Not as a debater, of course. But I am 'atas pagar' on that :)
Your last sentences...should I expect a romantic story of yours coming? Hmmm? Hehe...

Zawi said...

The training I had in public speaking helped me in my later life as I had to do many speeches especially during my days as Manager of Felda schemes.
Romantic stories? Tengoklah macam mana. Mana la tau kot dapat inspirasi baru heheheehe.

Mat Salo said...

Bang Zawi...

As usual, you've topped yourself. I know it wasn't easy to mine the memories from way back and for that you had to make some calls and do some research and finally, put it all together in a witty, engaging tale! Bravo!

Eh, bang. Rahman Ali to was my HM kat Kuale dulu but only for a year or two before he went on to the ministry. I think he's passed on. Semuga Allah mencucuri berkah dan rahmat ke atas nya... Bang, those days teachers were really something, they were larger than life kan?

Haha... you really knocked 'em dead with your pipe jeans and obermeng golok... hehee... Itu yang agaknya Mrs. Zawi terkena tu... :)

kbguy said...

first, I need to ask you how you get to scan all those old photos so nicely ?
And I love the good old times. I put aside those sad memories, but the good ones are so touching...

Zawi said...

Mat Salo,
I seem to have the knack of remembering some of those tales from long ago much to the amazement of my own classmates. Yes I did do some mining of the old memories from others to confirm certain facts.
Yes En. Rahman Ali was HM at MCKK once. Didn't hear any news about that from anybody. Can you really confirm that he is the same man? He lives somewhere in Damansara. I went to his place to invite him for the gathering in 2005 and he was in the best of health then. If it was really him when did he pass on? I have just sent a message to a classmate in KL to confirm.
Yes the teachers of old were larger than life. They are legends. I am so sad none of us seems to know about his passing away.

Zawi said...

They were gathered from old albums from my classmates. Each contributed whatever they have to make up the photogalleries in the website for SIS68. Before you lose your old photos, better have them scanned.

U.Lee said...

Hi Zawi, Holy Smoke! I love that last pic of you...betul gaya tu, ha ha. Elvis pun kala.
And I really enjoyed all the pics you posted re your school days. Brings back memories too....
Can see the old hairstyles of everyone, ha ha....the girls especially.

I like your old tailor's shop...surprisingly he still around and same shop too.
Zawi, I really enjoyed read your schooldays...I guess you and me...we belong to that old school of thought, only mine add satu decade extra, ha ha.

I looked thru all your hari raya gambars, so colorful, and like that pic of you and the ladies making ketupat.

I remember when I was you at a friend's house in the kampong, we all sat cross legged making ketupat....of course mine can't be used, ha ha...too big or too small, or knotted sala, ha ha.
Oh ya, right now I have ketupat decorations hanging in my living room...made by a friend when she learned I love eating it.
Will take a pic of it next day.

Beautiful pics, keep well and have a nice day, jagan lupa tukar the baby's diapers, ha ha. Lee.
Zawi, please convey my very best regards to your she must have giggled at my jurassic Bahasa, ha ha.
ps, drop by, got something interesting just posted last night.

Zawi said...

mat salo,
I just called my Chegu Rahman Ali and he is well and doing fine. His wife did pass away some years ago. Maybe your former HM is a different Rahman Ali? I have his phone number if he is really the same person.

Zawi said...

We are from the same old school with a decade difference but never the less the old school hehehehe.
I am really glad to have rekindled your old memories of making the ketupat crossed leggeg but unfortunately I can't sit that way for too long.
The hairstyle can be done by putting some talcum powder to the hair and then ruffled it with your fingers. You try and see if you can still make that hair do hehehehe.
The baby was away at the paternal grand parents when I did the post. Now she is back with me and my blog hopping and blogging will be much curtailed until we send her back to Labuan in December.

sakmongkol AK47 aka Mat Tomoi said...

bro zawi,
unfortunately i am not that person. i hv many relatives in Kelantan, my grandfather came from there.
i went to school all the way in ktn, 6th form Sultan Abu Bakar School(upper six in 75).
i am planning to drive up to kb next month i hope. sakmongkol and wife, mamasita.

changgeh said...

From your account its true teachers those days were
more than life itself.They earn respect rather than demand. Money to them is not everything. Not that they are well off but rather they knew which student came from a poor background and in whatever small way they could help they sincerely & willingly did it.
How we missed them.

It was 1966, I was in the school library(doing nothing) when this Miss Grace Decker walked in; an American PeaceCorps. She happen to be the Library teacher and I was then the chief librarian.” What are you doing here dear, you should be in class” she lamented. I told her ”I could’nt because the form teacher had ordered me to go back home and get my school fees, it been due for a few months now”. I didnt go back but instead hid myself in the library hoping by the next hour it would be safe when another teacher took over the class. Even if I did go back, its pointless cause I knew my parent would never afford the school fees. Hence the hiding in the library.

She took pity on me I think when she open her wicker handbag and started counting..1 dollar, two,three four ..until she stop at seven dollars. She handed the amounts and ”Go back to to the class and take this money to pay your fees.” And that ’s what I did.

Its been 42 years since and I owed this teacher not the money but the kindness. I wonder whether she still alived. Thank you Miss Decker . I owe you one

Zawi said...

Bro Ariff,
I have 'scrutinised' your profile and now have a grasp of who you are.
Please keep me posted of your visit to KB and I will come from Pasir Mas which is just a short drive away to meet you. If it is during the school holidays that you are coming, please book your hotel room now as they tend to become very scarce during such period. Many hotels can be booked online now. Try Hotel Ridel, Dr. Mazlan the owner is a friend.
I am just a phonecall away at 097903785 or 0199125647.

Zawi said...

I am so touched by your story. We have similar experience here so we could feel how it is to be poor. You are spot on about the caring teachers and how we respect them whatever their skin color was.
I came from the Special Malay Class and were exempted from paying the school fees. In the secondary school the fees then was an expensive RM5.00.
The Special Malay Class means students who were enrolled from the rural Malay schools at year four after passing a special exam to enter this class. So I have friends like Khoo Cheng Ho (deceased), Tan Ah Wang and another chinese boy whom I can't recall his name joining me in the Special Malay Class. They too were exempted from paying the school fees. It wasn't based on race!
Maybe you can trace Miss Decker via facebook and who knows you may get connected to her again or at least to her next of kin. Nothing is impossible nowadays. Read the story by U Lee's A Moonlight Rendezvous on similar happenings which I think only God himself could make it happens when he wants it to happen.

Clarisse Teagen said...

Hey Zawi.. lol
I liked the beginning where you guys couldn't remember your teacher's names. and some said it was senility hahahaha.

But wow. You had really good people around you back when you were young. It's nice to read about stuff like that.

I hardly see much of the olden days, today. It's such a modern world. sad we couldn't preserve much of the past. Oh well.

Mat Salo said...

Bang, I don't think there's many Abd. Rahman Ali's around. If so, I must've made a grave mistake, especially if I said he has passed on. Ini dosa besar, I know. He was at Kuale in '76 or '77 after Nordin Nasir, PPT but before Wan Aziz (Karate King 70' an dulu). Bang, can you please check with him further? If so, me and my friends want to host him for an informal tribute - it it's the same guy, of course. Much apologies...

PS. Just read Mat Cendana's book review online in The Star. Really proud of him laa bang. Here's the link in case you havent:

Zawi said...

My friends will give all sort of reasons to make up for their careless attitude about things of the past.
You are right, things are so different now. Even the parents don't seem to respect teachers so how can you expect their children to be any different?
I am so hapy that you enjoy reading about my past when in school.

Zawi said...

mat salo,
I have just smsed you the house number of Cikgu Rahman Ali. Please call him as he would be very happy to hear from ex students who made good. He lives in Damansara so it will be very easy for you to fete him real good.
You will be surprised at how good Mat Cendana is in doing book reviews. He once wrote about computers in computimes.
Thanks for the link.

Anonymous said...

I think all those pictures are from my album which you hv misplaced it. Pls try to look for it ok. Siapa intro awak dg Fathiah ya..he..he... malu tapi mau !!!1


Zawi said...

What took you so long to come to my blogsite? Now please read up all those past blogs about the good old days. You may have a few laugh recalling them.
Who said the album was misplaced? I just forgot that I am keeping them for you hehehehehe. I will return them to you when we have the gathering in December with all the photos intact.
You read up the comments from mat salo and you will know why I asked about Cikgu Rahman. He started it all. Anyway mat salo was an old student of Cikgu Rahman while he was HM in MCKK. Mat Salo will make amends by giving Cikgu Rahman a big makan.
Kakchik, thanks for the wonderful life partner that you introduced to me.

Azmy Omar said...


I don't know how and what to comment...

Most of the pictures were scanned and edited by me. You should have put your own personal photos (in prefect uniform) which I have edited, just to show how handsome you were then in 1968 (now also still handsome laaa).

Well... carry on writing on those good old time....

Remember to come to my house this Friday Oct. 31st.

Zawi said...

Tuan Haji Azmy,
Sorry I forgot to give you the credit to the photos. To Kakchik too since it was taken from her album. Actually I lifted it from our SIS68 gallery. I will find that picture. I know the one that you are referring to. I know how much trouble you took to make me look handsome hehehehe.
OK I will come to your home on the 31st. What time will the function be?

Kama At-Tarawis said...

Pak Zawi - your memory is simply incredible. I took extra time to read this posting because I wanted to savour the content. Tak jadi kerja saya, dok mengadap Pak Zawi punya writing punyala

Berisman said...

Pak Zawi,
Great story!I couldnot recall my classmate names even though I'm 2 yrs younger.
Btw, I like your hair style;-)
FYI, Ashaari Mohd Amin married my anak sepupu.

Best regards,
Pak Adib

Zawi said...

I feel so honoured to have you mention that this posting had this mesmerising effect on you. Thank you for your time. I know we all have many sites to visit, read the articles and perhaps make a comment. My own blog hopping is much curtailed nowadays having to nanny my grand daughter and stealing time to write a new blog whenever she takes a long nap.
With comments like yours, I am inspired to write more of such articles. My apology for distracting you from your work. It was never intended to make you feel that way. LOL.

Zawi said...

Pak Adib,
Thank you for enjoying the flashback. We did a massive gathering of our classmates. The organizing committee sat down to gather all the names of our classmates. With the help of the school magazines we managed to trace most of us including the teachers right down to our primary schools. There will be another gathering this December to commemorate our 40th year since we left the school.
Ah it is a small world if Ashaari Amin's wife is your anak sepupu. He is one of my closest friend and played an influential part in shaping my life. For your info Muhyideen Zakaria was my classmate in Serdang.
The hairstyle? Like U Lee said, Elvis was the influence then.

mamadou said...

Assalamualaikum Ayoh Awi

Really impressed with your your ability to recall all your memories. I couldnot remember much of my school day. proabably I was a dull student then and now......anyway I really like your hair style.........

Zawi said...

It's Allah's gift to me to be be able to recall all that. But when it is time to recall lessons for exam, I ain't that good really.
It is easy to do any hair styles when you have lots of hairs LOL. Well I still have alot of them now albeit some with the silver color. nyway they can still be considered as black after 58 yrs. I have younger persons with silver tops despite being much younger than me.

Zainal Abidin Husin :- said...

Alfatihah untuk arwah Rahim Jusof. Shock to read about it as during recent Dato Dr Mahmud's daughter's wedding I ask somebody about the whereabout of Rahim. Over the years he did visit me several times at my office for business leads.
Good story this - brings a lot of memory. Now I remember making that wooden lampshade in the woodwork class.
You are right, our memories is really clocked up and need to be defragged.

Zawi said...

Our late Rahim hd been distancing himself from friends after the get rich scheme debacle which he was actively promoting among friends.
The lampshade? I made one but I couldn't afford the shape.
Wait for my next post about two events which I missed putting in this post. Can you guess what they are?
By the way we visited Hasan Sulong today after he suffered a crippling stroke. Many of us went including Suhaimi Hussin, Hanisah Noh n hubby, Noraini, Wan Hamzah, Wan Zain Wan Ibrahim, Halim, Awang Ahmad, Fikry, Yahya and Hasan Sulaiman. For your info Gathering 2008 will be on 27th Dec. Make u come back OK?

Mat Cendana said...

Bang Wi,
I've gotten left behind with the blogs that I've RSS-ed due to my lack of time.

Things are quite hectic right now, and it'll be even more so from today onwards (I'll try to write something in an email later). This is the first time this week that I'm able to come to both your sites despite being aware of your new posts.

Frankly speaking, your posts (and ESPECIALLY this one) are "to be savoured", not read at a glance. That's why I won't come to your blogs when I'm under time pressure - it wouldn't do justice to your writings.

And even right now, I'm not going to comment on the things here yet. Except to say this - BRILLIANT!

Have to take leave right now - there are things that I MUST chase after; and there are a few people chasing after me for what they have expected me to write.

I'm very sorry for not being able to spend more time at your blogs right now. I'll be in this harassed state until I strike out the projects that I'm overdue with, and plan my work better. Until then, it has to be a temporary Goodbye.

Zawi said...

I can understand your predicament. Pls use minimum words especially when you send me sms as sms should be short messages. Just cut cornets by using short forms. I am happy to know that you appreciate what I wrote though they are not well planned and edited.

Mat Cendana said...

Kena jawap jugak:-)
Thank you for understanding my situation, Bang Zawi.

But there's something good about this: I HAVE THINGS TO DO, unlike previously:-)

The bad thing is, I simply cannot accept any other type of work right now (BTW "something new" came up yesterday. Might have to go to KL for a while because of this one)

As for the SMS: Yes, I'm well aware of my writing longhand mostly. It's done on purpose - focus on "short" for too long and your writing *might* deteriorate over time. This is just my own theory (presumption/assumption is more like it), of course. But I believe it strongly enough to take the precautions - usually.