Tuesday, January 04, 2005

MCKK Impressions (1905-2005): Blog by Tengku A'bidin

Someone I know from my days of organising anti-establishment fora in London (which must have annoyed MSD so much), one Tengku A'bidin (I hope the spelling is right) wrote a very nice blog about MCKK and the institution that it has become. I had only met him once somewhere in Covent Garden, but from that day onwards I have always had some respect for him. I do follow his blog at http://abidin.co.uk/ regularly and have always found the postings very interesting and entertaining, if only to remind me a bit of my days in London.

Abs was born to the royal family of Negri Sembilan and Terengganu.

Anyway, this is the posting:

MCKK Impressions (1905-2005)
06:30 on Tuesday 4 January 2005

Though I did not enrol there - I've only been to Kuala Kangsar once on the way to Kuala Trengganu, to pray at its beautiful mosque - so many men who shaped the institutions of our country did go to the Malay College. Though it has many detractors, that the school is part of Malaysia's historical fabric cannot be denied. For that reason alone, its centenarial publication MCKK Impressions (1905-2005) should be read by those with an interest in, and respect for, our history. It is a most enjoyable and personal text, and it is abundantly clear that the authors really loved being there.

However, the school has received a battering in recent years - academically and otherwise - and this seems to have augmented the romanticising and strong bonds among its old boys. I think a strong attachment to one's old school is perfectly healthy, but budak koleq are particularly fervent, perhaps because of its once super-elite status.

[This condition mirrors that of those who went to the Seven (the traditional elite English public schools) - Eton, Harrow, Westminster, Rugby, Winchester, Charterhouse and Shrewsbury. Later institutions do not inspire nearly as much camaraderie among its pupils, but I still loved my time at mine - but then again, I loved my time at all four of my old schools (including LSE, a "school").]

Still, having read these Impressions I've decided that I like the MCKK for what it was. As for its present state, well, good luck. Schools wax and wane. I do think it is good that there are an increasing number of competing schools - that is always good and should be encouraged as much as possible. I just hope that newer Malaysian schools (whether public school-type, madrasa-inspired, specialist, vocational or otherwise) value character building, mutual understanding, compassion and a respect for culture and history as the old MCKK did, and not focus purely on academic league tables, which has been the curse of the British education system. Several people I know want to help achieve this by opening schools of their own - a most worthy cause which receives my utmost support.

What did strike me was how English MCKK really was - we are all told it followed the public school model - but good heavens! - they have "Shell" and "Remove" year groups, a feeder prep school, and play obscure sports like Fives! Do you guys call your teachers "beaks" too?

It is so much easier to be a budak koleq if the majority of people is as matured as Abs and look at an issue objectively. But then, it is only those who had gone through a similar experience and hold their alma mater as dearly that can appreciate the pride and affection budak koleq have for the college.

"... genius accepts other genius unconditionally" - Dan Brown


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