Sunday, February 27, 2005

Wedding Season

March is a wedding season again. So far 3 of the guys will make it to the jinjang pelamin, thus making my group more extinct by the day. Suri is having his reception in Kota Bahru on 13 March, so that’s a clash with Fitt’s on the same date in JB. There was a heated debate on Birdie aka Amai, but I am quite sure many others, like myself, forgot to ask the date and the venue, in spite of the debate.

To those who can make it, by all means please go – more information on Fitt’s wedding here

Sunday, February 13, 2005

Camping Workshop for Debaters

What do you do if you are approaching 30s, bored and need to accomplish something in your life, since all your other targets were not met lately? Simple – bring MCKK’s debating teams to a camping trip, let them play some games and “roughen” them up a bit, so that they are mentally more prepared for the incoming tournaments and you have a break of some sort (well, something like that).

Since late 2003 when a few of us agreed to look after the teams together with Cikgu Umi and Cikgu Sharifah (better known as Sherry. The kids still call her Miss Sherry in spite of her newly wed status), we always start a debating season with a workshop at the beginning of each year to prepare the teams for the tournaments throughout the year.

For some reasons privy only to the coaches and teachers (which I would not divulge here), this year we decided to do it at a recreation park, situated deep in a middle of palm oil plantation, on a fringe of a jungle and by a river (someone pointed out it was a very dirty river).

The idea was to get the kids to go camping, but not the coaches and the teachers (the news that I was going on a camping trip in a jungle has already been read as tanda-tanda kecil kiamat and sent some people packing to masjid for weeks!). So the adults had our chalets and air conditioned VIP room – though given the condition of the chalets, we might as well joined the kids sleeping on the ground by the river.

Some of the usual crowd (Ben, Dany etc.) could not make it, so I had to import a few other people. We engaged Wong, Badut and Gadap to prepare for the jungle trekking module, which they gladly did without charge. Koleq was initially quite reluctant to allow such an activity to go ahead without so-called a proper supervision, but after seeing Wong’s credentials (for the record, he went to Everest twice) – we had a free hand. I had this lingering doubt that the kids would be taught how to make bombs etc., but Wong stuck to his rules of engagement and did not expose the kids to any of the terrorist philosophies he and Gadap were so fond of.


There were 9 old boys altogether from 2 generations of debaters and collegians. There were Shahrol (BM debater, Class of 93), Fazurin (English debater, Class of 94), Izzat (BM debater, Class of 04), Afiq (English debater, Class of 04), Canoe (avid supporter of koleq’s debating teams, Class of 93), Dr Azlan Majid PhD (ha ha who was just bored sleeping at home during weekends that he decided he could do with a quickie holiday, so he joined us – Class of 94), Wong (Camping Master, Class of 94) and Badut (Deputy Camping Master, Class of 94). Gadap couldn’t make it at the last minute.

I travelled all the way from East Coast to pick Allen, Shahrol, Fazurin and Canoe in KL. Wong and Badut left the next morning, in time for a breakfast at Saudiah (budak koleq and the obsession with sambal Saudiah).

Most of us were of different backgrounds, interest and characters back in college. Shahrol and Canoe by tradition should not get along with the rest, as they were the only batch kampung in the group. Canoe was quite a sportsman back then, representing koleq in hockey and cricket – as opposed to myself, Fazurin and Allen whose only sporting achievement in koleq was to have collected just above 10 points for our respective houses throughout our years in MCKK (after much whipping by the house captains).

Wong and I had always been in the same camp politically since our days in koleq, we used to have secret meetings in the gymnasium after lights off discussing how to outdo the rival group. Badut was my classmate in the junior years, though for some reasons we always kept our distances. It is only after we left college that my respect for this guy increases tremendously (well you see things differently as an adult) that our paths begin to cross more often now. As for Izzat and Afiq, we were separated by at least 10 years, so you can imagine how ‘much’ we have in common (when Wong was on his crime spree, breaking into AVA room and short circuiting telephone lines for free calls, Afiq and Izzat were in Standard One – just imagine that).

Of all the team members, only Fazurin, Allen and I who were members of the elite Kapal Layar Club, the rest were worthy sportsmen who represented koleq in many games (Badut was the hockey team captain).

So the fact that we could pull off a team building activity like this in less than one month’s planning astonished me. All the old boys agreed to contribute equally financially for the camping, despite the fact that they could have asked me to bear all the costs since I was the originator. Everyone did their part professionally without complaints (well this is not entirely true, some people complained endlessly about the kind of food I intended to feed the boys and them, the lack of mush mellow during bonfire etc. etc.) and agreed to the division of work. Izzat and Afiq perfected the art of making tea and coffee, although I know Afiq has never done that in his life time.

We shared the same jokes, sang to the same tune and slept in the same chalet. If someone ever wonders how people of different backgrounds and characters could put their heads together for something so unconnected to them, then that someone has to go to MCKK to understand it. It never fails to amaze me how affection for an alma mater can always pull people together to work on a common project.

To all of you guys, I did not thank you personally in Sungai Siput – but I was so proud of all of you (one of these unspoken understanding and acknowledgement we always talk about). It would have been impossible without all of you and should they win this year, you guys deserve the credit as much as anyone else. More importantly, should the kids grow up to become men of characters worthy of MCKK; in our little ways we have played our part.


“5 minit je dari jalang besor”

That was Wong’s remark when I asked him how far the camp was from the nearest road. 5 minutes.

So the college boys were offloaded, with their suitcases etc. (yes, some of the kids actually brought suitcases for camping!) by the roadside. I told them they had to walk to the camp and whoever brought so many things knowing that we were going on a camping trip – well padan muka korang.

Fazurin decided to walk with the kids, but the rest of the old boys did not share his passion for fitness (moi, of all people), so we took the car. Travelling by car, it took us more than 10 minutes. It was hilly, the road was too small for two cars and it was about 7 kilometres from where the kids were dropped. I was cursing Wong all along – if this was his definition of “5 minit je dari jalan besar”, I’d better be careful if he were to say “5 minit je jalan nak masuk hutan”. As he testified later on, that “5 minit” referred to Orang Asli’s 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, I was getting a bit alarmed thinking how exhausted the kids would be by the time they reached the camp. After all, we were already in danger of being derailed off the timetable since the bus was late by half an hour.

Luckily the kids managed to do their own tricks and got a lorry to transport them to the camp. How they managed to fit nearly 20 people on a small lorry was beyond me, but I was really glad to see them arriving – only to realise that Fazurin and the boys that he took with him (Bucks, Jijoe and Akwa) were still walking. So we had to drive back to pick them up. Fazurin initially refused to take the car, only after much threats and persuasion that they agreed to hop in (habis suspension, Jijoe berat 5 tonnes!).

The rest was smooth sailing after that, but we would never take Wong’s words at face value anymore. 5 minutes je ye?

There were a few games, which judging by the way the kids participated and responded, I was quite glad that they enjoyed them. We were constantly amazed with the kids, as the games were the typical games used for adults’ team building activities – yet the kids always managed to come up with solutions comparable to adults’, if not better.

The tents were all set up successfully by the boys, their eyes blindfolded. There was no untoward incident, apart from one old boy allegedly kena rubbing by the kids while they were busy setting up the tents (that old boy happened to be in the vicinity when the kids were looking for something ha ha).

Cooking their own meal was an experience they enjoyed very much, by the look of their excited and satisfied faces when dinner was ready. We divided them into 3 teams – one cooking the rice (ha ha the hardest, so none of the old boys wanted to be associated with the team. We left them under the care of Cikgu Umi and Cikgu Sharifah), one the sayur (Haqqa and the boys, under Allen’s, Canoe’s and Fazurin’s supervision), the last group given the responsibility to cook telur dadar (under Shahrol’s and my tutelage ha ha). We the old boys cooked sardine as the main dish for the night.

All went well and the kids (and us) really enjoyed cooking – it’s one of those things, that unless you sleep together, cook together, eat together, it’s very difficult to work as a team. I also believe in the Malay custom that orang muda kena makan air kaki tangan orang tua (through cooking, bukan nasi kangkang macam Perempuan, Isteri .....), baru orang muda dengar cakap orang tua.... So boys, if you are reading this – memang banyak giler peluh kitorang bubuh in all the cooking, that was why garam tak habis ha ha...

We did the jungle trekking that night – it took us about 4 hours to go into, left the kids alone and picked them up again. By the time we reached the camp site it was already after midnight. Wong and Badut selected a nice spot with a large pond nearby, so if the boys did not walk carefully or did not follow orders, a few could have walked into a pond. They were blindfolded again, so they had to rely entirely on the leader they appointed. I had no complaints about the trekking but for the cow dunks – we spent more time avoiding the droppings than admiring the beautiful sky (I think Allen fell asleep waiting for the kids to finish their ‘bertafakur dalam hutan’).

The night ended with a sharing session – the kids shared what they felt about the teams, teamwork and winning PPM etc. I had to admit I admired the frankness of the discussion and such a discussion was unthinkable during our time, as the juniors were quite bold in criticising the seniors and the seniors were very cool in accepting the criticisms. It was a sign of changing times.

The next morning, we had to cook breakfast for ourselves – all went well as the kids really enjoyed cooking (jakun kot, tak pernah masak in their lifetime). Fazurin took over after that, he fancied himself as Malaysia’s Jeremy Paxman, so we delegated the quiz master job to him. We had a University Challege-style of quiz and despite some of Fazurin’s questions which border silliness (e.g. Jawab “Ya” atau “Tidak” sama ada negara-negara ini anggota Asean. 1) Amerika Syarikat ....), on average the boys’ general knowledge was not bad (although I doubt they know who is Edward Frederick William Walugembe Mutebi Luwangula Mutesa since the art of reading Britannica was lost years ago).

As much as this short camping trip does not guarantee our victory at PPM, I have high hopes that the boys learnt something out of it. Our education system puts too much emphasis on academic and scoring straight As nowadays, that that part of education on character building is thrown out of the window. It was a pity really, since the kids were really bright and talented – if only they have more opportunities to explore their talents, not just hooked up finishing homework and revising notes for exams. Our hopes, through camping trips like this, we can complement the education they get from college, with ours concentrating more on the character building part so often neglected lately.

As for the rest at PPM – it is up to them. Insya Allah the trophy shall return to Kuala Kangsar again this year, the last time it was in 1999.

More pictures (80++) here.


1) Not satisfied that our respective batches are not yet featured on Explorace, Allen and Shahrol are teaming up to enter Explorace next year. In fact they had tried kayaking last weekend, though by the look of it – I would put my bet on Malek ha ha ha. I don’t know how Allen is going to convince the producer that he is for outdoor activities, given his sleeping records (he sleeps nearly 15 hours a day, including in office)

2) No one was harmed or received treatment for food poisoning (well, at least not yet)

3) PPM this year is at SAS Putrajaya, so I am going to persuade Jita to persuade his family to loan his huge house to us as headquarters. We expect collegians to throng Putrajaya in drove this year – Cagers is defending the championship.

Friday, February 11, 2005

Of Cheering and Verbal Abuse

I am constantly in contact with some people in Kuala who have become friends from the time I was in koleq. So I am always up to date with a few developments in MCKK.

I am not really fond of criticising the way the school is run because I have always believed that some things are better left to the professionals. At the end of the day, we are not there all the time and we can’t possibly expect that everything has to follow exactly how we want it to be, unless we quit our job and volunteer as a teacher ourselves (which one day I might do if I make my millions quick enough!)

But the more I hear, the more I am alarmed. The latest news is really a breaking news – cheering is now optional, a diplomatic jargon for “cheering is no longer compulsory and is as good as banned”!


Generations after generations we pride ourselves for the self-discipline and oneness we show on the field. I may not be talented enough to represent college in football or rugby, but hell without us the college boys who cheer without fail in the rain or under the burning sun, the odd for our football and rugby teams to win is definitely impaired.

It is one of the few things left that differentiates us, the Malay College boys from any other schools. They try to emulate our cheering squad but still never come close to challenging us. Year after year we come up with new cheering songs, never fail to show a bit of creativity (which is so lacking nowadays).

In our years in koleq, cheering was a big thing. The Cheerleaders might not be my cup of tea, but they were there to complete a task. They were given a responsibility as much as some of us were given responsibilities in other fields – although I might not agree with them, I would have defended their right to discharge their responsibilities as best as they could. That was why we the Form 5s never interfered in how the Cheerleaders conducted the training, even when I wished that some of the non-cheerleaders would not have joined just for the sake of tormenting the juniors (oo yes, there were always these "hidung tak mancung pipi tersorong-sorong", sometimes referred to as jambans, who liked to join in – sometimes uninvited – to torment the juniors).

The reason the cheering has become optional is because the cheerleaders allegedly used foul language and verbally abused the juniors (which is not a surprise really). I am not keen on young people using foul language, although I can’t help but wonder if these kids can’t even survive seniors of a few years shouting foul language at them – how on Earth are they going to survive in this world? How are they going to survive a partner in a firm who has this habit of throwing files to your face? Or bosses who like to make you feel so small you feel like fleeing on that instant?

Why do we need to shelter our boys so much, when doing so reduces their resilience? What is the point of a boarding school education when our boys can’t even stand a verbal shouting match? There is no point scoring 20As in your SPM if you walk out the gates of MCKK a pampered person who will run to your parents each time someone complains about how you walk!

Anyway, as far as I am concerned, if the problem is the foul language, then get rid of the cheerleader who used such language. Why abolish a system/practice which has worked all these years and has become a part and parcel of our identity? Why not sack the cheerleader who is ruinning everything for everyone? Put a decent cheerleader who will not compromise the sternness required but refrain from using foul language – I am sure there are plenty of our boys capable of becoming a cheerleader.

If there is anyone reading this who is in a position of influence, then please try to do something. Otherwise, good bye Malay College’s Cheering Squad, watching koleq’s game is not going to be the same anymore.



Oh Kolej Kolej Melayu
Pasukannya yang tera
Sudah terkenal namanya
Walau di mana saja

Oooo ooooo oooooo

Bila kolej masuk padang
Semua orang pandang-pandang
Kolej masuk dengan garang
Musuh takut tunjuk belang

Ooooo ooooo oooooo

Mr Anand & Cikgu Yatie's Contact No

To Zaaba and all the rest in the British Isle

Cikgu Yatie can be contacted at this no:

0791 365 8013

Although I have a feeling the number is temporary - they are going to be in Dublin and the number is a UK number. So maybe the number is only useful while they were still in the UK.

Whatever it is, Mr Anand is now an Education Attache with MSD in Dublin, so it won't be that difficult to locate them.

Wednesday, February 02, 2005

Mr Anand & Cikgu Yatie Leaving For Ireland

I received this SMS from Mr Anand on 1st February 2005, at 2:17 am:

“As’kum. Flight confirmed fri 11pg. Barang dipindahkan pg tues. Mlm ni last night in kk, utk seketika. Anand n famili mohon restu n kmaafn.”

I got to know that Mr Anand and Cikgu Yatie were leaving for a greener pasture outside MCKK ground back in June 04 while we were in Kangar. We should pay a tribute to the red tapes and bureaucracy that it took the Ministry more than seven months to effect the arrangement. The more delayed their leaving for Ireland is, the better for koleq.

Mr Anand and Cikgu Yatie joined the staff of MCKK in 1990, one week after we enrolled. I still remember the assembly when both of them were introduced to the school quite vividly (Cikgu Yatie was in a red baju kurung) – there was an air of excitement that finally another old boy was joining the teaching staff, Koja being the only other old boy at that time (apart from Datuk Rashdi the HM). To put it mildly, the excitement was fuelled further by the fact that Cikgu Yatie was quite stunning literally (she still looks stunning even now), a princess in mid 20s in the middle of pre-pubescent kids (although quite a few paid more attention to Jack ’92 than her ha ha ha).

I had had the privilege to get to know both of them better through the one common thing we treasure most – the debating teams. By 1992 when Tan Kok Keong left for STAR, Mr Anand and Cikgu Yatie took over the English team. They only let go the team half a decade later, completing a marathon of looking after the team year after year. Around the same time, I had my first “cap” as a college debater, so in a way we both started as novice in the field. It was a common sight in the 90s to see Mr Anand and Cikgu Yatie and Faiz every night at the canteen with the English debaters preparing for Dato’ Wira and PPM.

During the debating years from 1992 to 1994, there were a lot of joyous moments, but even more tears that we shared together as one whole big team. After 1992, the fortune of koleq’s English team was getting worse, not due to the lack of good debaters or arguments, but because of pure prejudice and unfairness. There were times that they took away the victory which was clearly ours, since the opponent could not even put one simple sentence without an obvious grammatical error. Or the opponent would have to rely on a script written in marker pen on a piece of manila card – still they, not us, were announced the winner.

It was painful, but sometimes we comforted ourselves that there always was a silver lining each time we ended up with a moot result. It was the kind of experience that partly made Fazurin, Chamat and the rest of the gang who they are today – intelligent, resilient, confident and will not stop until they win an argument (although that could get to my nerve sometimes ha ha). Throughout the twilight years for the English team in mid-90s (koleq only regained its footing in 1996), Mr Anand and Cikgu Yatie were like a rock, stoic and unwavering in the support they provided to all of us.

There was also the time in Mat Jiwa, Sungai Petani when a group of girls, who were fresh from a defeat at our hands, threw a souvenir we just exchanged shortly before that to my face and cursed the most un-lady like insult in front every one. Or when we came back to our prep room only to find out people had vandalised the whole black board with insults. We were quite tempted to retaliate occasionally, but Mr Anand and Cikgu Yatie were always around to remind us that budak koleq should always behave like a true gentleman.

There were many other common grounds. Mr Anand was the football coach for the batch’s under-18 team. It was nothing to boast about but they did win a few small trophies after a few years of not winning anything, including winning the PPM North Zone (yes, in that particular year they experimented with football, only to revert to basketball a few years after). I had Mr Anand for English and 1119 for 2 years in Form 4 and Form 5, while others had Cikgu Yatie for the same.

By the time we were about to leave MCKK for good, Mr Anand was actually on a long study leave in Singapore. So he was not around during our last days in college. But he did fax a very nice message to all of us which we received in time for our graduation day:

“To the Class of 94 – You have been so much joy. A teacher couldn’t have asked for more”....

(it’s actually longer than that, but I cannot remember the full fax, although it was published in our Koleq Mag. But the Koleq Mag was so hideous that I vowed never to open it)

Now they are leaving MCKK for good, it’s like the end of an era. Two familiar faces no longer around when you make occasional visits to Kuala Kangsar. Less two people/friend to visit when you happen to be in town.

That’s what I told an office mate whose son just enrolled at MCKK recently. If you want him to get straight As, MCKK is no longer the best place to be.

If you want him to learn the meaning of laughter, tears, if you want him to get burnt and learn from his mistakes, let him live his life there undisturbed. He may not get the straight As, but he will definitely earn the respect of his peers and make friendships that last forever.

For that’s the reason why MCKK is special – you go there to make friends and to learn to live, and when you find friends and mentors like Mr Anand and Cikgu Yatie, you know the meaning of mutual respect, dedication and kind-heartedness. Those virtues are hard to come by nowadays, but you find them on daily basis in MCKK.

To Mr Anand, Cikgu Yatie, Faiz and Fahmi – enjoy Ireland! Our path will cross again one day, Insya Allah.

Mr Anand and the 1993 teams in the prep room playing Declare (this was way before the more complicated games like Chutaiti etc. were invented). We put on the all-black for the night as a mark of respect to our English debaters. They crashed out of the tournament early that day.


Chibiok's father passed away some time during the last Eid-ul-Adha. Al-Fatihah and condolences to Chibiok.

"It is from He that we come, and to Him that we shall return"