I went back with Badut and Red to Bukit Chandan astroturf last 2 weeks. The last time we were back was last November, for the Mighty Ducks Cup. Nowadays, when we go back we did not pass through; let alone go into MCKK. The vibes from some of the wardens and teachers are quite clear and after a while; it’s sickening to think of the treatment when we are trying our best just to help.
Meeting Mr Thaman and Mr Pala again was good. It feels so good to sit down with people who share your common vision and belief – that boys should be developed, allowed to explore, imbued with good virtues such as hard work, respect, sense of place etc.
We had a few shocks that week.
I found out that the fact that MCKK team is coached by 2 Indian retirees has become an issue. I do not know the source or who has started it; but apparently words have been going around that these 2 volunteers have been paid handsomely by the old boys. This I find hilarious because even after 50 years, KK folks actually still believe in a mirage of MCKK old boys’ invincibility, wealth and generosity. So it’s not hard to understand that the knowledge that an MCKK hockey team is backed by a group of old boys; spawned another series of rumours of the pay package they were getting. Hence the final racist conclusion – why would MCKK hockey team is coached by a pair of Indian retirees; when 2 Malay coaches could be employed instead.
They got us wrong on 2 accounts.
First, we are not Halim Saad & Co who had millions at the height of their reign. We are not even cronies who get projects and make a huge profit subcontracting it to a Chinaman. There are 11 of us – one is only half employed and will be lucky if he is not interrogated by MACC/PDRM by the end of this year, another works for Central Bank with his awful looking, 10+ year old Wira hatchback (which is an eye sore to everyone). Another one is having a mid career crisis and is thinking about making a bold decision of changing job. One is never employed at all in his life ha ha and would bristle at me if I bought bottles of mineral water, he insisted to refill at mineral water machines.
Four of us struggle with young families; one of them finds excuses to make money by extra charging batchmates in batch reunions! The rest are quite well off comparatively – bachelors without family responsibility and Wong memang kaya.
But none of us is anywhere near this mythical (and incorrect) perception that MCKK old boys are rich. We pooled our money together and we did not spend on other things, so that we can give a bit to the team. Once in a while, other batches (especially Class of 92) would collect some money to cover for the expenses.
Mighty Ducks is never about abundance of money or glamorous old boys. That’s why we would never be regarded in the same light that the MCKK world looks at the projects for basketball or rugby. Mighty Ducks (even by the name itself) is about a naive belief that in our small way we can touch people’s life – and all that we offer for the last 4 years was friendship and loyalty. Friendship to the boys who one day would grow up and understand certain things; loyalty to people like Mr Thaman, Mr Pala and Thorsten who just refuse to give on a hopeless hockey team like MCKK’s.
Secondly, even if we have the money, we would have hired Mr Thaman and Mr Pala and reward them handsomely. Because Mighty Ducks is not about pure winning, it is about values. I personally wanted to use sports to expose the boys to variety. Variety in thinking, variety in discipline, variety in interaction with non-Muslims, variety in work culture, variety in friendship.
And these two people are the best who can offer all this. They are the old style teachers who had spent a life time with students from different race and can relate on how in the yesteryears race did not matter as much as it does nowadays.
Anyway, I watched at one point Mr Thaman had to convince one of the boys that the Lucozade capsule that he was offering to cool down the boys half time was indeed halal, as the boy looked suspiciously at the capsule. Sigh.
The boys won against STAR but lost against Clifford (Note 1).
While the boys were playing, Mr Thaman told me that he wanted to have an intensive training during the school holidays. I think he knew I was not keen because I didn’t look enthusiastic (Note 2). He went on to justify that it’s not that he wanted to exhaust us further, but we (as in he, myself, the Mighty Ducks team, the boys) need to show results if we ever want to be treated with some respect by the school, HM, SAs and teachers.
That’s how sad things have become. Our school culture has become so rotten that people who are supposed to be educators no longer care about lessons or education. It’s results that matters; only with results that they can put in their form for promotion that you can get some decency out of them.
Deep inside I wanted to argue with Mr Thaman that we do not need to kowtow. We had survived for the last four years despite all the stumbling blocks put in between and I did not budge a bit. Of course, I withdrew from dealing officially with the school and that job has been passed to Badut, but I will not kowtow.
But it’s easy for me to say this, because I am not on the field each day. The one who has to face the embarrassment and wardens honking at 630 pm each day is Mr Thaman. Not that clearing boys to leave the field at 630 pm is a bad thing entirely – but the double standard in allowing the rugby and basketball teams to continue until 7 pm yet the other teams would be chased like dogs off the field; is sickening.
Mr Thaman wanted to show results so that the team too can have the privilege like the rugby and basketball boys.
So I announced to the boys at the end of the game that we required them to stay for 5 days for the training. The boys were OK with it – some were excited, some were neutral and only 2 felt bad because they had plans for the holidays.
But the teacher-in-charge came running down to tell me and Mr Thaman that it couldn’t be done because she wouldn’t be around. It is a rule now in MCKK that boys are supervised around the clock and a teacher must be present all the time – so unless there is a teacher around the clock to supervise the boys, the training is off.
Annoyed, I then tell her to ask any teachers who would be willing to do that and we’ll pay him/her daily allowance. It demeans the very profession of teaching, but many of them in MCKK do this on daily basis (demeaning the profession) anyway.
Mr Thaman pulled me to the side and his voice reverberated with frustration and anger at me; when he said “Why are you doing that? It’s their job to look after the boys. Stop giving them money to do what they are paid to do”.
I knew he was right. But I also knew that without such incentive, no one will be present and the school management will frustrate everything.
So we left at that, hoping that things will be fine. Badut, Red and I left for KL and reached home around 11 pm.
As expected, within a day the teacher-in-charge came back to inform Badut that no one was willing to do it, so it has to be cancelled.
I knew this was coming, that was why I already asked a few other teachers whether they were willing. Two teachers who are close to the boys agreed, both are ladies and non-Malays. One would have to travel between visiting her sickly mother in hospital in Ipoh; but she agreed nevertheless.
So we asked the boys to buy new tickets because they have to stay back.
I thought it ended there.
2 days later, the celebrated Senior Assistant by the nickname Katoque (for his reputation of making money out of the boys) called the poor teachers and told them they have to be in the hostel 24/7 to supervise the boys that include – waking them up, making sure they go for subuh, preside over breakfast, stay throughout the training, sit with them during prep, ensure they don’t go out, in charge of lights off and night guard when the boys sleep.
Obviously the teachers had to back off.
Never in my entire MCKK life that I thought MCKK boys reach a point when they become a complete, hopeless bum! That they need a teacher to wake them up, ensure they pray etc. I was surprised the teacher was not expected to put the boys’ boxers on, make sure they clean their teeth, ensure they take at least 10 minutes’ worth of shower and do not do anything unnatural while having shower! That would have been a more complete list.
So we had to change the plan, to do the training at the end of the holidays. The boys had to change ticket again i.e. re-sell the tickets they already bought and buy a new one. Mr Thaman had to postpone a minor surgery scheduled so that we could do the training. We made the decision because initially the teacher-in-charge said she would be able to do it if it’s the last 3 days of the school holidays.
So we thought all was well.
2 days later, Badut started to receive SMS from the teacher-in-charge and the celebrated SA. Now there is a new requirement – any activity cannot be conducted without a male warden present. So now we had to find a male warden; which we know was impossible.
In the end, I had to make the call to cancel it off. I know Mr Thaman would be frustrated and the boys would be sent helter skelter to buy the ticket all over again for what was the third change in plan.
It’s just another day dealing with MCKK bureaucracy. No wonder we are where we are.
Photos here and here.
The boys went to the final again; after winning big margins (bigger than previous years) at grouping. But we lost again. The whole stadium was full of Clifford boys and parents. On MCKK side, there was only the team, 2 accompanying teachers who sat high at the back detached from the boys, 2 voluntary and 2 old boys who drove from KL. It was only 10 minutes away but the school couldn’t even send a few boys to support them.
This kind of discussion was a taboo previously in our mailing list, but someone had to say it at one point:
“aku nak roll dulu..
truth be told, aku dah lama hilang semangat with mighty ducks..
due to the school's inability to appreciate help when it's right in their face..
contribution aku maybe limited to technical part je, coaching them during matches etc..
but still, kalau aku terasa unappreciated, what more yg ada more direct dealings with them like raf and badut..
what was supposed to be a fun project, is now a chore..
the only fun part left is when we regroup and meet up..
nak harap aku just balik kk to see them through their training? zilch..
nak harap aku get off my butt and do anything for them? nada..
even if rauhi's no longer there, the teachers are still the same group..
yg harap orang lain buat semua..
kalau ada problem, tunggu orang lain provide a solution..
so, what's next for us?
do we stick to the 2010 deadline?
do we plod on until dapat masukkan ** and/or **?
i'd say "fuck 'em, cut our losses, move on to other things'
Testimonials from one ex-teacher:
“Mr Thaman Singh, Mr Shamsul, Mudzaffar Shah antara yang sentiasa berada di padang new hostel setiap petang.No wonder tahun 1992 kalau tak silap team hoki kita pernah beat anderson 2-0 yang jadi malaysia champ.1988 karnival MC-RMC kita lwn team Mirnawan juga kalau tak silap seri 1-1 or kalah 0-2 tapi kira ok kalah dgn team bagus..dulu banyak karnival..
mckk-MRSM kulim, mc-ksah, mc-peneng free, mc-rmc semua game mantap....”
What the leadership of MCKK and a significant portion of MCKK teachers does not understand is if they had wanted the boys to benefit or if they put the interest of the boys above themselves, they would have welcomed outside party coming in to pour in resources and help them.
Unfortunately, they view their work as "makan gaji" and therefore, consider all this "extra effort" for the boys as administrative chores to them. They hate being on the field looking after the boys, they hate when they have to write an extra letter for the boys. Worse still, they put in place all sorts of rules that make it almost impossible for the boys to do anything beyond the meagre, token involvement in anything outside classroom, that the school prescribed.
The school always give reasons such as "tak de bas, tak leh buat activity". Or "nak transport, cari sendiri, bayar sendiri". Or in the famous HM's remark to me in 2006 "saya tak kisah la macam mana awak nak buat, yang penting saya dapat nama".
Whereas we have witnessed other teachers or other schools' commitment to bringing out the best out of their students. In other schools, the teachers themselves would have packed the boys in their own cars to bring them to the turf. In Clifford, it's the teachers who go around trying to raise money to pay for the hockey team's expenses. My sister, a teacher for special children (autism, down syndrome etc.), baked cookies, do flower arrangements and all sorts of things, to raise money for her students so that she can bring them to swimming pool once in a while.
I was raised in a family of teachers and it's always an issue with us that some of us spent more time looking after the students than being at home.
Yet a significant portion of MCKK teachers view such things as chores; and they purposely change the goal post as we go along to ensure activities that do not fit in their warped view of "co curricular activities" do not take place. Unfortunately, sports (which are not rugby or basketball) fall into that category.
In the yesteryears, all these rules were non-existent. We conducted ourselves fairly responsibly, the teachers were not around to baby sit us.
Even if there was such a requirement, the wardens and teachers volunteer to take charge to ensure the program could take place. Or the HM or SA would MAKE SURE someone is around, so that the program could take place.
That was why we went to final PPM in 1990, 1991, 1992 and 1993 and won in 1992 and 1993. That is why we did not go beyond district level in any competition last year.
In any other organisation, the HM and SA (Co-curricular) would have sacked, transferred or demoted for such a dismal performance by a High Performing School, the jewel of the nation's education system. But not in MCKK; because MCKK must be so special (wink wink).