Sunday, December 2, 2007

The School Matron - Miss McConkey

Matron (Miss McConkey) and school boys' pranks

The Matron I remember

The Peace Corps was purportedly conceptualised by John F. Kennedy when he was the President of the United States. His brother-in-law Shriver was the man behind the whole organisation. JFK made this often quoted statement which was imprinted in hearts of almost all literate youths in the world, " Ask not what your country can do for you, but ask what you can do for your country." It was this, many people said, that sent hundreds of thousands of starry eyed, hopeful, energetic, American youths to the developing world to help make a difference, to bring the needy out of the shadows of illiteracy , poverty and ill health.

And because of the world wide popularity of the Peace Corps at that time, Tanjong Lobang in particular was also a beneficiary. We as students also benefited. In this article, I will write about Miss McConkey, who as a Peace Corps Volunteer came to Tanjong Lobang School in January 1964 and stayed until December 1965. She was so good at her work and it was also partly because she loved Tanjong Lobang very much. It was a commitment typical of Peace Corps throughout the world.

There were 10 things I associate with Matron McConkey.

Firstly, I realised, and for the rest of my life, the full meaning of the the word "Matron" .I firmly believe that every Matron in the schools of Sarawak should perform like her. She should be the role model for all Malaysian school or college matrons in fact.

Secondly, she lived in the Peace Corps quarters next to the Girls' Hostel "Penelope". This quarters had long been pulled down in the development of the school in the last fifty years or so. The quarters was purposely assigned to her so that she could be near the girls, which numbered less than a hundred, mainly from the Orang Ulu community and some Chinese from Limbang, Bintulu,the Baram, Kanowit, including Kho Poh Tin whom I remember fondly as she came from Limbang like me.

Thirdly, as we called her Matron only, out of respect, I never knew real name until after I left school. In fact, at that time, it was impolite to call our teachers by their full name. We called our teachers, Sir, Miss, or just Teacher. Perhaps it was because of this, many students did not get to know the names of their teachers.

Fourthly, I can still remember her typical day as I observed her "unbreakable, sure routine of her role as matron" and it was very military like in routine. She would come very early, walking to the school, without fail (I think she never had sick leave) and checked the kitchen, and the refrectory and then when the school started, she would be in her office. throughtout the day, she would administer to those who fell sick. And in fact, her office, which was next to the Principal's office, was the dispensary for the school. In her room, would be the cabinet for medicines, ointment, bandages, alcohol, scissors, anything you could imagine for a small clinic.

Then she would take time to check the cleanliness of the boarding houses and to find out who were sick and unable to attend classes. Those who were sick like Robert Madang, with mumps ,had to be isolated in put in the sick bay. those who came under her care would never forget the Florence Nightingale touch as she was a very genuine and personal carer.

Fifthly, she shared our food and that was a very endearing aspect to many of us native students. Together with Mr Nicholl and Mr. Bob Lynn they would eat with us. This was partly to ensure that quality of school food was really up to the mark. We were very conscious of their presence and so we behaved very well. Perhaps this was how we developed our "fine" table manners. We never made unnecessary noise, or ate voraciously or behaved like "monkeys" like many of the modern kids today. We were became very careful and polite diners. Years later, when I guided my students and my own children, table manners were my top priority. I have Matron and the leading teachers to thank for. there was definitely a big difference between "dining" and "eating fast food".

Sixthly, Miss McKonkey was tall,slim, and in her fifties.To me,she looked very fit and very healthy, and most importanlty, kind and benevolent. She wore nice spectacles and she would also ride her bicycle every day too. Her attire would also be a white blouse and a blue denim skirt which would flutter in the wind as she cycled along the road. She would wear different skirts, but they would be always having blue as a main colour. In that way, I would always remember her being very American in her colour choice. Her blue and white became like a uniform of a matron in retrospect. I can still see her light coloured bicycle as if they were right in front of me.

Seventhly, an amusing incident would always come to my mind, when thinking about Matron. It only showed how much the boys liked her. It was my first time, following Edward Gella and Emapni Lang in raiding the pantry. The two boys and two others, Tan and Liaw, were having some serious fun trying to get the lovely biscuits which were meant for the teachers for their morning tea break. We ate all the biscuit ration which she had already carefully laid out for the next day. So the boys all agreed that we must leave one biscuit for Matron. It was Empani who said, "This biscuit is for Matron."

The next day, we peeped at the staff room and sure enough, there was no biscuit for their morning tea. I remember that no fuss was made out of it. But Matron had her one biscuit in a very reflective way. It was very painful to see that. And we never "raided" the biscuits again. I am not sure if the teachers suspected any one. But then many boys had made attempts to get extra food because food was never enough for growing boys, who did not have any money to buy extra food.

Eighthly, from 3 to 4 every day, Miss McKonkey would be there with us at our work party. I have very fond memories of work party because that was how we "pay back" our beloved school for what it did for us. We kept the school clean and repaired all the broken furniture. We had a lot of fun working and learning at the same time. We were like "keeping our house clean" and our family was the entire school community , including our beloved Matron. I believe that many of us were indeed very grateful that the school even had a "resident nurse" to look after our health and well being.

Ninthly, during all the Sports Days that she was with us, she was there for us with all the equipment ready. It was very reassuring to have her presence there. And Sports Day would just be another memorable day with nothing untoward. Some of the students would definitely remember how they were given good rub downs by the Matron and the girls who were given the roles to attend to the "injured".

Finally, I remember her as a person who never raised her voice at any one of us. Even though she was not what we call the fierce type, we held her in great respect because she was just so firm and fair. and I presume that she was very at home with the girls and the girls with her.

I can still see her very clearly now, if I were an artist I could paint a very fine portrait of her. A school would definitely be an excellent school with a Matron like Miss McConkey.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Fish Heads and Fish Eggs

Remembering our dinning hall or refrectory in Tanjong Lobang School,is both fun and nostalgic, and sometimes bittersweet,especially with friends in the later years of our life.

Our school was a special training ground for many of us who eventually became principals of secondary school. Mr. Richard Tze was the man responsible for starting a student kitchen committee to look after food ration and checking of the meals. The committee was super efficient in supervising even the cooks! I used such a student committee to check all the food ration coming in when I was the Principal of Sedaya in 1975. The students also supervised the cooking and the whole dining system of more than 2000 students. That year, the boarding students of the school had too much good food. Having a reliable student committee with a teacher in charge is a good system.

I remember that the early years of TLS saw volunteer teachers as the Matron. Amongst them I remember Miss McCormick.

Students were as naughty as can be. In this special episode I recall the Fish heads and fish eggs incident .

We had noticed that our fish dish in the refrectory had no fish head or fish eggs. We were actually eating very good and highly priced fish like tenggiri or duai (pomfret)

Fish heads were highly regarded by the native students as we liked the bite and the taste of heads. Rice would be well consumed if accompanied by a serving of fish head. We would eat the fish eyes, and we would enjoy biting the soft bones of the head. Fish roe was indeed a delicacy to many of us, including the Chinese and Malay boys. So we had to find out what happened to the fish heads and fish eggs of our fish!!

It took us some time to investigate. Heading our secret team was Gilla Baul. Two Limbang Chinese boys who were indignant about the missing fish heads and fish eggs also took part in this underground movement. I was the little small boy who followed them.

We checked the kitchen carefully and noticed every movement of the cooks and other kitchen staff. Then one evening at an appointed time, Gilla prised open the kitchen lock. At that moment, I sort of thought that the leaders were not at all thieves. They were the superheroes who were out to find the cause of missing fish heads and eggs! So we went in, bravely, as if we were Hercule Periot or Perry Mason, or Sherlock Holmes,and we did indeed find what we were looking for! We found a big bag of fish heads and fish eggs all wrapped up properly in the kitchenh freezer. Apparently, the cooks had been keeping them in order to sell to some friends.

We were elated as if we had solved a puzzle. Immediately as if vengeance was in our hands, we cooked the fish heads and eggs. It was a feast or celebration for all of us in the hostel.

However, to our horror, the next morning, Tan, one of the Chinese boys, appeared with his eyes all swollen, looking like a red gold fish. It was both horrifying and hilarious at the same time. He had had too many fish eggs!! But being very good natured and having a great sense of humour, he did not complain.

But the upside of the incident made the cooks realise that the students loved fish heads and fish eggs too. Putting it very mildly.

From then on, we had the whole fish, including the eggs for our meals. Our secret voice was strong and a grievance was redressed for the good of the whole student population. I would never know how the teachers or the non academic staff feel about this as it was never discussed in our presence. Definitely we were not viewed as guerrillas all out to despose the then ruling power of the school!

Monday, October 15, 2007

Letter from Sam

Sam came for a visit (2008) Photo with Dr. Abeng Lim (KB Brunei) at his lovely home.

In May this year, quite unexpectedly, I was "discovered" by a long lost friend Sam Teo from my school days.

Since then we have exchanged news, stories and revisited each other through an ex-student google forum. I was delighted to find out that he now resides in Missouri, USA, even though he did try his best to come back to work in Shell Sarawak. Qualified as any one for Shell, he was rejected probably by a small man sitting behind a Shell desk with heaps of application letters which he could not bother to reply and within months Sam had to return to the USA, unable to serve his beloved country. He speaks and writes Arabic besides Chinese, English and Bahasa Malaysia, is extremely good in photography (since 1962) and is a genius in computer science.

I have asked my friend if I could borrow his letter to Mr. Ruthe, one of our Headmasters for inclusion in my blog. I just hope that even more people would read articles which are written from our hearts. Thanks Sam for sharing.

May our passion for our old school Tanjong Lobang School, Miri, live on!!

========== Letter to Mr. A. D. Ruthe ===========

Dear Mr. Ruthe,

I should have written this letter 45 years ago, but I always thought procrastination was (is?) a virtue. Anyway, late though it is, here goes my note.

During my relatively short time at TLS, I had had a few Headmasters before you, and one after. None of those Headmasters impressed me as you had. Permit me to express my personal views and feelings toward you, Mr. A.D . Ruthe, my Headmaster, Teacher and Mentor.

A.D Ruthe - my Headmaster

I never knew what "A.D." stood for, and never had the urge to find out. It was quite enough to know you as Mr. A.D. Ruthe. We weren't supposed to know your first name anyway, for after all, it would have been impolite to address you by your first name. I did finally learn what the "A" was - from Linda, your lovely daughter and my former classmate. Now I know " A.D. Ruthe" was "Alan D. Ruthe". But what was the "D"? Oh well, it doesn't matter.

The most memorable encounter I had with you, as Headmaster, was when you and I had a very lively shouting match. You may have forgotten that episode, but I have not. It was that verbal battle I had with you, and the outcome thereafter that brought admiration from me for you - my Headmaster.

You knew I played basketball for TLS, and was a very good player.

There were several school team players from the then Fourth Division (Bintulu, Sebauh area) who could not stand the sight of me. Most of them were upset with me for having won the heart of a young lady from their "neighborhood". Consequently, during basketball team practice, they had deliberately excluded me from any play. I decided that if I wasn't wanted, then I should leave the team. I subsequently asked the coach and was given permission to leave TLS team and play for Miri Machinda Club.

TLS team played Machinda Club, and lost. I contributed over 30 points in that match. The coach was furious, and his fire was fed more fuel by the TLS players. I was summoned to your office, supposedly for a good beating - by you.

You, and certainly the coach, were probably expecting me to just apologize and walk out with my "tail between my legs". I started to defend my action. The coach, with his selective memory, declared that he never gave me permission to leave the TLS team, let alone play for an outside team. I lost my cool, and raised my voice. The coach responded in kind. You showed irritation, and, being a good executive, proceeded to side with the coach. At that point, all three of us were having an intense verbal battle. What happened afterward did (not?) surprise me.

You permitted me to continue to play for Machinda.

Mr. Ruthe, you never told me this, but I suspect your decision was probably based on your belief that although I was a rebel, I was not a stupid person - at least not stupid enough to blatantly break TLS school rule: leaving TLS team to play for an outside team without permission.

Whatever your reason, I thank you and I admire you for your fair mindedness.

A.D. Ruthe - my Teacher and Mentor

You knew I could write, with some degree of clarity in delivery. You graded my papers with decent but not the best marks. Your one and constant comment was: "Write on something familiar to you, for only when you do that can you express yourself with the needed passion."
I wanted to go into medicine, and surgery no less. Consequently, I often wrote about medicine - good writing but lacking in substance. After your comment and guidance, I began to write about something that I knew. You were somewhat surprised, yet pleased, when I wrote about romance in secondary school. You gave me a very good mark in that paper.

Thank you for your help, I got a very good grade in English in my School Certificate.

Mr. Ruthe, I don't know if you were a great man in New Zealand or not, or how you compared with your compatriots - socially and professionally. All I know about you is from our relationship at TLS. In my mind, you, Mr. A.D Ruthe, are greater than all the TLS headmasters combined. You had reinforced my belief that it is OK to stand one's ground, as long as one is in the right. I did that during our "battle", and you did not shut me up, kick my butt and send me packing the next morning. I doubt if many other Headmasters would have tolerated my behavior under that same circumstance.

I hope you are successful in reading this e-mail. I am certain some of your internet-savvy friends at " " will help you - in case you have any trouble with GMAIL.

Sincerely, Sam TeoFormer student at TLS (1961-64)

Miss Rose Chin - Extraordinary English Teacher

Miss Rose Chin with her brother David Chin and other family members in New Zealand. Photo courtesy of David.
1968 was the last year of my school at Tanjong Lobang School. I had been in the school for NINE years. It has been a loving home, a training ground and Mr. McCormick was right. It was like heaven.

Now that I am 61 I have the privileges of sharing my memories with friends while my mind is still good. It is not fair just to remember Mr. Robert Nicholl only. Like the Beatles song, "In My Life", I remember them all.

And today, one of the teachers I would like to remember is Miss Chin.When the newly graduated

Miss Rose Chin walked into our English class that particular moment, we being only just a few years younger than her, knew that she was nervous. She kicked the rattan waste paper basket and we waited patiently,respectfully and knowingly for her to start her lesson.

Only Reggie Tersan laughed softly and said,"She's nervous!" She did not flinch at all but continued with her business of teaching.

Reggie went on to become her favourite and best English student.

But for me,in just that moment I knew that she was all business and that she would get on with her teaching to the best of her ability and we would benefit a lot from her refreshing approach.

Physically, she was a strong woman, one that was used to changkul-ing soils and hard farm work. She had the sun burnt skin of a farmer's daughter. So we as the native students of the class, immediately felt that we could relate to this new teacher who had just come back from Australia.

Mentally, she was really intelligent and she had an admirable command of the English languange. I am proud to say that I was in her class long enough to learn all the important tenets of the English language that year. All my fellow classmates benefitted from her teaching as well. None of us dare to upset her, while most understood her intent and purpose completely. She was clever and she could impart knowledge to us. So for that we were willing and respectful students. Her mental strength challenged us to be disciplined language learners.

One thing which really impressed me as the weeks became months and the months became a year. She was able to talk non stop on a topic she was teaching. Sometimes I thought that she was not breathing at all, even at the commas and the fullstops. Was she really able to speak like a train? In later years when I met her, she was still the same. I really believe that it was listening to her fast talking that I developed a very good listening skill and long concentration span.

In terms of opinions , I had the feeling then that Miss Chin always had her mind strongly made up. Even though I did not make a really good impression on her (as I was always saying "but ....." and disagreeing with her) and I was not that goody goody kind of student, I felt that she was able to be objective towards me. She gave me a good evaluation without showing she was biased, like so many other teachers would do. She kept a very good poker face when it came to students who were not paying attention or pulling their weight.

I would say that during her time in our school she was one of the most dedicated teachers. She worked hard and we could all see that very very clearly. She meant business and would not tolerate any nonsense in class. And she came across to us then in every thing she did, she was just so proper and such a perfect Chinese woman with all the classical ethics and moral values. In later years when I became a Principal, I had wished that all English teachers should be like her and as many students as possible would have excellent results in English.

We should have more English teachers like Miss Rose Chin.

Remembering Mr. Martin Wilson of New Zealand

Although I did not come to know Mr. Wilson as well as Mr. Nicholl I had the privilege of being associated with him on several occasions when I was in Lower Sixth 1966. But I will always be grateful to him because he helped me realised what I could do to help myself become an adult. Besides,he made a remarkable impression on me on what it was like to be a knowledgeable person. And in 1966 because of him I felt I became a taller Iban.

Mr. Wilson was a very intelligent and knowledgeable man who was interested in many things. He was interested in archaeology, history,natural studies,photography and the sciences. So I thought, here we had a Renaissance man from New Zealand.

Besides he had a lot of sympathies for the Maoris. This had impressed me greatly as I am of Iban descent.

Mr. Wilson taught us General Paper in Lower Sixth. We had one interesting class with him which inspired me to be even more interested in writing. This lesson also taught all of us that learning was a happy event.

One day Mr. Wilson asked us to write an essay on "The Eating Habits of People of Sarawak ", Deep in thought, I really wanted to be different in my approach of writing. So off I went and wrote .

the next day, Mr. Wilson abruptly told us that he would read aloud one piece of writing. He read aloud the following lines with some drama :"The manner in which the respective community in Sarawak eat reflects their culture and to a certain extent their values...." I still remember that I specifically wrote this ".when it comes to eating, the Chinese eat very fast and that it is in a matter of minutes they could consume a bowl of rice with chopsticks.." And to my surprise after he read that he laughed melodiously . He had really enjoyed this particular piece of writing he said. Much to my embarrassment it was my essay and that particular part was a little exaggerated by him. In hindsight I cannot now say whether my approach was mature or not. But perhaps he also knew that I would not be annoyed by him for reading aloud my work.

Alec Kaboy turned to me and said, "Uchak, that sounds like you!" I kept a very straight face at that remark. To this day, no one knew that it was me who wrote that essay.

I never let any one know who was the writer. Neither did Mr. Wilson. For keeping that confidence I started to learn to trust a teacher like Mr.Wilson and I knew that he was a man who would never betray a friend. That was an important lesson in life for me: a good person would and should not betray his friend.

Later, during the school mid year break, he wanted to give us poor ulu boys a chance to earn extra money. Probably he liked Robert Madang and I more than the others. He took us to do archeological diggings for the Sarawak Museum in Bakong. We got to know him better as we experienced digging into tombs and deep caves.Besides Robert Madang, and I he took Ali Junaidi , and Borhan Tahir..

It was perhaps another twist of fate that I had again a chance to prove myself to him. Our boat driver Pak Cik Daud was suddenly taken sick, I volunteered to be the driver in his place for the last week of our stay at Bakong. Dispersing all the doubts of the others in the team I managed to negotiate the narrow Bakong River. When a huge motor launch was ahead of us, making difficult waves, our long boat almost sank and every one was fearful that death was eminent. But even though I thought I was not going to handle the outboard well, I managed to triumph against the odds and saved the boat from sinking. It was a very proud moment for me and Mr. Wilson gave me a pat on the back.

Later in the year, Mr. Wilson chose Robert Madang and I for the Kinabalu climb. I was a complete pauper and could not even afford a towel. But being a very perceptive man, he saw to it that I had the finances to go on the adventure of my life. My heart was in my mouth from the moment we set off for the trip from Miri to Kota Kinabalu by plane.When we reached KK or Jesselton we were joined by Mr. Voon and Mr. Yong.

Both these Chinese teachers gave us, which to me, was my first great Chinese dinner in one of the restaurants called Nam Chong.

You could not find a happier native boy on the plane at that time. Wind on my face, a few cents in my pocket and a whole adventure ahead of me. And this was because a white teacher was able to find a way to finance my trip.

Every one could see that I gave my all for the trip: I carried half a tin of kerosene on my bare back up the mountains, I did everything with an eager heart. And with great determination I made myself truly useful and a member of the team. I would not let any one of them down.

Even though I felt the terrible cold at 8000 feet I kept my enthusiasm high.. Robert and I had tried to keep our feet together. On the second night at 11 ,000 feet level, I had great difficulties in attending to the call of nature. Mr.Wilson came later into the next cubicle remarked rather loudly," I have the same problem." And a while later, I heard him say, "Oh Mother I did it." Before he left the cubicle, he humourously wished me luck. Many years later Jeliang Mersat would tease me,"Oh Mother I did it."

We left the last camp at 4:30 in the morning.

When the sun came up and lit up the whole sky as we reached the top of the mountains, I knew I could climb more moutains in my life in the future. And nothing was impossible.We had reached the top without one of Mr.Wilson's son, Mark. It was the third day of our climb.

We did have a good time taking photographs, and I still have a copy of the photo after all these years. The journey back, descending the mountains was more painful on my knees. And when we reached the base camp, which was just a little hut,we were given a certificate to certify our ascent, which I consequently lost. We stayed the night there, sharing the hut with two Japanese men. One of the Japanese men shared with me a bottle of sake, along with it he tried to teach me a Japanese song.

The cold on the mountain was inspiring and awesome.I realized that I really like the cold. It was that which spurred me to be determined to make it overseas one day.I really have to thank Mr. Wilson for helping me to realise my potentials and that I could be some body some day.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Thomas Sia,Wilson Sakan and Bicycles in Tanjong Lobang

A batch of ulu boys, bicycles and a wonderful hill. These are good materials for a great Travel and Living Documentary.

But video recording was not even invented in 1960! All that one could see at that time was recorded in the mind.

My great memory of Thomas Sia was that he was a big boy with a big heart. He kept his hair well groomed like Elvis,he rolled his sleeves up to the shoulders to show his great muslces, as was the style of the day.

And then, he had the luxury of a beautiful bike - high saddled, low handlebars. He was akin the Michael Schaumaker, the Grand Prix driver of today. You know the feeling when Thomas passed by with his bike. He had speed, he had style, he had everything an ulu boy would wish for.

The Tanjong Lobang hill slope, going down to Teman Selera was indeed a steep slope and most students would run all the way down the slope but dread going back up hill. It would be a real drudge.

One day Thomas being the good hearted boy he was he offered Wilson Sakan a joy ride on his bicyle. Thomas put Wilson to seat on the bar and the two giggle as they rode around, Wilson in front and Thomas on his saddle. It was good to see two boys (Form Three, about 16 years old) on a bicyle having a fun time out.

Then without really realising what Thomas was about to do, Wilson found himself floating down the slope. It was a truly free wheeling experience.

When they reached the bottom of the hill, Thomas casually said," That's it. Good ride wasn't it?"

By then Wilson had crumpled into a nervous ball of human tensed up muscles and was weeping away.

"Thomas why did you do that? I almost died of fright!" was all Sakan could say. He had almost stopped breathing by then. He had held his breath when Thomas skillfully steered the bike down the slope at top speed.

Sakan had never been on a bicycle before in his life.

That ride helped him see life and death flashing in front of his eyes. We believed that he must have closed his eyes during the ride too.

One memory that would always flash through my mind was the way the late Taba bin Besar cycled down the hill at tremendous speed and almost killed himself. He flipped over the bike and fell into the drain. His face was very very damaged and that was a traumatic occasion for me because any physical harm was very painful to me.

Bicycles continued to be an important part of our lives. Most of us Ulu boys did not own one as we made do with walking all the way to town, which was about 5 kilometers, hitching rides from our teachers and taking the slow bus.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Philip Assan and Retirement

1966. I saw a tall lanky boy checking into the school. I did not think very much of him at that moment. He could be cool and aloof - the type of Iban boys from the town. But I could not be more wrong.

Philip and I were mates in Tanjong Lobang School in Sixth Form. And we have been the very best of friends since then,or true brothers. He has always been warm and understanding towards me, even though I am a bit older. In Tanjong we shared our lean (both in terms of money and body shape) days. We seldom had two cents to rub together. But sometimes when he had a windfall, all of us in the hostel would have a treat. When my father sent me a registered mail, it could be a $15 gift. What a fortune at that time. And what joy I had to share with friends.

We studied hard because that was the only way for us to get out of the vicious cycle of poverty. (Royal Professor Ungku Aziz is one of the best economists of the world. He understood poverty like nobody did. He was my Vice Chancellor and mentor at the University of Malaya 1970-1973, Unfortunately Philip never went to my university otherwise he and Ungku, as we all called him then, would have been the best of friends and the two could have talked philosophy non-stop)

I did not realize that at that time Philip was struggling with his English! He had taken an 8 in Form Five and that was why he did not get a Grade One. But he persevered. He has that trait to persevere until today. I have never quite met an Iban who could struggle for life and death so much as Philip. He struggled for his life, he struggled for his education and he struggled for his family. He did struggle for his position and even his claims as a civil servant. Very few people understood him and his suffering as much as I did. Sometimes life deals out lemons to Philip too often.

But he did he manage to gain a scholarship to go to England, and his English was more than excellent and he read everything he could lay his hands on from Machiavelli, The Prince to Cicero, from Shakespeare to Sun Tzu,from the Greek Mythologies to All Men are Brothers. He reread all those classics when he was working in the civil service and now in his retirement, he is reading more than ever. He has become a philosopher.

Philip worked hard and was both proactive and innovative. His methods of surveying are still being practised in Sarawak these days. He thought good thoughts. But most of the time they remained in the boardroom.

Anyway he was happy to be able to travel the lengths of Sarawak and rub shoulders with the drivers,the low ranking staff. Today after his retirement, he could still call them and they would happily and respectfully tag along their "tuan" all over Sarawak again. You cannot find this kind of boss-staff relationship any more.

These days he has a chicken farm (200-300 ) somewhere along Mile 32 in Kuching. He gets up early when the birds start singing. He feeds the chickens and then goes for his coffee in the bazaar which would be teeming with folks of all races. Chickens,a pig or two, barbequed fish, vegetables both imported and local, would be seen every where. And Philip would take all these in with his coffee and roti kaya as he chats with his acquaintances and fellow farmers.

As if by magic by 10 o'clock all these activities will come to an end. Plastic bags,empty bamboos,and the remains of the day will be strewn everywhere. It would be time for Philip to go back to his farm. Once back in the farm, he can laze around again, basking in the sun so to speak. Then he would take his pipe out and have a good smoke.

Occasionally he will doze off - his afternoon siesta if he has no company. He will wake up to feed his chickens and soon it will be time to cook his dinner.

Well, he chuckled when he talked about all these. when you are retired you wonder if you have a true friend. Where are all his friends? Perhaps they are still busy with their board meetings,conferences, seminars.

A few days ago, he was told to go and receive his KMN. He found it too much of a hassle to present himself to the Agong. What would the badge do for him now? He is not applying for another job! And it is not a cash reward either. He still can do with a few cents more.

He has left all his computer technology behind and he carries an old Nokia which he finds still serviceable.

He gives his pipe another puff and he is ready to speak on The Golden Lotus and its implications. Be always ready to have time in your hands. He will take you on a journey of learning.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

1973 students

Bolhassan bin Bujang
Awangku Meralie
Ashaari Rosli
Ayub bin Ali
Abdul Samat Md Ali

Christina Chin
Chong Siew Pui
Choo Sin Lee
Chai Shoon
Chaili Bolhassan

Deli Sharari
Irene Jong Kuie Moi
Julaihi Narawi
Jumastapha Lamat

Jamulludin Hj Ibrahim
Jamil Julaihi
Jamali Hussain
Lawrence Rining Selutan
Leon Terence Joseph

Michael Lisa Kaya
Masta bt Edris
Mat Zain Masli
Mohd Trudin
Mohd Ibrahim

Noriyati Zaini
Nelson Kadir
Paulus Mering
Peginal Edward Mleda
Roslie Sahran

Sukhvindu Singh
Sarudu bin Hoklai
Suni Ahmad
Tony Anis
Zaidi Mat

Zaidi Omar
Zalil Karim
Sainuddin Kuan
Amin Ramlee
Abg Yamin bin Abang Syaries

Bujang Poli
Carter Ballang
Dominic Lusat Sagan
Helen Ilai
HermanJolly Udan

Hamisah Kana
Hamka Othman
Hamden Salleh
Ishak bin Hashim
Juliah bt Sabri

Jemat bin Lihi
Kassim Bujang
Lo Sing
Luk Tak King
Leong Ha Mui

Lim Kian Lam
Mary bt Saradum
Matang Paturan
Nelly Aren Wan
Radazil Alision

Saini bin Bohari
Sulaiman Shari
Shukarimin Chaseman
Salbiah Ibrahim
Sylvestrer Jengi Jemat

Wan Bustaman Lain
Wan Mahli Syhed
Aziz Davidson
Awang Draup Pgn Dee
Bolhassan Dee

Chan Kat Leong
Chin anakLubi
Chen Nang Kwang
Chai Seng Hiong
Chong Yuen Kheng

Chong Ei Choo
Danien ak Ranggu
Goh Hai Chuan
Ho Sze Min
Kok Pui Leong

Kueh Lip Piang
Kong Chian Sein
Kueh Lak Tee
Liew Say Fah
Lu Lei Chin

Leong Wei Chong
Lo Jim Ping
Law Kung Teng
loh Leh Goh
Mu Ah Choi

Phang Chun Yow
Pan Kim Yuk
Redit Ak Robert
Steel ak Sindku
Sim Hoi Chuan

Sandim binBesar
Sharkawie bin Zain
Sim Siau Huat
Ting Kong Yu
Tan Gek Lian

Wong Kuek Yuong
Wong Chii King
Yong Chin Hieng
Wong ai Seng
Abdul Kadir

Abot ak Naros
Chiam Tou Ping
Chia Nyat Fatt
Idris Hj Suhaili
Ibrahim b Hj Abdullah

Isaali Hj Wasli
Jemat Bujang
James Kulleh Ajan
Kumbang Tuggnag
Kuek Yong Kwang

Law Ing Tuang
Lai Siew Ching
Lee Suan choo
Lee Jook Mui
Lungah ak Jayan

Lim Chong Sit
Ling Hau Ching
Likot Tomis
Lim Guan Pheng
Mordiah bt Sani

Moses ak Agat
Michael Wong
Rahman Kasat
Phang Liang Kiak
Robin Lusong

Ting Ming Dai
Tiong Tack Kieng
Vincent Huang Huat Choon
Wong Leun Heng
Yong Wei Ding

Zamahari Talip
Ngui Kwong Chuan
Li Liong Ching
Su Sai Lung
Awang Abd Karim

Awang Ko Badar
Boniface Bait
Bong Chin Tzin
Bowi Mayot
Babu ak Suwen

Charles Tera Jolly
Chua Pheng Khoon
Chua Siong Sieng
David Kusir
Eden Ann Foo Thiang Eng

George ak Anung
Hii Tow Peck
Intan Gudom
Ling Teck Seng
Ling Liong Ming

Lo Ling
Liew Jiu Ming
Leong Yung Chen
Mahili Saabe
Ngu Koh Hee

Ong Gee Tiong
Peter Chu
Philip Goh
Roki Sabu
Stanley Ajang Bato

Teh Shiok Guat
Teng Lung Fong
Wong Ing Yung
Wong Siew Ming
Wong Siew Ping

Tay Boon Huat
Teo Yang Tuan
Sim Kian Tze
Yong Mie Ling
Pui Chow Eik

Mohamad Zain bin Relly
Hamimah bt Haji Dollah
Andrew Wong Hieng Hock
Awg. Kasmunmarjaya b Awag Mahran
Chua Sung Hua

Cheong Kim Wah
Edmund Daging
George Ling
Geraldine Lim
Hj Juni b Hj Lee
Henry Teo Huat Hin

Abdul Rahman hj Pozan
Hjjah Fatimah Hj Hadzran
Japar Sidik Bujang
Kiu Cheong Kin
Lily Hii Chiu Sieng

Loh Moi Moi
Lau Lang Chu
Loh Eng Kee
Liew Khim Lan
Lucy Tang

Lau Boon Lai
Ling Chai Kua
Mary Tong Yew
Nelson Kolony
Nicholas Chin Shen Kong

Phyllis Pan Chee Hua
Ting Ngiik Kiong
Tan Kee Choon
Voon Chun Siong
Zarina Sauni

Yong Ser Vui
Ling Hung Cheng
Adrian ak Nyaoi
Ahmad bin Fadzil
Akam bin Tah

Alias bin Sam
Ardi bin Spawi
Arek ak Tuen
Ahmad Saktian
Akit Sebli

Abd.Razak Ihi
Ahat bin Baha
Abg Sallehhuddin
Abg Badwie Ibrahim
Gupang bin Yet

Damien Dilang ak Jantan
Emang Oyo
Elisabeth Daisy Dom
Gasah Ringkai

Hanapi Anyut
'Hj Mohd Bedrie
Hashim W Shurkran
Ibrahim Hj Mohd Sheriff Sahbab
Jungan ak Antas

Jumaat bin Adam'
John Wan Usong
Kron Mide ak Aken
Kijam ak Datu
Liman ak Sujang

Lee Lei Yung
Lim Khian Cheng
Mohd Nerodin Majais
Migel ak Gumbek
Mengga Mikui

Robert Ranau
Ting Sai Ming (Datin Fatimah Abdullah)
Wan Othman Wan Hamid
Zaman bin Hamdan
Morshidi bin Sirat

Jalil Jack

(According to the records , Jalil Jack 's admission number was 2025 - and he was admitted by Mr. Uning on 12.7.73. Interestingly, Jalil was the only student ever accepted by TLC from Rejang English Secondary School, Sibu)

1966 - Waiting for the Cambridge Examination Results

Three significant incidents happened to me in 1966.

Upon finishing Form Five and the Cambridge examination I went home very happy that I was recommended to attend Sixth Form in the new year. That was an extremely great achievement for me as I had been inspired by all my TLS teachers to do well academically, especially Mr. Nicholl whom I admired a great deal.

So I took the good news home to my long house in Limbang. After a two day journey by land I reached home to let my father know that I was going to study for two more years.

Now unknown to me then, he had already arranged a marriage for me, to a girl who had failed her primary six. My father thought that now that I had finished Form Five, and as the most well educated person, I was to have a marriage as was expected from the long house relatives.

I was really shocked to learn that and I almost threw a fit. I had my dreams and I was not going to be persuaded into an arranged marriage and especially to my own cousin! And on top of that my father had not in the least discussed the matter with me. Marriage was not a joke.

So I did the dirty deed and cancelled the engagement. A few people were amused but my father was very disturbed. My escape plan was very simple. And all I had to do was to tell him that I had to go back to my school in Miri to collect my pillow and my tikar (mat). An Iban would never leave his pillow and mat any where because it would mean that he had left his spirit behind.

Thus I got my father to let me go off again. And that was how I came back to Tanjong Lobang school and I never went back home for the entire two years of my Sixth Form! I believe very few of my school mates knew how much mental torture I was was having at that time.

But later I was terribly glad and also overwhelmly relieved that my ex-fiancee and my cousin married a Chinese and is now a happy grandmother. I had wished her well in life and indeed she has been well blessed. I did not break her heart or cause any bitterness on her part. We still have a good laugh today over what happened so many years ago.

Another situation which caused great distress to me was how many of my great friends in school had to leave TLS after getting poor examination results in March 1966.

In the 1960's all good students would be recommended to join Form Six classes by the Principal and the senior teachers. However as the Sixth Form would start in early January, the students would be jittery because they did not have their Form Five or Cambridge results yet. The Cambridge exam results would only be known sometime in March at the earliest.

Therefore for three months many students would only be half hearted in their studies. We were all highly anxious about our results and oftentimes we could not sleep. However we did have a fun time too, making new friends with those coming to Tanjong just for the Sixth Form and getting to know our learned teachers, many of whom were fresh graduates from overseas.

So when the results came out, some who failed actually screamed and cried for the whole day. It was very heart breaking and I thought that it was extremely unfair for them to leave Sixth Form just like that. After that having received the results, they had to pack up and leave the hostel to find a job or get married eventually. Those of us who stayed on considered ourselves lucky to be properly reinstated in Sixth Form and journeyed on for another two years of hard work and good education.

While in Lower Sixth, I still remembered what my father asked me to do. That was to find a job as an SAO or Sarawak Administrative Officer.

To the Ibans to get a job as an SAO then was like becoming the local king or ruler. Whenever an SAO visited a longhouse, chickens or even a pig would be slaughtered in honour of his visit. That was the accolade an Iban would enjoy. So my father, being a very simple man, had wanted me to become an SAO. Thus as I did not forget his wishes, I told Mr. Nicholl about this and I wanted to apply for a post in the government service.

Mr. Nicholl was very sporting and supporting so he made arrangements for me to be interviewed for the job in Kuching.

The account of this interview will be in a future posting.

In a way, all these remarkable incidents in 1966,even though they happened so long ago, today ,often bring a smile to my face.

Monday, August 13, 2007

The Legend of Henry Lian

Have you ever thought out loud what it would be to be Henry Lian when you were a school boy?

I checked out with a number of boys in the school when I was still in school and most of them said that, (if they have known Henry Lian at school), they would have loved to be him...what a legend! What a lucky guy!

Perhaps what I am going to write might not be the real truth. But it was the legend of Henry Lian of TLS.

Henry came to TLS like most of us. Poor back ground, specially selected because he was bright, and a native boy of the Fourth Division. And the Education officers who chose him could not be wrong at all. He was indeed a good choice as we all know until now.

In school as far as I know, he was good in the field of sports, good to teachers, and excellent in work parties. He was excellent with the girls too, being such a handsome, Greek God like young man!! His success as a student in both academics and extra-curricular was crowned by his appointment as Head Prefect in 1961-62. He was given a place in Lower sixth, which was a mark of academic achievement at that time. But the lucky Henry was given a scholarship to study in the United States. So he missed out Form Six in Tanjong Lobang. And as records stand today, they tell us of his impact in the school.

His public relations has always been very good as he is soft spoken and he can move people to do things in a quiet way. Perhaps it is this particular trait that made him such a success in school and at work later, as Human Resource Manager of Shell, Miri.

Perhaps also, his basic Christian values helped him along to give that trustworthy feeling whenever one was around him.

He was also very brotherly and would always have a lot of good things to say about others.

Later, in life, I met him again and I found that he has a wonderful memory of things in the past,especially of TLS which he loves as much as any one.

I first met him again when I had had just come back from London and I was with Philip. I must have changed a lot since my young, thin scrawny days at TLS. He asked, "Are you that Sawan Jiram?" He was already quite a big guy in Shell then. Philip Assan was a young officer with Lands and Survey Miri and knowing Philip , he was then travelling a lot to make that extra for his growing family. I was too in some desperate need looking for something better in life like a good firm which could take in an indigenous legal assistant, and I too had a wife and a child to look after.

Henry has done well. He had completed his Form Five, won an Asian Foundation Scholarship to the US and came back to jobs which were placed on his lap literally. He has done well for himself and for his people. He has helped so many to achieve in their lives some kind of success in Shell and elsewhere.

But one amusing tale about him was the legendary romance that he had in school. A certain lady teacher fell in love with him and the whole boys' hostel took the gossip like fans of a rock star!! I heard that she was not the only one. When he was in the United States, he had a huge fan club of young ladies and perhaps many would have followed him to Sarawak if only he had asked for their hand in marriage.

That was quite something but I would not write too much about it.

For whenever we TLS think of Henry Lian,four things would stand out : he was so good looking that a young teacher fell head over heels in love with him, he was a good student, and a kind brother in school and he was one of the earliest native boys to win a scholarship to study in the US!

(Note" Henry, hope that this is not offensive to you!!hehehehe)

Mr.Robert Nicholl and Three Fives

Mr. Robert Nicholl is the most unforgetable man I have ever met.

He was my teacher, my Principal, my mentor and my friend.

One incident would always come to my mind whenever my TLS friends and I get together.

I remember Mr.Nicholl fondly as I enjoyed most of all, a great school and a great system. How did he lead a school which had no discipline problem. today this kind of school might not exist anymore, especially if we pay attention to what is written in the papers, tabloids and weeklies,or what we hear from the grapevine.

We had a school rules and we had lots of students. And we were from all walks of life,all kinds of backgrounds, and all kinds of racial groups. We were really a great kettle of different fishes and yet Mr. Nicholl had all of us in the best of behaviour.

I will tell you how he gained the respect of heavy smokers in our school and how teachers would never find a cigarette butt in the dormitories or toilets.

Mr. Nicholl announced in the school assembly that no one should smoke in the school but all the gentlemen could smoke like chimneys if they wanted, outside school.

So one day, he must have felt that he needed to teach Benjamin Angki and Gramong Juna a lesson for these two were heavy smokers.

He invited them to have a good dinner in Gymkyhna Club (GCM), then the province of white colonials and Shell White staff only. It must have been an excellent dinner,knowing the generosity of Mr.Nicholl, with Angki and Gramong all dressed up properly in their well starched shirts and navy blue trousers.

"What about a beer after dinner, Angki and Gramong? Mr. Nicholl asked the two.

"Sure, sir, that would be nice," Angki answered in his best English.

"Sure, definitely, I would like a beer. Thank you,sir," Gramong answered demurely.

So they had beer and it was quite merrry really. The after dinner small talk was quite good Angki remembered.

"Now, Angki and Gramong, how about some cigarettes?" Mr. Nicholl carefully asked the two.

Angki and GRamong almost froze with their beer in mid air. They were trapped!

"No, sir, we don't smoke!" Angki answered a little too quickly.

"For goodness sakes, Angki! I know you smoke! What's the brand that you like? Three Fives?"

Angki gave Gramong a weak smile and Gramong was not too sure what he should say. They were lost for words.

"Okay, then, barkeeper, give my two friends here a packet each of Three Fives." Mr. Nicholl ordered the barman, who soon produced two packets of Three Fives.

Very carefully the two fingered their packets of cigarettes and they looked down on the floor, crossing their legs and uncrossing their legs again. The atmosphere was electrifying.

Slowly, Mr.Nicholl tried to put them at ease.

"Smoke, as much as you want,boys. Because when you reach the school, you can't smoke any more. Remember that." Mr. Nicholl must have ended that with a chuckle.

I will always remember how Mr. Nicholl would chuckle in amusement whenever we were caught for being naughty. But he really did have a great sense of humour and a heart of gold.

Angki and GRamong told us that their embarrassment knew no end. From that time onwards, out of respect and love for Mr. Nicholl the two never smoked in the school premises anymore.

There would be lots of other anecdotes...and I can only love and respect Mr.Nicholl more. I am sure all ex tanjongers would echo that.

Yes, I can still hear that chuckle.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

New Name

There has been lots of mysteries about the change of name of our beloved TLS.

And now that I have landed on a very official piece of writing by Leonard Martin Uning, I am happy to share some statements lifted from it. So it is very, very official. Perhaps only a few would have legal documents (or no documents) to prove otherwise. In our developing world, names change for two cents or less. Whether that is good or not,our future history will tell.

Our beloved college is situated/sited on a delightful 50 acre (proof of size,land title?) parkland on the headland overlooking the south China Sea at Tanjong Lobang, about 4 miles outside Miri, in Sarawak's Fourth Division. It started as the first Government Secondary School in Sarawak in 1957 and has grown to become one of the most distinguished. Rebuilding and reconstruction of this premier college began only in 2007 as part of Malaysia's Ninth Development Plan, almost 50 years later. In the last 50 years, its wooden sheds, its small homes for teachers, and bicycle sheds, windblown hostels housed and educated almost all the most senior government leaders,educationists,doctors,lawyers of Sarawak. Foremost,perhaps being Tan Sri Alfred Jabu and Tan Sri Leo Moggie and not to miss out all the other SAOs,DOs,and teachers who have been missed out in the brilliant limelights of the Sarawak scene.

The seed idea of having a government school to educate poor rural boys and girls actually was sown in Miri according to historians like Leonard Martin Uning. Four names stood out in the founding of this school. Mr. MG Dickson, then the Director of Education of Sarawak, Mr. Robert Nicoll, then the Divisional Education Officer, Fourth and Fifth Divisions,Rev
Fr Rawlins who was the first Principal and Captain DR Gribble of Sarawak Oilfields Limited for helping out with the many physical obstacles in the first year of the school's existence.

According to the records, Mr. Robert Nicholl was the man responsible for getting the huge tract of land for the school. As a learned man, he had the vision of having a wonderful college for great minds overlooking the sea. A cliff top school was always the ideal of an educationist with a western philosophy as a background. Grants were made available from the Colonial Development and Welfare Funds.

The first intake of the school included a Primary Five class of native boys selected from the ulu areas of fourth and Fifth Divisions, a Transition Class of Chinese pupils who had completed their Chinese Primary Six, a Form Four class and a class of student teachers.

It took two years for Tanjong Lobang School to shape up with active bull dozers in place, and grounds flattened to make way for the present football and hockey fields and lots of labourers under the hot sun putting up the main buildings. So by 1959, students, staff both academic and non academic moved into the premises. To many it was "heaven on earth". And today if you happen to meet any of the original students of TLS, it is indeed very true. You can never find such a school again they would say,where teachers were angels and the Principal, a god.

The new buildings were declared opened by Mr. RL Hutchens, the New Zealand High Commissioner on Sept 24 1959. This honour was given to him because of the generous assistance given by the New zealand government under the Colombo Plan in staffing and constructing the school from the beginning. Those of us who were there recognised the pomp and significance of the occasion. But very few realised that it would be one of the last few occasions to be graced by colonial officials.

By 1967, the school had become a senior secondary school, admitting students only for Form Iv and above. Sixth Form classes had been started in 1963, and sixth formers had begun to outnumber Fourth and Fifth Formers by 1968, the year I completed my Upper Sixth and started teaching as a temporary teacher.

The Government then decided that the school was to become entirely a Sixth Formj Institution. So in May 6th 1969, " Tanjong Lobang School was renamed as Tanjong Lobang College by the Honorable Chief Minister, Dato Penghulu Tawi ." (Uning)

"Then a singular honour attended Tanjong Lobang College. In January 1971, His Excellency the Governor, Tun Datu Tuanku Haji Bujang, graciously gave his name to the college. The famous Tanjong Lobang College thus became the prestigious Kolej Tun Datu Tuanku Haji Bujang," Uning wrote in his Handbook of Information 1973 of Kolej Tun Datu Tuanku Hj Bujang,Miri. The Handbook of Information was distributed to every student who was enrolled in the school that year with Mr. Uning as the Prinicpal.

This handbook consisted of 73 pages of very good information and may still be found in many school libraries in Sarawak. Today many colleges would give out this kind of booklet as a marketing tool when they go on educational roadshows to attract students.

In retrospect,I spent my greatest nine years of my life in the school, loving it and living every moment to the fullest. When I left in 1968 I knew I had to make it in life by all means. Life had been hard, and the hardest challenges were ahead of me. The friends I made have been life long. There are places I remember,
Some have gone,
some forever,
but I love them all. (Refer to Beatles' song.......)

I am wondering how it could be done, to change the name back again to TLS. How much would it take? Would it be all that worthwhile. Or would it be just...memories are just our second chance to happiness.......

My fellow ex-tanjongers out there....cheers and love always.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

pop culture in TLS

In my very first week in TLS I was introduced to pop personalities like Elvis Presley, Ricky Nelson, Paul Anka, Frankie Avalon and Fabian. Everyone sang songs like Don't Leave Me Now, My Hometown which was Paul Anka's hit song of the time, Ricky Nelson's Lonesome Cowboy, and Frankie Avalon's Venus. These were the pop idols of the day. Due to my ignorance, as an ulu boy,I did not know that they were Americans.

Every one tried their best to copy their hairstyles and never failed to keep a comb visibly jutting out of their trousers' back pocket. The beehive shaped hairdo jutting out of our forehead and a prominent side burn were the order of the day. I remember one boy went to the extremes trying to be Elvis Presley, that he shaved the hair off the sides of his temple and kept only curls in the front. He looked hilarious.

As for pop fashion of the day, we left our collars standing as high as possible to give that trendy look. When one wore short sleeved shirts, one would roll them up almost to the shoulder to have the Ricky Nelson muscular look. As for trousers, our pop idol introduced to us for the first time, Levi and other other branded jeans which I know now to be all American brands. The legs were tight, or drain pipe, and this trend lasted until 1962. It was considered almost uncultured and against the conservative norm of the time. But like James Dean, we were then rebels without a cause, in a sense.

But despite all these exterior expression of our need to conform with the pop culture. I do not believe that TLS had ever experienced any problems of indiscipline associated with it.

As I have stated in one of my earlier postings, this pop culture introduced me to English pop songs and guitar music. This in turn introduced a lot of us to British music and pop stars such as Cliff Richard and the Shadows. Sometime in mid 1962, we were introduced to the Beatles who had taken Britain by storm.

The Beatles changed everything in TLS. The mop top hairstyle of the Beatles demolished the beehive of the Americans. the Beatles also taught us that being muscular like James Dean and Elvis Presley, was not the only thing in life.

The comb disappeared from the back pocket of the boys' trousers because we only needed our fingers to create a mop top style. By this time the school administration was a bit concerned about the length of our hair. Suddenly the order of the day was being a little bit untidy on the top. I thought at that time,the mop top hairstyle was fairly girlish. But it did not stop me from having one. We had to comb our hair to the front to have that look.

during the same period,the Blue Hawaii of Elvis Presley and Summer Holiday of Cliff Richard became the craze of the day. So it was not uncommon to see boys coming to the Refrectory in the evening wearing Cliff Richard's Summer Holiday see through or transparent t-shirt which allowed someone to see through all that you had, or lack of it. Elvis Presley's Blue Hawaii brought back the rolled up sleeves fashion to the student population. I remember my friend Thomas sia having the best rolled up sleeves, showing his great muscles to the envy of the whole student population.

However, do not mistake the exterior look of his for in spite his bulky frame,Thomas was a gentle giant like the Hulk.

sometime in 1963, the navy cut trousers which was the forerunner of the flared trousers or the bell bottoms, came into our lives.

We looked neat and everyone saved to buy or tailor made for himself white flared trousers. We must have given lots of business to Nam Kong Tailor,which was situated opposite the then Cathay Theatre. It was owned by my classmate's father, who usually gave us a good discount.
Because of the flared trousers the school seemed cleaner as the trousers were obviously sweeping the floor.

then came the a-go-go music craze ,which unlike the music of Elvis and the others,did not have much following. But the music brought with it the a-go-go belt which was extremely popular with the boys.

The belt prominently graced the unpleated tight trousers with flared bottoms. For the boys,the tight trousers could not conceal the bulge in front so it was considered bad taste by the teachers.

I vividly remember Mr. Sargunam who was then acting Principal of TLS publicly denounced the fashion during one of the morning assemblies and said that the a-go-go belt must go!

I can't say that he was very popular for having said so. But the belt did go almost overnight. This indicated for us that we never lost sight of discipline of which TLS always upheld.

For the girls the mini skirt and beehive hairdo stayed for a long time. Freda Kedung was the perfect model for that fashion which became popular during the era of the Twist. I suppose the girls of those days may like to offer their comments: to wear or not to wear......

Monday, June 18, 2007

A Short History of TLS

In 1957, the Colombo Plan initiated the Tanjong Lobang School with the sole objective of helping rural, poor students of all races to become students at a boarding school. It started with the collection of Primary Five to Form Five students.

The school was thus created and was officially opened by the High Commisioner of New Zealand, Mr. R.L Hutches and the Director of Education, Sarawak.

The school was temporarily sited at a building belong to SHELL, behind the Old Mosque (which is opposite Mega Hotel Miri today). In 1959 the school moved to its present site at Lot 187 Jalan Bunga Tanjong 2, Tanjong Lobang, 98009, Miri.

The Principals of the School from 1957 to 1969 were:

1. Rev. Fr. D.R. Rawlins - 1957-April 1958
2. Mr. A. L. Whiteman - May - Dec 1958
3. Mr. E.C Hicks - Jan - Jun 1959
4. Mr. W.L.S.Britton - Jun 1959 - Jun 1961
5. Mr. G.G.Dearnley - Jun 1961 - Dec 1961
6. Mr. A.D. Ruthe - Feb 1962 - Dec 1963
7. Mr. H.A. Henderson - Jan 1964 - Dec 1965
8. Mr. Robert Nicholl - Jan 1966 - Aug 1969

Thus Tanjong Lobang became the first Government Secondary School in the history of Miri.
Its name was changed to Kolej Tun Datuk Tuanku Haji Bujang in 1972. However, because the school has such a long history, the local people.especially the older people, will always call it Tanjong Lobang School.

When it was announced that the name of the school was to be changed to Kolej Tun Datuk Tuanku Haji Bujang, after the then Governor, some of the students held a rally, with one student standing on a roof in fact.The Education Department called it an Emergency and the school was shut down for a day. It was deemed an unnecessary episode or occurence by the authorities and the then Principal, Mr. William Hsu, was transferred out. No student was hurt or treated as criminal though. Teachers kept mum about the whole incident. To this day, the leader of the student rally was never identified. But the new name of the school remained unchanged.

As I have gathered recently from many people, the name of the school should never have been changed,with due respect to our then Governor. Our school established in 1959, named Tanjong Lobang School, Miri, Sarawak, and sitting on a 50 acre promontary, could have been alongside the famous Victoria Institute and the various Anglo Chinese Schools of West Malaysia, with the best of possible grounds in Malaysia. The alumni of Methodist Secondary School for example would not allow a change of the school's name to Sekolah Tinggi Datuk Wong Soon Koh, for example. And finally I do not think it acceptable to change the name of Oxford University to Blair University in Britain. I am just trying to think along some political possibilities.....and legal implications.

And with all the possible endowments that the State can grant, there can surely be a great Kolej Tun Datuk Tuanku Haji Bujang some where in Sibu as he hailed from Sibu. And that could be a huge and successful college sitting perhaps on a one hundred acre of land, with the best of architecture and engineering structure, the best of teachers Sibu can produce,etc,etc...That would make not only Sibu proud, but Sarawak proud.

1972 Name list - Part Two

Wong Chu Ho
Wong Hai Hie
Wong Ing Ming
Wong Sia Ing
Wong Sin Keuh
Yeo Bee Chai
Yip Fook Hin
Abg Nawawi Abg Hj Dahlan
Abdu RahmanBollhasan
Appy Yip Fei Yin
Chong Say Moi
Goh Boon Khen
Kong Siew Ting
Koh Ung Leong
Lau Yiew Hieng
Lee Ping Kiong
Lee Tung Yong
Lucy Tang Mung Huing
Mah Poh San
Mahammad Aimn binMohamad YassinKhan
Mohd Eden b. Mohd Ali
Ng Nyong Kin
Patrick Tang Lay Ming
Pau Chiong Sing
Paul Hii Ek Kiaw
Robert Goh Siaw Kee
Roslee binLOumpoh
Sjali bin Hj Kip
Sebatian Tong Hong Yew
Teo Sia Chuan
Thomas Wong Kee Ung
Wajidi bin Kerni
Wong Bek Kiong
Wong Sung Ging
Abd. Razak hi Uni
Addie anak Tungging
Anthony Welton Leong (Limbang)
Agnes Ting Hieh Huong
Chong Yean Onn
Chuan ak Gambang
Franci9s Kumbun Lugie
Frlorence Kong Lieng Sien
George Radin
Josephine Loh Leh Hie
Lamberth Lamat Nyanggan
Law Sian Ien
Lily Lau Chiong Chiong
Longgo bin Mohammad
Mary Loi Kiew Mee (Medamit, Limbang)
Marali bin Akup
Mohammad Rafa'ee
Mohad Zailon Ramli
Ngy Kwong Siing
Patrick Tnay Yang Teng
Peter Yong Chung Sing
Tan Mee Lan
Theresa Wong Mi Niong
Wong Chai Kee
Yii Ai Hung
Charles Yong Man Wai
Zaini bin Le'
Abd Gapar bin Rmalee
Alverez Ullack Bajie
Ashari bin Hj Kabit
Awang Bujang
Farimah bt Hassan
Hillary Simon Salleh
Hoody Dudun Nanggai
Len/Talif bin Salleh
Mathew Juan
Marie Yong Pick Hua
Moded Nyadod
Moli bin Tupong
Ngatimin bin Timon
Ose Murang
Penguang ak Manggil
Rabiee bin Morni
Raymond Ramba Dumol
Robin Jalla
Saadi binSemaon
Sharifar Noraini Wan Hassan
Sidie ak Steven
Wan Zainal Abidin Wan Senusi
Bernadine Penny Nyigor


Friday, June 15, 2007

Movies TLS style - Peh Her Sing and Fire from the Projector

I believe all of us at Tanjong Lobang School enjoyed our days watching movies as much as people of any age, any period and any place.

The school had its own hall for movies screened from an old style projector. A very memorable movie I saw was Great Expectations. And indeed that movie also impacted many of the other students fanning their desires to do well in future. Besides the actors influenced us school boys so much so that we talked and walked like them. In the same way, each time we boys went to a western movie, we would come out of the Miri Theatre walking and talking like John Wayne, imagining that we had a great gun at our belt, and shooting down imaginary bad guys. Movies were great and they were important in our lives!

When the Information Department brought a movie to be shown in our school, we would look forward to it. These information documentaries were great black and white films which made us very patriotic. No one paid more attention from the beginning to the end than the young ones in the primary classes in 1959,1960 and 1961. We from the Ulu had never seen anything like moving pictures before. We learned about malaria eradication, importance of the Information Service,etc.

Many good movies besides the Information Service films, were shown in our school hall for the whole of my education in the school. That is ,1959 to 1967.

One incident was spectacular.

Our most loyal projectionist was Peh Her Sing from Lawas and he had an assistant, my dear friend, Abu Bakar Matasan.

Every one would be there, students, teachers, families of the cooks, matron, Pak Cik Hamdan, the gardeners and even the Principal. The coming together of all these was in fact a great social event in the school. Senior students who were having blossoming romances would be quite obvious at such times.

One evening we noticed with great happiness that two of our teachers were showing more than friendly interests in each other. They came for one such school movie and students of course were giving them sideway glances. It was fun seeing people falling in love.

The projector was switched on, the movie rolled and the mood of the hall was estactic! The movie was good, and as usual the kids were clapping when the parts becaming exciting.

Then suddenly, there was a shout,"Fire!"

The whole audience was in an uproar. Benches were kicked, kids started crying, and mothers were screaming.

I was pushed into a bush being one of the lighter built students. A few others were also falling around me by the small drain.

When the commotion died down, we were given the understanding that there was indeed smoke coming out of the projector. And Abu was the one who shouted "Fire!", perhaps a little too fast.

And then, we learned to our dismay that our teacher had left our lovely young lady teacher behind in the stampede. He must have taken off too quickly, leaving "Miss" a little distance behind or he might have lost his grip on her when others pushed him forward.

What followed was a cooling off period and we were very sad about it. To this day, we would never know what really happened.

Perhaps some of my fellow students would have other sides of the story.

But as a projectionist, Peh Her Sing was indispensable. How we loved him.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

1971 Name list last few names and 1972 Part 1/2

Last part of 1971 name list:

Kiew Kiew thing
Kueh Yong Seng
Nafrial Rashid
Swin bin Jemaah/Aidan Wing
Moses Sia King Yong
Kong Teow Ming

1972 Name list:

Andria Zanaria Peter
Ang Ee Kheng/Nee Lee
Angela Timbong Simpang
Anne Hii Chin Hung
Bina Bhattacharyya
Chiew Leh Choon
Chung Chiong Ping
Davidtan Embuyang
Elisabeth Wong Kung Chiong
Goh Siew Hoon

Hii Lik Hun
Idris Trang/Andrigas Trang
Ira Bhattacharyya
Jasnah bt Abeng
Kullan Nuing
Liew Chin Phin
Lily Albert Bialey
Lim Thien Hock
Michael Labo Buyeh
Mohammad Daud Ismail (Limbang)

Monica Rancis Tanko
Pauline Maimon bt Mal
Robert Menua Gadang
Sahari bin Riffin
Shirley Leong Wai Ngo
Sim Su Lin
Siti Khatijah Razali
Su Sek Hua
Watson Tingko Entol
Werlyn Baja Jap

Winston Buma
Yong Oi Lin
Abg Othman Abg Fata
Abdul Razak Tready
Ahmad Ayub
Ahman Lamat
Aini Bt. Yahya
Andrew Mat Ressa
Borhan/Borhanuddin Bujang
Charles Labang Lawai

Fatimah Tahir (Limbang)
Fatimah Kepol
Geoffrey Race Ahing
Hasmi Hasnan
Japar binHj Mostapa
Jawah bt Abdullah Gad
Jaraiee bin Sawal
Joing ak Mideh
Julaihi bin Kadir
Lian Huat b. Paleng

Menji bin Kassim
Mohd Said bin Gapor
Morni bin Hj Mat
Musa bin Jamalludin
Noraini bt Hussein
Ramlee binSpawi
Rosnani bt Yunus
Sahdi binKen
Sharmsherbie Narudin
Sirat Melikin

Sutin bt Sahmat
Wan AbdullahWan Said
Zahiruddin Khan Aghar Khan
Zaidi bin Lipu
Zaidul binJahar
Zanuddin b Monseri
Abd. Rahman b. Gapor
Bernard Lee Meng Hock
Charles Tiong Yong Lieh
Chien Peng Ung

Chen Wing Yin
Chiam Taw Huat
Chua Yuen Fatt
David Wong Hong Weng
Goh Long Say
Ho Thian Seng
HuongTuong Ing
Jong Kok Ching
Kong Jee Chong
Kueh Chin Hock

Lee Kim Lee
Lee Ting Choon
Lim Tin Peng
Loh Swee King
Ong Yong Zin
Peter Wong
Quek Chiew Siam
Rose Lau Ping Ping
Sim Kah Choon
Simon Tiong King Muang (Ulu Limbang)

Tan Ching Jap
Tang Suoh Yiing
Vincent Kong Wai Tin
Wong Chang Swee

1971 Name list

Albert Masli
Alice Liew Pze Nog
Alastair Aing
Ambrose Kulek Mumong
Andrew Libong Selutan
Asnah Ahmad
Bahrain Bintuah
Barutha Umppong
Cecilia wong Sie Ngiik
Christina Sio Pek Yong(present Head Teacher of St.Joseph Primary School Miri)
Connie Jenang
Evelyn Joyce Yong
Frederick Liso Senap
Helen Anja Udek
Henry Jerntai Lidom
Idal Gedong
Irene Chu Oil Len
James Ape Dapol
Jospehin Rendam Mawat
George Adom Tlaek
Lamchap Gime
Marina Tan Lee Lee
Mary Poh Kin Choo
Ngu Mee Ling
Roland Satu
Sanib Said
sulie Gantie
Tony Chandor Ridie
William shim
Wong Ing Ming
Abg Sandi Abg Spawi
Ali TGreadyAnthony Quinn
Awang Jemat
Bernard Entily
Charles Tenggoi
Chew Kyuin Yin
Doris Edwina Fung
Francis Jorna Lian
Ibau Lah
Isamil Bin Lazim
Jacob Piran Lian
James Gau
Jefferson Isek Kandan
Josphine Jospeh Balom
John Yong King Hee
Laping Jawa
Lay Kim Pan
Liew Fah Sin
Loi Mee King' Lucy Arom
Lucy Lao Puang Siong
Mohammad Sarkawi
Nancy Yapp Kin Choo
Nasihim bin Said
Raymond Miting
Shebli Seman
Richard Iboh
Robert Saging
Rosmie Sulong
Sandra Urang Raja
sigar Tidom
Sim Ai Geok
Susan Fung
Wong Hie Eng
Sahra Bujang
Abdullah Opong
Chai Kwee fong
Chang Tze Hin
Chen Fam Sian
Chiong Khoon Swee
Chua Teck Beng
Josephine Nguk Chin
Kiew Chen Tchiong
Kho Siak Chuing
Kho Siaw Boon
Kueh Lip Kwong
Lai Ngee Kiok
Lin Yit Lin, Tommy
Mary Agnes Chiam
Moh Weng Hee
Poh Kin Nguan
Pui Kim Teck
Rommie Jee Kuet Hua
Saun Ak Kakok
Shi Kim Teck
Sim Boon Lian
Sim Kwang Yaw (Address 97 Sabu Road, Simanggang)
Sim Tang Kwong
Sulaiman Eddy
Tay Yaw Loi
Wong Sing Ching
Yew King Yong
Yong Kiong Chung
Voon Stzu Heng
Baru Langub
Bujang Hussain
Bernard Phoa
choo Miaw Kim
Chuia Siew Khim
Chong Siew Liap
Dilol Nojea
Hee Chin Tze]
Ho Geok Jik
Huong Tiong Poh
Jacqueline Leong
James Chella
Jumaid Diki
Kuek Tze Kong
Lai Lian Joon
Ngui Siew Kong
Pauline Yong Sui Hee
Peli Mat
Robinson Simunyi
Judson Sakai Tagal
Sim Chay Ngee
Teo Shiok Ngo
Voon Yam Seng
Wong Swee Ho
Yao Nam

Alexander Unya Ambun
Ali Moktar Shamat
Billy Rmaping
Choo ai Hung
Diana Chai Fen Len
Hossin Fauzi
Jessie Lee Li Tiong
Mari Duncan
Martin Barnabas Tutong
Noh Saabi
Pau ak Ritom
Peterus Bulan
Peing Nge Ling
Roshni Xystatia Wanigaranam
Rosland bin Dadu
Samuel Kiyin
Sim Chiong Khi
Suhaili bin Lee
Salaiman Abang
Teo Siak Chuan
Tiki Lafe
Usah Ujoh
William Duncan Lingkui
Yee Khai Phorng
Wong Dee Ha
Chan Ming Lin
Normah Besar
Aminah Bankol
Alladin Kassim
Julaihi Bujang
Philip Tiong soon King
Awg Ibarhim Awang Sulaiman
Kassi Majidi
Awang Mekthar Awg Yahya
Tan Chin Min
Dyg Mordiah Abg Narudin
Chai Long Sen
Kho Lian Kwong
James Lam Sia Keng
John Michael Puk
Tiong King Kiong
John Gotte
Paul Loh shin
Tan Lee Hoon
Abg Latif Abg Embong
Marily Joyce Muda
Zita Pamela Vatsaloo

---------------------------------------1971 to be continued..........................................

Friday, June 8, 2007

1969 3/3

Julaihee Salleh
Kho Lee Chiang
Lee Chui May
Lim Oi Choo
Maria Wong Hak Hee
Marcos China ak Juing
Morris Unongak Legam
Patrician Voon Oi Lian
George Robin Bawin
Sigan Ibun
Ton Gake Hua

Terence Temenggong Jayang
Vasco Sabatak Singkang
Yong Chung Phing
Zakiah Omar
Laing Ngau
King Chui Huat
Wong Hin Hwa
Yap Tiong sun
David Fam Min Kui
Lim Ai Luan

George Guan
Joseke Toging Ruth
Jeluing Kebing Emgang
Lee Sin Nam
Lim Swee Hong
Chew Chi Yong
Abang Abdul hamid
Mohd. Kassim Kinchu
Marjian Suud
Elwi binPli

Jennifer Minah Nanang
Abdul Rahman bin Deen
Joseph Gindie Willie
Abg Suhaili Abg Hj Abdul Majid
Ding Ibau
Rama Kumari Anand
Upinder Kumar Anand

1969 name list part 2/3

Yong Sze Kui
Zubaidah Hj Addar Rahim
Cho Kwong Ming
Goh Hua Theng
Albert Kong Jiu Fatt
Ang Thian Chin
Annette Yip Chui Jin (Bintulu now)
Chan Chong Hock
Chong Siaw Wan
Choo Nyit Chong

Chua Wan Chong
Clement Lim
Jean Brodie
King Chiu Tiong
Kon Chian Fatt
Lim Ka Ming
Maurice Fielis
Ngen Meng Kiang
Robin Fago
Siew Woo Kee
Stephen MacMon

Tay Choon Chiaw
Then Joon Hua
Ting Chio King
Vincent Lau King Kong
Wee Hui Ming
Ajaib Suut
Anthonius Lapan (Limbang)
Ayor Beluban
Barbara Johnson
Basah Kesing

Bohan Raswit
Bonnie Voon
Cheong Shyut Moi
Christopher Sanggau Bajiong
Davy Nyelambau
Evelyn Tebari Along
Fatimah Hj Uni
Helen Jane Kiai
Jenny Fung Lee Sar (Kanowit)
Johnny John Enggah

John Yapp Kui Khien

to be continued

1969 Name list and some comments

Abdullah Webb
Ali Yusuf
Anyie Ngau Laing
Anyi Ngau Ding
Augustine Constatine Baba
Awang Ranil
Albert Chiew Hoo Ching
Cosmas Sing Lian
Edison Joh Urud
Egai Laga

Gayan Sarie
Imang Anyi
Ittak Sigi (Rh.Penghulu Abok)
Jackson Gawing
Albert Jalong Kirew
Joseph Balan Lah
Laing Imang Ngau
Laing Ngu Unga (sorry cannot really make out the name)/Laing Jau (Long Pilah)
Latif Sapong (Limbang)
Liang Yew Chi
Macmillan Bau Nyawai

Matthew Nuga
Morris Kapong Senap (Limbang)
Omar Ali Khan
Saadan Haji Sibam
Sahari bin Hasbi
Talib bin Ranek
Tamin bin Sibam (Limbang)
Tan Kwong Leong
Tan Meng Lee
Tayun Raja

Wong Teck Ming
Griff Usah Ujoh
Chai Goh Men
Chai Joon Fah
Chai Min Sen
Chia Mong Lieng
Chiam Tow Jin
Cho Chung Tek
Chong Hoi Eng
Chieng Tung Ing

Dorani bin Johari
Drenny Poh Kee Geng
Fong Hee Doh alias Fong Chee How (Limbang)
Fong Siew Khing
Hii Mee Chung
Lai Lian Hong
Lee Khiun Chiew
Liew Chew Choi
Ling Huok Mee
Ling Kwok Huong

Lo Chin Meng
Moo Chuan Ching
Ngieng Nyuk Hung
Saet Gadug Wilfried
Tay Cho Jui
Tay Yang Phuan
Tie Yiu Liong
Ting See Lok
Voon Choon Khing
Wong Siong Kai

Basil Hii Sing Dee
Elbson Marajan anak Pengiran
Awangku Ali Omar Pengiran Maharan
Galwyn Kelon
Hilary Mukit Guroh
Irene Wong Kui Tee
Jeffery Fung
Johnny Ating Kading
Joseph Boong Choon Fah
Joseph Salangak Gandom

Lai Chaw Thin
Lee Tiong Seng
Liew Siat Kiaw
Lo Ngi Yit
Lucy Lau Ting Ting
Michael Sma Nam
Nicholas Ugul Kuman
Nuingak Jeliuing
Razzaliee Bajkar
Suan Yik Juian

Tan Jek Lai
Wong Hua Seh
Udie Salleh
Yee Teck Foo
Many of these students became friends of mine when they joined me at MU. And like rubber seeds popping out from their cases, we were scattered far and near and into different professions. But somehow, when we touch base, it is always our memories of TLS which jell us together and we forget the barriers that we acquire along life's long road.

More later. I don't play golf like some of my friends but I do enjoy washing dishes and cooking in my backyard on my weekends.

Occasionally when we have a good group we get together at New Tanjong Seafood Restaurant on a Friday evening.

Remember that place that used to have the first kind of nightclub just below the hill of Tanjong? The old wooden house still exists, but a new concrete block has been built to accomodate more dining and drinking customers. This block is fairly new and is built nearer to St.Joseph Secondary school. It is adjacent to the new Telecom Building.

Food is fairly good there and menus are changed to keep up with the discerning tastes of the customers who come from different corners of the world. However you still get very good traditional mun mee, Singapore fried Mee Hoon,and various stir fried pumpkin shoots,cangkok manis,and bean sprouts. Occasionally, on the quiet, you can still get some of the unmentionables. Of course, we don't order those....hahaha.

For good halal food, we recommend Cafe Rosita (Dynasty Hotel), the various shops along North Yu Seng Road and Taman Selera. All starred hotels serve halal food in Malaysia.

Missing names of 1968 list

Mahli bin Haji Suhaili
Moh Wang Sing
Nawawi bin Mahzen
Ngau ding Ngau
Sharifah Aisfih
Sidek Malim
Sim Hui Geok
Sirat Ismail
Tinggang Raja
Wen Ajeng Wen

Yu Teck Kiong
Zennurai Bin Ramlee (Original spelling)
Audrey Kedung Imat
Ding Cheng Ngen
Duncan Ranting Baba
Edward Unting
Goh Meng Chiang
Francius Alexius Atom
Goh Yong Tze
Hamzah bin Sulaiman

Helena Mary Goh Boi Tin
Henry Metthew Lajeng
Hii Toh Toun
Huong Eng Kian
Huong Siok Ling
Ian Unyang
Kook Teck suen
Lee Siew Kong
Leo Jok Hee

Liong Jiew Kiong
Maria Libut
Moh Mee Ping
Ngen Eng Cheng
Ngin Kwang Phek
Ong Gee Ching
Peter Hii Chee Huat
Ramlee B Shahdan
Salina Lallang Sakai (Mrs. Jeffery Pasang)
Sim Kit Choi

Ting Lieng Kiong
Tan Song Kian
Theresa Hii Yik Hwa
Ting Lick Tee
Richard Tsen Wei Tseng
Wong Teck Ho
Yong Sai Chee
Yong Pak Hiong
Yu Chui Chi
Peter Jok

Julian Perry
Chong Kui Sin
Ivanhoe Anthony Belone (of Rumah Sabang,Pantu, Ulu Lingga )
Jonathan Jetie ak Jelian
Ho Thian Fah, Philip
Leong Yoke Kin
Liew Nam Boon
Goh Khi Huang
Lai Peng Seng

Kueh Kee You
Charles Fam Chung Ting

Comments : We hope that some of the spellings can be corrected by those who know them. The list is from a rather faded photocopy from an original handwritten list.

Come to think of it, it is good to keep old school magazines because names and photos of students would be kept for the future generations to look at. I am still trying my best to locate some of our old school magazines, if there are some around. They are significant primary sources of modern history.

Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Mustapha Besar Childhood Days Revisited 1985 Part Two

Our house was not very far from the river bank but to get to the river which was the source of our drinking water, was not any easy mater.You must be able to balance yourself on coconut trunks placed strategically along the way. Carrying water to fill our jars in the house was my daily chore. On most occasion, I had to make several trips before the four jars were full as by the time I got to the house half of the buckets was empty.

Our nights used to be long then, as we could not afford the pressure lamp but only brass kerosne lamps placed at the various corners of the rooms - normally in the kitchen and eating pace and the bedroom.By 5:30 p.m. I would fill all the lamps with kerosene and then light them at about 6:30 p.m. Dinner would be quite early and so was bedtime.

Our house was a wooden house with attap roof. Whoever designed the house really knows his architecture because it was always cool during the day time even at the height of the afternoon. Every so often my father would renew the attap roof and my borther and I would help to lift the attap from theground to the rafters where he would be. I admired himfor his ability to move around so easily around the rafters.

I was fortunate in those days that the school I had to go to was just across the road. My other school maters were not so lucky as they had to walk for miles to get to school. They also had to spend some money during their break time for some cakes and other snacks. I could, however, to to shool just before the bell rang an during break time I would quickly rush bak to the ouse for the snacks which mother would have left in the kitchen.

Dato' Moashili School was a wooden building with wooden floor raised slightly about one foot above the ground. In all there were six classrooms partitioned by means of half walls. All our tables and chairs were fixed to the floor and they could accommodate three students or more per table depending upontheir sizes. There wee five of us on my table. The school bell was actually a piece of iron pipe hung on its end and struck with a piece of metal.

School became the focus of our life during theweekdays from seven in the mornign to one o'clock in the afternoon. After that we were left to our own devices unles of course there were extra- curricular activities in the afternoon.

I noted that in those days our games seemed to be seasonal. when thekite flying season was one we would be busy getting bamboo for the kite frame and olleting enough money to buy the coloured papers for the kite. There were many "kite fights" inthe sky and very often once some one's kite is taken down we would be after them invariably on to the padi fields behind the school, much to the displeasure of our parents as we would return with mud all over our clothing, an cuts all over our bodies. Actually it was easy to tellwhen the kite season was on as many children would be affliced by eye infection.

when the "gasing" season came, we would split into various groups and intense rivalries would develop. It was not uncommon for quarrels to begin as a result of broken"gasing" or accusation of cheatings,etc.

The river was another source of joy for us. Most of us learn to swim very early and after shool we would be found playing in the water or merely by the bank. One "pedada" tree by the bank used to gibve us the thrill of our life time. Many of us were Tarzans as we hung on to the many creepers growing up the tree, and swinging from the bank to the water. The loud cries never failed to upset our parents.

There ewas a motor launch which we looked forward to seeing if we were by the river. This was MV Rani, a diesel cargo cum passenger boat. Its arrival normally was greted by us with wild shouts and waving. We liked it especially if it was loaded with carogo for then the waves it created would be bigger.

Our group never went beyond the Kampung - and we never thought of it. There were exceptions though but even then only if encouraged by our parents. Usually this would be because we were genuinely working.

We helped to carry bricks fromthe "tonkong" to the site of the new shophouses which were being built to replace the old ones. We were paid one cent per brick for a distance of about 200 to 300 yards. To us little ones it was really hard work and needless to say we never went beyond the $1.00 mark per day.

We also worked at a coconut nursery at the Agriculture Station about a mile away. The work involved the weeding of coconut seedlings for which we were paid one cent per seedling. This was slightly easier although at the end of the day our hands would show its toll. Nobody ever heard of work gloves then!

During school holidays I also sold icicles (Ais Cucuk we called it) from Kampong to Kampong. I visited a lot of Kampongs that way. I used to lug around a thermos flask (which seemed bigger than I was) and which could store about 30 sticks of icicles. At five cents a piece, the return at the end of the day, if the whole thing was sold, would be $1.50 and my cut would be 60 cents. The towkay would take 90 cents , and if I could not sell more than I would get nothing.

Sadly, I was to miss all this when in 1957 I had to go to Miri to further my schooling. But to this day the childhood days are fresh in my memory.

I walked on but I swear I could hear the ringing sound of those old songs we used to sing when were were "lanuns" under the shade of the old rubber trees. It was so different then.

(From Sarawak Gazettee, April 1985)

Dear Brother I am releasing your story into cyberspace................................because I want you to be read and remembered for always....

Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Mustapha Besar Childhood Days Revisited 1985

in 1985, Mustapha was on the Editorial Board of Sarawak Gazette, the precinct of Colonial Officers before 1963. The Chief Editor was Dr. Yusoff Haji Hanifar, Adi was in charge of Personalities, and Mustapha , Public Enterprise.

In April 1985, we were fortunate enough to be able buy a copy of the Sarawak Gazette (Only available in Kuching) and read with a lot of nostalgia, his article, Childhood Days Revisited.

Here I am copying the whole story because I feel that his story must be shared here, if not in the book. If members agree, this would be a fine piece. David please copy and paste into the file of ex-tanjong.

I hope I am not contravening any law regarding copyright. I just want my friend to be featured. This is a gesture which I can make....he had had so many other accolades....and I would like you to have a share in knowing Limbang and part of Mustapha's childhood in the 50's.

Here goes from Page 37, April 1985, Sarawak Gazette

Childhood Days - Revisited by Mustapha Besar (Deputy Manager, Land Custody and Development Authority)

What prompted me to write this I am not sure. Perhaps it was of all the changes that have takenplace or the seemingly new face of the town, or was it the many people I met whom I failed to recognise. Perhaps it was merely nostalgia.I do not think that I would like to turn the clock back but I certainly have fond memories of that serene little town and that small kampung I grew up in.

Perhaps the trouble was I spent very little part of my growing up years inKampung Sialok (or Kampung Sekolah Melayu as it ws better known). As early as 9 years old I was already attending a boarding school (TLS) in Miri. But it didn't matter though for whatever time I had during those trouble free days everything seemed perfect for a young boy who had all the time to play his favourite games among his peers. Indeed there never was a shortage of peers then. There were Kifli,Tuah and ahmad next door,Amin a few houses away, Jamil and Bonsu and a few others acorss the road.

Our domain was that small enclave through which taversed a gravel road which wound its way under the sahde of the overhanging branches of the rubber trees. The trees never grew straight up but always at an incline over the road,a nd when they began to shed their fruits we would collect the shells and seeds scattered everywhere. This domainw as bordered by the padi field on the East and the river ont he West. Both the padi field and the river were constant meetingplaces of our group, whether at work or at play - more perhpas to plan than to work.

The road I am talking about is the Buangsiol road or rather that part of it that ran from the small wooden bridge over the Sungai Bangkita to the Sekolah Dato'Moashili. In today's term that would cover the area from the District Council Building all the way to the Central Malay School - a whole 200 yards or so. It seemed quite long then, and we never dare go beyond the demarcation lest we would incur the wrath of our parents or be subjected to the teasing remarks of other groups of the other Kampungs.

That day I was walking through the very same stretch of road. I was then on an official visit to the town and was heading towards the District Office after having disembarked from the express boat at the Immigration landing point. A few family faces greeted me while many others went on their way. I passed the District Council building and noticed many an aspiring drivers learning to do their "L" parking or parallel parking by the building. Many others were standing around and waiting for their turn at the wheel.

On my left was the Chinese Temple with the readial red walls and mural. Further down on my right was the mosque, a pride of the Muslim community when it was first built but which has since been outgrownby the population. I walked further and before me were a few three storey buildings which served either as commercial, light industrial or residential tenements. Across the road from them and besides he mosque were new blocks of primary school building (the Central Malay School). Just across the road from this primary school used to stand a wooden house with attap roof, a house where I was born and raised.

I stopped a while and looked towards the same direction. I wondered what happened to all the rubber trees and the bamboo hedge which separated the piece of land from the road. I used to collect latex fromthose trees,a ndw e used to play hide and seek behind the bamboo hedge. My mind wantdered and I was back in the old kampung standing by the road side watching people on their way back on foot. Bicycles then were a luxury. In the Kampung only Pak Salleh next door owned a Raleigh - the pride of the family.

On the easern side of that whole stretch of road which I just passed, a row of wooden houses (about wo in all) used to stand. They were all on stilts and accessible from the roa only by small wooden briges. They were raised on stilts as they built on the periphery of the padi fields. This stretch of road was every exciting to me especially during Hari Raya the whole kampung would shimmer under the flikering lights of kerosene lamps made of bamboo placed along the railing of the wooden bridges. It was a real spectacle for me.

To be continued.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Mabel Chiew and TLS culture

To a young boy, a nice, clever young lady is always impressive.

I can still remember Mabel wearing her prefect's badge and how she would stand there directing the to-ing and fro-ing of students for class or for makan. Her voice was firm, kind and loving. Her sisterly attitude was a real "force" in a strong well meaning character. To me her presence was the epitome of responsibility.

At that time I did not know very much about the Foochows being a special breed of determined people who only wanted to do well in life. Today I know them just too well. You can never stop the Foochows who are like runaway trains. They excel in everything and with the speed of lightning.

Once my little boy asked,"Did the Foochows invent everything, like the bullet train in Tokyo?" I answered,"Yes, they can invent everything because they are really smart."

Mabel was a like a big sister to every boy and girl in Tanjong and to me that is what a model headgirl should be like. Mabel should write a book on "How to be a Head Girl and Inspire the students to do well"

She is of course, a no nonsense person. And she has a fantastic brain. I believe when she went to MU , she must have been the top student in her class.

This was what TLS did for have been given the opportunity to study and have models like Mabel and others to stick to the desk and study and study. We could see our teachers, our head girl and head boy studying hard and having good results. We could also see that the seniors get along very well with each other, helping each other in and out of the classrooms.

Apart from Mabel and her fellow seniors setting a good example in studying and sticking to their desks, I still remember hearing Mr. Lynn practising his Chinese words at night whenever we passed by his hostel after our night prep.

Observing how our seniors study,lead the students,and help everyone including the teachers, had very positive effects on all of us juniors. I consider this a great school culture. And if you carefully map out the career of a good student like Mabel, you would definitely see an ascending graph to great heights. Goals were achieved by TLS students like Mabel. And every day, I wish more and more people can succeed like her so that we do not have so much human wastage.

A school culture like TLS, will defnitely not create any human wastage. The seeds of goal achieving,future orientation and self determination are planted early. The school climate of the 50's,and 60' especially was ideal for human resource development. 50 years later we are still beneficiaries of that legacy. The products like RM, ZAM,UKI,SAM,HAJI ,LLW,DC,and MABEL,DOC CHH,(certainly a long list) the YBs and so many others are still highly PRICED!