Thursday, May 31, 2007

1966 part 3/3 name list

Jimmy Chan Seng Peck (Now still in Miri Ocean Park)
Kho Thong Soon
Liaw Huat Hin (Limbang)
Patricia Liew Fui Ngoh (Happy Birthday on 4th June)
Lim Eng Thai (Brunei)
Ling Kah Chung
Masir anak Ajak
Matthias Sumbang(Limbang)
Musa Na'ol Razak
Nicholas Patrick (Rh Langop, Limbang)

Sarjit Singh
Sheikh Nasruddin
She Joo Sin 50, Temple Street, Bintulu
Simeon Kalong Jau
Tan Kon Kan, Limbang (Koon Kee's brother)
Teo Chiau Liang
Ting Lik Ching
Wong Teck Sing
Sukiman Domo (Happy Birthday on 7th June)
Philip Assan (Philip arrived almost ten days later on 26th May 1966)

Does Bukit Arang Road still exist today in Bintulu?

1966 part 2/3 name list (40 names)

Nicholas Beketan Kiling
Robert Laing Anyie
Sallamun bin Ibrahim
Sarkawi bin Suud
Shiekh Aminuddin
William Sinai Atom
Wong Yong Weng
Anyi Ngau Emang
Bujang bin Abdul Hamid (Limbang)
Chai Hong Mui

Charlie Baya
Romeo Daniel Selutan
Emang Wan
Fidelis Assan Ingkie
Goh Kheng Ho
Hasan Bin Ismail
John Trang
Julina Lim Siaw Siok
Liaw Kim Sing (Sundar)
Ling Kai Siew

Moi Lap Kun
Martin Paul
Paul Hii Yii Kwong
Philip Ngau Jalong
Richard Baya Lejau
Samuel Daring
Suen Yik Chaw
Sulong bin Narak
Su Mee Ling
Thomas Ibuh

Yeo Chu Hua
Angelina Lim Chang Hian
Anyi Ding
Catherine Koh
Chen Cheng(Chong?) Tye
Cheng Diak Chu
Roland Dom Mattu (Happy Birthday Dom on12th of June)
Francis Hwang Jeng Yong
Frederick Assu Kamarau
Hii Chee Wong

(Aside) My wife has just noticed that on the column for RACE most of the Chinese students were registered as Chinese, and the Foochows wrote their race as Foochow. Interesting observation)

Heroes in the 50's and 60's

Today the first hour of the Gawai morning(June lst 2007) is to be used up blogging.
1950's and 1960's in Sarawak was slow paced. Poor students did not have two cents to rub together.

There was no Sarawak Idol, or any reality TV to watch. At best a radio could entertain a lot of students from a cook's quarters. Or a rich Chinese boy could bring his transistor radio around and allow some friends to listen to the pop songs.

Who would the students worship as idols?

Our TLS heroes were our teachers who were revered and much respected. I believe the every Principal topped the list,followed by particular teachers who identified themselves with students.

Cikgu Yusof Hanifah was in particular well liked.

He was an English teacher and was much sought after Master of Ceremony or Announcer in most occasions in Miri as he spoke such good English English. We as students admired his voice, his articulation, fluency and pronunciation. Like our children who become fans of modern DJs, we were no different then. We loved his voice.

To the smaller boys he was not only a teacher but a friend. To this day, all his stuents still remember him and he is fondly known as DOC, for his doctorate which he acquired in later years.

Mr. Ruthe

A particular principal from New Zealand, was well liked just because it was rumoured he liked belacan. And Zainal Abidin Matassan (Now with Petronas) claimed to have been asked by him to buy belacan. Whether that was a fact, it was never established. Would Zainal now verify it?

Lulu Wong
Lulu Wong the sister of Datuk Amar James Wong, was a Sarawak sprinter during her hey days.
To the girls she was a perfect role model. She was extremely pretty. And of course, she was very artistic.

Then we also had another type of heroes. To most of the students as a whole, our role models were the senior students, out of whom school prefects were chosen. (Please note that I was never made a prefect)

Joni Mustapha

Our sports men were also the heroes and role models. Foremost was the late Joni Mustapha who was a Sarawak hurdler in the 50's. He dominated the event in 58 and 59. He was also a recording artist of the famous Iban song, "Tanah Ai Menoa Aku". I thought he was an Iban when I first heard him singing, during one of the school concerts , sometime in January 1959,when I first arrived.

Alfred Jabu

Alfred Jabu was an outstanding footballer. His style of playing reminds me of the Argentinian International Adilas. Not only was he good but he never seemed to offend the opposing teams from the Police, Field Force, Transport Department.

I have always wondered what he had that made him so good and smooth in the field. Outside the football field,he was always a caring and pleasant towards the younger boys who in turn admired him because he was the only one allowed by Mr. Hicks to drive his station wagon. Having said that, we must all admit that he was really a good player on the football field (now every body knows that he is the distinguished Deputy Chief Minsiter of Sarawak and a Tan Sri ), He was a scorer too and physically and literally he was not only handsome but pleasant and charming .
Frank Apau

Frank Apau was the other outstanding footballer and was always playing the role of mediator whenever there was a fight in the football field, between TLS team and the other side. I clearly remember Frank putting himself in between Walter Chambers and another player from transport department who constantly picked on Walter and kicking him at the rear.

This caused Walter to retaliate and Frank jumped in before punches were exchanged. For that Frank was one of our most favoured role models and heroes.

Jayl Langub

In later years we have Jayl Langub who was the most pleasant and humble of sports men of our school. When he first arrived,his name was spelt JAIL and at the suggestion of Cigku Idit, who was our first class or form teacher in 1959, who recorded and registered our name in the register book, to change his name.

I remember Cikgu Idit took a long time to register Jayl's name because Jayl wanted to be registered or known as by a different name. You can ask Jayl now. But Jayl as a personality, throughout his school years remained a perfect student. I thought he would become a pastor in later life. He remains to this day, a focussed, talented observant person with an academic and scientific mind.

Gabriel Uking

Gabriel Uking was the other most outstanding football player who was a Sarawak State Player for many years. Eventually he was Captain of the University Malaya Football team and that was a difficult role to emulate. As a Miri and Sarawak State Player, Gabriel had intimidating challenges from the opposing teams like the Police, Field Force, Customs and Sarawak Shell. It was not uncommon to see him nursing his bruises after every game.

Ding Seling and John Trang

Ding Seling and John Trang were other outstanding sports men. They were the Miri and State Hockey Players.

Robert Madang and Haji Mohamad

Athletes of the later years were outstanding personalities and well liked for example Robert Madang (Sprinter), Haji Mohamad (Miler). I can't recall how many trophies they collected but they must have filled a whole shelf. Robert in particular,hates one athlete from St. Columba's - Edward Ajang, who in later years, become my personal friend and our lives crossed all over Sarawak. Robert went on to join the army and rose to the position of Lt. Colonel. Always the poet and writer, Robert could have been a great academician as well as a sports man. But unfortunately in our times, we had very little choices. However, I believe that Haji Mohamad being not a holder of blue IC at the time as he was fighting for his national identification papers, he stayed on to study and when he obtained his Malaysian identity card, he could not be more happier than to study hard for his new nation. I hope as I recall this on the blog, Haji could forgive me for writing so succintly about him. But I always hold him in high regards , for his athletic prowess and his superb mental ability.

Simon Daya Gelan - rival athlete
We all also hated Simon Daya Gelan from St. Columbas who virtually beat every one of our boys in later years in 100 and 200 meters. He is now a very successful businessman in Brunei and a very good personal friend of mine. Similarly St Columba Sports Master, Mr. Verghese was the target because he brought up good sports men. We often wanted to murder him. (With words that is)

Today he is again, a very good friend of mine in Brunei. He is the Advisor to the Brunei National Sports Council. I believe his daughter won the second place in one Miss India contest a couple of years ago.

In earlier years the other outstanding sports men were HS Kiprawi who was a Sarawak Sprinter , Steward Ngau Ding who was also a Sarawak State Sprinter, and Frank who was also a sprinter, specialising in the 100 yards event.

I remember one incident in particular. In those days, the sports field was manned by beautiful Red Cross members. Long distance runners were well taken care of at the end of their races. Frank in one particular race, surprisingly fainted at the end of the race. He came in second actually. The Red Cross ladies wasted no time to take care of him,coming with a stretcher and carrying him into the shed. He got up rather quickly unlike the long distance runners. You should ask him what actually happened.

Leo Moggie
Leo Moggie was not particularly outstanding in sports. He was picked up by Mr. Hicks to represent Wellington House in the shot put. Being Leo he obliged. From the moment he picked up the shot, he was all style,bending backwards, with the shot in his hand, almost touching the ground, he executed the throw the third time. The shot almost fell on his toes!

I was a true witness to this feat as i was standing very close to him. I remember Mr. Hicks asking the late Mr. Dearnley,"Do we have to take the measurement?"

The latter waved his hand disapprovingly. And the late Joni Mustapha was with me too. Leo and Joni were classmates. I remember Leo saying, as he walked away, to Joni, "Jangan kalah style po."

I remember the night before, the school had invited the Information Department to show the Sydney Olympics 1956 and one of the impressive event was the shot put championship. I am wondering to this day, whether Leo had followed the sequences during the show.

In recent years when I had the opportunity to tease Tan Sri Leo about it, he comment was "nemu amat naga utail sengapa" (You know how to make up stories). Tan Sri and I have remain very good friends all these years.

I should not miss mentionising the late Asi Iboh, who was an outstanding middle distance runner. We nicknamed him,"the Second Kuda Ditta", the other outstanding Kelabit who went on to become one of the Malaysian Olympian in later years, when he was known as Bala Ditta. (Note: Bala passed away not long ago) Bala was a also a very great personal friend of mine.

As for Jeffery Asi Iboh, he broke the Miri 400 meters record after having a very heated argument with Mr. Verghese before the start of the race. I can see him flying ahead of the rest. It must have been a lane 4. He was initially placed in lane l which Mr. Verghese objected to. Asi became a very good personal friend until his untimely demise a few years ago.

In 1966 when I was in Lower Sixth I attended an interview for a job as SAO and the other interviewees were Celestine Ujang and Asi. There were only two vacancies. Naturally the choise went to the two of them and I was forced to come back to continue my Sixth form.

(It was also my first plane ride in my life and I was put up in the Government rest house in Kuching where I had difficulties in handling the knife and fork at breakfast...story later)

The other sport hero was Wan Long, a Bekenu boy who excelled in football. He was so tiny that the opposing team could never get him.

I think that is enough for sports and heroes for the moment. (Please make suggestions for any corrections necessary. Thanks.)

Selamat Gawai .

Aloysius Lisu Ajang

Lisu was my classmate since 1959 through 1965.

As a person he was stocky and plump, but very jovial and literary he was an excellent singer and inclined to be absolutely romantic. Can't remember whom he fell in love. If you don't mind my saying, it was a certain Miss L. a very pretty one. He had very good taste in pretty ladies I must say.

I was inspired to pick up the guitar by Lisu and we taught each other. Our first performance was when the Principal, Mr. Brighton, asked me and Lisu to sing during the school barbeque or beach party for the entire boarding population in Luak Bay. It was just below Shin Yang's boss's beach house.

We must have sung Elvis Presley's song, Have I told you lately, very well to my embarrassment there was a thunderous applause and we even participated in the Beatles' Song Contest at Cathay Theatre which was won by Abeng Lim and Group, comprising the lead singer (now Datuk) Sapuan Annu,State Director of Agriculture, now and the brother in law of Datuk Adenan Satem. His performance was something that Miri had never seen!!! And Ismail had a perfect rendition of John Lennon which made a few expat ladies scream like the real Beatles fans. And Abeng perhaps was the best guitarist in Miri.

Lisu and I ,together with Jeffery Pasang, and Kuek the drummer did not win. Someone must have sabotaged us, because there was no sound coming out of our borrowed guitars. Somehow in 1966, I recovered my dignity when Julius Noheb now known as Julius Linggod and I won the Miri Open Talentine , singing the Everly Brothers' number, Bye Bye Love. The sponsors somehow seemed to have given a watch for the first prize which turned out to be an imitation or fake. But nevertheless it was the first position that mattered to both Julius and I.

for the Women's section, Angela Chung Choo Ting, won the first prize , with me and Julius , JPS backing her with our guitars. Her dress that night was clearly a winner. It was short, very short and sexy. And she was really sexy and attractive. Do ask her when you have a chance.

Hope that she will join our group when David and Sam locates her.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Thaddeus Demong

It is a wonderful feeling to know that one of your beloved seniors have made it in the world.

This is just to let you know that somewhere in Canada, there is a Dr. Demong, from TLS! Check it out. and I hope he does not mind I put him in my blog...

Dr. Demong
The most important decision you will make when undergoing Surgical Vision Correction is the selection of your surgeon. At Demong Associate Eyecentre, your surgeon is Dr. Thaddeus Demong, fellowship-trained corneal and refractive specialist. For over 20 years, he's been performing corneal and other refractive procedures, and since 1991, he's helped thousands of people see well with Laser Vision Correction. Because he treats a full range of nearsightedness, farsightedness or astigmatism and can provide all levels of care, whether you require minimal routine follow up or extensive follow up care postoperatively, you'll be in very capable hands.
Dr. Demong has always been motivated to use technological innovations to extend his surgical expertise. When excimer laser surgery was introduced to North America in the late 1980's, he became one of the first 50 surgeons in North America to qualify as a Laser Vision Correction Surgeon, trained by a true pioneer in the industry, Dr. Marguerite McDonald. One of the developers of the technology, Dr. Stephen Trokel, was at his side the first day he performed laser surgery in his clinic. Since that time, he has continued to develop his technique and embrace technological advances. In fact, his is the only laser centre in Alberta to replace its laser five times as each new generation offers a greater level of precision.
Dr.Demong Interview

Water and Mrs. Philips

Those of you who remember Mrs. Philips will remember this incident in class.

I am always the sort who get big laughs, even until today.

Mrs.Philip as you know was a wonderful science teacher. In the 1960's Malayalese (who speak Malayalam - spelling is the same backward and forward) from Madras coast of India came as well educated science, maths and English teachers to Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak. They in fact helped us produce so many science, maths and English graduate as a result of their good teaching.

Like any small boys and girls, we did tend to be a little naughty. But nothing could escape the ears and eyes of Mrs.Philips. She could stand no nonsense in the class and she would always achieve her lesson objectives.

One day she was teaching our class some science experiment.

Suddenly someone (I know who he was) blurted out a heavily Indian accented "WATERRRRRR".

Mrs. Philips turned around and pointed out to me, "Sawan, younourrghty,nourrghty, nourrghty boy! S-t-and up!" (Do imagine her accent!)

My punishment was no less than one whole period of standing up. I was sheepish, but I smiled charmingly.

"There was no greater love than giving up your own life for another......This was a far, far better deed than anything I have ever done........" (Misquote from Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities)

And ever since then Mrs. Philips thought that I was a very,very naughty boy....who was daring enough to punctuate her absolutely silent and attentive class with an outburst of "WATERRRRR".

Today I still stand innocent and the person who did that to me knows it very well. I won't tell who. Sometimes I feel that I am still that little boy who has to stand for long hours as a punishment for something I haven't done.

Life can dish out something good and something bad. But we should take everything in good faith and with a big pinch of laughter.

Indeed I was very happy to welcome Mrs.Philips to Miri many years later and my wife and I took her to visit Miss Rose Chin and others. We had a lot of fun time together....those were wonderful teacher-student moments. Perhaps only TLS can give an ulu boy such graciousness ,respect and love.

I went on to give Mrs.Philips one of her best results in biology - a distinction. I am really proud of it.

I believe none of my fellow TLS students ever bear any grudges against their is not in our nature......yeah!

1966 Part l/3 name list

1966 saw more than a hundred students registering at both Lower Sixth and fourth Form levels. This could be one of those record years in TLS related to the number of intake.

School intakes were very much related to birth rates in most countries. But in Malaysia, special intakes were related to demands by politicians and policy makers. Hence school and later university intakes could have many implications in the history of a society. It goes without saying students of politics are only too aware of that.

I can't say which was my best year in school as I regard every year at TLS my best years ! But 1966 was a year when I made friends who lasted a life time - true friends, that is. When later in life, I saw Water Margin(All Men are Brothers) over and over again, I could relate to these stories from another culture. How much all of us are alike if we look deeper under the skin. Are we all not for justice? Are we not for the underdogs? And are we not protectors and defenders of the weak? And don't we all stick our necks out for brothers? I believe boarding schools give every one of us all those remarkable sensibilities and values. Even if we do not make it to the House of Commons/Lords (British Constitution), at least we are not scums at the gates of the city(Bible).

School was a fantastic place to be - safe and plenty of food(albeit lacking in form,colour and even taste). We did not have a Jamie Oliver to publicize what we ate or improve on what we had! At a particular point of time in my life, I learnt with lots of glee that the Taiwanese had piped music for their pigs during their feeding time to bring about faster growth and better pork!! Now that's a digression ). School was also full of friends and most important of all learning, hopes and dreams. I saw transformation. I saw lives touching lives.

Although the chaos theory and change theory were not on the lips of those above me, I could see that time no longer stood still. I could see that the tongkang, the river boat trade would soon disappear . I could see that those who made money in the rural areas would be moving away leaving everything behind. It seemed so easy for so many to make so much money in Sarawak!! Now that's another story.

Here goes the first part of 1966 list of students

17th January saw the arrival of the following:
Alec Kaboy from Kanowit
Ambi bin Nen
Baijuri Kipli
Blawan Embayau
Bolhan Tahir
Boris Jarop
David Ong
Faith Sylvia Lee
Francis Wong King Soong
Gendin Wood

Jemat Unding
Lew Chin Foh
Liew Thian Koh
Mohd Ali Junaidi
Mohd Asfia Nassar
Reggie Tersan
Sharkawi Bohari
Stephen Chai
Wan Ahmat Tuank Mohd
Zainal Abidin Ahmad

Anthony Lau
Chai Nyit sin
Chan Chang Ming
Felix Law
Foo Kong Fah
Hassan Zainudin
Hamdan Ahmad
Joseph Wong Lian Cheong
Lawrence Lee Jin Chun (Miri )
Lee Joon Shin

Liew shu Liong
Teng Hie King
Teng Hie Siong ( Ref : Night of the Anteater)
Wong Siew Chook
Yeo Kee Seng
Adi Tuah
Annuar Abu Bakar
Awang Kosazali
Awang Zaini
Bani Aminir Salleh

David Manjah Takin
Dick Bala
Edward Wong
Eugene Yeo
Francis T Lim
George Ngo Epoi
Heny Paul Iboh
Madhi Hassan
Mohamud Arshad
Michael Brain Jantau (Tatau)

1965 Name List

There are a few people on this list who really made it to the top of the society and I am sure you can recognise them. 1965 however did not see a very big group of new students coming to the school.

One of the best is definitely our Dr. Chong Hoi Hee who remain,as he is , as always. He continues to save lives. From Dragon School, this Kuching boy, has done very well indeed.

Thomas Lee Kok choo
Kathleen Graeme
Albert Tang Sing Kang
Pau Kiew Ping
Peh Yang Hua
Gramong Juna
Angki Kaboy
Chen Yon Sun
Mary Hii
Ngipa Lindang

Lim Gin choo
William Tanyuih
Nillie Tangai
Andrew Nyabe
Chew You Wee
Phang Chung Shin
Lee Yan Kee
Julius Philip
Lo Thien Siong
Chong Hoi Hee

Wan Alshaqaf
Thomas Uchang(Limbang)
Tan Chong Peng(Limbang)
Lim Teck Seng (Limbang)
Lim Kim Swee (Limbang)
Liaw Bee Kee (Limbang)
Martin Rinyab(Limbang)
Patrick Panai Sagar(Limbang)
Gerald Perait Itai(Limbang)
Waslie Tuah (Limbang)

Ahmad bin Sulaiman (Limbang)
Ibrahim bin Saat (Limbang)
Taib bin Mohidin (Limbang)
Chia Tze Tau
Kiu Ai Lang (Limbang)
Chong Wei Sang
Marzukie Andong
patrick Angkasan
William Chin
William Liew

Gani Idris
Vince Makim

I was really busy in 1965, trying my best to do well. By that time, Abu Bakar Matassan and I were fast buddies,for both of us were from Limbang. I remember working very hard, studying late into the night, emulating Cikgu Yusuf Hanipah. I developed a great determination to do well, especially when I was so well mentored by Mr. Nicholl and Miss Sylvestor.

Most of us enjoyed reading a lot. We made lots of notes and compared them. We listened well to our teachers like Mr. Lynn. For past times we continued with our music and movies in town.

This was also the year that Mr. Nicholl was to retire and we were very sad about it. (more on him later)

But 1965 was a great year because we saw extremely clever students in our midst. We were like Spartans and Athenians pitted against each other and we knew our worth. Although there were definitely undercurrents of discontent, we were on the surface quite a happy lot as most of the teachers taught very well and played fair.

Columbo Plan scholarships were available and all were eager to obtain them. As I have stated before, it was a dream for most of us to get a scholarship and go overseas. So many of our seniors from 1959 to 1963 have gone before us and it was without doubt that many still had hopes that their chances would come.

But that was to be changed by the Federal Government in 1968.

1964 Post Malaysia Days

Post Malaysia saw a very great crop of new students who went on to be great leaders of the state, as you can judge from the list.

It must be the impetus of the new democracy and the new leadership that created the great enthusiasm and energy for learning. I felt the changed atmosphere and everyone was more hopeful than ever. We had bigger dreams and we were more daring.

It was like reinforcement had arrived and the brigade was charging forward.

I had gone back to Ulu Medamit and during the holidays I had tapped more rubber and picked more fruits with my parents. Our longhouse was also experiencing changes in that timber was being extracted and like a spider spinning its cobweb, the Limbang Trading Company was taking over the land and the people. Tractors drove up the hills cutting the hills up, resulting in yellow ribbon like strips imprinted on the green surface.

Limbang had a small airfield then and Towkay James Wong in his linen suit, dark sunglasses and white floppy hat would alight from a Norman Brittan Islander, 8 seater plane to meet a welcoming group of Ibans still in their feathered hats ,Malay Hajis and Chinese coffee shop owners.

Meanwhile, I was in Form Four and I continued to read more history and more English. Shakespeare became oft quoted by us and every evening, the guitars were taken out. (more on that later.....)

Check out your names and find out who is where...and perhaps let me know and we can have an update. Hope it is useful.

Daniel Teho Regan
Patau Rubis
Putit Matzen
Ilias Razali
Morshidi Kawi
Edward Assim
Halimah Ibrahim
Fatimah Suhaili
Hadi Abdul Rahman
Ahmad Hamid

Masleh Yahya
Sulaiman Ladis
Spuan Annu
Boon Ching siong
Kueh Chiung Ming
Wong Tian Chow
Chye Sew Meng
William Hii Hiong Ing
Kong Shou Chong
Robert Merayang

Jepet Achoi
Sia Dak Yuang
Chye Min Liu
Tang Chok Nging
Rose Wong
Andrew Kiew
Edward Goh
Suen Chong Siong
Sinclair Tan
Paul Voo

Lee Chui Wah
Yahya bin Drahman
Reduan Frederik
Awang Basri
Khadijah Muip
Moh bin Marais
Salleh Yahya
Ahmad Kawi
Zainuddin Latif
Bahari Drahman

Loh Siew Moi
Adenan Mohammad
Rokiah Haji Jailani
Hj Minah Rambli
Normah Ahmad
Annuar Along
Freddy Vatsaloo
Zakaria binYusof
Siner Anak Sipeng
Ariffin Hj Ibrahim (Limbang)

Michael Balan
Siti Zaharah Hussaini
Joshua Jenan
Ismail Hussin
ABENG LIM (Kuala Belait)
Amdrew Bangkang
Justin Kirim
Umpang Ujai
Hilary Nyambau
Ahmad Tajuddin

Frankie Juram
Linus Ngidroi
Cecelia Frederiks
Razali Awg Putit
Johan Yahya
Yusoff Abang
Tabys Muip
Abdul Rahman
Kong Fen Leong(Limbang)
Paul Hii Sing Kiong

Rohayah Saar
rosni Shelbi
Kong Nguk Yin
Yusoff Bunut
Gela Baul
Empeni Lang
Zamhari Ediwi
Ismail Sahari
Mariam Dawood
Horace Brodie

Joseph Jinap
Kadir ali
Ishak Dawood
Huong Yew Hu
Chu Lee shie

I have often wondered how much of the Sarawak State Anthem, Fairland Sarawak, we can remember. I dug out my old song book and here it is for you to read:

Fair land Sarawak we will never cease to honour thee
And with our Loyal Sons defend your Liberty
From your high forst hills down to the open sea
May freedome ever reign, men live in unity
Proudly our flag flies high above our Country strong and free
Long may our people live in peace and Harmony.

The lyrics was written by F.C. Ogden and the musicv revised and arranged by GRK Freeth.

And I was very very happy to note that it was also sung in Iban, as there was an Iban translation by Umpang Ujai. The anthem was also sung in Chinese and Malay.

Here is the Iban translation:

Pemanah Sarawak kami selalu mri puji
Nyaga penglantang menoa, anak kami
Ari bukit,kampong ngagai tasik nyadi
Pemaik meruan, kami begempang ati
Tinggi menira bediri datas menoa kami
Gayu mensia diau ikun enggau rami

Thus in my life time I learn God Save the Queen and Negara Ku and two state anthems. All have unbelieveable resounding musical notes!

1962 Students who joined TLS

15th January 1962 saw 82 students arriving at the gates of Tanjong Lobang College.

I do apologise if some of the names are not correctly spelt. My wife had the name lists photocopied as she was interested in archiving the names of the pioneers of the school. When she left, that particular job was given to another teacher. The school computer now would have a very good list of students if the teachers have been keeping up with school records.

I believe it was Mr. Nicholl who started to keep records of students who came into the school, as he was a great historian.

When I visited Mr. Nicholl in 1973, in Brunei he was delighted to see me. He could still remember every moment of his time with us in the school.

Do you remember when he tripped on the stage during one morning assembly? Do you remember he used to ride on his white pony and got us all up to do our morning run? Clip clod,clipperty clod.....up boys! up boys! time for your run!

Hope those of you who are Datuks, Tan Sris,etc won't mind my not putting your titles...I have not been keeping up with the Sarawak Gazette or the local news and have not be able to track down all the new titles. Perhaps you can let me know your latest title/s.

Ningkang Ujoh
Goh Meng Wai
Faisah bt Tepoli
Aminah Lampam
Wan Shazali
Henry Muda
Radin bin Akip
Khong Wang Yin (LImbang)
Johari bin Abang
Assim buin Bushrah

Cho Siek Way
Yusoff bin Sebli
Nawawi Hj Sabel
Francis Lutan
Telun Ibau
Semat bin Bakar
Leo Lease
Sharifah Aini

Sia Pei Hoon
Halena Jeliuing
Anuar Yassin Khan
Wali Madihi
Loni Hj Jelani
Mazahar Khan
Haidar Khan
Bujang bin Omar
Huang Ai Ting'
Ling Ching Sin

Sun Lik Chin
Lee Lang Hui
Chung Choo Ting (Angela!!!!!)
Chong Yean Kee
Dara Bt Paee
Jok Ngau
Daniel Gassan
Paul Garau
Gaeraie bin Bakri
Ishak Ibuh

HAJI MOHAMMAD (Sorry at that time you were not Professor yet!!)
(Your address was 21 Main Bazaar Bintulu)
John Reba
Sana Kamarau
Paran Sibu
Garish Balang
Usang Malang
Edward Panggang
Heng Seng Yien
Hii Ngih Yung
Tie Yin Ming

Lau Ung Ngie
Wong Kong Hoo
Siti Rohani
Ramba Japong
Asoi Lukoi
Philip Belong Jau
Tom Jalong
Ann Tze On Yung
Liu Check Hong
Liew Keit Koing

Kong Meng Yu
Wan Ali Wan Yubi
Abdullah bin Piee
Liman Bin Bab
Buang bin Senea
Kiprawi bin Medin
Jaman binSamad
Wak Paran
Pasang Saging
Garawat Maran

Wan Imang
Merang Bilong
Anyi Joh
Guang Bangga
Merang Wan
Madang Langi (Kampong Lachau, Simanggang)
Hwong Kain Chin
Ann Scott (Father was William Scott)
Patricia Scott (as above)
Ngau Jalong

John Wanty(son of B.C. Wanty)
Laure McIntosh(daughter of G.L McIntosh)

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The Night of the Anteater

Boarding school food was definitely nowhere near mother's homecooked food.

Rice was the imported type, not quite similar to the hill rice we native boys were accustomed to. So we found the rice a little on the sourish side. The later,bulger wheat was given as aid to help the children of developing countries by the UNESCO and it was mixed with rice. Some students liked it and some did not. However,I rather enjoyed the fibrous carbo for a short while until I found it too effective as a kind of laxative (watch out for the story later). Many of the boys who ate too much of the bulger wheat could not make it to the loo and so often we boys who were in charge of the work parties had to work harder to clean the toilets.

I somehow never stop cleaning and washing toilets until today. It has become quite a compulsive, obessive habit of mine - to have clean toilets.

It is true that when food was cooked in big bulk, the taste, the colour, and even the form were very distorted. And on top of everything, the food was served in huge basins which could only be called wash basins by many Chinese families. We were served a basin of rice, a basin of fried fish, a basin of soup and a basin of vegetables, longbeans for example, usually for every meal.

In the first few years of boarding life, because there were fewer of us, plates, spoons were well laid out for us and we did not have to personally look after our own spoons and plates. In later years we had to carry out own plate from the dormitory. So before meal time, it was quite an amusing sight to see little boys and girls bringing their plate and spoon from the dorm to the dining hall.

These aluminium or enamal basins in which the food was servedcould be doubled as basins for baby baths, or for washing clothes ,in fact were very versatile. When old, worn out, cracking , and dented, they were used by many households as pots for growing of onions. Recycling was in fact a popular habit in those early years. Recycling is defnitely not jus t a western invention. (Today these basins have evolved into plastic basins. Schools in Sarawak are still using them.)

I still remember that our sourish rice went well with kangkong soup which were in long strands floating on top of oniony and garlicky water. Sometimes we had chicken soup which was watery with some salt and pepper with some brownish looking pieces of salted vegetables. We would have been over the moon if we had chicken or fish. For protein, we were given extremely overfried ikan kembong, or mackerel, or tinned sardines or tinned chicken curry besides chicken. Longbeans were really plentiful. And I believe that cabbage was quite a favourite amongst the students.

Now looking back, we did not complain that very much because we were just too happy to be receiving an English education. Each evening when we scrambled on to the long tables we were indeed imagining ourselves dining in the manors of the feudal lords of England! when we passed our vegetables we would remind ourselves that we were passing the rack of lamb and mint sauce would be coming up soon for our servings. We did have a lot of imagination at that time.

And as boarding school students, we would also be very most grateful to friends who were kind and fair during our meal times. William Phua and Samuel Agong were two gentlemen who had good table manners and eating with them was like eating with angels. There was no grabbing, no slurping, and we had our fair share. This was so important to me because I was such a tiny boy and I was very slow and steady in my eating. Many of us were indeed Oliver Twists in real life, without parents at all. It was quite a stroke of luck that we were well fed by the government in this way.

Besides, our lives were really controlled by the BELL. The call of the bell instilled in us the true essence of punctuality.

Then one Saturday evening, as we were watching the moon rising and breathing in the cold air, Gendin Wood heard a noise in the bush, and we , being very sensitive to sounds of wild animals and birds, were at once at attention. Being the most experienced in jungle life, I went out to have a check and lo and behold it was an anteater which must have got lost and wandered into the danger zone of hungry school children.

We caught the anteater. Being Saturday night, and having had our dinner, we decided to postpone our meal to the next day, a Sunday. Gendin, Ronnie Assim, Ting Hie Siong(the ever faithful Chinese boy in our group), Alec Kaboy and Philip tried to look for a box or anything to keep the ant eater in. We knew that it was too dangerous to let our hand caught by the anteater which may crush it by rolling its body around it. Somehow we managed to roll a concrete piping, left behind by the contractor to our hostel. It was fun looking at 6 Lower Sixth boys rolling a concrete drain pipe to the hostel. Having put the ant eater into the concrete, we still had to look for a cover, which Philip did eventually. That night we watched the ant eater trying to escape from the makeshift trap. It was really strong and it did attempt to push the slab over.

On Sunday, Ronnie being a staunch catholic led the Catholic students in prayers in the chapel next to the school.

I remember that it was after the service that we had a wonderful picnic outside my hostel room. The cleaning of the anteater was not easy, as we had to make do with a parang and a small knife. Philip as usual became absolutely literary about the killing.

Any way the anteater which was about 4 kilogram, was eventually chopped up, and ready for the pot. The meal was fit for a king and we remember this cook-out even until today. This is the kind of memory I have and no money can buy it for any one. This is the kind of memory that makes me feel like a king. and it is a kind of memory no one can steal from me.

The Night of the Anteater - it was the night of brotherly love, camarderie,esprit de corp....just outside the wooden hostel, a few Iban boys slaughtered an anteater,prepared it and ate it with relish....the smoke, the smell must have caused some of those rich kids to water in the mouth.

Anteater meat cooked our style is better than the satay of Kajang! For years Philip Assan thought about the anteater. When he was in England, often down and out, as all overseas students tend to be, this was one of the school stories that warmed his heart and encouraged him to go on. It still puts a smile on my face.

The mind is an amazing organ. At the most unusual moments, a memory like this would just change your mood for the better. A warm flush, and then happiness spreads through your soul and heart. The world is full of roses again.

Guys if you are reading this, this is for all of you who shared my moments in TLS. Cheers. Love you.

1963 Another 84 students joined TLS

Yong Siew Yin
Chen Kok Chiong
Sim Hock Hoe
Wu Ying Ching
Lau Chiew Choon
Foo We Ru
Chia Siew Moi
Lai Nguk Soon
Liew Kim Foong
Voo Soo Chin
choo Mui Lan
Soon Mee Chong
Yuan Ah Fung
Lee Fai Yin
Sin Yiau Kuan
Wee Hang Chang
Susy Lee
Ting Huat Tung
Alphonsus Sia
Sie Yung Sang
Paul Ling Hwa Ing
Lin Kwong Ling
Lee Ting Leong
Lucas Chua
Thaddeus Demong
Naruddin Zainorin
Denys Lang
Chin Shin Lai
Lee Hock Seng
Lau Siaw Lian
Liew Ah Khiong
Wee Pek Tiak
Sim Seng Kwong
Poh Swee Lian
Lai Lian Hup
Chung Shin Chong
Lee Ming Sheng
Yip Chee Seng
Lau Seok Hong
Lee Sian Lan
Kong Moi Kwei
Chai Chan Fook
Chong Ted Chin
Chai Lian Hua
Arbie Zainuddin
Jampong Seliong
Micheal Elly Supit(Bawan Assan)
Mohammad Ahmad
Peter Hati
Philip Ganie
Rosenah Ahmad
Pui Kwei Yin
Michael Teo
David Chin
John Lau Chee Ching
Yong Chong Ping
Dominic Wong
Innocent Wong Pak Thai
Lankie Simbas
Mosco Rueben
Antony Najod
Sia Doo Yuen
Yunus Bin Masrah
Wan Lonhg bin Johar
Yunus bin Gani
Medahan bin Sibam
Matnor Nor bin Daim
Hajiji binti Abang
Attariah Rakami
Bernai anak Agai
Lauzi bin Jeraee
Hussin bin Sapit
Yousof bin Meran
Gaun Gurri (Limbang)
Ali bin Muip
Yahya Mutnor Sarrudin
Richard Lau Ming Hing
David Hung Tong Lok
Maimunah Rakawei
Baidah Shadon
Balentine Jubang
Joseph Muing
Tony Hung
Francis Kong
Linda Ruthe (daughter of Principal Mr. Ruthe)

Monday, May 28, 2007

Freda Kedung and Miss Au

In this post, I will write about two important figures in my young adult life: Freda Kedung and Miss Au.

I often tell people that I thank God every day for Kedung Sakai.

She came in with all her Kelabit finery when she arrived to become one of the most successful students of TLS. From Bario, in the Kelabit Highlands, Freda was eventually to become head of Communications in Shell until she retired in the early 90's! By then there were more than 2000 Kelabit professionals all over Malaysia.

In many ways we all learned from each other and it wasn't at all survival of the fittest, the evolution theory of Darwin. I believed even at that time, we were quite democratic and yet communal. We helped each other out, especially when we had a friend like Joan Tze who was ever so helpful. Joan was one of the lucky girls who had a rich family. So she was very kind to all of us, including giving us some biscuits and food. We were like the Musketeers, one for all and all for one.

Freda was one of the people in my life who gave me a chance in life. In those days, we could not automatically enter Sixth Form. The Principal would make a list of the selected few, usually the top students. The cutting off happened to be one name above mine. So I wasn't "selected" and I was extremely saddened by it. For a few days I could not eat actually after the list was put on the notice board.

By chance Freda had other dreams. So she threw her entry form into the rubbish bin on the day the entry forms were distributed. William Laing, who already had his form, picked it up and I quickly snatched it from him. I was so determined to fill in that form that I was a little rude to him. But any way, I submitted the form and when my results which were better than most of the selected students, came out, I was given a place in Sixth Form.

That was the second miracle in my life. My first was my being selected for Primary Five in 1959 to attend TLS.

In future years I continued to thank Freda for throwing that form away.

My first memory of tissue paper came about this time, when Miss Au (Later Mrs. Kho) used tissue paper to wipe her face during one Chinese New Year when we visited her house. It must have been quite a challenge for a Chinese lady to cater for a bunch of very shy ulu (native and upriver) boys. For the first time I tasted some made-by-Chinese new year cakes. Miss Au was very compassionate towards us and that was we all loved her very much. It was not easy for us students to come across a generous and warm teacher like Miss Au.

Miss Au continued to teach geography in Miri until she retired and I am very appreciative that she taught my second daughter in St. Columba's before she retired. It must have been interesting for her to know that as a teacher who taught a period of more than 32 years she would have many opportunities to teach two generations of a family. She was always the same, she treated people really well. And I am very humbled by that. I wish more teachers are like her.

Her passing must have been really felt by all of us who were taught by her. All her students would miss her.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Kelabits and guitar music in 1962

By 1962 I was already quite good at handling the guitar. We had several groups who plucked and strummed their guitars to while our leisure time away. I was then in Form Two.

One guy who came to school in 1962 was Jeffery Pasang Saging. We formed a neat group of band boys and sang all the popular songs of the day. JPS continued to be friends with me until today.

Being musically inclined, JPS was always around whenever a concert needed to be put up, or whenever we had time to singalong. JPS and so many of us had a lot of fun singing our hearts out and making music. If we had today's financial support, if we had a government that encouraged musical talents to be developed, we could have all made some records on a commercial scale.

JPS and Roland Dom Mattu, and several other Kelabits formed the famous Country Road Band and the Classics Band to play for many important functions in Miri by the end of the 20th century.

Their bands play on....

It was a pity at that time in the 1960's and 1970's that many people did not realise that music was a talent that needed to be developed. Some even considered guitar playing a waste of time!

Creative arts would be a premium...but unfortunately those of us who carried a radio or a guitar was not viewed too positively....why should entertainers be viewed as second class only?

And at a later date, the so called wild Beatles were invited to play their number for the Queen of England. In comparison, we native boys crooned our hearts out at the back of the wooden hostel in Tanjong Lobang school not knowing any better. The guitar is not a decadent musical instrument by all means.

I held on to my guitar....

And finally this year I was able to play my best at the Celebration of Brunei Legal Year in front of all the learned judges and the legal members of the Brunei Bar. What a unique moment it was for me to have come this 1959 I was just a young 12 year old ulu boy who carried his torn mat, black rice pot and wearing something which was not even considered a shirt to start a new chapter of my life in TLS.

1961 Newly registered students

The list of 88 students is as follows:

Abdul Ghani Sulaiman
Omar bin Puyon
Ramli bin Jaya
Hang Bin Morin
Kho Bee Choon
Wong Yun Min
Leong Nin Chang
Lee Jaw Luen
Kok Yung Seng
Yang Thian Seng
Chang Chan Teck
Chung Shu Chin'Yang Mei Lan
Cehn Yun Chin
Chin Hion Yee
Yip Chin Hua
Yau Chit Sing
Ting Pik Keing
Mak Lee Yun
Tiie Ching Yung
Mak Koon Kong(Sundar)
Peh Her Seng(Sundar)
Hong Lai Ho
Wong Sie Ting
Chin Kim Yu
\Mariat bin Wahar
Soo Kian Kiong
Ching Nei Chue
Lee Bing Kang
Wong Chang Yii
Yong Siew Moh
Turki bin Hamzah
SAMUEL TEO THIAN SOO (19 Main Bazaar, Limbang)
Abdullah b Mohd Noor(Limbang)
Abun Tadam
Ahmad Sulaiman(Limbang)
Ali Salleh (Limbang)
Asi Iboh
Ding Laing
Entemong ak Jerah (Limbang)
Heng Yee Yang (Limbang)
Imran Awang Sulaiman (Limbang)
Kidang ak Anggau (Limbang)
Lawai Ipoh
Lee Kheng Siong (Limbang)
Mostaffa Mahlee
Mustapha Doillah
Ramlee Piee
Wan Mohammad Wan Yubi
Kebing Wan
Jok Eng
Jok Imang
Abraham Saat (Limbang)
Ngau Jok
Suffiaf Deris
Ladis Pandi
Agan Rajah
Sedua Abraham
Bumiamin Khan
Abdulloah Aziz Khan
Awang Moh Annie
Jolhie Assar
Michael Jan Eng
Mohidin Seman
Razali Ahmad
Salleh Yusof(Limbang)
Said Mohidin (limbang)
Wasloeeb Ramblee
Zadil Bin Jeman
Zamiran bin Ujang
Salim Hj Ibrahaim
Anchang Kana
Musa Giri
Abraham Baling
Maurice Bujang
Stephen Kuntain
Ahmad Saidi

Samuel Teo was a very different kind of person. He was different from the normal Chinese boy you met on the street. To me ,firstly he looked different. He had a good nose and he was very fair. He had a special air all distinctive by itself.

Whenever I saw him at the school, he would not be the guy who would cough and spit . He was quite a gentleman who minded his business and studied hard. I remember him being good at maths.

Coming from Limbang , he would be very close to the others from Limbang, like Tan Koon Kee (who went on to be Malayan Bank Manager and a good natured friend). I hope Samuel won't mind my memory of him...his departing remark was,"I am going to meet Jackie Kennedy!"

Many of our seniors between 1964 and 1968 would have the opportunties to sail to the United states and walk their American Dream.

I am sure Samuel would be distinguished looking, and charming as ever. are a lucky guy!

Thursday, May 24, 2007


In 1961 88 students were registered in the school for the new year. But several left by the end of the year.

Among those who left in 1961 was Maurice Bujang, one of the most handsome Iban men I have ever known.

The other one was Stephen Kuntai who became a life long friend of mine. We continue to be meet up and we were really close we worked in Miri together many decades later. Somehow school can help us became firm friends and we seldom would change our feelings towards each other.

Stephen Kuntai was a Government cooperative officer until he retired in 1997 in Sibu. He and his wife have three children, Ian, James and Jenny. Stephen first started work in the ulu as a government servant and then he was later transferred to Sibu and then Miri where he worked for a long time. As a cooperative officer, he was always on the move to advise people on how to use the cooperative system to invest and upgrade their own lifestyle.

Cooperatives often work wonders in many countries. Perhaps they are just not too suitable to our people and our culture.Any way the government did make an effort to try to help the people. I always believe that our government has good ideas and is far sighted. Any progress however depends very much on how the local people accept the new ideas and move forward in their own steam. Some times the seed of change is planted but the idea does not take root and that is it then. No change can come about.

Abdullah Noor

Abdullah Noor hails from Kampong Sekolah,Limbang and was registered as a student in 1961. by that time I was in Form One and already three years in TLS. Thus we became friends and form mate in Miri. We struck off well together as we shared the same background in Limbang.

Being of Arab descent, he was tall for his age. He was fair as I was dark. He was like the day and I was like the night, when we kids became poetic as we gradually read more and more.

In later years we were to enjoy books from the library like the Prince by Marchiavelli, Twelfth Night and Mid summer Night's Dream and The Winter's Tale by Shakespeare amongst all the other classics. I remember Baijuri and Philip Assan being the best readers amongst us and they could quote chunks and chunks from these books to the envy of many.

Because we did not have other diversions (no tv, no radio even, no newspapers) we spent most of our time reading and entertain each other by quoting the classics.

Abdullah Noor remained a "brain" amongst us and it was no wonder that he became one of the first non Chinese engineers in Sarawak.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

1960 name list

1960 saw another 61 students arriving at the gates of TLS.

Joan Tze

Lee Kim Yin

Chang We Ming

ChenLee Yee

Tam Chi Kin

Wong Siew Jyu

Ng Ngeat Jin

WongSiew Chook

Chin Nyet Chyen

Shim Yee Chin
Kau Chin Hwa

Lee Nyuk Lan

Goh Beng Choon

Chang Chang Jet

Lee Chang Kok

Lau Chee Seng

Alice Chin Yuh Hua

Chih Hwa Chuong

Chai Tze Ming

Ang Boon Siong

Leong Yew Jen

Moh Mee Hing

Yik Siew Hong

Bau Chin Hung

Liaw Soon Ann

Liaw Kow Choi

Soh Huat Ming

Liaw Kee Kun

Chik Hun Hua

Yong Kui Hua

Uteh Binti Johari

Musafa Abang Omar

Zainal bin Ujang

Alice Shim

Anyi Laing

Benjamin Bakar

Chee Yee Toh

Long Yun Fah

George Liew

George Ngau Lian

Gurdarsahn Singh

John Benard Jolly

Lau Kok Hin

Leong Yee Chong

Mary Antonia Chapman

Matali bin Manap

M. Affendi Tready

Oaul Lee

Sharkawi Esmith

Sim Su Chai

Tommy Sia

Benard Tobing

Wu Song Boo

Gilbert Yeo Tiong Hee

Yong Kee Chau

Jenkin Cheung

Gilbert Jau Imang

Atta bin Pekok

Morshidi bin Beji

Jan - Dec 1959 Seniors

To a young boy of 12, a form five boy was a giant.

I was fortunate in the sense that when I arrived at TLS I met up with the following who were in Form Five and were definitely someone to be reckon with. They were impressive, articulate,creative and charismatic.

Raphael Scott Abeng,Peter Boyer,Sulvester Juan,Danson Gayne,Abdul Wabab,Frank Apau, Leo Ambrose Iroke, Walter Chambers,ASlfred Jabu, Solomon Buyong,Hentry Jantum,Noel Hudson,Nicholass Ansie.

In just that year I got to know them and observed them really well. They were all fifth formers who were very studious and mature in their outlook.

The year passed very quickly and they went on their own ways - to become later, the great leaders who propelled Sarawak into a new phase of development. Whether their years in TLS had formed their visions, one would never know until we read their own memoirs.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

1959 name list - Jail Langub

By the end of 1958, 166 students had populated the school. Therefore TSL was considered a very small school with just a handful of teachers (mainly foreigners) . On the first day of the 1959 registration for the new school year, the school population rose to only 231 students, with more Chinese students from Bintulu,Sibuti,Limbang,Lawas,Miri andLutong,and Marudi.

The school continued as a small school that year. Thus it was not very much of a cultural shock for a boy of 12 to come from a one room school with 12 boys and two teachers. A cultural shock would be the one felt by a Penan boy, for example, if he came from Ulu Limbang to attend a fully residential school with a population of 1800 Muslim students,where food,religion,outlook,mannerism,teaching methods, language and attitudes would be totally different and to the extent of being uncomfortable.

These are the names that I have with me. If they are willing to update this with extra information, they are most welcome. It will make my day and revisit the day of our registration. They were registered together with me on 19th January.
Mong bin Ramli, Lutong
Gabriel Uking, Long Palai Baram
Chang Yong Ngai, Miri
Chen Shick Pei, Lutong
Chong Kai Tung, Puyut,Baram
Choo Lian Yin, Sibuti
Chu Dan Shie, Miri
Cheng Chun Min, Miri
Chung Lee Chong, Miri
Hii Hui Ing, Bintulu
Huong How Yieng, Puyut
Huong Keng Tuong
Hwong You Chyen, Baram
Koh Kim Geok, Miri
Kho Poh Ting, Limbang
Lee Yueh Kui
Kong Sui Ping
Leong Yee Pan, Miri
Liaw Aik Kua, Lawas,
Liaw Watt Chua Lawas
Ling Ching Lang
Phang Khin Chat
Puang Mee Yeng, Sebauh, Bintulu
Song Chee Seng, Miri
Tan Khoon Kee, Limbang
Tang Yok Mee, Miri
Voon Siew Nam, Miri
Yee Chee Fatt, Lutong
Uee Kim Eng, Miri
Yeo Kheng Fatt, Miri
Yong Wei Yan,Miri
Abi Omar, Sibuti
Ahamd bin Sabeng,Miri
Aloysius Lisu,Baram
Dayang Kamariah Jalil, Limbang
Ganang Ibuh,Long Lellang
Idang Yamoh, Brawang Limbang
Jail Langub, Long Semado
Joannes Dian Anyi
Kadri bin Junaidi
Kedung Skai
Kirprawi Ahmad
Masleh bin Mess
Msulim binAbd.Latip
Sahari bin Besar
Sakai Rugu
Samual Agong
Saran Singa
Sawan ak Jiram
Sunang ak Impang
Laman bin Shaikumar
Yassin bin Maksin
Yundor ak Tabang
Zainal Abidin bin Mat
Zainab Mahmud
Zainal Bin Tuah
Lian Ngerong
Sile Ngerong
Bakar Matasan
Md Zain Makktor
Pahang Lah(for some reasons Pahang Lah left on 12/2/1959)
Daud Ibuh

Many of these group left in 1962 or 62 after their Sarawak Junior Exams. Those of us how passed we continued in Fourth Form. Those of us who completed our HSC would have stayed 9 years in our beloved Tanjong Lobang School. It was an enriching and memorable journey of learning.

Kidang and boys' fight

When boys are in school together, it is impossible to stop them from fighting at certain moments of their lives. Animals tumble in playfulness and lose their temper. Human beings banter with each other and start pointing a finger. More often than not, a small incident could trigger a fight between two boys.

I was small and easily bullied by any one around. I am not saying that I allowed these bigger boys to bully me. To bully another person comes naturally to a lot of boarding school boys, probably due to the fact that we are living in very close proximity. Like chickens in a coop, there is a pecking order. I was then the smallest and darkest of the little boys and definitely I was at the bottom of the pecking order.

The feelings of the haves and the have nots were already very well developed during our hostel days. Boys from a certain community from the urban area were well endowed and they would make their milo and talk about anything right into the night and even early hours of the day. The other boys who had nothing for snacks would try to sleep in order to contain their hunger. But unknowingly, or knowingly, these richer boys would talk and talk, and very often louder and louder. Usually I found it very difficult to sleep, not when I felt the hunger pangs;not when I could hear the deliberate loud stirring of a metal spoon in a tin cup and not when I could smell the fragrance of milo floating dreamily across the hot humid hostel air. Then my mouth would water when I heard the loud slurps. It would be many years later when I could afford to buy a tin a milo. The long deferred satisfaction of a great longing was almost unbearable.

(In later years when I had to teach my children not to make a lot of noise when they make a drink.....Go gentle into the night...and don't make a lot of noise when you make a drink.. and don't slurp..."

How did all these tie up with Kidang?

Kidang was my uncle by blood and we came from the same area. Being a bigger person in built and a natural fighter , he was often the protector of the small Iban boys around him. One day ugly words were exchanged between the different racial groups and a fight ensued. Being the smallest boy I was the one picked on by the bigger Chinese boy (perhaps as an example, or perhaps I was the nearest to him). I was picked up by the collar by the boy and every one jeered at me, the victim. Kidang came in just at the right time and punched the Chinese boy. The two fought very well indeed as I remember, better than the World Wrestling Federation episodes that I was to watch from 1968 onwards in West Malaysia.

What ever were the real reasons for that fight, the atmosphere was definitely not cordial and I remember Kidang saying,"Don't lay your fingers on any Iban boys. Fight with me first."

Kidang was very muscular and he was not afraid to show his almost Mr.Universe body. He also walked tall and proud. As fate had it, he was not as lucky as most of us. As he did not pass his Sarawak Junior, he joined the Field Forces the following year. He rose to the rank of Captain but very sadly he was shot dead by the Communists in 1968 in Sibu. Thus he could be considered the first Iban martyr of the century for not only the nation or merdeka but also against the communist. I do not think he was ever decorated or his family rewarded for sacrificing him in that way, at such a young age.

Iban families lost a lot of their able bodied young men at the prime of their life. The old parents were often unaware of their rights and they continued their hand to mouth existence until the end of their days without complaining. Their attitude was such that their sons were heroes of the day for the government. That sense of pride was enough.

If you ever visit the longhouses in the interior, you could still see the faded pictures of the Agong, Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun Razak and Tun Hussein on many walls. These pictures would not be framed but they would be literally NAILED to the wooden walls! The Ibans are very patriotic in fact to the idea of Malaysia.

The Well Loved Cikgu Yusuf Hanipah (Now Datuk)

Cikgu (now Datuk) Yusuf Hanipah and my good friend (now Datu Haji) Photo by DHajiM during a recent investiture ceremony..

From 1959 to 1965 we were taught (mentored and brought up to be exact) by a wonderful teacher called Cikgu Yusof Hanipah. We as a bunch of boys then were delighted to have an "adult" sharing our lives. He lived in a one room with bathroom attached annex at the end of our hostel block.

In every way, he was the perfect adult any child would have trusted. In the most simple ways, he led us, he consoled us outside the classroom. In the classroom he taught us English and Bahasa Malaysia.

At that time we did not know that he was still trying to pass his Form Five privately. But we knew that he was studying right into the early hours of one or two. His little light in his room would be on. This example was extremely important because we learned to be hardworking like study well into the night.

It was probably 1962 that he went to Scotland to take up some diploma studies and we missed him a lot. A year later he returned much to our delight. We did not want to lose such a wonderful teacher.

He was a true counsellor, even though we knew that he was not qualified . At that time, a piece of paper did not matter much, as long as the government accepted him it was ok with the school.
He was definitely a top notch counsellor. And we all confided in him, not that we had lots of problems. But it was definitely part of rite of passage that little boys would be able to talk "man to man" with an adult. We learned to be articulate and clear in thinking like him by socialising with him.

He mentored us by relating to us like a big brother, telling us stories about his own impoverished childhood as a result of the early death of his parents. As an orphan he had to struggle in the poor rural Mukah to get an education.l It was also by dint of hardwork that he made it to Form Three and then when he became a teacher, he had almost reached his dream.

He showed us that if you could walk your dream, the pot of gold at the end was yours. His later life would show every one how true it was for him, but not for many of the others.

In later years long after he left the school in 1965, we still continue to be on the lookout for news about him:how he became an Education Officer in Sibu, how he went to the United States to get his PhD. and finally becoming the Mayor of Kuching North.

So to little boys an older brother who could cross religious and cultural barriers would definitely have an impact on their lives. Many of us owed our journey in education to the teaching of a very great teacher like him. His career and success would be difficult to emulate.

Perhaps he is what many people would say,"He was born under a special star." A Buddhist would say, "It's his kharma."

Sunday, May 20, 2007


1963 August 31.

I was a Form three student and by August most of my classmates and I were already revising for our Junior Sarawak Examination, which was very important to us. We had to make it to form four by all means and I was especially determined to do so. Being small in size I was often picked on by other boys and that made me even more determined to do better than others.

Then there was this new political situation, called the formation of the Federation of Malaysia. We did not foresee very much at that time, and we did not even realise that we would slowly lose the best of our white colonial teachers. However I could feel that there were elements of anxiety and apprehension in the staff room. I did not realise that 1963 was truly a significant political and social milestone in the history of Sarawak.

Our teachers were a good bunch. We had very British, and very colonial teachers. who were mainly from New Zealanders and Britain. they were definitely good, know their subject matter like the back of their hands. And I remember they treated us very well. The rest were Indians, Malays and a few Chinese.

By the way, most of us did pretty well that year and we went on to fourth form. The school was changing too.

Some who left us "changed" after they had been with us for three years, from Form One to Form three. Those of us who were left slowly changed too, as we were taught informally that school was an agent of change.

The formation of Malaysia promised us better education, a fairer government by our own people. It also promised us that Sarawak, Sabah andSingapore would be well protected and given lots of benefits.To my young mind, it was a promise that should hold true.

Although many of us were to live our dreams, some , as natural as our environment had to live there nightmares.

Starting from 1963.we began to hear about Confrontation, the North Kalimantan Communist Army, and our relatives who had joined the Border Scouts killed in cross fires.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

1962 Chellenga,Sia Pei Hoon,Aminah Lampam

In 1962, more girls appeared in TLS and foremost in my mind was my relative, Chellenga.

Chellenga was a very determined young lady at that time and she set her sights high. I knew that she aimed at becoming someone in life. She wanted to be educated to the best of her abilities. Life was not easy for someone from the rural areas.

This was the year before Malaysia was formed.

The atmosphere was full of tension and most of us were not so sure of things around us. But what we did was to study very hard.

When the Iban girls got together it was a very warming to the heart of a Form Two boy who did not have much in the mind. The other Iban girl was Halena Jeluing who also arrived in 1962.

In later years Chellenga went to teach in an Australian school in Katherine where she raised three children, Austin, Mark and Sura with her husband, Holt Thompson. The family would often come back to Bintulu and Miri to visit old friends.

When someone is back from overseas, the ex-TLS students would have the opportunity to have a get together.

Thus Rosalind Assan, Johnny Bana, Chellenga, Joan Tze would have a chance to meet up, bringing along our bunch of children. It was comforting to be with old friends. And Chellenga would be most happy to meet up with us.

Once Holt bought a chainsaw to bring home and we were really delighted by his down to earth attitude. We also found out that Chellenga grew mangoes in her backyard and sold them in the market.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Gabriel Uking

Gabriel Uking, from Long Palai, Baram joined TLS in 1959.

He was a strong boy, very humourous, very humble. And definitely, perhaps because of the Kenyah genes, he was very athletic. As a footballer, he was a star to reckon with in the field.
Unfortunately we were not blessed with capital and great coaches to bring about a leading team of footballers. But nevertheless, Gabriel Uking led a very strong team of footballers. We could not afford the proper boots. Most of us played in our bare feet. As we were too poor to buy football jerseys, it was therefore quite a common sight to see shirtless boys playing football in the hot sun in the 50's and 60's. We did not have Parent Teachers' Association those days to sponsor our sports gear.

Likewise we did not have many material things. One football was all we had to keep us occupied in the evenings. So we played football! Boys from Primary Five to Form Five (and later Form Six) played football, talked football and dreamed of football.

Gabriel Uking and I shared a love for midnight movies. The Miri Theatre put on two shows on week days and five shows at the weekends. Midnight shows were extremely popular. Tickets were $1.50,$1.00,50 cents or 30 cents. Sometimes cheap matinees would be announced to the delight of the public.

We native boys were given the opportunities to work for our teachers for some pocket money , soap or cakes. One particular weekend we need some money, actually 30 cents each only. We went to our respective teachers to ask for work. I was fortunate enough to have some work lined up for me. And I remember Gabriel also got a job and was delighted.

Half way through the afternoon the teacher asked Gabriel, "It is hot, isn't it?"

Gabriel being a very ulu boy where the culture did not include discussing the heat of the day, whispered to me,"Why ask such a stupid question? It is hot...full stop! Why the doubt at the end of it? "This little episode still makes me laugh today.

By evening we had finished our work with a flourish and our excitement and anticipation heightened. But to our disappointment, we were paid in kind! I was given a toothbrush and a cake of soap and Gabriel was given a small towel. In his exasperation, Gabriel exclaimed, "Don't they know that we only wanted 30 cents for our midnight movie!!"

That evening we walked the 5 miles to watch the midnight movie. We sat in the third class seats and had to tilt our heads backwards to watch the big screen, which was almost overhead. But nonetheless, it was a great midnight movie . We would suffer a neck ache for one or two days. But life was fuller and better for it! After the show, we trudged back through the GCM fields, passed the Brighton Beach, trekked up the hill and finally reached the school about 3 in the morning.

Pal, if you are reading this blog, I would like to say thanks. My life has been richer because you have a share in the tapestry.

More stories soon!

Monday, May 14, 2007


In 1960 another new batch of 67 students joined our ranks. Heading the girls were Joan Tze ,Wong Siew Jyu and Chang Chung Jet. These three ladies remain fast friends till today.

The others were Moh Mee Ing,Uteh binti Johari (the sister of Rabiah Johari),Alice Chin and Mary Chapman.

One good thing about having some girls in our midst was the "extra food"we could get from them. Whenever these girls did not have any appetite to eat, they just passed their food to our tables and we would just accept the extra blessing with glee. Eating together in the school dining hall was exceptionally interesting and warm. Our food was good, and we were very well trained by the Principal and the matron. We had good biscuits and drinks during breaks and a special night cap before we went to sleep. But unfortunately, after 1962, the food scenario took a turn for the worse, which perhaps was due to the larger school population or otherwise.

The dining hall scenario did not have any parallelisms with "Oliver!" definitely. Malay , natives and Chinese boys and girls got along well. Whether there was any undercurrent of dissatisfaction, I did not feel it in the first three years of my school life in TLS. So what Mr. McCormick said was true,"TSL was a paradise for learning."

The girls of 1960 also added more spice to our lives. Joan was very motherly from the beginning. Siew Jyu was just so brilliant in her students. Moh Mee Ing was a determined girl who wanted to study and do well. We later learned that her father was an educationist and expected her to do well. Apparently Mr. Moh in Bintulu spear headed a lot of ideas about running schools and getting Chinese school established. He was determined to bring good education to the immigrant Chinese children. Somehow being a hardworking man, he earned a lot of money to help establish the local Chinese primary school.

Thus by 1960, the school had grown to about 300 strong student population with classes from Primary Five to Form Five.

The school was slowly taking shape too. As progress continued we were very proud that the trees we planted were growing bigger. The new buildings were coming up prettily too. The teachers' quarters were on the eastern side, and the hostels in the south. Two fields have been constructed by then, with the help of school children. The boys went further down the bay area to cut turf to surface the football and hockey fields. I continued to water the causaurina trees, especially those around our hostel.

In the 1990's many of our trees were cut down by order of the Principal then for fear they would be uprooted by the strong winds from South China Sea and destroy the buildings under them.

It was very heartbreaking for me to see those trees planted by us,scrawny little native Primary Five or Six boys who were no taller than five feet,cut down. Thus when I saw the tree stumps I was really upset. ..but being me, any rainforest tree that is fallen and is replaced by another acacia or imported palm, I feel a great pain as if I have been stabbed in the heart. I have loved those dear trees all my life!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

1959 gas irons and Ding Seling

Ding Seling was in charge of teaching the new comers how to use the gas irons for ironing. He patiently taught us how to get the gas in and wait for the hissing sound and then light it up. The lighting up of the gas iron was often a very high anxiety moment. But most of us managed with great skill after a few attempts. I would always be grateful to Ding because he was a very patient and compassionate teacher. Having come to the school one year earlier, he was so much more knowledgeable and street wise than I.

There were three gas irons kept in the hostels for ironing purposes. I slowly learned that ironing was an important school chore because our trousers had to have a crease after they were washed and starched.

Please note that gas irons were probably only found in TLS and Miri. In other parts of Sarawak I understood later that folks used charcoal irons. In fact using a gas iron or charcoal iron and starching clothes are actually very archaic skills and not many people today have them.

In order to make starch we had to heat up the water with an adquate amount of cornflour until it turned into a gluey kind of consistency. I learned to do this in the little kitchen attached to the hostel. Once the starch was made, I had to put my trousers into the mixture and let them soak for a while. The trousers would then be wrung dry and then hanged on the clothes line to dry.

On a sunny day, our trousers would be as stiff as manila card paper! Some kids might over do the starch a bit and their trousers could even stand upright on the grass! I had a lot of fun washing my clothes. To this day, laundry is still one of my best skills.

Most of the senior boys had their trousers ironed with one single and straight crease in the front and at the back of each trouser leg and the school took pride in grooming them well. It was also the "must do" thingy then: to wear white cotton trousers which were clean, well starched and ironed. When one was far away from home and in a new culture, one was forced to acquire new skills as quickly as possible. I found that by being the same as the others, I would be able to share a new identity with them. Soon I learned enough laundry and other housekeeping skills to be accepted by them.

Some great stories from TLS are associated with the gas irons. So more later.

1959 Mr Hicks and his car

The 1959 intake consisted of some students who stayed two years only.

One outstanding student who stayed two years was Zainab Mahmud. She was the loveliest girl of the batch. Charming and kind . All those who met her just could not but be impressed by her. She put her address as Kampong Marlan, Miri.

Abi Omar and Tang Yok Mee were the other two who stayed for two years.

Pahang Lah some how stayed only for a year. I will put him in another post later.

Several other memories come to my mind.

There were a number of Form Five boys when I arrived. A few befriended me, especially Noel Hudson, who supplied me with OMO and in return I washed his sarong. Noel by comparison was a very rich student and he could send his clothes to the dobi in town. His mother had made arrangements for his laundry to be done privately and I was his "house boy" with a task to wash his sarong once a week. I remember Noel for his kindness and his apparent wealth. Washing a sarong for a young gentleman of means was nothing to be ashamed of. In the following years of my school life I learned what it meant to be hardworking, and what it meant to look for some pocket money.

But the most impressive excitement was Alfred Jabu, a Form Five boy, driving Mr. Hick's car. That was quite something for the student population and especially for a poor boy from Limbang.

Alfred Jabu was a personable person and he had gained a lot of favour with Mr. Hicks, an English man who was a beloved principal at that time. Mr. Hicks ate his meals with the students and that really had an impact on me. In later years when I became a principal of Sedaya, I had meals with my students. It was one of the best ways to get to know one's students and the meal services of the school.

Alfred Jabu was allowed to drive Mr. Hick's car whenever Mr. Hicks needed his service. The car was a wood framed "caravan" or station wagon, probably a forerunner of the present Prado or Pajero. My classmates, little boys in Primary Five, would watch our big brother driving the car along the road. Some of us even ran after the car to spur him on! I remember doing that several times, and it was fun. That was the nearest I could get to Mr. Hick's car.

This kind of behaviour, running after a car, continues to be seen throughout the world. Sometimes in the Travel and Living Channel, I could still see occasionally little African or Indian children running after visitors' vehicles. That would jolt my memory and I would see Mr. Hick's car being driven by Alfred Jabu right in front of me.

Today, many children, would line the airport, to welcome the now Tan Sri Datuk Pattingi Alfred Jabu and the revered Chief Minister whenever they pay an official visit to Miri. He probably knew then what he aspired to be. Or has his life been charmed all along?

Mr. Hick was a loveable chap. Although he looked terribly old to us small children then, nevertheless we looked up to him . Some of us even thought that he was God.

He never tucked his white cotton shirt into his shorts. And I never saw him wearing long trousers. He wore knee length stockings and nice shoes. It was his mannerism that impressed all of us. His body language was good and we knew that he wanted to teach us well. So with that kind of respect for him, we tried our very best to study and be what he wanted. Unlike the present day students, we never gave him any challenges. We were more than just student population to him. We were the souls that he had to save and improve!

Because he liked to exercise in the bay area, we name the bay, Hick's Bay, for him.

Our activities in Hick's Bay will be related in another post.

To this day, my friends and I would still regale with laughter our days and life under Mr. Hicks. 1959 was a good year. And here I would say, Mr. Hicks! What a guy! What a car! In my son's language, yeah, Mr. Hicks was cool!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Birthday greetings

A belated birthday greeting to Voon Siew Nam (6th May) and Ling Liong Wei whose birthday falls on 9th May. Walter Chamber's birthday is on 15th May while Frank Apau's is on 18th May.

Birthday greetings were a rarity at that time. Teachers did not come in to "sayang" the birthday boys and girls like today's teachers. My son went to a school in Tukau and his form teacher helped each child to celebrate his or her birthday. That was a good year for him. Parents chipped in by sending boiled eggs and a small birthday cake. In the 1980's teachers were trained to instill moral values through activities like celebrating birthdays and sharing of gifts during festive seasons.

In our days at Tanjong, many of us did not even know our birthdays! When we registered ourselves, we brought torn and tattered birth certificates (some did not have any I remember) and our Principal could not figure out the birth dates. Actually many of us who were born in the forties and fifties did not actually have birthdates because our fathers were illiterate and they did not understand the importance of birthdates.

To all those who celebrate birthdays, you are lucky to know exactly when you were born to your mothers, I can say Happy Birthday always.

But to all those who were born but would never know the exact dates of your birth, we belong to another faraway culture of yesteryears. (sigh) We have other things to worry about and value. On the bright side, we can be as young as we wish, or as old as we wish!

More to come.


I would never remember ever having my birthday celebrated in school. But every meal I had was a celebration of some sort.

But I remember having my first meal with a family in Limbang. I believe my father brought me to his Bisaya friend's home for that meal. For the first time I had fried mee din. Iban cooking at that time was very oil-less. Much of our food was just boiled in water and a little bit of salt. Any technology attempted would be the use of bamboo or pansur style of cooking.

Thus my first stir fry was a very significant moment in my life. It was also a great encounter with fried ikan bilis.

Can you ever remember falling in love with stir fried mee din with ikan bilis?

I was then a little boy of 12, fresh from the ulu where fish jumped in clear waters and drinking water was just a scoop from a mountain stream. Coming to a big town like Miri was more or less a culture shock.


I was introduced to papaya for the first time in my life during my first journey to Miri.

The Bisaya family served me papaya. I saw the reddish fruit with black seeds and I was so terrified of this unknown fruit that I could not eat it.

I truly believed that if my family had not served me this fruit before in the longhouse, I was not to eat it.

I still chuckle when I remember this incident. In later years, papayas became my all time favourite fruit.

Sakan Belarak

Sekan Belarak is actually Kiput from Long Tutoh, Baram. I remember him warmly because he was such a big loving brother to all the young boys in the school.

Sakan was in Tanjong Lobang school from 1957 to 1961. Thus in many ways, he was in school long enough to make a mark. We all looked up to him because he was a warm and straightforward leader. It was his personality that drew many of us near him. He was also protective and most important of all he was very articulate in expressing needs and anxieties. In a special, quiet way, he was actually playing the role of a peer counsellor. How natural it was for him!

From then until today his place in the ulu Tutoh is full of meandering rivers and ox bow lakes teeming with fish like tapah, semah and patin. From his area also comes Simon Jelan, our "school enemy" because Simon a Kiput represented St. Joseph in sports and games and Tanjong Lobang boys never seem to be able to beat him in the sixties.

Those of you who remember Simon, you would remember him as our number one enemy in football and the tracks. Today he is a very successful business man in Brunei but he is leading the Kiput Association in Miri.

We continue to hold a lot of respect for the Berawans or Kiputs until today for their skills in sports and outdoor activities.

Today Sakan lives in Miri with his family and grown up children. His kampong is still a great paradise to visit, just about two hours by express from Marudi.

Birth certificates

At a very young age I was very aware that many of us did not have birth certificates.

There were several reasons why we did have any.

Those of us who hailed from Ulu Baram were brought down by the Education Department to study in TLS. Births were not registered at all when babies came into the world.

Most births were handled by village midwives or traditional doctors. And in fact names were given according to our own cultural systems. Many of us had our cultural names.

It was later when we accepted Christianity or other religious that we adopted new names. I was Sawan anak Jiram and when I became a Catholic in Miri, I adopted Christopher as my baptismal name.

My birth certificate was a late registration so I am not quite sure if my birthday was authentic. But my father was educated enough to have my birth certificate made in Limbang. All my brothers and sisters did get their proper birth certficates without much trouble.

Today most rural children would face a lot of trouble if their parents did not register their births properly.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

1959 January 19th

64 students were registered for the new year of school in 1959.

I was proud to be one of them.

How did I , at 12 years of age, from Ulu Medamit, Limbang, come to study in Tanjong Lobang School, Miri, miles and miles away from home? In fact every one of us who came to Tanjong Lobang before 1960 would have a great story to tell.

I feel that mine is therefore a story worth telling.

One day in 1958 while I was studying in the one room school house in Medamit, my teacher Cikgu Bejit, told me that I had to sit for a qualifying test so that I could be selected to study in Miri. I was about 12 at that time but was placed only in Year 4, hence I was already a few years behind the normal school age. I started Year 1 at the age of 9 when almost all other students in Sarawak would have started Year 1 at the age of 7.

The other boy who was selected for the qualifying test was Sunang and I will tell his story in another post.

The test was made up of English and Mathematics and it was held in another school. In my innocence, the test was easy and I finished answering all the questions within fifteen minutes, much to the amusment of the white man who was in charge. I believe until today, he was Mr. McCormick, the Education Officer of Fifth Division at that time.

God must have been very kind to me because it was not every day that an Iban boy from Medamit, about two days' journey by longboat then from Limbang town, could be given a chance to study in Miri.

But then the Sarawak Colonial Government at that time had a special program to help the native boys . This was to enable native children to gain a place in a good government school which offered boarding facilities and especially good teaching. Tanjong Lobang school was built by funds given by the New Zealand Government to meet one of the then colonial government's development objectives.

Had it not been this program, I would probably be just a rubber tapper today or at the most a government clerk (at that time every one wanted to be an SAO or Sarawak Administrative Officer)

Indeed I passed brilliantly and I was told to go with my father to Limbang town to get ready to go to school in Miri by January the next year.

So in January 1959, my father took me to the Education Office which was housed together with the Resident's office. I remember Mr. McCormick telling my father in his heavily accented Malay that Tanjong Lobang was like a heaven for boys to study and he did not have to have any anxieties about me. Every thing would be arranged properly and I was to be in good hands.

My first journey to Miri would be by boat , the Aline, to Brunei and I was to go with the others who I later found out was a Malay boy and a Chinese girl and another Chinese boy. Abu Bakar Matassan, Tan Poh Tin, Sunang and I were selected from amongst all those who set for the qualifying exams for this 1957.

I don't quite remember the first time I met Tan Koon Kee , our senior, although I still remember him being a nice Chinese gentleman.

In retrospect, how our three lives (Abu and Poh ting and I) were interwined in the past 50 years! Abu and I cannot be too far away from each other, we seem to be orbiting around north Sarawak! Then Poh Ting and her husband Phang Chung Shin have always been our best friends.....

Here is an amusing anecdote about my first pair of school shoes. In August 1958, my father received a letter, stating that I was selected to attend Tanjong Lobang School in Miri and I had to have the following :
1. one pair of white canvas shoes,
2. 2 pairs of socks,
3. a blanket
4. one pillow
5. some pencils
6. some exercise books
7. some pocket money
8. tooth brush
9. a cup or glass
10. one plate
11, two white shirts
12. two pairs of dark blue shorts

and other personal effects.

Till today I have would get a good laugh when I tell my friends how my father and I went looking for a pair of canvas shoes in Limbang. You see at that time, canvas was not a vocabulary in any one's language. The helpful Chinese towkay of the shop said that canvas was velvet.

There was a pair of black velvet shoes in his shop but it was one size too big. any way my father, being an "obedient servant of the government" bought that pair of shoes. So without knowing much, I proudly took my beautiful black velvet shoes to Tanjong Lobang School. That made me an instant hero in the school!

For more than fifty years of my life, since then I would be caught chuckling about this....hahahaha.....velvet shoes...Sawan wore velvet shoes instead of canvas shoes....

By the way, a few days later I did get a pair of canvas shoes in Miri...that's another story.

Back from the digression, Abu,Poh Tin and I got on to the boat call Aline and as the boat sped off, I could see my father standing on the wharf looking straight to me, almost emotion-less as was his character. I was waiting for him to wave but he did not.......It was the first time for me to be on board to large coastal steam and I was truly choking inside.

On the other hand,the Malays were very smart and well dressed and they formed a big group by the river bank, waving at Abu and his elder brother, Mohammad, who was already a student at Tanjong Lobang. they seemed so organised and ready for the send off. I was full of respect for their clothes and good turn out. In comparison, my father stood alone, being the only Iban father sending off his eldest son, was in a corner , trying not to show any emotion at all. I was beginning to feel awful inside and had just wanted to go home with him. My longhouse kins men and women would not have known the significance of a send off.

As I am writing this post,I can still smell the diesel from the hot and noisy engine and hear the loud din the engine was making. Poh Tin was crying by herself and Abu was looking very sheepish. The water was churning away as we moved further and further away from Limbang town.

I remember that I watched the shore becoming darker, trying to figure out where my father was standing...until he was just a dot on the bank of the river. And finally I had to look at something else to occupy my mind.

The pangs of homesickness were already starting inside me as I tried to notice the newness of the coastal boatm the smells, the hardness of the steel structure and the paints. My life would never be the same again. I knew I have left the one room school house behind. I was just 12 years old.

Our boat ride ended in Brunei, where some government officers looked after us and brought us to the bus belonging to Awang Damit Transport Company. Somehow I can really remember that day as if it happened only yesterday.

The wooden topped bus would take us by the sandy, beach road to Miri. Every year for the next 10 years I would make that annual trip to Miri by the same bus.

The road was bumpy and the bus was dusty and sandy as we moved along. I had the taste of sand in my mouth once in a while. This would be changed when progress set in years later.

At first changes were slow but towards the 70's and 80 changes were amazing!

1958 name list

Baram Nalo, Ding Seling, Jacob Dungan,Johny Ragi, Grawat Ulu, Jok Ajeng, Jok Anyi, Karim bin Budin, Laing Jau, Lamban Sakalai, Ludan Kuleh, Mahmud bin Hamid, Masi Nael, Mahammad bin Hj Sabil, Musa,Cheng Yun Tong, Chen Yun Chian, Chiew Kie Hung, Chiew Kie Ing, Chong Hi Hua,Chong Song Laip, Chung Han Shan, Chung Siew Hyung, Deng Wang Kiew, Hii King leong,Hii Yii Eng, King Chiew Kiat, Ku Jong Ying, Huang Hing Tuong, Leong Man Wan, Leong Yit Lain, Lim Chong Hoi, Ling Ho Hui , Ling Liong Wei, Ling Kwong Yu, Ling Mee Yong.

These were the names in the register and I hope some of you readers would recognise them as your relatives and let them know.

Basically the Chinese boys played a lot of basketball in their little world, shielded by a common language. They were all in a bubble of their own, skirting around other lives and suspicious of alien intrusion. I suppose at that time, it was their way of surviving in a world removed from the grand nation of China. They were the spirited immigrant people who were looking for " a life" outside their homeland.

My children used to ask their mother how would an Iban teenager look upon visitors in the 1950's . She told them that probably at that time, which was pre-tourism days,the little innocent Iban teenagers would feel that they were "hosts" and they had to had to welcome the immigrant children and if these Chinese were to visit their longhouses they would have to be provided with kind and gracious hospitality. She was not wrong to say so as I remember it was typical of Iban perspective at that time. Did I feel very much of a "host" towards the Chinese students who came to Tanjong Lobang in the late 1950's?

Many years later I learnt about host as a biological term....and then that's another funny story.

Those were the days when we were young and gay, friends and not knowing at all what the future would bring. But thirty or forty years later, in the 21st century, we have moved on to the era of mobile phones,global migration,video conferencing and blogging.

Next year this batch of 1958 would be thinking of 50th anniversary of meeting at Tanjong Lobang...or would they wait until 2013 to mark 50 years after they have passed Form Five?
How would they put an anniversary date, based on what event? what time?


Chai Yeak Yun, Philip Lim,Phang Sam Fatt,Chong Tung Fatt, Ho Mok Yin, Dunstan Ludan,Kiprawi Sweasi,Pahphael Scott Abeng, Peter Boyer, Awangku Jaafari, Sylvester Juan, Ghazaili Ismail, Danson Gaygne, Abdul Wahab,Frank Apau, Leo Ambrose, Walter Chambers, Alfred Jabu Solomon Buyong, Noel Hudson, Henry Jantum, Nicolas Answer, Averil Rodegers, Mohammad Joni, Grace Tze, Liaw Leong Pei, Abdillah Hassan and Agan Kapong reported on 20th January 1958. Altogether 95 students reported for the second year after the Tanjong Lobang School was estab lished. This boosted the total school population to 165.

Phang Sam Fatt later became the Chief Librarian of the Miri Dewan Suarah Library and helped many children to become good readers. I brought my children to borrow books in the libary when they had to do their school course work.

The Dewan Suarah Library was something to reckon with in the 1980's and 1990's. Not many towns would have such a great building and such an array of books and magazines! When I looked at the facilities I would often think of the less well bestowed, the less fortunate students in the rural areas who would not have even seen more than 10 books in their life!

And then in the 1950's we had to be plucked out of the rural areas by some white men with grand ideas that this was the ideal way of creating a new generation of educated native boys and girls. Even though it would mean displacement and emplacement of children, still too young to be taken away from their parents, it was the only way.

I was like a wild mushroom plucked from Ulu Medamit and I had to find my own niche to survive. I had to live in a fragile environment but thanks to some gracious hands and gracious hearts I managed to bloom. I am sure many of my school mates felt the same about themselves, about their environment, about their school and their teachers.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Ding Seling

A nice gentleman from Long Tebangan, Ulu Baram, Ding Seling was in the same batch of 1958 together with Jacob Dungah, Johnny Ragi, Grawat Ulun, Jok Ajeng, Jok Anyi, Laing Jau, Lamban Sakalai, Ludan Kuleh, Mahmud Haid, Mohammad Sabil, Taha Besar, Weng Ibun, Musa Tuan just to mention a few.

Ding was a tough boy and played football well. Later on in life, when we had television (circa 1968), I would picture seeing Ding playing for one of the English football teams, wearing red shirt and knee socks! I had a lot of admiration for him. As I was small in size I did not really matter in the football field. But those huge Kenyahs and Kayans were really a force to reckon with.

It was a pity that by the skills we had then, we would never made it to the state squad. But to this day, I still believe that these boys had the makings of great footballers if given the right food, right training and right guidance. It was a pity too that at that time we did not have a sports school like Bukit Jalil spur the native students on.

Ding Seling if you remember went on to be Senator and a respected educationist.

He is truly a man who qualifies to wear many feathers.

(Feathers for those of you who do not understand Sarawak culture are worn by native leaders who evolved from the community and rose to positions of great respect..the more feathers they wore, the higher their position would be. So paramount chiefs would wear many many feathers.)