Wednesday, March 23, 2005

the malay college

I went to MCKK at the age of twelve, spent the best part of my growing years until the age of eighteen and even after many years of having left it behind, felt like I have never been away from it; The Prep School, the Big Tree, Hargraeves Hall, Big School, M-Chop and Mutalib’s Highway. How can I ever forget ‘Fiat Sapientia Virtus’ – Let Manliness Come Through Wisdom’ – it’s motto. Last January 2, this year 2005, MCKK was a hundred years old. The celebration however was set on March 26. I would be there again InsyaAllah, to be among all those that had been there once upon a time, a boy among boys, proud of growing up in its ancient compound, walked out of its gate a man, older but not necessarily or maybe not even wiser.

MCKK began for me on a day when my excited father took me on his ‘basikal norton’ to tell the great news to my grandfather. For many-many years later, Aki would proudly tell everyone of the grandson who went to the ‘great school of the royals and leaders’; introduction that often had me squirming with embarrassment. I was amused with the special attention I was getting; all the preparation - the shopping for white baju melayu, white school uniform and white pillow cases and bed sheets and white ‘kelambu’. I was too young to understand that it would soon become my new home far away from home and much more. And I would be spending my first Hari Raya Puasa away from the family. An experience I would not want to repeat and one that cost me a ‘hands-on’ experience with M-Chop but that is for later. Now, I think I must have been very lucky. With only a 4A and a B in the Penilaian, I must have made it on the rural quotas, having later found out that almost all others went in with 5A’s. My sister went to Tun Fatimah two years earlier and I was kind of continuing with the boarding school tradition which almost all the fourteen of us siblings dutifully followed. I was too young to understand its significance and despite my seemingly studious nature, I was lazy to boot and spent more time scribbling away.

MCKK was to me so much more sophisticated than any environment I had previously known. There, beginning with the regal but squeaky floor boarded Prep School, I had learnt to live among boys of the same age; experienced living in a world of electrical light, took shower by piped water and do that ‘big’ thing in a ‘flush’ toilet. It was to me a whole ‘brave new world’. I am not exaggerating but the world I left behind was still a world of ‘air telaga’, ‘lampu gasolin’ and ‘jambang cuah’ (water drawn from well, gasoline lamp and bengal toilet).

MCKK was modernity in every sense.

MCKK too was a cradle for everything ‘Malay’ness. Baju Melayu with sarong and songkok every night, full baju melayu with ‘sampin’ on Friday and ‘BRU’ nights, and baju melayu with the maroon blazer over for those occasions I represented ‘Kolej Melayu Kuala Kangsar’ in debating.

Yet it too was a cradle for personal independence, or brotherly interdependence depending on which way you look at it. A brotherly spirit translated into a special lasting kinship of the old school tie as old boys. Those five years of learning everything or nothing (also depending on which way you look at it) made us leaders in our own way; vocal, bold and confidence to the point of snobbishness. We became the prominent sore thumb in the emerging boarding schools citizenry not so much for the way we carry ourselves but just by being a ‘budak koleq’. If even we were snubbed, we were what we were. We put our heart and soul in everything we do. We cried when we lost and we belittle others when winning. From the fringe of the playing fields or the halls whenever we won, we stood proudly to sing our school anthem against the jeering from the losers. And then came our turn to turn on our brand of the jeers. For the arch rival from Ipoh, the STARians we have the sweet ‘Twinkle, twinkle little Star….’ For standard fare, it’s ‘Bung Wak, Bung Wek wek, Bung Kak Bung Kek kek. Who are we? Malay College. Hoah!’

It too was (at least in my time) a fertile ground for Islamic Revivalism. For this MCKK had his own hero, one no other than ‘Saudara’ Anwar Ibrahim. BRU I had mentioned earlier stood for Badan Revolusi Ugama, an Islamic student movement founded in MCKK by Anwar. The late Allahyarham Ustaz Rahman, personally and endearingly told me once that even when he was in Form Six, Anwar was sought after by the Special Branch for giving ‘talks’ in local suraus and printing T-shirts emblazoned with ‘Badan Revolusi Ugama’. Revolusi Ugama? That brother sure knew how to be in trouble.

Problem was, there were little to separate heroes from trouble makers. In the long history of MCKK, the heroes or the ‘terror’ as they were known were as popular as the ‘terrorist’ on the other side. Then in the seventies MCKK had plenty of both; kings and sultans, ministers (at least one with the distinction of being convicted for murder of political opponent), civil and corporate leaders; their name abound. On the other side were the ‘terrorists’ like (then jailed) Anwar and (then on exile) Hishamuddin Rais. be continued.

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