THE MESIAN MESSAGE 90 - MAY 2009

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THE MESSAGE NO. 90 MAY 2009
THE LADY ANON. SERIES
THE LEE YEW KWONG 5TH EDITION


BREAKING NEWS
TED MILES STARTS SPEAKING TO YOU

book_man

We, some of us Mesians have invited, asked, requested, consulted, entreated and finally pleaded with our mentor to pen us a column in the newsletter.

With attacks from all sides, he finally decided that he would write. Bravo! This is what our perseverance has bore fruit after all. Leading the onslaught is Zulkifli from high and above the Cameron Highlands plus his gang of pals. Added to this there is a host of silent well-wishers wishing to read pieces that are his.

The following is his first contribution to the Mesian-message and there will be more to come. His writing is plain and direct as he prefers to call a hoe a hoe and a spade a spade. It ain't no fun to debate. Thus his pieces would appear verbatim! Yes, every word is from him.



FROM SIR, WITH LOVE

Mr. Ted Miles

First of all, I want it to be clearly understood that this column was not my idea: I was asked to write it, and at first I resisted the invitation, fearing that I would be compared to a certain outspoken former politician, also in his 80s, who, many people thought, should have retired quietly and kept his mouth shut. Well, you have asked me to open my mouth (or take up my pen), so I must thank you sincerely for your confidence that the Old Man might still have something worthwhile to contribute.

I'm faced with the big question of what I should write about that could possibly interest the diverse readership of "The Mesian". The one thing that all of us have in common is a relationship with M.E.S. Even in that connection, though, there is a great expanse of time, with many different sets of teachers and students. And some of you even pre-date me. You were around when A.C.S. started with classes in the Chinese Church and in a shophouse on Ah Peng Street in 1948, fully five years before I appeared on the scene.

My first glimpse of that four-room black building with the attap roof and expanded-metal "walls" was in 1952, soon after my arrival in Malaya, when I was investigating the sights along the road to Kuala Lipis. There was very little traffic on the road, and no wonder: along the way I passed the frames of several buses that had been burned by the CTs. It was the Emergency, indeed an exciting time, and right then the idea formed in the back of my mind that I would like to work in Bentong at that little school that was rumoured to be in danger of being closed down.

Who would have thought that I'd still be in Bentong and writing about that first impression fifty-eight years later? Well, here's something from the heart: you who are reading this article are the reason I'm still here.




FROM 2 SIRS TO SIR, WITH LOVE

My last trip to Bentong was a memorable one. It was Mr. Ted Miles' Birthday. There was a gathering of familiar faces of past pupils and teachers of the yester years of the once well-known private educational institution - The Methodist English School formerly known as the Anglo Chinese School.

I was privileged to travel with John Chinniah my former teaching colleague at this institution, leaving the busy and bustling KL to a much more serene environment leading to Bentong. It was a cool drive - the sun was not up yet fully and the traffic was not wild and jammed up like the one we left behind at KL. It was a good and peaceful drive, with so much greenery and untouched landscape left for us to admire and appreciate. The skyline clearer, the air cleaner and the cool breeze that strikes your face, gentler - something that is so....soo..... different from the concrete jungle that we just left behind when we left KL.

When we finally arrived at the Birthday Venue - a bungalow perched on the slope of a hill, well camouflaged by its rich and green foliage surrounding it, one gets a feeling, there must be a modern hermit residing at this place - keeping himself far away from habitation and human contact - what a life.

Well, this is the hermit we have come to visit and join the yester years' crowd to celebrate his birthday. Guess what, we were met at the door by the 'birthday boy' himself - he has not changed a bit in his look or stature when I worked under him as an apprentice more than 40 years since. The world is revolving and rotating on its axis and he is still there, the way I met him that many years ago.

Once in, familiar smiling and grinning from ear to ear faces come to join our company. Faces that were once boyish in nature but today look fully grown, some slightly aged, a few standing with thinning hairline, some have graciously retired from their working life and some have been blessed to be grand parents. What a world of difference.....

I looked at myself and muttered to myself. You too have changed. Look at the greying top of your crown and the lash of white thorny pricking shrub that is covering your face.... you still think you look the same, the day you met your Principal? Sometimes you have to face the reality of life. The table had a good spread of inviting palatable food, both brought from home and some were bought from the shop. A choice of vegetarian and non- vegetarian to suite the taste buds or just to whack as long as the belly gets its fill.

The fellowship was good, fine and wonderful and you have a happy feeling that you are meeting people whom you have not met for at least four decades. Time has flown and we are given a second chance to catch up with comrades to refresh our past memories. It is nice to hear when one expresses his nostalgic feelings and says, he was my teacher, and when you look at him and see that his thinning hairline has receded showing a little shine of his scalp, you wonder, who was teacher to whom.

Not that I have not aged but some enjoy the prestige of getting old graciously. With pleasantries shared and personal information exchanged, everyone had their share of dipping their fingers into the pies and had their bellies filled. The ladies gave a helping hand to tidy up the place.

After exchanging contact numbers and saying farewell, the crowd started to dwindle and soon the place looks deserted, leaving the old guards - the main Host or rather the main Guest, Chan Suy Sang (the Mesian Editor), John Chinniah, myself plus one or two others, not forgetting the little animal kingdom who were wandering around trying to get a little bit of attention.

It was relaxing and time of sharing, recapping the past and calling to memory of certain names and characters of which some remembered and others like me was just shaking my head to echo and stay in agreement. We finally took leave and said our goodbye to someone we had known for a long time, who was not only the Principal of the school, a friend and to many he is their Mentor.

On my way home, I requested John if we could just pass the site where the school stood. I was surprised, the school buildings were no more there - I was wondering whether David Copperfield had visited the area and carried out his Magic Fete, and got the school missing into thin air. The landscape is totally different, looks like some development is underway to take shape. The Institution that once stood beaming with its Torch inviting those who wanted to gain an education, whether from the locals or pupils who had come from far off towns or States has finally closed its chapter.

The Methodist English School had played and contributed not only to the town of Bentong, but to the State of Pahang and to the country as a whole. Its, once student body stood up and made an accountable reputation in the field of Education, Sports, Interschool Debates both in Bahasa Kebangsaan & in English, the school crooners displayed their talents during the National Language Week when they went on stage at the public 'padang' to prove their God given voice. One such song that I clearly remember to this day "Burung Kakak Tua" still rings a bell in my ears. Their display in team work was shown in the many times they have come home successfully with Interschool Challenge Trophies in the game of soccer and hockey.

In the field of Athletics our one sure bet in bringing in the shields was the school runner, the late Yang Ahmad. I clearly remember three of our Senior Boys Scouts had also achieved their highest award being conferred as "Agung Scouts". Our pupils by large have proved well by holding good and responsible jobs and personally I known a few who have entered the local Uni and have graduated and now holding high positions in society. The school served and played its role to the needs of the local town, today we cannot overlook or forget its merits how in turn its pupils have blazed the road of talent and carried its glory in the places where they serve or where they are.

To the past Principal, staff and pupils of the Methodist English School, Bentong we are proud to have been part of you and we stand with our heads up and acknowledge that we have done our part honestly, sincerely and well in the eyes of the Almighty. And you MES, are already with the Almighty leaving us still struggling on this side of the-earth-and-heaven divide.

THAT WAS A TALE FROM SELVARAJ DANIEL.



FETE SIR WITH LOVE


Loh Fook Cheng had returned from the Lion City for a visit. He had been around in Kuala Lumpur and Bentong for a week. As with a long overdue visit he had many places and people to visit. One day he managed to call our mentor out for lunch. The couple lunched with Mr. Miles together with Fook Cheng's brother Loh Kok Keong who had just returned from Sabah.

I was invited to join them but I apologized and declined. Why? Distance was the reason. Just to travel up and down for about 200 km for a meal, was a bad deal. If I was in Bentong, I would have tagged along, to have my fill. The foursome had a very long chit-chat to catch up with things that had stretched a long year gone by.

The Loh brothers and spouses called on their brothers and sisters, uncles and aunties, cousins, nephews and nieces in Bentong like the Chinese say calling on yee mah and ku chehs. They were later with Loh Fook Yin their sister down in Petaling Jaya. It was around here in Kuala Lumpur that they also paid homage to their late ancestors in cemeteries around the city.

Fook Cheng and his missus could have left ere seeing me. But fate had it that we ran into one another. All available transport to Singapore was fully snatched up on the day they were to return to the Lion City. Their departure was delayed for one day. So I managed to squeeze in their tight schedule to visit them the morning before they boarded their long-distance coach!

Fook Cheng and I had breakfast in Petaling Jaya. Wow! I also got to meet his spouse. Mrs. Loh Fook Cheng is a knowledgeable and friendly person to participate in a conversation. She shared a bowl of temptingly delicious noodles with Fook Cheng. At first I thought: hey time must be really bad, having food two to a plate! But on second thought I came to know the why and how she keeps her figure down, envy of most ladies. Little wonder that Fook Cheng himself had no bulging middle, slim and as fit as a fiddle! The couple confessed that they like Malaysian foods saying they are very tasty and there are more varieties! Well, to enjoy them foods come more frequently!!




THANKING SIR WITH LOVE

Part 1 of this story ended with: And...From there..... I was rescued. But just before the rescue, there was a scary interlude. Here the story goes:

While we were staying in the Malay Club, we were asked to leave the club and went elsewhere. We were blank as we did not know where to go. One of us suggested that we should try to ask the DO who lived on the hill for permission to stay in his garage. So in the evening we went to see the DO. He was a pleasant man. The spokesman for all of was Ahmad Basri. I do not know where he is now. What I've heard he went back to Kedah. The DO agreed to let us live there as we gave the reason that the Malay Club had been occupied by the first batch of Malay Secondary students in Sulaiman School - in front of the Police Station.

Malaysian Fruits

When we stayed at the DO's garage, our lives had changed a little. There was no electricity. So the night time was occupied by using candles or kerosene lamps. Some time later, some unknown attacks came to all of us there. It could be a ghost or spirit that did horrible things to us. The first night at around 11pm the threats came. It (ghost or spirit) threw a lot of wild fruits upon us. Those fruits dropped on the floor. The fruits were still fresh as we noticed that the white saps were still at the tip of the stalks.

Later not only wild fruits were thrown in but other things, such as small pebbles, some earth, small bamboo sticks which we used as the barrier to discard snails eating our vegetables which we had started growing there. We were so frightened. We did not know whom to turn to for aid.

Some time that week the story of the incidents had reached the ears of whole of Bentong town. We had never told the DO about these occurrences. As the people started marching to the DO,s garage, the DO came out of his residence and asked us for the truth. We told him everything that had happened. Then he told the people to return home.

The next evening the DO had ordered a policeman to take care of us. The police asked us so we related the same story to him. The policeman had a rifle and a torchlight. When the throwing of the wild fruits began that night, he went out with his torchlight on to see the real thing. He could not see a thing as to how the fruits were thrown upon us. The policeman got tired of this so he went off.

The throwing of things went as usual. In order to defend ourselves, we hid under our sleeping mats throughout the night. The throwing mess would stop around 2am. Only then we could sleep peacefully. You know the next day going to school rather sleepy and school uniform not properly pressed. I remembered the late Encik Shamsuddin Pandak, was saying it was okay for me to be rather sleepy because he knew the incident.

Later we were allowed to stay back in the Malay Club. The Sulaiman school students had shifted to their hostel near the police station. And after this second time of staying in the Malay Club then came the rescue.....

Mr. Miles came to offer us places in the hostel. I remembered our mentor came over personally to the Malay Club, where my friends and I were staying. He came and started asking about our conditions and how we managed ourselves. Well, we just said what we did.

You know, those days with just $50/= from parents at home how on earth could make ourselves better than what we were in. There we did everything ourselves which meant cooking the breakfast, lunch and dinner. Whether we or I could do it good or bad was up to us -- was just that so long our stomachs were filled, it would be okay.

Our mentor came and he made an offer to all of us to stay with other students in his hostel. The offer was really so good for all of us. I did not know how really he came so be interested in our welfare. May be because that I had won the first Penmanship competition final for that particular year, and may be due to that he was so willing to pick on me to stay in the hostel. May be you can refer this particular incident to him.

The above is PART 2 of STORY NO. 4: By Mohd Razlan Marzuki,

(To be continued)



HISTORY REELING BACK HALF A CENTURY:
BACK TO 1959 - MAY


Things were happening in MES and in the hostel. The following names were mentioned in their bits and pieces of their daily doings. Munzir, Hashim, Koon Ting, Tengku Jamil, How Seng, Tat Pin, Zubir, Chen Yoong, Zahid, Kanagaraj, Murad, Mohd Noor Sidik and Tengku Ahmad.

Tengku Abdullah, Trevor Foenander, Tengku Nizan, Dzulkifli, Bala, Bakar, Kim Seng, John Chinniah, Mok Say Kuang, and Leong Ah Shui. The last named broke his leg in a soccer game. He lay in the hospital for days waiting to have his fractured leg x-rayed. His parent took him out of the hospital to a Chinese medicine man who treated him with "teak ta" medicines literally means iron-hit treatment. ???

There was a mention of the Globe, the posh cinema in the town those days. It was a sort of gas-chamber during cinema shows. When the shows started, they shut the doors. The audience would be smoked with cigarette smokes, grilled with heat from human breath and sweat, and nauseated by the stench of urine from children who just pissed under the seats. But the cinema wide screen would show you scenes that would make you think it was worth the little inconveniences!

Turn Table Record

Talking of entertainment, our mentor had a good collection of records that they span in the hostel to keep the boys entertained. Till now he still keeps a good collection of those records.

Hey Suy Sang! how do you know all these? This was how it happened at 3.30pm on April 18, 2009.

My visit was a long talk today. I mentioned to him about including song lyrics in the Mesian-message. He agreed saying some of our members might still know the songs we used to sing. He brought out an inch thick bundle of song sheets mimeographed on the old Gestetner duplicating machine. He gave me a few sheets with the lyrics of the then popular songs printed on them like You Are My Sunshine, On Top of Old Smoky, Cruising Down the River, etc.

Music Book

Song sheets of the golden oldies anybody? Come for a visit and you might get some for free, printed 50 years ago !




HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO THE FOLLOWING IN MAY

Birthday Cake - Green


No.
NAME
BIRTHDAY
1
MOHD. ZAINON B.IBRAHIM
MAY 3
2
R.S.LINGAM
MAY 10
3
JOHN CHINNIAH
MAY 12
4
MAUD FOENANDER
MAY 13
5
ABDUL KHALIL
MAY 13
6
MOHAMAD ROSELY ZAKARIA
MAY 14
7
FRANKIE HOH OI CHYE
MAY 16
8
FOO YOOK YOON
MAY 17
9
RAYMOND ARASU
MAY 25
10
PLANISAMY PERUMAL
MAY 26
11
LIEW FOOK CHOY
MAY 30


 Book and Quill
Partly written and edited by Chan Suy Sang
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