Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh.
Mengadap Duli Yang Maha Mulia Paduka Seri Sultan Azlan Muhibuddin Shah Ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Yussuf Izzuddin Shah Gharafullahu-lah, Paduka Seri Sultan Perak Darul Ridzuan;
Patik sekalian amat berbesar hati dan menjunjung kasih atas sudi perkenan Tuanku mencemar duli memuliakan majlis malam ini, iaitu Majlis Makan Malam Tahunan 2009 Persatuan Murid-Murid Tua The Malay College Malaysia.
Seterusnya patik merafak sembah memohon izin untuk memberi sepatah dua kata kepada hadirin sekalian.
Duli Yang Teramat Mulia Raja Nazrin Shah Ibni Sultan Azlan Shah Muhibbuddin Shah, Raja Muda Perak Darul Ridzuan dan Pengerusi, Lembaga Pengelola The Malay College Kuala Kangsar;
Y.M. Datuk Seri Tunku Adnan Tunku Besar Burhanuddin, Life President MCOBA;
Y.B.M. Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, a distinguished Old Boy;
Y.A.Bhg. Tun Mohammed Hanif Omar, another distinguished Old Boy;
Fellow MCOBA Members;
Fellow Old Boys;
Teachers, Collegians and Respected Guests.
Welcome to MCOBA Annual Dinner 2009!
This year MCOBA turns 80.
Eighty years ago, on Saturday 16 March 1929, some 150 Old Boys travelled to the royal town of Kuala Kangsar and gathered at the College for Hari Besar, the Big Day. This was the beginning of our tradition of Old Boys’ Weekend, a weekend of fun and frolic when men relive their boyhood at the College.
At this very first Old Boys’ Weekend, the Old Boys, beside High Tea and a football match, discussed and agreed to the formation of an Old Boys’ Association. Y.M. Raja Musa bin Raja Haji Bot of Selangor was elected the first President. This admirable gentleman was said to be the first Malay to read law in England in 1924 and the first non-British to become the Registrar of the Supreme Court in 1937.
This evening’s Annual Dinner has similar 80-year history behind it. In the evening of the following day, Sunday 17 March 1929, the Old Boys sat for the first ever Old Boys’ Dinner at the College’s dining hall. To the strains of the Perak State Band, the Old Boys savoured a lavish banquet of hors d’oeuvre, tomato soup, salmon with mayonnaise sauce, cold ox-tongue and salad, nasi briani, mutton curry, chicken musamah, sambal, asparagus, pudding, fruit and coffee.
This evening’s menu does not aspire to outdo such banquet, but I assure you it will compare very favourably with the offering we had at College. It’s one of life many mysteries how at College we could devour so heartily, and live to tell, stuff like beef that could only come from fighting bull, chicken that could only come from fighting cock, half-boiled egg that was always hard-boiled, and kuih bom that could actually serve as bomb. But the consolation was that in Kuala Kangsar, good food was aplenty. It could be biased memory; it could be our still undeveloped taste bud but nowhere else could you find the like of the kuey teow at Rex, mee Bandung at Pak Kassim along the Riviera, beefsteak at the Rest House, ais kacang at Queen or pau at Yat Lai and on this, all Old Boys will agree, and since every Old Boy tends to think his own opinion is the only one that is right, this agreement, I must say, is indeed very rare.
You would have thought that Malay College Old Boys should, by definition, be both Malays and Boys. Like all generalisations there are exceptions. While upon leaving College everyone speaks as good Malay as the next guy, there were instances of new entrants speaking Malay like new arrivals from Tamil Naidu, with the appropriate nod and shake of head and hand. Likewise, while all are presumably boys, there have been two registered cases when they were girls.
But more importantly, do these generally Malays and generally boys cloistered together during their formative years later develop weird tendencies? On the contrary, they graduate, work, get married, raise family, have one or two flings, one or two crises; that much they are the same as everyone else. But they go further; they tend to exhibit an open cosmopolitan outlook. The supreme historical example of this was of course Dato’ Onn Jaafar, a great Old Boy. He was a great nationalist, and never a racialist. After his proposal to open UMNO to all races was rejected, he left the party, the very party that he founded. Why did he have this multi-racial outlook? Tun Hanif Omar, our distinguished Old Boy, may have the answer. Writing in his “Point of View” column in The Star on 2 June, 2006, he asks “Why are Malay Collegians and Old Boys of the Malay College not racial fanatics?” His own answer is “because of our exposure to British and multi-racial teaching faculty”. But Tun Hanif also adds “Today, when the teaching staff is almost totally Malay, how do Malay Collegians escape the embrace of racial fanaticism?” This is a genuine concern today. The government should be concerned that perhaps we have travelled along the communal paths far too far and that somehow we have to come together again. Hence the slogan of “One Malaysia”?
Apart from nurturing a non-communal outlook, schools such as MCKK tend to be a character builder, not just a nest bed for so many A’s in the exam! Character building is about creating a wholesome person with integrity and capability. Integrity includes honesty. Capability includes the ability to plan, organise and do things, including planning and organising one’s life. Mr Lee Hsien Loong, the Prime Minister of Singapore, has this to say at the Singapore Teachers’ Day Rally on 31 August 2006: “So if you look at the best schools overseas, often they will emphasise not just education and academics but also character and leadership development. And it is true in the world all over. In Australia, you have Geelong and Melbourne Grammar School. In Britain, you got Eton and Harrow, elite public schools with that special ethos. In the US, you have Philips Academy at Andover, you have Groton and they also emphasise on character and leadership training. Or in Malaysia, you may have heard of the Malay College of Kuala Kangsar (MCKK)…”
Mr Lee further says: “How do these schools do this? I think there are three or four characteristics which we can study. One, they are boarding schools so the students don’t just attend classes together, but they live together, play together, do sports together, look after one another, older ones taking care of the younger ones. They do this day in and day out, for several formative years, as they grow up, as their characters are formed”.
I can continue talking in this vein but since this is a dinner occasion, I will not want to dwell too long on such weighty subjects. However, since this is a MCOBA Annual Dinner and I am MCOBA’s President, allow me to summarise some of MCOBA’s recent and future activities.
MCOBA launched the FSV (from College motto Fiat Sapientia Virtus) Series of Corporate Dinner Talk in 2009. The first in the series was a talk on “Strategies in an Economic Downturn” by Professor David Collis of Harvard Business School on 29 July 2009 at this same venue. The attendance by about 500 people from the Old Boys and the corporate sector was encouraging enough for us to continue with the FSV Corporate Dinner Talk Series next year.
The MCOBA web-site has been revamped to be more user-friendly and informative. In this connection, I thank the Class of 1989 for sponsoring to host this website. The various MCOBA e-groups continue to be active, discussing everything under the sun and as usual everyone has found their exclusive answers to solve the world’s problems. The MCOBA Toastmasters Club and Koperasi MCOB are both picking up momentum. New committees for Heritage, Business and Merchandise have been formed under MCOBA to look after specialised interests.
MCOBA continues to support, financially or otherwise, the student’s extra-curricular activities at MCKK. We have formed the All-Blacks Revival Committee to help MCKK regain its dominance in rugby. One of the main objectives of this revival programme is to win against Vajiravudh College, Bangkok in the annual rugby match with them. MCKK can’t continue to be thrashed by Vajiravudh like they did four years ago during MCKK’s centennial year.
Sometime in January 2010, we plan to organise a celebration at MCKK to mark 100 years of the Big School as well as its declaration as a National Heritage Building by the Ministry of Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage.
As most of you are aware, the MCOBA Building has been empty for quite some time since being vacated by UEM to move to their own new premises. Good news: come 1 January 2010, the First to Third Floors as well as the Lower Ground Floor will be leased to a new tenant. MCOBA will occupy the Penthouse and the Ground Floor which will be converted into office suites, meeting rooms, and a “virtual office”.
In conjunction with Teachers Day 2009, MCOBA honoured MCKK teachers by having a dinner with them. It was a splendid get-together and helped to enhance understanding between us to work together for the benefit of MCKK. We thank the teachers for a good turnout and hope to make this dinner an annual event.
The Board of Governors, under the chairmanship and leadership of His Royal Highness Raja Nazrin Shah ibni Sultan Azlan Muhibbuddin Shah, Raja Muda Perak Darul Ridzuan, has injected fresh ideas and initiatives. The Board came up with the Project Sayong in 2006, a project to revitalise MCKK. This was followed by the setting up of the MCKK Foundation last year with the objective of seeking fund to implement the proposals put forward by Project Sayong. To date the MCKK Foundation has accumulated about RM 26 million. The International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma, a post-SPM and pre-University program, will be introduced at MCKK in 2011. Construction of the IB Complex is now in progress. A new performance hall will be built next year. Next year to the Forms 1 and 2 students will have their own classroom block, next to the present Prep School.
The PTA or PIBG has recently raised RM 100,000 to help fund student’s activities.
The Ministry of Education has been very supportive in addressing problems and issues at MCKK. Starting next year, MCKK has been given approval to reintroduce a non-pure-science stream for the upper forms. The Ministry has also approved budgets for badly needed maintenance, repairs, refurbishments and pest controls.
While MCOBA is eighty years old, MCKK is 24 years older. Many will be surprised to know that throughout its 104 years history, the total number of alumni of MCKK is only less than 8,000. Only about 5,500 are alive around the globe today and about 8% of it in this ballroom. Therefore in the context of the population of Malaysia, about 27 million now, the number of Old Boys is actually a drop in the ocean. But what a drop! The impact of the Old Boys, past and present, on the course and history of the country is disproportionate to their size.
Let’s continue working together to make MCKK retains its prestige and relevance for the nation’s benefits. Let’s pray His Royal Highness Raja Nazrin’s vision of making MCKK, and Kuala Kangsar, the hub of educational excellence in the country and in the region becomes a reality for the good of all.
It now remains for me to record my heartfelt appreciation to this year’s Dinner Committee under the able stewardship of Dato’ Faiz Mohd Darus and to all the sponsors and others too numerous to mention individually, but you will know who they are from this evening’s Dinner Programme, who have generously contributed in kind or time to put together this evening’s event.
Last but not least, I thank you all. Let us all enjoy ourselves tonight! The boys have worked very hard for the concert programme tonight!
Sekian, Ampun Tuanku.
Wassalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh.
TAN SRI DATO’ SERI MEGAT NAJMUDDIN BIN MEGAT KHAS
President, The Malay College Old Boys Association Malaysia