Perhaps one of the most important events occurred in 1923 when Malay College Old Boys Association was formed. The following account of their gathering is taken from the “Times of Malaya and Planters Gazette”:
Kuala Kangsar, which is usually a quiet town, compared to its neighbours, Taiping or lpoh, and which enjoys a quiet sleep on the seventh day of the week, was wide awake on Sunday last and on all hands there were signs of new faces and festivity. The reason for this change in the otherwise normal existence of this pretty town in Perak was the decision which prompted the old boys of the Malay College, twenty-four years after its birth, to foregather at Alma Mater to discuss the formation of, and bring into being, an Old Boys’ Association.
There were about 150 past students of the College who had come to Kuala Kangsar from all parts of the Malay Peninsula as was broadcast by the number-plates on the numerous cars that swelled the traffic. The magnificent building which houses the Malay College and the land on which it stands were both gaily decorated, all pointing to the fact that it was the ‘hari besar’ of the Old Boys.
A happy atmosphere prevailed and such must be the case when schoolmates who parted eighteen to twenty years ago at the College gates after completion of the education which has sent them out to the world, meet each other, in several cases, for the first time. Unforgettable incidents in their school days were recalled, notes were compared as to how they progressed after leaving school, the older boys were introduced to comparatively recent colleagues and stories were narrated by the more fortunate to them who had gone to England to finish their education and come back to enter the Malayan Civil Service. Thus was the time spent till about 10 a.m. when they all gathered in the school hall to discuss and unanimously adopt the resolution which was to give birth to the Old Boys’ Association.
After spending the best part of Sunday morning in discussing the pros and cons of an Old Boys’ Association, the gathering adopted a more public aspect when the Old Boys were “At-home” before a football match between Old Boys from the North of Malaya and the South, for a handsome silver cup presented by that king of Malayan Sportsman, His Highness the Sultan of Perak, whose inability to take part in the day’s celebrations was sincerely regretted by all those present.
Tea was served in the boarding dining room and here were gathered nearly two hundred people including the Honourable the British Resident of Perak, The Honourable the Raja di Hilir, the District Officer, Mr. T.S. Adams, Mr. Bazell, the headmaster, and several others. The Raja Muda of Perak presided over all the various functions.
After the tea an adjournment was made to the ground of the school where the football match was witnessed by even a larger crowd. The match over, the hosts and guests went to their various homes to prepare for the dinner which was held at the College at 8.00 p.m. About 150 people sat to an excellent banquet while the State Band, which was in attendance throughout the day, provided the music. The menu was as follows:
- Hors D’oeures
- Tomato soup
- Salmon with Mayonnaise Sauce
- Cold Ox-tongue and Salad
- Nasi Briani
- Mutton Curry
- Chicken Musamah
There then followed a number of speeches with the Raja Muda of Perak first proposing the toast of the ‘Malay College’. He paid tribute to the Rulers of the Federated Malay States through whose support the College came into existence. He continued:
“I mention this because in the old days and even now, you will find that Malay parents are not keen on sending their children to English schools because they have an idea that the teaching of English language may corrupt their Muslim religion. It was Their Highnesses who discredited that belief.”
The Raja Muda went on to pay tribute to Mr. Wilkinson and Mr. Hargreaves who had been given only three years to make the school a success. This success had certainly been achieved.
The second speech was by Bazell, the headmaster, who said,
“I have been on a short holiday. My ticket was looked after by an Old Boy. If I go into the hospital, either the dresser or the doctor or both are old Boys, if I make myself a nuisance I shall get arrested and run in by an Old Boy; my case is certain to come before an Old Boy magistrate and I shall brief the first Malay barrister. In fact, gentlemen, our cargo is miscellaneous and as the captain of the ship at present, and filled with the spirits of the future, all this fills me with promise for your old school.
I am one of those who believe that your country can be run by you for yourselves and by yourselves.
I am looking ahead. As a matter of fact there is one sitting among you now who I hope will be the first Malay to qualify as an engineer. The future of the College is going to make good. You have already been told that the first three years were an experiment. I have a minute by the Resident-General: “I do not think it will come to anything but I am willing to give a three year trial.” Within two years $90,000 was voted to build the boat. After 24 years – the Old Boys have suddenly realised that they are one. I accept the omen and as captain of the ship for the present, on behalf of those who made the College and ran the College, including the Old Boys, I thank you all for your good wishes for the future.”
The Raja di Hilir of Perak proposed the toast to the Old Boys and in part of his speech he made the following important point:
“…there is at present a very great tendency on the part of Eastern people to imitate Europe, whether what they imitate is good or bad, because they have apparently acquired a somewhat slavish mentality being overcome by the glitter of European civilisation. There is an English saying (if I remember rightly) ‘that to ape is suicide’. Let us hope that the Malays will only adopt such civilisation as they can assimilate, having due regard to their own customs”.
There were further speeched by Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Inche Hamzah, Raja Musa of Selangor and Raja Kamarulzaman. Raja Musa said that the delay in forming an Old Boys’ Association was to be regretted but the delay was not due to a natural lack of inclination but rather that all, or majority of those present are employed in the government service and l think I am right in saying that they imbibed the slow and cumbersome manner in which government moves”.