Studying the history of institutions is still in its infancy. Hence when a piece of writing researches into the history of an institution like The Malay College Kuala Kangsar, we are very grateful to its author. All the more so as she tries to prove that this school was instrumental in moulding a good many of Malaysia’s well-known personalities.
In her study, Dr. Khasnor Johan traces the early days of the college’s establishment which began at the colonial desk which in spite of its various colonial viewpoints, felt no less a responsibility to educate what once termed ‘the noble savages’ in their colony. These early beginnings are most interesting and by a twist of fate brought with them various problems.
The Malay College was built in an attempt to amalgamate two elite traditions with the Eton or public school traditions as the pillar. This obviously and clearly dominates while the second tradition is represented by religious and Malay language/literature classes which became part of the curriculum. The Malay youths were taught to speak English with good pronunciation following the values of the elite English, which in the colonial officers’ estimation brooked no comparison at the period. It was planned that they would be admitted into the Colonial Administrative Service.
The chapter specifically devoted to well-known Old Boys reflects how important The Malay College is in Malaysian history. We will understand them better by knowing more about the school which has left a lasting impression on them.