Friday, December 01, 2006

The Elites

Perhaps apologies are in order if I have sounded a trite 'boastful' with the constant name-dropping in my blogs. The late British actor David Niven in his delightful autobiography The Moon's a Balloon, wrote: "People in my profession ... well, it makes little sense to write about the butler if Chairman Mao is sitting down to dinner!".

In early January 1960, a group of 30 eager-eyed and very impressionable 12-year old Malay boys, moi included, sauntered out of Prep School, at the Malay College in Kuala Kangsar to assemble in class Form 1A in the Main School building. We were a truly mixed bunch indeed: the sons of farmers, teachers, clerks, senior civil servants and even royalty from all over the peninsula. In the following years we were to grow up studying and playing hard, sharing the same nasi kawah and bathe half-naked together in the open shower stalls. We even had some of the best teachers in the country, a few of whom often were the authors of the textbooks themselves.

The Big School, MCKK

Almost half a century later, I believe most of us from the original 30 have made it to the Malaysian Who's Who list. A very prominent class-mate, who subsequently became the college's head boy and later a Tan Sri, died a few years ago in a tragic helicopter crash after building a huge business empire. Another became a deputy prime minister (I recall he wasn't that 'smart' in class, I was smarter ... haha). Others include a CPA who became head of Price Waterhouse, a university dean who founded MIMOS, a few corporate leaders, doctors, senior civil servants, politicians, a couple of professors, an ambassador and even an air force colonel.

Obviously, it was due to the success of this elitist learning environment, perhaps part of an early affirmative action plan ironically initiated by the British here themselves, that encouraged the establishment of other residential schools and the MARA science colleges many years later.

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