13 May CB4. My personal history in Secondary School, and my scouting and prefect days
“Be Prepared” is the motto drilled into me when I became a Scout in Secondary School. During the adolescent period of 13 to 17 years of age – attending school known as Form 1 to Form 5 (or Year 7 to Year 11) was normal, where studying was omnipotent as one grows up. One not only became an adult at the end of this rather long road, but a lot of choices are made by the individual.
1. When I was 13, I moved from Seremban to Kuala Lumpur (KL) which is 60 kms north, because my parents had bought a house near the University of Malaya, where my two elder brothers were studying their undergraduate degrees. One in medicine, the other in engineering.
2. A car was also purchased for use by my brothers – a Colt Galant (Mitsubishi brand). It had air-conditioning installed after purchase. New cars did not come with nice air in the 1970s.
3. My parents stayed behind in Seremban, to do business.
4. Brother Felix Donoghue, a Catholic Christian missionary, who wore white overalls coincidentally became my headmaster in the new school in KL. Brother Felix had been the headmaster for both my elder brothers, who are 11 and nine years older than me respectively, in the old missionary school in Seremban.
5. His influence on the three youngsters in us in hindsight was potent, for the better.
6. I think Brother Felix would remember my brothers and me. My brother No. 1 was Head Prefect. My brother No. 2 was Assistant Head Prefect. I was a (mere) Prefect.
7. In Form 1 or Year 7, I changed school – from ‘St Paul’s Institution’ in Seremban to ‘La Salle School’ in Petaling Jaya (a satellite town of Kuala Lumpur). Many people of middle-income families live in Petaling Jaya and go to work in Kuala Lumpur – which is the capital of Malaysia. The University of Malaya, the still pre-eminent university in Malaysia, is located in Petaling Jaya.
8. New friends were made.
9. Three months later, to my surprise, the female class teacher appointed me Class Assistant Monitor, replacing my classmate who misbehaved by pinching the bottom (ass) of the very same class teacher.
10. I was second tier in studies – the first six anyway. The first tier consists of three very studious boys. The second tier consists of three boys who are not as studious (me included).
11. In this class, I made some nice friends. I also joined the Scouts and made more friends there.
12. Older Scouts – one to three years older – were in charge. Patrol Leaders taught the young ones including me how to tie knots, pitch tents and do laborious public service.
13. I attended almost all of the activities of the Scouts over five years. I became a Patrol Leader myself and eventually Troop Leader of the 12th Petaling Scout Troop.
14. Camping and walking to out of town places made me and other young adolescents tougher. Put me anywhere and I can survive – and we could say this to ourselves at 15 years of age.
15. Campfire was something done once a year – where we actually lighted the fire to burn many logs of wood. This is when girls were invited to attend at our school compound. They were called Girl Guides. I also attended many campfires at other schools. Sketches were often put together to make people (ourselves) laugh.
16. Outside Scouts, I had a group of friends that I often hang out with. We would go to the movies together. These were an all boys’ affair until I reached 16.
17. There was a bit of competition in studies between my friends and I. More so as I turned 15.
18. At age 15, La Salle School put the first 80 boys in the first two classes of 40 each. I was in one of these two classes from 15 to 17 – there were another four classes not grouped like these 80 boys (so another 160).
19. At age 14, I was made a prefect for one year.
20. At age 16, I was made a prefect for two years.
21. Prefect-ship had duties to do – mostly disciplining other boys.
22. There are about 30 prefects for a year of 240 boys.
23. I recall meeting girl prefects from the neighbouring school of Assunta. As a ‘social committee’ prefect, I (with a few others) organised the get-together of the boys and girls (of about 100 people). This organising was simple due to my scouting experience.
24. Overall, apart from studying to become ‘someone substantial’ in the future, I indulged in the extra-curricular activity of scouting – and performed prefect duties. Prefects went on leadership trips which were worthwhile. I also ran a 1.2 mile track (with three other boys) and won first prize in the year. I played some table-tennis representing the school – this came about because a table-tennis table was bought for my home (by my parents) and I became quite good at smashing using the handshake grip (not pin grip). I also played tennis.
25. I think I kept very busy during these formative years. My friends in the first two clever classes were mostly from middle to upper income families. I suppose my family is in the upper middle income one, due to my father’s hard work and good business mind. My mother of course importantly takes care of everything else.
26. At 17+, my father paid my ticket to visit Europe and back. I visited various cities in many countries mostly on the Eurail Youthpass. I was quite daring (for my age) and went to Paris, Copenhagen, Rome and other such cities on my own – no pal with me. I met other travellers as I stayed in dormitories (not hotels) to save money.
27. Returning to KL, plans were made for me to travel to Sydney, Australia to ‘continue my studies’. A farewell party was organised, where my parents literally gave me the house for the night – they slept in another house.
28. The transition to study in a brand new country would be another blog topic.