Friends, Happy New Year, Kong Hi Far Chai, and
Selamat Tahun Baru Hijrah to you all. As I mentioned to you in our last Newsletter
that I have received quite a number of articles, so much so I have to leave
some for the future issues. So in this issue you may read some articles
which were sent to me a few months ago.. However I do receive new articles which I
think are very interesting to read and to ponder the idea suggested by the
writers. It will make a good platform for us to give our views and
suggestions. So my dear friends happy reading. Zainal Abidin Manaf Feb.
2006, 24th Series c/o 1018 Lorong Gunung
Rapat 2 31350 Tel: 05-3127411 H/phone: 019-7412535 E-mail:
Batch Kirkby – 1953-55
Happy New Year, Kong Hi Far Chai, and Selamat Tahun Baru Hijrah to you all.
As I mentioned to you in our last Newsletter that I have received quite a number of articles, so much so I have to leave some for the future issues. So in this issue you may read some articles which were sent to me a few months ago..
However I do receive new articles which I think are very interesting to read and to ponder the idea suggested by the writers. It will make a good platform for us to give our views and suggestions.
So my dear friends happy reading.
Zainal Abidin Manaf
Feb. 2006, 24th Series
c/o 1018 Lorong Gunung Rapat 2
I am sure you still remember part of the article written by Michael Shum which was printed in our last Newsletter. The following is the continuation of the article. Hope you enjoy reading
After all the agony and mental torture attending lectures and teaching
practice, the most refreshing activity was going away for our summer vacations
and depending on where one was heading for and also on one’s financial
position, the mode of traveling varied. Some preferred to go on group tours and
a few less financially endowed (yours truly included ) took up hitch-hiking
with knapsacks on backs and standing by the roadside thumbing lifts from place
and staying at youth hostels to rest our weary legs after a hard day’s journey
traveling in whatever forms of internal combustion engines that sopped by to
transport us along the journey into the great unknown and at times even of
impending dangers. On one of the hitch-hiking trips to central Europe covering
Living together in out barrack style of domicile had its ups and downs. As we were allotted each an individual room, privacy was no problem but at times a few of us would like to gather in one room to hone our debating skills on whatever topics of interest and needless to say top on the agenda were the techniques of courting the fairer sex and in particular the more passionate ones would drool over the prospect of having some ‘fun’ with the local lassies @ the naughty teddy girls who usually came round the other side of the fencing to tease us and of course some lucky blokes would end up dating them after lecture hours at great risks for the cardinal rule was that no ‘unnecessary accident’ should occur during those passionate affairs under the hot atmosphere of the English summer. We were often reminded of a particular senior who got sent home on dishonorable discharge because he unwittingly fathered a child from one of his passionate encounters with those local damsels.
On one of those gatherings in my room, 3 Taiping chaps – Chong Ah Teng, Liew Pek Siew & Choo Ewe Kiat were in the midst of some heated debate and since I was the host I tried to intervene by calling the meeting to order but instead Chong Ah Teng let go a super duper upper cut which caught squarely on my chin and that was the first time in my born years I saw myriads of stars floating in my vision and at the same time I could or seemed to have heard some tweety little birdies tweeting that they saw a pussy cat. Immediately after the knock-out blow, thousands of apologies and back slapping& body hugging were showered on me. When I finally recovered Chong Ah Teng looked very miserable but as a true Kirkbyite I extended my hand for a hand shake. From then on I developed a very strong bond of friendship with that Taiping gentleman who today is still my best of friend though he has migrated to the land down under. After that incident I took up boxing lessons to insulate myself from further attacks and so I found myself facing an opponent of almost the same physic and he is none other than one of the Pillay brothers from Negri Sembilan. We had our bouts in the block 9 recreation room in front of a few spectators. After putting on the over-sized boxing gloves I tried a few fancy steps and instead of ‘floating like a butterfly and stinging like a bee’ ( famous Mohd Ali’s boxing technique ) I ended up floating like a bee and stinging like a butterfly. Fortunately my worthy opponent was no better. There were a couple of body punches and a little bit of head butting but no ear biting ( Mike Tyson was not born yet at that time ). In the end a fair draw was the result.
From boxing I then proceeded to ping-pong diplomacy. It happened in the great hall in front of most students who had gathered there for their cups of tea, billiards, and watching ITV black & white programs after their meals. There I was facing my formidable opponent – none other than my good turbaned friend Sukhdev Singh in his fiery red turban. How in the world a sikh gentleman could have graduated to the level of ping-pongship whereby he could take on a Chinaman like me in a ping-pong match is still a very hot topic of discussion in the sporting arena. Anyway the match started with the usual white ball been hit across the net, broken up with some occasional spinning of the ball and smashing forehand and backhand strokes plus lots of picking up the ball from the floor when those crucial strokes were not properly executed. To say that the match was very competitive is the mother of all understatements. We stared with killer instincts at each other across the table as we served and returned smashes after smashes and in the process of which we lost count of the actual score. It was then the flare up erupted. My opponent insisted that he was leading and being a thoroughbred Chinaman I had to disagree and soon a great shouting match began and fortunately there was the table length to prevent us from using our weapons of mini destruction ( WmD). Had the ex- president of the US - Nixon been there to watch the game, he would have thought a thousand times before venturing to China to establish US-SINO relationship through ping-pong diplomacy. Anyway, after all the hoha, both of us soon forgot about the incident and to this day our friendship has developed to almost brotherhood status. The Chinese have a saying: no fight no acquaintanceship ( butt da butt seong sik )
Shopping & eating out
Our first shopping expedition to the city of
Spunik curry, fried salt fish & belachan
As full fledged government scholars we were provided with all the meals starting with breakfast, tea/coffee break, dinner, high tea & supper each day. Breakfast was very tolerable with bacon/sausages & eggs, tea with biscuits, dinner (midday meal) with the usual rice, meat and occasional fried mee ( English style) ending with pudding and then supper which sometime came with the most dreaded sputnik curry ( a concoction of curry with hard boiled eggs ) and on such occasions more than half of the dining area would be empty. So we made a beeline back to our residential blocks and out came the treasured salt fish and belachan from our steel cabinets ( such items were specially flown to us by our beloved parents back home). The delightful aroma from the cooked salt fish & sambal belachan were like heavenly delicacies but when the smell of such cooking reached the nostrils of the residential ‘mat salleh lecturers’ all hell broke loose as they were so uncivilized not to recognize a good thing when they came across one – such is the great divide in the cultures between the East & West. Those whom were deprived of such food received from home had no choice but to make a trip to a nearby fish & chips store to survive another day. The drinkers would proceed to the pubs not so far away and had their sing song sessions ( karaoke was not invented yet) with the locals downing mugs after mugs of beer/bitter, apple cider and that was how we became so endeared with the locals who were ever so friendly and calling us ‘love’ in their typical dialect.
Dining out –Western Style
One of the great things about living and studying overseas is that we
get the opportunity to put into practice the doctrine ‘when in
My next encounter of dining out was a more private affair when together with another student we were invited to spend a day & night with an English couple with a pretty daughter for Christmas. We were warmly welcomed by the whole family and the lovely daughter was indeed a sight to behold but we were sensible not to misbehave even though our hot Malaysian blood was being pumped up at a tremendous fast rate by our young energetic hearts every time we had a chance to communicate with her with the usual love struck eye and other body language always mindful that the parents were watching us like hawks lest their beautiful daughter was taken away by 2 Eastern Princes fro afar. Dinner was served and that was the first time I saw a huge roasted turkey with all the tantalizing smell placed in front of us. After the usual pleasantry, eating started and the host carved out a piece of the turkey after asking how much we wanted. Of course I asked for a small portion on the understanding that I might be able to ask foe a second helping and that was a mistake. To this day, I still give the benefit of doubt to our host for putting away the turkey after the first serving because he thought we were not accustomed to eating turkey when we asked for that miserable small helping at the start and so what an opportunity came and went off, leaving us no choice to survive on potatoes, over cooked vegetables, salad and of course pudding. If only I dared to practice the American way of fingers licking good in eating that turkey, I could easily finish at least a quarter of the feathered friend!
From: Angline Ong Siok Hong ( 1958-1959)
I started writing this article after reading your 20th Newsletter in March but it was kept in the cold storage. Now six months later, I am sending it – better late than never!
Janet Siah’s article on
camping in the
The guiders’ training centre was known as
Foxlease and the guider-in-charge was Miss Rosemary Hoare. She and her staff
were really dedicated guiders who taught us a great deal about the patrol
system, the Guide Laws, knotting, International Guiding, etc. We also met
guiders from other parts of
In fact when I went to the
On other note, I would like to mention that
there have been numerous mini Kirkby gatherings especially in
Angeline Ong Siok Hong
Perhaps there are many of us ( including me ) are not aware that “ Siri Pengkisahan Sejarah Kirkby Teachers’ Training College” organized by “Arkib Negara Malaysia”, was held on 5th February 1994 at the Auditorium Arkib Negara Malaysia, officially launched by Y.B. Dato’ Chan Kong Choy, Timbalan Menteri Kebudayaan Kesenian dan Pelancungan.
I received the following article from Tuan Haji Kamaruddin b Ibrahim (1953-1955). This is what he said:-
Bersama-sama dengan surat ini saya sertakan satu daripada siri pengkisan sejarah Kirkby Teachers’ Training College yang berlangsung pada 5 Februari 1994, jam 9.00 pagi di Auditorium Arkib Negara Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, anjuran Arkib Negara Malaysia.
Saya bernasib baik kerana menerima jemputan dan telah pun menghadirinya. Objektifnya ialah untuk megumpul maklumat mengenai sejarah Maktab ini dan melengkapkan lagi maklumat yang ada untuk panduan dan rojokan penyelidik yang datang ke Arkib Negara.
Tokoh-tokoh pengkisah adalah seperti berikut:-
Y.Bhg. Datuk Haji Ali Esa ( 1st batch )
Y.Bhg. Haji Abdul Rahim Mohd Yusof ( 1st batch )
Y.Bhg. Dr John Augustine ( 1st batch )
Y.Bhg. Haji Alias Shamsuddin ( 2nd batch )
Y.Bhg. Hajah Sofiah Mat Yit ( 2nd batch )
Mereka yang dapat hadir telah pun menyampaikan pengkisahan masing-masing. Dalam buku kecil yang disertakan memberi secara terperinci pengkisah tersebut di atas.
Rengkas “Kirkby Teachers’
Januari 1952, Kirkby Teachers’ Training College telah menerima 149 orang
pelajar dari Malaya untuk memulakan kursus perguruan untuk jangka masa dua
tahun. Pada tahun ini juga
Pelajar-pelajar yang terpilih untuk memasuki Kolej ini terdiri dari mereka yang lulus ‘Cambridge School Certificate’ gred I dan II dengan kepujian dalam Bahasa Inggeris. Di Kolej ini mata pelajaran yang diajar termasuklah seni kraftangan, senaman, Bahasa Inggeris, geografi, sastera, matematik, Bahasa Melayu, pengembangan kanak-kanak, psikologi dan beberapa matapelajaran lain yang berkaitan.
Pengetua pertama Kolej ialah Mr R. Williams dan beliau telah berkhidmat sehingga 1954. Seterusnya beliau telah digantikan oleh Mr G.J. Gurney sehinggalah Kolej ini ditutup pada tahun 1962.
Pada tahun 1963
kumpulan pertama seramai 149 orang guru-guru terlatih telah kembali ke tanahair untuk memulakan khidmat bakti mereka di
negara sendiri. Mereka telah dihantar ke seluruh negara untuk mengajar.
Tugas-tugas yang diberikan telah dijalankan dengan begitu baik, di mana
laporan-laporan yang diterima mengenai guru-guru lepasan
Pada tahun 1955,
sebuah lagi kolej perguruan telah diambilalih iaitu Brinsford Lodge,
Pada tahun 1962,
Kerajaan mengambil keputusan untuk menutup
I received a letter from En Ismail Abu Bakar ( 1955-1957), which I would like to share with you. Perhaps some of you may have some comments or suggestions especially from some of our friends such as Y.Bhg.Tan Sri Dr Yahaya Ibrahim, Y.Bhg.Tan Sri Vediveloo, Y.Bhg. Dato Sidek Alumdin, Tuan Haji Alias Shamsuddin etc.
I received a copy of your Newsletter from Kamaruddin Ibrahim who had been to Kirkby with you. It was thoughtful of him to do so. You see, he had been with me for the teacher-trainer course 1962, the year our college closed down.
I read with absorbing interest all the articles in your newsletter. At least I know now that some of us are still very much alive and kicking.
I must laud your effort in keeping things going because Kirkby had been established more than half century ago to redress the shortage of teachers in the country. It had turned out to be a successful venture and many ex-Krikbyites had displayed the brilliance and tenacity to prove to other Malaysian teachers, that Kirkby had not been a wasted effort. Most of us had discharged our duties well.
I am sure some of us can still contribute to the TEL to improve the deplorable standard of English among some teachers’ colleges in the country. Perhaps we could start by meeting as a group to discuss this very important matter.
Ex-Kirkbyites who are capable should produce books in English in Science and Mathematics which are badly needed in both primary and secondary schools.
The Ministry of Education knows that some of us are still around. May be they do not know our specific addresses. We could of course, supply to the Ministry some addresses of Kirkbyites who may be keen and eager to help.
We have to study and analyse this suggestion to see whether it’s feasible or not. Sincerely I believe we must be proactive and make our intentions known. If we don’t we’ll never know whether we are needed or not.
I like to share my
thoughts with you first because there’s an active Kirkby group in
At present our meetings are restricted to reunions only. Let us spread our wings further. I am quite sure that most of us 60 years over in age. But to me age is just a “number”.
So, Zainal think about it…… I enclose herewith a poem on Kirkby. It’s my attempt at writing “free verse” to keep myself occupied. I you think it’s good enough to be in your next Newsletter, print it. Otherwise throw it in the waste-bin.
That’s all for now.
Ismail b Abu Bakar
Yes, we were there
To live and charter our destiny
The days were splendid
Stupendous and marvelous
Despite the dreadful weather
We braved it delightfully
Through snow, frost and sleet
Grim dark sunless weather
Greeted us almost daily
No regrets for most
We were there to gather
We were timid
We can’t comprehend
The English way of life
We wanted more time
Something we were not granted
Yes ! that was Kirkby
Established to train teachers
And it succeeded tremendously
That one more college
Brinsford Lodge was born
Almost half a century ago
The lucky Malaysian youths
Were there living their destiny
Some of them had passed away
The few who remained alive
Will treasure Kirkby
With fondest love and memories
It made no sense to fear death
For those who survive
The rigorous winter
And cold summers
Will long remember Kirkby
Its prefab buildings and
Reminder of bygone days
Indelible forever in our mind.
I then received another letter from En Ismail. This letter is more interesting. Let us read it and hope to hear your comment:
My second letter to you is to let you know of my dream. Like Martin Luther King “I have a dream too” My dream is to see the establishment of a “Maktab Perguruan Kirkby” I think it’s not only my dream but it’s also the dream of all Kirkbyites.
So how do we go about putting our big dream into reality? To begin with we have to set up a fund. This fund will take some years to build up. Can we save enough in five years? Or do we need ten years?
We have to make a start some time some where. We cannot just sit and shoot the breeze waiting for our saving to grow. I got this idea when I read your latest Newsletter when you mentioned YMM Raja Permaisuri Perak, Tuanku Bainun, has decided to name her college hall “Dewan Kirkby” If our dream comes true will perpetuate the historic Kirkby name for posterity. I am serious about the whole idea because our Tuanku Bainun is still living. We’ll build the college in Perak. Tuanku Bainun will be able and willing to help us obtain a piece of land, say 20 acres, to construct our college. I am sure the Perak State Government will alienate it graciously for the proposed project. I don’t foresee any problem in getting a piece of land for the purpose.
To begin with we have to set up a committee which will be charged with specific functions to look into the viability of the proposal. Of course some of might feel that my suggestion is not practical. I think it is because the country will gain by constructing another teachers’ college.
The principal objective of the college shall be to produce teachers of English proper and science and mathematics. We’ll have to insist on this from the beginning.
I have some experience in land matters. I shall be happy to serve on the land committee to approach the Menteri Besar to alienate a piece of land for our purpose with premium of RM1.00 because it is for the benefit of the public. In the National Land Code this code premium is provided for. So the cost of land is not a financial burden. We need to look into the infrastructure cost and the construction cost of putting the college building. This will be the job of the Quantity Surveyor.
The cost of building the college premises will depend on the generosity of the ex-Kirkbyites who I am sure will donate and contribute generously to the proposed fund and the public. This college will serve as “Kirkby Memorial” for posterity.
Well, Zainal, think it over and spread the news for our Kirkby colleagues who I am sure will want to air their views on such a splendid idea.
Personally I am dead serious because Kirkbyites mean what they say and say what they mean. Let us start the ball rolling especially among our prominent colleagues who are very proud to be associated with Kirkby. The Ministry of Education will be thrilled by our stupendous effort.
By the year 2020 I am sure will be able to build that dream college.
Therefore I look forward to hear from you soon. The sooner we commence studying the matter the better it will be because all of us are in the “roaring 60’s and 70’s. So don’t delay.
The cost of
constructing a college may run into RM50 million or more but it will be worth
our effort. I am sure the Mayor of Liverpool and the
I wish you “Happy New Year” Hope new year will bring joy and cheers to you.
Ismail b Abu Bakar
My dear friends,
starting with the Merdeka Celebrations, the news of Kirkby had reappeared on TV
and in our prominent newspapers, New Straits Time, The Star,
The above article by Encik Ismail Abu Bakar should open the eyes of Kirkbyites and I for one felt that what he said and suggested should be deeply and seriously looked into. As for me it is time for us to come together. Of course not all the suggestions made by Ismail is feasible especially the idea of raising fund as much as RM50 million. Not all Kirkbyites are well off, some ended up as an ordinary retired teacher living meagerly on their pension. Secondly we all are between late 60s and late 70s and by 2020 I am afraid it will be too late for most of us who are still around, to appreciate and to feel proud. What I feel we should do is to form a representative consisting of prominent Kirkbyites who retired as Education Officers, Senior Government Servants, Politicians, Professors, and other professionals such as in the legal field and of course as successful businessmen, etc. without counting some influential people who are the children of ex-Kirkbyites.
What we have been doing are having reunion, after
reunion. Its high time for us to be serious. To start with, perhaps we can
arrange for a reunion-come-meeting. What I know is that many colleges are named
after the town or district. To quote one, is a college in Perak named Maktab
If we read the report by Arkib Negara above, there is definitely word of praise for Kirkby.
So, my dear colleagues let us ponder a while and give a serious thought about it Every time I produce a Newsletter I will be sending to more that 100 Kirkbyites excluding those overseas which were sent via internet, but unfortunately only a handful of us responded and participated. I don’t know what to think. May be they don’t think much of it !!!
On last page is the newspaper cutting from the Liverpool Paper, sent to me by Yawanarajah. He received it from Muriel in Fazerkely. How very thoughtful of Liverpool Paper to remember us ….