The Malay College Kuala Kangsar, or better known as “MCKK”, was founded almost 94 years ago on 2nd January 1905. It was called, then, the “Malay Residential School” and was initiated with a vision and mission to produce “.……a vigorous and intelligent race of young men who will be in touch with modern progress but not out of touch with old traditions……”.
Such were the words of R. J. Wilkinson in 1903, the Inspector of Schools for the Federated Malay States of that era, whose efforts paved the way for the birth of College, or “Koleq”, as it is fondly referred to by the old boys of MCKK. Invariably, MCKK was the first residential school in Malaya, and its syllabus would contain the essence of modern education with knowledge of Islam and the Malay culture.
Some say MCKK was a “secret weapon” of the British colonial masters of that time. They knew, one day, they would have to hand this country back to the locals. The British brought it upon themselves to decide that the Chinese would inherit commerce while the Malays, administration of this country. If they had to hand the administration of this country back to the Malays, thought the British, they might as well groom these Malays who would eventually take over.
The British knew their only hope for the future would be if they could deal with cricket-playing, Whisky-drinking, English-thinking Malays rather than a bunch of religious minded fanatics who may kick the British out the first chance they got. So these cricket-playing, Whisky-drinking, English-thinking Malays would need to be groomed, then sent to England for the final polishing.
England’s doors were first thrown open to the Malays immediately after the Second World War, and my father was amongst this first group of Malayans who stepped onto England’s shores. Others were the likes of Tunku Abdul Rahman (our first Prime Minister) and Tun Razak (our second Prime Minister), most of who received their education in MCKK.
In the beginning, MCKK was only open to sons of royalty and sons of the elite, mostly Datuks of the various Istana’s all over the country, which Malaya had plenty of even until this day. Then more and more scholars but sons of the “orang kebanyakan” were let in and the elite crowd dwindled to but a mere percentage of the total intake. Invariably, amongst some of these sons of the masses, were people not too fond of royalty or of the British colonialist.
What the British did not reckon with, educating the Malays had its drawbacks. While they were able to mould the minds of these young boys to become more English than the Englishman was, education also gave the Malays the power to think. And think they did. And they thought, why allow the British to continue mismanaging this country when the locals can do just the same?
The Japanese occupation also brought new thoughts to the heads of the Malays. If the all-mighty and all-powerful British can be defeated by a lesser power like the Japanese, then the British are not that invincible after all. When the Japanese surrendered, there was a brief period when no one was in control of the country and the Malayan People’s Anti-Japanese Army (MPAJA), trained and equipped by the British, and who later went on to become the Malaya Communist Party, went on a rampage and killing spree.
1946 was a significant year for Malay nationalism. That was when UMNO was formed. UMNO was merely a collection of many societies, associations and what we would now call, NGOs. With it saw the emergence of many independence ‘fighters’.
Many of these early independence fighters like the late Sir Dato’ Onn bin Jaffar (the late Hussein Onn’s father), the late Dato’ Abdul Wahab (Dato’ Panglima Bukit Gantang and one time Menteri Besar of Perak), the late Dato’ Laksmana Razali, the late Tun Aziz bin Abdul Majid (one time Governor of Melaka), the late Dato’ Haji Kamaruddin bin Haji Idris (Dato’ Suhaimi’s father), the late Tun Razak (the second Prime Minister of Malaysia and father of Dato’ Seri Najib), the late Raja Sir Tun Uda (the first Governor of Penang and my grandfather), Dato’ Bahaman, Dato’ Andika Indera, and so on, were MOSTLY old boys of the MCKK.
MCKK had become the seat of Malay nationalism. This was probably the biggest blunder the British had ever made in Malaya. If R. J. Wilkinson was still around today he would probably say, “Give the Malays education, old chap, and they start having VISIONS!”.
Malaysia is what it is today because of these people. And MCKK had a big part to play in these people’s lives. Indirectly, MCKK was one of the reasons for UMNO’s existence and for Malaya gaining independence eleven years later in 1957.
Later on, as the years went by, some non-MCKK political leaders decided that MCKK was becoming too powerful. Around half of Tun Razak’s cabinet were old boys of MCKK. MCKK had taken on the reputation of being the “Eaton of the East” (while the old boys would rather refer to Eaton as the “MCKK of the West”).
This is not surprising, as, even in England, you would have to be an old boy of Eaton to get ahead. Cronyism is a Western practice and why should MCKK not practice this same tradition seeing that MCKK was a creation of the British? As Dr. Mahathir himself has said when he explained why he appointed his close friend, Tun Daim, as Finance Minister of this country – if one does not trust one’s friend whom else to trust? Surely not one’s enemies!
A place in MCKK guaranteed one’s future. Success was almost assured as long as you are an old boy of MCKK. That’s when they decided to stifle MCKK by setting up more schools at par with MCKK. Today there are about 40 or more such schools and, while these schools were being developed, MCKK was allowed to go into a period of decline.
Some say the Education Minister responsible for the master plan to “bring MCKK down” was sore that his application to join MCKK was rejected on grounds he was not good enough for MCKK. Anyway, if jealousy was the motive, and if the plan was to shove MCKK off the top slot, it certainly worked. MCKK became nothing more than just another school and a dilapidated one at that too. MCKK saw a slight reprieve when the Queen on England requested to visit “the Eaton of the East” during her visit to Malaysia. That’s when the Ministry of Education was forced to spruce the building up a bit.
The toilets no longer flushed, the bathrooms had no doors on them, the window panes in the dormitories were all broken, the beds had millions of bed bugs in them, the upstairs toilets leaked into the kitchen downstairs diluting the soup being cooked, there were no fans and one had to resort to sleeping half naked just to keep cool – a sorry sight indeed for what was once the pride of Malay education. All this was attended to though they only concentrated on the sections where they would show the Queen leaving the other parts as they were; something like a Hollywood set where only the front can be seen.
MCKK has made its mark on this nation – some good and some bad. MCKK also has its share of scandals. Mokhtar Hashim, who was convicted (but later pardoned) of murder, is an Old Boy. So is Dato’ Dolah Ahmad who was jailed under ISA for his alleged Communist activities. Tun Hanif, the previous IGP who arrested these two illustrious Old Boys is also an old boy. As is Tan Sri Azmi, the judge who sent Mokhtar Hashim to jail.
Let us also not forget the present Menteris Besar of Kedah, Perak, Selangor and Pahang – all Budak Kolet. In the Cabinet, past and present, is a host of Old Boys. The present Sultans of Perak, Selangor and Pahang, as well as the Yang Dipertuan Agung are all Old Boys. So are the heads of TNB, Petronas, JKR and many more. And I have not even touched on the heads of departments and organisations or those in the corporate world or banking sector.
So, there may be one or two “bad apples” amongst the thousands of others who help build this nation to what it is today – long before Dr. Mahathir ever took over as Prime Minister. Today we have another ALLEGED “Bad Apple” – the mother of them all – Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim. I said “alleged” because it has not been proven yet in a court of law if Anwar is guilty of all those things he is being accused of.
But because of ONE alleged bad apple, and unproven at that too, the entire Old Boy of MCKK community is being ridiculed. They now call MCKK, “Em See Gay Gay”. Someone even wrote that 60% or more of MCKK boys are homosexuals. Is this true?
If it is true then do they mean that Tun Razak, the father of Dato’ Seri Najib, an Old Boy of MCKK, was also gay? Since homosexuality can also be in the genes, does Najib also have homosexual tendencies? Was Onn Jaafar, the grandfather of Hishamuddin Tun Hussein, also gay? And therefore is Hishamuddin gay too since it MAY be in his genes? (Hishamuddin himself is an old boy-wm) What about Suhaimi Kamaruddin who has many Old Boys in his family including his father?
Can you see now how ridiculous it is to paint all Old Boys of MCKK the same colour? To ridicule ALL Old Boys would mean you would also be smearing the reputation of all our past and present leaders as well.
MCKK is currently a four-letter word, basically because of its association with Anwar Ibrahim, never mind it is yet to be proven whether Anwar has done any wrong. This is a terrible disservice to all those leaders and nation builders of days gone bye. To paint ALL MCKK boys as gay is to degrade ALL sons of this nation who came from MCKK, without whom many of us will not be what we are today, Mahathir included.