For many of us, having no opportunity to spare a moment to drop at our Alma Mater, the Malay College, after leaving the college, it would not be wrong to assume that the conditions and life in the college now could only be as good as we remember them. How else could it be considering the consistent academic excellence that has been achieved by its student population year in and year out?
Now the reality is about to be exposed. Some of us may feel indifferent, some will find it shocking, some may even feel sorry but most of us, our love and fondness for MCKK everlasting, will be outraged. Whatever our feelings or reactions are, the fact remains that something has gone awry and that everything ought to be done to arrest the deterioration with utmost haste.
When the subject was first brought up at the MCOBA Symposium in December, 1989, many who were present did not fully realize the extent of the decline. Perhaps this was not sufficiently or prominently highlighted at the occasions considering the other major issues of the proceeding that need to be examined.
The Malay College may have been established 111 years ago for the education and grooming of the children of Malay royalty and aristocrats. Later on, vast majority were the children of smallholders, farmers, petty traders, penghulus, teachers, government servants, railway employees, soldiers and policemen who were bright enough to be selected.
Today, it is almost the same except that they are really among the crème-de-la-crème of male Malay students and many more than before are from middle-class families, reflecting the improvement in the lot of the Malay society in general since Merdeka.
It is no secret the one of the favourite past-times of many ‘Budak Kolej’ (…or Kolet, …or Koleq) is to take pride in comparing the achievements of his ‘time’ with that of others of a different era. Now comparisons are invalid. No one can deny that change has to come to MCKK but the speed of the transformation seems nothing short of unbelievable.
Sit back and try to imagine as we take you on a tour of a dilapidated present-day MCKK. We shall begin at the “PREP SCHOOL”. This is where the cream of the crop arrives with high perceptions and great expectations. For better or worse, what is imprinted in them within this first year of their life away from home and family is the most crucial, as this ‘grooming’ will determine their future conduct for the rest of their stay in Kuala Kangsar as well as laying the foundation for their independence, self- reliance and survival in their life after MCKK. In 2013, Prep School turned 100 years old. For human beings, being 100 is a momentous age but not Prep School. It is now very old and costly to maintain.
Thankfully much of this area has remained intact as year in and year out, it is periodically spruced up to welcome the periodic new occupants. There is a new kitchen, dining hall with new tables and benches and bathroom block in place of the rickety diagonal toilet and kitchen of earlier days .The dormitories, although crammed with double decker-beds appear clean and tidy. The clothes lines appear well policed with clothes out to dry sorted out into various sections and washing paraphernalia stacked neatly in racks along the balcony. The common room is typically plain with a forlorn television set and sofa sets, akin to any another common rooms in SBP schools. But, the question remains whether the Malay College is just another SBP school or the King of Schools and Schools of Kings that it was once tagged.
The decline soon became apparent as one enters the Form Two block at the back of the mosque along the former road leading to the old Rex cinema. The neatness and tidiness slowly disappear and indifferent and apathy become apparent.
Thanks largely to the visit of various VIPs, Golden Jubilee and Centenary Celebrations, the exterior of the ‘BIG SCHOOL’ was always been given fresh coats of paint, to the extent that you could see the layers of peeled paints like rings of prehistoric trees. The small circus with the big cannon had been turned into a miniature garden. How majestic they appear to the unsuspecting eyes! True to the popular adage ‘Never judge a book by its cover’ the conditions inside the Big School are appalling. It is difficult to imagine the state of disrepair and abuse that this place has been subjected to. Words alone cannot fully begin to describe the sickening conditions.
Sadly, though, the physical infrastructure and resources of MCKK have not really kept up with changing times. Over the years its Old Boys had endeavoured to give it tennis courts, basketball courts, a Futsal arena, a cricket oval, a swimming pool, a solar roof car shed, a proper fencing around Big School, a network of fibre-optics and some computers that are now obsolete. Then, there are pledged funds for the repair and maintenance of the same swimming pool, toilets, common rooms and the clock tower. They are all done with good intentions but somehow it was done on an ad- hoc basis and not planned in the confines of a Master Plan, if any. Another stark admission is the house- cleaning, janitorial and maintenance schedules and plans that should come with these facilities.
The Old Boys also gave their alma mater a resource centre equipped with 20 new computers and a printer. But MCKK needs a bit more than these for its now over 700 students to commensurate with the quality of Malay students studying there and the Government’s desire to create global citizens who are outstanding and distinguished. The library, for instance, is too small and is still caught in the ancient mode of my days with just a little bit more new titles.
The PAVILLION, which once was the bastion of the Seniors (6th formers), is now the abode for third formers. Nowadays, it looks like a third class accommodation with missed mashed repair and patch works. The toilet walls are mouldy and it reeks hopelessness to said the least. What was once a final accommodation destination for Collegians is more akin to a deplorable midway house for the itinerant.
Clearly , the deplorable sights would move you close to tears, Indeed, they will at least rekindle your memories of MCKK, a place where we spend most of our important adolescent years; leaving her with many lessons in life and bittersweet memories. A massive collective effort is now required to put things right again and we need all the support of its stakeholders and those indifferent ex-collegians to carry out the massive undertaking. For the sake of future Malay generations, let us not go to our graves with the question of WHATEVER HAPPENED… linger on our conscience.
Man does not live on bread alone; he needs a sense of self-respect and pride born of high achievements and a belonging to or association with something superior. MCKK faculty and students certainly needs to benefit as they are the ‘Chosen Ones’.
The bugbear is that it creates a yearning, a hope, for similar superior hard and soft facilities currently not available to the best Malaysian public schools. Our best students are not inferior in quality; their institutions, however, can do with better facilities and resources.
How can this be best achieved must be pondered by all concerned. As Old Collegians we refuse to play the blaming game. We must be positive, seek help and also offer to help. That must always be the way of MCOBA. Fiat Sapientia Virtus (Let Manliness Come through Wisdom)!