VERY few would dispute that Malay College Kuala Kangsar (MCKK) has produced many leaders for the nation.
One can easily spot the MCKK student from that unique striped red tie.
But for MCKK old boys, or MCOBAns, that tie is their brand. The rule is that all must wear the tie on Wednesdays. They can be fined 50 sen otherwise.
What makes MCKK, modelled on Eton College in the United Kingdom, special? What is the recipe? The teachers?
Many in the Education Ministry saw the unique offerings of MCKK.
They tried to replicate the MCKK model. However, the success has been mixed.
The success of the college can be attributed to a combination of factors.
Teachers are one factor. We had dedicated teachers. Most times, we were treated as colleagues. Even the more serious ones were approachable.
On many occasions, teachers never hesitated to give us treats.
Some teachers helped us escape detention class. There was one art teacher who never failed us.
We were not allowed to leave the premises at night then. But we could not resist watching Hindi movies, like Junglee, in a cinema.
We walked along the drain to avoid being seen. We entered the theatre when the lights were out and left quickly before the lights were switched on. This was to avoid being caught by teachers sitting in the reserve class.
The daily routines, including prep and inspection, could also be a factor. We never forgot the prep class. Attendance was taken. We seldom used the time to study, except nearer the exams.
Creative students used the time to draw cartoons. I remember one who drew really good caricatures of classmates. But nearer exam time, prep time became more serious.
The weekly Friday dormitory inspection was another compulsory routine. Smiles were not tolerated. A friend was sent to detention just because he smiled.
But, undeniably, the most important thing that made MCKK special was the ecosystem of the college.
It was the kind that made learning fun and interesting. We were serious most times. We fooled around more though.
April Fool’s Day was an occasion we looked forward to. On one April Fool’s Day, we put the headmaster’s Jaguar on the roof.
This fooling around made us savour our experience together and we remain close to this day.
The dragon dance was one such fooling event. We would walk around the corridors of the Big School making loud noises when many were asleep.
We organised concerts and made enough money to contribute to college projects.
I remember we went around selling tickets in Kuala Kangsar. It was the first taste of entrepreneurship to many of us.
Even to this day, the shows put up at the annual old boys’ dinners are managed by former students.
And, believe me, they can rival entertainment shows put up by professionals.
Those were the days we thought would never end.
DATUK DR AHMAD IBRAHIM
Fellow at Academy of Sciences Malaysia