Brotherhood of leaders

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Almarhum Paduka Ayahanda Sultan Ahmad n the first X1 Hockey Team 1948. Standing furthest left.

I WAS taught at Malay College Kuala Kangsar (MCKK) which, in the early days, was “the King of School, the School of Kings”. It’s a school full of tradition, initially established for royalty and aristocrats.

Historically and progressively, MCKK then opened its doors to the people and it became a “Leader of Schools, the School of Leaders”.

It became the training ground for future leaders and with it, a passionate brotherhood was established — a brotherhood of leaders. It was an establishment for the creme de la creme of young Malay boys.

We’re all leaders. Leadership isn’t about position, it’s a mindset. Life is about discovering who we are. Leading is about striving to become better than we are, and helping everything and everyone around us to become better too.

A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way and shows the way. Those qualities exist in us, both on the macro and micro environment we live in.

That makes every Malay College Old Boys (MCOB) a leader. The choice to lead is nurtured by the willingness to rise above life’s challenges. Leadership is self-made, self-retained, self-inculcated and then exposed through a faithful, sincere and exemplary life.

MORE THAN BROS

A group of Boy Scouts on a camping trip at Bukit Berapit, 1975. Hisham is the one seated.

Throughout my years after school, I’ve felt the abundance of brotherhood of leaders and have wondered if I’ll ever have what childhood friends and old men sitting around mamak teh tarik stools have in common.

What’s the common denominator that brings 80-year-old grandpas and futsal-crazy young guys to come together for the Annual Dinner Concert Show practice until the wee hours of the morning?

I’m not talking about just “bros” you shoot the breeze with, but quality, salt-of-the-earth men whom you know have your back through thick and thin. The kind of brotherhood that goes beyond having a teh tarik, watching English Premier League football and playing Pokemon Go or Candy Crush.

OF BONDING AND GROWTH

Throughout my years after school, I’ve felt the abundance of brotherhood of leaders and have wondered if I’ll ever have what childhood friends and old men sitting around mamak teh tarik stools have in common.

What’s the common denominator that brings 80-year-old grandpas and futsal-crazy young guys to come together for the Annual Dinner Concert Show practice until the wee hours of the morning?

I’m not talking about just “bros” you shoot the breeze with, but quality, salt-of-the-earth men whom you know have your back through thick and thin. The kind of brotherhood that goes beyond having a teh tarik, watching English Premier League football and playing Pokemon Go or Candy Crush.

OF BONDING AND GROWTH

Besut boys in front of the school, 1974. It was a tradition for third formers to wear long stockings to depict seniority.

Because of their lack of survival obligation, it feels like modern-day brotherhood is becoming more of a lost art, relegated to secret societies and dying traditions.

The few remaining forms of these brotherhoods are fraternities, Boy Scouts, golf buddies, biking platoons, football club supporters and mosque/surau groups. Then there are the boyhood friendships that last through adulthood or built-in brotherhood through familial ties.

While most of these groups have traditionally had a specific agenda — religious, political, sports etc — it’s through organised groups like MCOBA that men come together to compete, compliment, insult, have fun and grow old together.

This is a male-specific form of bonding and growth. For thousands of years, men have come together in intentional groups to sharpen each other in different ways. It’s through challenges from other men that we grow and build that camaraderie.

Over the years, the Malay College Old Boys connected and bonded under one vision as we grew up together. It’s a bond that hasn’t weakened despite the years.

Maybe we don’t see each other often. But when we break away from the demands of life and gather together, I’m reminded of the power of the brotherhood of Malay Collegians.

MCOB brothers aren’t beholden to time. We don’t need time together since our souls were connected so many years ago. We became a tight group of young men to old men because we submitted our egos for each other to survive and then to thrive.

We sacrificed our individuality for the sake of the group. It elevated each one of us individually as a result. We took that lesson with us as we attacked life to build our businesses, careers and families.

The Nasi Kawah Brotherhood is powerful because it’s a foundational life-giving formula for success and prosperity. Try to tackle the world alone and you’ll wither and die in mediocrity, confusion and frustration. But lock arms with the one standing with you and life bows at your feet.

We’re not meant to face life on our own. God planted the desire for community in our hearts. You become who you hang out with and the group’s identity shapes your value system. I know my future has always been bright because of my friends and MCOB brothers.

SPECIAL BREED

Never mind that not all who came from MCOB become Prime Ministers, political leaders, police chiefs, army generals, CEOs, famous writers or artists.

Whatever path they choose, they undoubtedly benefited tremendously from the brotherhood of leaders who originated from Malay College Kuala Kangsar.

Tomorrow is our own making. Every one of the graduates of the Malay College is famous and is a leader in his own way. The Malay College has spawned a special breed of people, brewed in an environment of traditions and instilled in discipline.

For many, it was a crossroad in life where friendship, brotherhood and camaraderie were forged and corridors of knowledge expanded. It was a place where leaders were hatched.

Making a difference, leaving a legacy and being a guide to others: That’s what the Brotherhood of Leaders stands for.

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