The former greats are even in singapore...
The Edwardian legacy
By SONIA RAMACHANDRAN
Its motto 'Magni Nominis Umbra' means 'under the shadow of a great name' and King Edward VII School of Taiping lives up to its name in every sense of the word. As the school gears to celebrate its 125th anniversary this year, SONIA RAMACHANDRAN traces its history and discovers why it has embedded itself in the hearts of every Edwardian who has walked through its gates WITH the century old Rain Trees (scientific name Samanea Saman) on its grounds, graceful arches and Victorian architecture the King Edward VII School is one of the most scenic schools in the country.
But KE7 (as the school is fondly known) has more than a name and architecture to be proud of.
The students who have passed out of its hallowed halls form a veritable who's who. In addition, the school's prowess in sports, particularly rugby, is legendary.
The history of KE7 begins in 1883. The British wanted to start a school that was centrally located and to which children of various races would have access.
A small wooden building was put up on land along Station Road (Jalan Stesyen) in July 1883. It was called the Central School, simply because of its location.
The first intake consisted only of 13 pupils, the figure rising to 38 at the beginning of 1884.
Among them were two young Malays who were the first recipients of what is today known as a government scholarship: Raja Ngah Abubakar and Abdul Shukor, the son of an ex-menteri besar. The first headmaster of the school was a gentleman by the name of J L Greene.
In 1895, the school's population had increased to 159 (with 28 Malay boys) and by 1899, it was 204.
Among the subjects taught were English, physical education and music. Games played included football and cricket.
In 1895, the Federal Regulation Policy insisted that an English education become an important criterion for entry into government service.
Later, at the conference of rulers in 1903, Perak Resident J.P Rodger observed that there was a lack of Malay participation in the civil service.
To address this, it was suggested that a special English school be established. In the end, however, it was decided that certain existing schools be selected to educate more locals, especially Malays, and the Central School was one of those chosen.
With increasing enrolment, a larger building was needed. It was decided, in 1903, that the school shift to a spot further up along Station Road where the country's first railway station stood.
The station was shifted to its present premises, still along Station Road, and work on the construction of the new school began. The headmaster at this time was one Roger Francis Stainer, one of the most famous and loved persons to ever head the school in its chequered history.
When the school shifted to the new building, Stainer was at the helm. The official opening on Jan 19, 1906 was performed by the then Sultan of Perak, Sultan Idris-Mersid-El Azam Shah Iskandar Shah. He also renamed the school King Edward VII School, in honour of the new King of England, Edward, who
had ascended the throne in 1901 upon the death of Queen Victoria.
The gate with the name of the School inscribed on it, and which is still in use today, was put up in 1908. The shade trees which make the school ground 'the most picturesque school ground in Malaya' were planted by P. Moss in the early part of 1910.
When the school moved to the site on which it now stands, there was only one building, namely the two-storey structure which is now the main part of the school.
Later new buildings were erected in the compound.
Then came the Second World War and the subsequent occupation of the country by Japanese forces. The school did not function during those years. Its buildings and grounds became the headquarters of the Malayan Kempeitai (Japanese secret police) who converted the classrooms into torture chambers
and dug up the playgrounds for the growing of food.
On Oct 1, 1945, the school came back to life in the St George's Institution premises nearby with E.A Moissinac as the headmaster and on Jan 14, 1946, the students moved back into their old buildings.
As the enrolment kept increasing, more buildings were erected. But in March 1958, the school was split up into primary and secondary. Two primary schools were created, primary 1 and primary 2, both housed in the same building but run in morning and afternoon sessions.
The secondary school was moved to buildings in Trump Road and Upper Museum Road.
Later, more blocks were added.
Female pupils were admitted to KE7 when Form Six classes were started in 1954.
The secondary school today has 1,500 students while primary 1 has 855 pupils and primary 2 has 255 pupils.
Apart from producing some of the best brains in the country, the school is also known of its prowess in sports. It produced some of the top sportsmen in the country.
The tradition continues today with the secondary school rugby team winning the district under-18 championship this year, and eight of its players representing the state. In football, the school is the district champion in the under-15 category and state champion in the swimming 4x100m freestyle.
KE7 primary one emerged as state under-12 golf champion this year. Not to be outdone, KE7 primary 2 won the state under-12 rugby championship.
The Old Edwardians Association, founded in 1914 by Stainer, continues to grow strong. There is even a Kuala Lumpur chapter of the old boys association now.
The school holds pleasant memories to many Tigers but they are all agreed on the fact that the school, at least before the 1980s, taught them to think and act as Tigers. Race and religion were never on their minds.
As Datuk Abdul Mutalib Razak, an old boy of the school says, KE7's uniqueness is in the 'colour blindness' of its students.
"The moment we enter school, we are all colour blind and become just one mixture of true Malaysians. There were absolutely no thoughts of being racial. This school was a real important landmark in my life," he says.
Those passing the majestic looking primary school - the same building erected in 1905 - will inevitably be greeted with the sight of pupils of different races from all walks of life playing together under the century old Rain trees, just as their predecessors had done more than a hundred years before.
Sultan to grace dinner
KING Edward VII School will celebrate its 125th anniversary this year with a grand dinner on Oct 11. The Sultan of Perak Raja Azlan Shah and the Raja Muda Raja Dr Nazrin Shah are expected to grace the occasion. According to Old Edwardians Association of Malaysia president Mohaideen Mohd Ishack, the
dinner will be held at the Taiping Town Hall. He said the association had planned several events to celebrate the anniversary, including a parade around Taiping town - complete with tiger cubs - on July 31. Games such as rugby matches will also be held. The soft launch of the celebrations was
done by former cabinet minister and old Tiger Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik at the school in Taiping last month. Mohaideen said the association hoped to raise money for a trust fund it is setting up. A coffee-table book on the first 100 years of KE7 will also be published in conjunction with the anniversary.
Datuk Abdul Mutalib Razak, chairman of the coffee-table book committee, said the book would include stories on its principals and outstanding Edwardians. He urged Tigers who have pictures of the school to contact him or any of the committee members so that they could be used for the coffee-table book. He said those wanting to know more should contact V T Ratnam at 016-3127949 or Sulaiman Hassan at 012-2123272.
Royalty and president
AMONG the many leaders King Edward VII School produced were two sultans of Perak - Sultan Iskandar Shah and Sultan Abdul Aziz. The first president of Singapore, Yusof Ishak, was an old boy of the school. Among political leaders who studied at KE7 were former cabinet ministers Tun Dr Ling Liong
Sik, Tan Sri Dr Lim Swee Aun, Aziz Ishak, and Tan Sri Ghazali Jawi. Ghazali also served as Menteri Besar of Perak. Another ex-student, Abdul Rahim Ishak, served as a cabinet minister in Singapore. The current chief justice of Singapore, Chan Sek Keong, is also an old Tiger. Other notable Tigers include former chief secretary to the government Tan Sri Abdullah Ayub and former armed forces chief General (rtd) Tan Sri Mohamed Ghazali Che Mat. Three of the school's students went on to hold the post of director-general of education: Tan Sri Asiah Abu Samah, Tan Sri Dr Wan Zahid Nordin, and Datuk Seri Dr Abdul Shukor Abdullah. Among prominent corporate figures are Media Prima Bhd chairman Datuk Abdul Mutalib Abdul Razak and former Proton chairman Tan Sri Jamil Jan. The school also produced some top sportsmen who represented the country in international meets. This includes athletes M. Dataya and Junaidah Aman, footballers M. Karathu and Ahmad Nazri, cricketer Datuk Abdul Aziz Ismail, hockey greats M. Sockalingam and Randhir Singh and shooter Datuk Seri Abdul Rahman Yatim.
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