At six and a half years of age, my father enrolled me in school. I remember being brought to primary school with my elder brother, Yap Boo Huat and my cousin brother Boo Say to Anglo Chinese School (A.C.S.) in Jalan Raya Barat, Klang.
While my brother and cousin brother had no trouble being enrolled as students, my registration faced some problems. I in fact was too young, being only 6 ½ years then.
As a young boy, hardly knowing anything, I remember my lorry driver father talking about “coffee” money with the headmaster, a G.S. Arumugam. Thus began my days as a young school boy in A.C.S. Klang.
The above school was one of the earliest school built by the missionary brothers in 1898. My primary school days were to stretch from 1952- 1957. I remember finally sitting for my Standard Six exam in 1957.
During my primary school days, we were staying in Kampung Martin in Jalan Telok Pulai. Kampung Martin was a suitable place for me as a young school boy. I could not have asked for a better place to live in.
The kampung above was filled with mangosteen trees, durian, banana trees, buah sentul and rambutans. You name it, and all the fruits were there.
And all the birds were there too. Kingfishers, magpies, mynah birds, swallows and not forgetting the pipits were all present too. Owls too came a hooting in the middle of the night. As a young boy, this made me very much afraid.
When owls come hooting, my mother used to say, bad omen will befall. Its arrival, it seems, was to announce the possible passing away of some sick person in the kampung community.
I still recall my school badge even today. It was a blue and yellow coloured badge. “Sapienta Potensia Est”, it said. The Latin words meant “Knowledge Is Power”.
For sports activities, I remember being in the Klang or “E” house. Unlike today, the Annual Sports of a school was a grand affair. Other schools from around the Klang district, Kuala Lumpur even, use to participate in the open relay events. It was indeed exciting watching these events, especially the 4 x 400m school relay.
While in Primary One, I still recall my teacher Mrs. Ding very clearly. She was a sweet looking Chinese teacher with short hair. I wonder if she’s still alive today. If she is, I gather she should now be over 90 years old, perhaps.
One other Chinese male teacher, I can never forget is Mr. Ng Yin Woot. I remember, being unable to pay up my school fees every month. Mr. Ng happened to be my class teacher for a number of years. To tell you the truth, this teacher gave me a difficult time while I was in primary school.
He used to demand school fees from me practically every month. I was knocked on the head rather frequently. This made me, as a young boy of 10, fear going to school.
Because of this, I did not go to school the first 5 or 6 days of each month. Until my father was able to pay me the school fees, I would stay away from school.
But my sad days of my primary school days were soon compensated by football. Football became my favorite sports. It was this game, that led me become the football captain in my primary school days at A.C.S., Klang.
I really enjoyed my primary school days playing football in Port Swettenham, and even being brought by my football teachers to Kuala Lumpur. I can still remember playing against well known schools such as Pasar Road School and Methodist Boys School, Kuala Lumpur.
I remember once playing against Vivekananda Primary School. When the Merdeka Stadium was first opened in 1957, I remember playing there too.
My interest in football was actually encouraged by Malaysian footballers like Abdul Ghani, Arthur Koh, Robert Choe, the Pang brothers of Penang, Pang Siang Teck and Pang Siang Hock, Govindaraju and Awang Bakar of Singapore.
In my own district of Klang, football was then a game which many Klang folks relish very much. I still recall teams like Ramblers, R.A.F., a team comprised of army soldiers serving in Malaya in those days. R.A.F’s style of football, which represented the English style of play was so exciting and interesting to watch.
There were other famous local teams in the likes of Dynamos, Shell, Highland Estate, Wah Yew and so forth. Games used to be held at the Klang Padang. And at times, even at our school ground, A.C.S., Klang.
Those times I mentioned above were football non-professional at its best.
While in A.C.S. primary, I still remember my football masters Mr. Kon Thean Soong and Mr. A Singham. Mr. Kon, I was told, left the teaching profession, was said to have struck 2nd prize in the then Social Welfare Lottery Draw. He then went into the printing business, starting Preston Publications in Petaling Jaya.
Later on, Mr. Kon bought over a lot of shares in Guinness Anchor Berhad and became one of its major shareholders. I gather, he must be a multi-millionaire today!
As for Mr. Singham, I have in fact lost touch with this teacher after all these years. But to his advice gave me as a young school boy, words cannot describe how I feel.
All I remember still about Mr. Singham today is how my friends and I used to go to the school canteen behind the A.C.S. primary school to take mee hoon and assorted cold drinks on Mr. Singham’s account.
Being a rather poor school boy, his treats meant a lot to me. To that, Mr. Singham, if you are still around, permit me to extend my thanks to you, sir!
Better late than never, expressing my thanks to you, so they say.
My school days at A.C.S. Primary School should also make mention of another headmaster, Mr. Tan Teik Guan. He was a simple man, not strict at all, but loved by use his students.
I remember Mr. Tan giving us money to go to the canteen, whenever he found us fighting. How old is he now? Is he still around today? I really don’t know.
As this article is getting longer and longer, I feel it’s best that it stops here. If time and opportunity permits, I might go on to relate more of my secondary school days, this time at the A.C.S. Secondary School in Klang later.
Before this article ends, I wish to inform readers that I do not fancy watching football these days. Not the World Cup nor the English Premier League (E.P.L.) which some readers are crazy about.
But that does not mean I do not have a team I like. For your information, the team I like best in the E.P.L. is none other than Tottenham Hotspurs!
By the way, my son-in-law’s team is Liverpool. And my close buddy and friend from Banting town, Mr. Tee Too, his team is Manchester United which Wayne Rooney plays.
And who, you may wish to know, I consider as the best footballer of all times? David Beckham? No, it is Diego Maradona of Argentina!
And who is the best Malaysian footballer of all times? Mokhtar Dahari, of course!