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Impressions of Thailand
By 8.30 p.m., 11th December 1966, a small crowd of Victorians had gathered outside the gates of the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station. By 9.30 p.m. everyone was present and the total was nearly 120 people. Che Othman was in charge of the tour and he had with him a megaphone which he used unsparingly during the trip. One thing I noticed particularly was the amount of luggage for the trip. One would thing that a mass migration was on rather than a tour. Nevertheless by 9.50 p.m. when the train pulled out en route to Prai, everyone had settled down and looking forward to the journey ahead.
Hardly any of us slept that night. Reasons ranged from uncomfortable seats, bright lights, would-be Mario Lanzas and Julie Andrews, to the screechiest train brakes in the world. Due to floods on the way the train arrived three hours late in Prai. Here again the mountain of luggage poured out of one train to another - a Thai train, the ASA express. It was in this train that many of us began to use Thai bahts.
The ASA Express (Express? somebody must be kidding!) chugged along to Padang Besar, a border town. After Padang Besar the countryside was similar to that of north-west Malaya. Mile after mile of golden padi fields stretched on either side of us, occasionally broken by a group of trees surrounding the farmers' dwellings. One feature present in southern Thailand but not commonly found in Malaya, is the growing of palmyra trees in the padi-fields for sugar. Often, too, for long stretches of the journey, we could see casuarina trees. As late afternoon drew near we sighted the sea once or twice; we were then passing through the Isthmus of Kra. We were reminded to adjust our watches to Thai time which is half an hour behind West Malaysian time.
That night was the second night that we were spending on a train and most of us felt tired and sleepy, and, above all, dirty. All through the night there were moans and groans, as there were insufficient seats and many gallantly stood up half the night awaiting their turn to sleep. The wiser slept on the floor with little more than a newspaper between themselves and the floor. The girls on the trip slept comfortably as space was given to them by the boys. (Who says chivalry is dead in the V.I.?)
As we approached Bangkok, temples became a common sight. Gradually the padi fields gave way to a number of fair-sized towns. Common, too, were canals on either side of the railway tracks, each up to two or three times the width of the Klang river in Kuala Lumpur. At long last, after eternity or so it seemed, we arrived at Bangkok, tired but alive enough to shift the luggage to the buses awaiting us. We had been travelling for about 40 hours.
It was then that we first had contact with the monks all robed in saffron. From the very first moment, we felt their friendliness and hospitality as they welcomed us to the great city of Bangkok. Bangkok buses are large and seat six in a row. Two buses were sufficient to carry all 117 of us to our residence in Bangkok - the Wat (temple) Samphaya. On our way there we passed the fabled klongs that make Bangkok the Venice of the East. My previous ideas that there were few big roads and even fewer cars were shattered when I saw roads with 8-lane traffic all covered with motorised vehicles.
In fact, there were no bicycles on Bangkok roads. Cycling enthusiasts can hire bicycles on Sundays at the Sunday market and ride them on the huge field in the centre of the town. Here hundreds of people ranging from young boys to elderly gentlemen could be seen riding bicycles and obviously thrilled by the experience.
Another interesting fact is that Bangkok drivers are of the calibre of the Canadian Hell Drivers, for they pay little heed to traffic lights, travel as fast as they can and use their brakes and horns nearly as often as we exhale and inhale.
The next surprise was a pleasant one. The Wat where we were to stay was not a gloomy, incense-filled dormitory but a modern hostel with 2 to 3 persons to a room. The most gratifying fact of all was the modern toilet facilities. We were welcomed by the High Priest and told that no rules applied. The "V.I. megaphone", however, told us what we should and shouldn't do. After being told of assemblies at 7.15 each morning and that lights were to be out at 11.00 p.m., we retired to our rooms and the bathrooms.
Organised tours were planned and the organisers drew up a schedule. This, however, was rescheduled by the High Priest himself. He even took the trouble to obtain the cheapest buses for us. The monks are highly respected people in Thailand and whatever they organise is carried out with no difficulty. So a tight schedule was drawn up.
The same evening we arrived, we formed groups of at least seven and were ordered to stick together through thick and thin. The next morning we visited our first temple. Later we saw the State Assembly Hall. It was a gloomy looking building from the outside, much like the Capitol of the U.S. However, once inside we gaped at the fine Italian architecture built in the style of the Renaissance period. Fine paintings on the walls depicted landmarks in Thai history. We entered the room where the assemblies were held and stared in wonder at the luxurious scene. The doors were painted with the figures of past kings and chandeliers hung majestically from the ceiling. The speaker's seat was behind a teak panel and microphones were all around.
On a dais behind the Speaker's seat was a white pagoda-like umbrella, signifying the position of the throne. When the king goes to the Assembly his throne is brought along from the Grand Palace. The seats of the members of Parliament were made use of by us to ease our aching feet, and some of us mimicked assemblymen. However, the latter were reminded that opposition parties were non-existent as Thailand was under military rule.
That afternoon we visited the Dusit Zoo and saw many familiar faces behind the cages. What attracted most of us was not the animals but the boating lake. However, due to lack of time, most of us missed paddling in the unique paddle boats.
While in Bangkok we visited a number of famous temples. I have seen all sorts of images of the Buddha and to me it seemed that only one form of architecture existed in Thailand - marble Buddhas, emerald Buddhas, sleeping Buddhas, reclining Buddhas, sitting Buddhas and standing Buddhas, which are sights not to be missed. I was amused when we visited the museum which itself can be termed a museum piece. Seventy-five percent of the objets d'art consisted of statues of Buddhas or some relics connected with it. One interesting fact is that all the exhibits were either of Chinese or Indian origin and in some cases a combination of both.
Also on our schedule was the Grand Palace. Here, stepping on the grass was not allowed and was the only place such a rule applied other than at home. We had to wear blazers to enter the Reception Room of the Grand Palace. Incidentally, some boys stared more at our guide than at the excellence of the buildings.
The floating market was not very impressive. A few boats gathered at the banks of the klong and people buying vegetables was hardly worth the two hour boat ride and the getting up at 5 o'clock that morning to see it.
It was said that among the main intentions of the tour was the Asian Games. The girls protested silently and perhaps prayed otherwise, for we went only once to see the games at the stadium. That afternoon saw 117 Victorians waving flags (which Che' Othman had brought all the way from Kuala Lumpur) and cheering wildly. We were indeed proud to see Jegathesan and Co. win the 4 x 100 metres relay. The victors were given their medals in a victory ceremony during which the anthem of the gold-winning country was played. That afternoon we heard the Japanese anthem more than 8 times but were rewarded once by the Negara-ku during which we stood proudly in the sun.
Another place of interest is the Snake Farm where skilled handlers feed king cobras and kraits. On the day we were there they were extracting the venom of the snakes for the preparation of snake bite antitoxins.
We were also recommended to attend a show of Thai Classical Dancing performed by the Phakavali troupe for a sum of 75 bahts each. Only a few boys, half a dozen girls and the teachers attended this show while the others went to the National Theatre to watch a Thai opera. However, half of us slept through the opera, not due to the language barrier but due to the heaviness of heads caused by the tight programmes of the past few days.
During the five full days in Bangkok we also had some free time. Shopping was a treat to both the girls and the boys. The prices, however, were high and things in the shops were very expensive. We thought that the prices were more suited to the Americans and richer tourists. The variety of food was good and very, very spicy. A bowl of mee (with sugar) or rice (with lime) cost only 2 to 3 baht. We were also surprised to find that travel on public buses was very cheap. For half a baht (seven and a half cents) we traversed the town and could even return to our place of embarkation if we sat tight long enough.
The Thais are a very friendly and helpful people and it was easy to start a conversation with them. While talking with some of them, we found a number of sad facts. Most of the Thai people are poor. An average teacher after high school earned only 600 baht a month (about $90 Malaysian). A government doctor received just over a thousand baht ($150) while a pharmacist with a Bachelor's degree earned 1200 baht ($180). From the figures one can gauge the low incomes and hence the low standard of living. However, in Bangkok we had seen 5 Mustangs, 3 Porsches, Lancias, Cadillacs and American limousines. Who then owned these cars? I was told that the bankers, industrialists and private firm owners were millionaires and thus formed a class of very rich people. This contrasted sharply with the poorer government servants and farmers.
On December 17th, Mr. Loh Kung Sing organised a trip to Ayudha, 55 miles from Bangkok. We saw a number of ruins and beautifully preserved temples. It was an excursion that none of us would forget. On the way there we diverted slightly to see the King's former Summer Palace. (Nowadays he prefers to fly to Chiangmai). The beautiful buildings, which included an astronomical observatory, were built during the reign of King Chulalongkorn.
The next day, at 3.00 p.m., we left the Wat for the railway station. The diesel electric engine pulled us all the way up the mountainous terrain to Chiangmai at 1,023 feet. Although we were there during winter, the days were hot and cloudless but cool in the shade and at night. We stayed at the Wat Chedi Luang, near the town centre. Soon after we had settled down we went up a mountain where a magnificient temple is located. From there the city of Chiangmai could be seen as being situated in a vast plain.
The next day we visited the famed pottery works (Celadon ware) and the waterfall. We also toured Chiangmai University by bus. The chartered buses in Chiangmai were a big contrast to those in Bangkok. They were actually converted lorries seating 20 odd persons each.
We also visited the districts of Pasang and Lampoon famous for their cottage industries and beautiful girls. We were pessimistic all the way from Bangkok about the beauties but what we saw changed our minds. They were simply dressed and had little or no make-up. Their natural charm and hospitality struck many of us. I noticed at once that the boys had taken a sudden interest in shopping, but what they were shopping for does not need telling. Our girls were happy to shop for Thai silk and cotton materials which came at remarkably low prices. The boys on their part saw never to be forgotten sights; some got addresses and most of them swooned occasionally.
It was all too soon that we had to pack up and leave that city of beautiful girls. This time there was not one but two mountains of luggage. These, the boys were made to carry. As the train pulled out of Chiangmai, I heard one of the girls remark, "Glad to be leaving." Now, at last, the boys might notice them again.
The journey en route to Padang Besar was broken by a half day stop at Bangkok. Here, again, the hospitality of the monks overwhelmed us. The High Priest of the Wat treated us to lunch. That was our best meal in Thailand. At the very last minute before departure we were surprised by 3 large basketfuls of fruit - a present from the High Priest himself. As we left we sang "Auld Lang Syne" and "For He's a Jolly Good Fellow".
The journey back was very uncomfortable even though we travelled 2nd Class (there was no 3rd Class). Occasionally, too, smoke from the engine got into the carriages. Anyway, we survived the journey and by 3.30 p.m. on December 23rd we were back on Malaysian soil.
We passed the Customs at Padang Besar without much delay and most of us paid an average of $2/- each, although some paid as much as $51. Incidentally, none of us were issued receipts. Some got through scot free. Those who had brought samurai swords had to give them up to the Customs. (A certain public official was later found offering to sell the confiscated swords to the money changer for $6/- each).
We changed our train again at Bukit Mertajam and headed for home. As expected, the train arrived some two hours late but, boy, were we glad to get back home and to bed.
Certainly most of us found it a very memorable trip. The organisers especially Che Othman and Lee Kam Chuen, had worked feverishly to make our stay comfortable. Though there was a great language barrier, the friendliness and hospitality of the Thais overcame this, and we are most grateful to them, especially to the monks.
Is Man an Aberrant Primate?
Kamarulzaman Khan, L6B1
The complete answer to the puzzling question of the nature of man is not found anywhere. Since time eternal, philosophers, scientists, religious dignitaries and many a person have tried to arrive at a conclusion on the nature of man, but all to no avail. The essence of man's nature lies in the fact that he is a primate, which is an indisputable fact. In trying to understand his nature let us examine his stand in this class of primates.
Looking at the tree of evolution we may falsely conclude that man is really an aberrant primate because he is so different from the other primates like monkeys and apes. These creatures, though they are related to us, have small brains while man's sophisticated brain is what makes him superior and seem aberrant. The feet of chimpanzees and monkeys are similar to their hands. They possess thumbs instead of toes and their heels are smaller than ours. The skeletal similarities existing between the other primates are strikingly more than those existing between man and them. Is man, then, the member of the group which has deviated?
How man became what he is today is still not clear. Darwin tried to explain it by suggesting missing links between us - man, the monkeys and the chimpanzees. He supposed that if you started with a monkey resting on his knuckles, having a little brain and a large face, and proceeded step by step then, evolution would eventually develop him into a man-like creature, with a larger brain, shorter face and erect body. Today, with more knowledge of the principles of animal life and of evolution, we realise that no animal simply changes into another. A certain animal species is suited to its own way of life and to its environment so that it can make the best use of its environment in perpetuating its species. The apes or monkeys, therefore, cannot call us aberrant, nor can we call them aberrant.
Today we are able to speculate in a different perspective. With the help of fossils and greater knowledge about ourselves and the apes, we are able to construct a picture of our past. About seventy million years ago, the dinosaurs gave way to animals as the most successful group on earth. Mammals were then small and simple, and our earliest primates were like the lemurs of Madagascar and the bush babies of Africa. No man or monkey was yet known. Then, after about thirty million years another evolutionary wave took place, bringing efficient and stronger animals like cats. About this time, too, came the apes and monkeys, each one better adapted than the preceding one.An important one was Proconsul, who first came to light on Rusing Island, just around the corner of Lake Victoria. The Proconsul seems to have deviated too far, for he had small arms in contrast to a chimpanzee and the structure of his foot has puzzled palaentologists to this day. However, his abundance at that time reveals his success. We cannot consider him halfway between man and the apes, for he did not go on to become a man or a chimpanzee. About this time too, the type of apes and monkeys that we know today began to make their way into the forests of Africa, Asia and Europe.
It is quite clear that anthropoid apes had been evolving so as to become more suited to this kind of environment. About a million years ago, about the time of the Ice Age, there appeared creatures known as the man-apes or the Australopithecinae. The man-ape fossils came to light bit by bit. The first skull discovered was that of a child, with a face and the brain case. It was self-evident at once that it was some kind of a relative of ours and of the apes. Though there were differences regarding the brain and face, the teeth showed a striking resemblance to the teeth we find in man today. The back teeth were large just like ours. The eye teeth were not large like those of monkeys. Instead they were a rounded row of smaller nippers that we see in ourselves. The discovery of other parts of the skeletons soon followed. From the hip and leg bones it was inferred that these animals walked erect on two legs, like us and did not amble along bent over like a chimpanzee or a gorilla on the ground, and did not hang by their arms in trees. These were, in fact, erect animals, walking on the ground like ourselves.
We may safely conclude that the man-apes represent a genuine stage in our history. However, it does not mean that they are our ancestors. Similar fossils were found in Java and Peking. Our large, sophisticated brain that seems to make us aberrant was not the first but the last thing that began to develop since man appeared.
Although a gorilla or ape is equipped with four hand-like feet, their hands and feet are not as specialized as ours. The chimpanzee depends too much on his hands for walking around and hanging by. We watch our hands with our eyes and control them with our brains. So when the man-ape came he was able to use his hands far better than any primate or ape, and he did delicate things with the coordination of his eyes and brain.
Now, once again, evolution took charge, and Darwin's principle of Natural Selection made it rewarding for the brain to become larger. There was, however, no inner innate force driving man's ancestors to become better. It was this principle, the evolution for a better brain, which has carried us to this stage of human civilization in a relatively short period of a million years.
The fossils of a number of different kinds of man like the Java Man and Peking Man show that their brains were not actually much bigger than those of the man-apes of South Africa. Their skeletons were, however, like ours. In later times came the Neanderthal man of Europe and the Rhodesian Man, both with brains the size of which are comparable to ours, but with comparatively primitive skulls and faces.
Undoubtedly, we are good primates, since the essence of the nature of man, his eyes, his hands are all obtained from a common ancestry with monkeys and apes. However, we have gone further and developed a brain of the calibre that you and I possess today. In this aspect we are aberrant. We are now in a different plane altogether from our relatives, considering the fact that we possess a civilisation, are able to think, speak, invent, remember and be masters, to an extent, of many of the elements that govern or affect our lives in one way or another.
What Malaysia Must Mean
No one can deny that our country is a young nation capable of progress in every technological field as we have laid a broad economic support upon which it is possible to stand an industrious state. Yet, it is alarming to think that these may be destroyed by any misguided communalism that is liable to wreak more disaster on the nation than recurrent Communist ventures.
Perhaps there is no better time than the present to end all imprudent comments. These notions are probably rare but the fact that they are harboured among us warns of the looming threat of self-destruction. With ignorant intolerance is the fear and suspicion of the other communities - the same kind of fear that bred apartheid. It is a selfish, destructive fear, born from an idle mind that detaches itself from the vigour of the modern surge forwards, and seeks consolation in opposing the winds of change. Malaysian history rejects this fear for there is no justification for it.
The records reveal a combination of individual communities mutually dependent politically and economically, and equally harmonious in their social relations. Alarmists may point to turbulent racial matters in world history but we must be confident that we are a nation just as capable of maintaining the successes of our past as we advance forward. The record of world history should give us no fears and doubts, but inculcate a conviction that we can and will strive to overcome the evils of pride. The U.S. is suffering the turmoil of its civil rights struggle and South Africa is shackled by its apartheid policy and this should make us the more determined to avoid these pitfalls with the intelligence of a peaceable people.
In. all national interests, our thinking is clear - the Malaysian outlook takes the first place. But then many of us break up in internal social matters that have a hidden bearing upon our society. Malaysia's efforts to construct a liberal society based on technical advances, where the more demanding communalistic claims have no place, will be gauged internationally. A few may claim that we already have a multiracial society but they fail to realise that it is not totally integrated. Perhaps it is possible for each community to absorb a little of the other's culture but it stops there. We must face the fact that it is not possible for the variety of cultures to be blended to any great extent, for the mind and tradition of a Chinese differs vastly, from, say, that of an Indian, but through the attempts by members of all communities to participate in and enjoy the cultures of one another, we can develop an appreciation and respect for each other's values and learn to accept each other's beliefs and ideals.
The Government has done much to promote cultural togetherness; we have had the recent student exchange programmes, appropriate reading books of a multi-racial character for primary schools and, in general, a broad system of education. We could have T.V. features and discussions which provide for interracial participation. But the individual effort exerted by each man will decide the nature of things to come. A right thinking mind will not submit to misguided notions nor will it be coerced by dangerous chants. The determination to establish a socio-political order that promises abundant space for growth must direct our thinking to the interests of all. A future awaits the willingness to evolve a Malaysian nation.
Producing A School Play
Wee Choo San
How is the annual school play produced? Very often we are misled by the general idea that the production of a play involves very little organisation. This is a fallacy because to act in a play is easier than producing a play, especially if it is a Malaysian one. The cast of any play is required just to act and act alone. But the people who organize the production have to prepare the costumes, paint the scenery, set the lights, get the properties in plate, get the wardrobe ready, organize make-up classes, print programmes, and hunt for advertisements.
Usually before the Cultural Society produces a play, a committee meeting is called to choose a play. The choice of a play is very important because if the play does not appeal to the audience, it would be a total loss. This was the criterion used in deciding between Julius Caesar and A Tiger is Loose in Our Community. We knew that Julius Caesar had been produced by many great and well-known producers. So our production would definitely not come to the standard of theirs. Furthermore, our actors and actresses, I must admit, are not of Hollywood standard. But following on last year's success of Arise, O Youth we were inspired to risk another Malaysian play A Tiger is Loose in Our Community. The opinion poll we conducted last year in connection with Arise, O Youth favoured another Malaysian play.
Having chosen the play we next decide where and when to produce it. Usually the School Play is staged in the Town Hall because it has all the facilities for staging plays. The Town Hall must be booked first and the rent usually amounts to about $600/-.
Next we have to print the script which is a tedious and costly affair. The choosing of the cast is the committee's next problem. In selecting the cast, well-behaved and disciplined actors who must be punctual and willing to learn and who will not irritate the director, are preferred.
Meanwhile, the committee meets to select the production committee and the production staff which work under the authority of the Headmaster. The members of the production committee will usually be the stage director, the stage manager, the make-up mistress, the wardrobe mistress, the lighting director, the business manager, the publicity manager and the programme editor. These various heads will be responsible to the chairman who is the main organizer of the school play.
When the production committee is formed they have to submit a list of the members of the committee to the State Treasury and the Police Headquarters respectively to get exemption from entertainment duty and to obtain a licence to stage the play. This is usually a taxing experience because of the lack of initiative displayed by the Treasury and Police clerk.
Meanwhile, the stage manager has to find a suitable carpenter to build his sets. Before doing this he usually plans out his sets after close consultation with the Director. The sets usually cost about $300. Not every carpenter can construct the sets and the one the society has been patronizing has his workshop in an old shack at Jalan Sungei Besi. Sometimes when the cost of production is too high, the cost of the sets has to be cut down. The original estimate of the sets for the coming play was $505 but thanks to the generous offer of the Town Hall supervisor, we have been able to reduce it to $290.
The stage manager is assisted by two assistant stage managers and a number of stage crews. The work of these people is to construct and paint the sets, and to change the scenes during the play. The stage crews usually help the publicity department in the pasting of posters around town.
The properties mistress who works in close connection with the stage manager has to get the minor accessories which go to make the set complete. She has a tedious job of rounding up the heavy furniture, ornaments and accessories at the last moment. But the actual shifting of furniture and the ornaments for the different scenes is the job of the stage crews.
In plays like Arise, O Youth, there had been little need for a wardrobe mistress but if the play is a Shakespearean one, a wardrobe mistress is most vital.
Make-up classes start very much earlier than the actual play. The society is indeed grateful to the old boys and girls who always come back to conduct make-up classes for beginners. Usually there is a tremendous rush to this department so only the best are chosen.
The lighting manager has little to do except on the final night when he has the heavy responsibilities of switching on and off the correct lights at the right moment to give the proper effects.
The stage director is one of the most important people in stage production. He is in charge of all the heads of departments who are directly concerned with the stage, for example, the stage manager, the wardrobe mistress, the properties mistress, the make-up mistress and the lighting manager. He is to advise and supervise these departments.
For any play to be a success, wide publicity must be given. The publicity department deals with posters, banners, pamphlets, car stickers and, if you are lucky, bookmarks. This is perhaps the busiest department just before the play. The programme editor is an important man because it is the programmes which impress and draw the audience in the theatre.
Every year, the old committee leaves and a new one takes its place. New talent must be found. So it is the job of the old committee to train up the new ones so that they will gain the necessary experience in staging the next play.
Yap Peng Lee, U6B2.
In the dead of the night
You hear the tick
Of the clock
Of the clock
You wonder why
Time never stops
It moves on and on,
Why does it not
And let us rest
Vic's Greater V.I.
After many months of careful consideration during which Vic neglected his studies (as usual) and sacrificed promotion for his plan to make the V.I. even more famous (good excuse for failing exams, don't you think?), Vic's nut coagulated this super plan. First of all, Vic would convert the Stadium Negara into the V.I. badminton hall. Some smart alec would ask where the money would come from. All that would be required would be $1/- from the Endowment Fund. $1/- would buy a lottery ticket. A lottery ticket would bring $400,000/-. If every month we bought just one lottery ticket, it would result in an income of roughly $5,000,000/- a year. As a side investment we could buy 3-digit lottery tickets. (Vic, of course, will choose the numbers for you and they will naturally start with 206).
Of course, our swimmers would be discontented and so we would have to buy over the Chin Woo Stadium so that they could have their own Olympic standard Swimming Pool. We would convert the Chin Woo auditorium into our own basket-ball court. Our athletes and footballers would become jealous and demand the best (as usual). We would, therefore, call upon our Cadets to Victorianise the Merdeka Stadium by occupying it one dark night. We could then hold our own private football tournaments and athletic meets there. Imagine the glory of a Sports Day march-past on bitumen instead of mud.
One trouble that would result from this would be the Cadets now demanding a reward in return for exposing their lives to negligible risk. We could buy the land surrounding the end of Jalan Kerayong. What better place could there be to engage in warfare against a non-existent enemy or charge against nobody. There would be ready-made foxholes exactly six feet deep and concrete blockhouses, well camouflaged as tombstones. There would be lots and lots of lallang to creep through and nobody would get hurt; bullets would only pass through the inhabitants of this battleground.
Our dramatists would probably demand the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (they'd demand the moon if they could get it). So our Cadets, guided by our intrepid Scouts, would have to invade the grounds and, fortunately, would only have to contend with the jaga. The Hall of the Dewan could be used for concerts and School plays and who knows we might even be able to have School assemblies sitting on real chairs. To make a bit of money for the maintenance of our by now vast Greater V.I. territory, we would convert the roof top of the Dewan into an El Chico type restaurant and snack-bar. There would, thus, be no need to sneak down Davidson Road and Sultan Street to Cheong Kee, opposite the Rex Theatre. Our benevolent, handsome, kindly, charitable, and wealthy tuck-shop man would jump at this chance to make even more money (he has tons). He already has the waitresses for the job.
What about living quarters for pupils and teachers? The flats along Birch Road would be just right for our pupils to occupy. The teachers could occupy the palatially dilapidated mansions opposite the Pudu Jail. For daily entertainment and indoctrination, we could Victorianise the Cathay and Pavilion cinemas and show free films. For instance, we could show The Bible (a 1914 edition printed in 6-point Roman type), Jail House Rock (a rock from Pudu Jail), Wooden Heart (a true to life reproduction from the Biology Lab), Mary Poppins (a Cloakroom specimen), The Sound of Music (our School choir) and Agent FX 204 (our AGAJIV). We could show cartoons (photos of V.I. type nuts), war-films (AGAJIV vs. the Mandoh) and romance films (Red Guard type).
With this wonderful campus called the Greater V.I., there would be a few die-hards who would want the V.I. to consist only of a few buildings on Petaling Hill. It would be difficult to kill these trouble-makers since they would die hard and so we would make use of the magnificient D.C. along Pudu Road. D.C. would stand for Detention Camp, not Detention Class. We could occasionally let them out to pick rubbish around the campus in the manner of the pre-Greater V.I. D.C. boys. This task would occupy them for the next 100 years (considering the size of the campus) by which time they would be too old for school and could, therefore, be sacked. Perhaps we could put them in the hands of our tuck shop man who would make them grow vegetables in the vacant lot next to the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka.
By this time, we would only be accepting rich pupils since only rich pupils would be able to afford to study in the Greater V.I. We would have to take over the old airport for our pupils' private aeroplanes and helicopters. Unfortunately, Vic would be the only person to see this, since by this time all of you will be around the end of Jalan Kerayong. Vic, however, is a phantom-type creature who lives forever. You can help the V.I. to achieve all this by starting to donate to the Endowment Fund or (more likely) by asking your parents to donate, so that Vic can have his $1/- to buy the lottery ticket. You had better donate or else all Vic's research would have been wasted.
Ode To A Stately Hand-Ball Court,
Michael Thorne (Old Boy now in Australia)
'Twas on the hand ball court one day
When the torrid sun shone bright and gay;
The clouds above were few and light,
I threw the ball with all my might,
And at the feet of him it landed:
His request for a game I took for granted.
The two of us played and fast,
One of us just could not last;
And out of breath with face dark red,
When two more guys came up and said,
'May we have a shot or two?
We're sure you do not mind do you?'
With hospitality and a smile
I said, 'You may just play a while,
Until my friends turn up to play
A game with me to last the day.'
The four of us played good and fast;
Two of us just could not last.
And then six more came running by,
'Let's have a line-up, then each guy
Will get a chance to show his skill
And everyone will have his fill.'
So the game went on and time did fly,
While up above, the dark blue sky
Became filled up with clouds so black;
But where we were, fun did not lack.
The game went on and one by one,
The boys joined in the glorious fun;
The guys who missed the ball went out,
To laugh, to play, to share the joy:
We were so happy, every boy.
Then came the time my friends did come
And said, 'Well, here we are dear chum!'
So with a smile I turned on the crowd
'My pals are here' I said quite loud
'I'm sorry, but we'll have to stop,
I'm taking over this whole shop
This court I reserved for this occasion.'
Then thundering up came the invasion
'You bloody nut,' they said to me;
'This is a line-up, can't you see?
How can you take this court from us?'
Had they their promise forgot so fast?
I shouted, 'I told you you could play,
Until my friends turn up this way.'
But my voice was drowned in violent sound,
As the twenty-odd boys stomped all around
'The rules,' they said, 'were long set out,
'You can't play here you rotten trout
Clear off !' they said, 'this court is for
The intermediates and Grade four.'
'But wait !' a voice amongst them said,
'He let us use his ball, instead
Of using treats, oh let him play
A game with all his friends today.'
But he, the gallant upright man,
Was pushed away by some rough hand,
This same hand on my shoulder came;
'Now listen here, you what's-your-name,
We don't care if it's your bloody ball,
We don't care two cents, or ten, at all;
We want this court, and that is that,
Now hop away you desert rat!'
I swear at him in language foul,
His eyes popped up like some old owl;
All my friends stood by me tight,
This concerned them; this was their fight.
The twenty voices rose as one,
No more was this a game of fun;
The odds were great, as they did know,
My friends and I decided to go.
We walked away, our faces aglow,
Thinking how people would be so
Barbaric even in this modern age,
When advances in Science is the present rage
Are we as civilised as we think?
Or do our morals really sink,
As time goes on and wars are fought?
Till our intellect is brought to nought.
Oh woe are we, who at this stage,
Can never really act our age;
Oh mighty animals in jungle far,
Are you as low as we think you are?
Are we, the most advanced of mammals?
Better off than all Earth's animals?
Are we advancing in our brain;
Or, degrading to Ape-man once again.
Around the V.I.
The other day Vic was ambling along beside the school (in the car park to be exact) when he espied a copy of the previous issue of the Seladang lying beside the culvert. What a heart breaking shock that was to see no one appreciated Vic's adventures, let alone Ah Fatt's. Anyway, it was just one of those days when Vic had nothing much to do except six pieces of homework (which he put off till the morrow and has yet not done), and so he absent-mindedly strolled into the Lecture Theatre.
What a surprise! A lecture on plastic surgery! Vic had been thinking of how to acquire a more dashing and debonair look on his face. Well, since Vic thought it might become his future career he sat quietly behind and tried to concentrate on what was going on (not that he understood much, though). Still, the talk was most enlightening until the coloured slides were shown. The illustrations of the talk were not quite what Vic had expected. He heard his innards groaning at the multi-coloured sights. What a relief it was when everything was over. Thus another ambition was eliminated from his little notebook.
During the inter-house football matches Vic was present every day his house had a game but it was always the same. Vic pleaded with the captain to let him play but it was always "We have enough players as it, is without your pestering us." So Vic sadly watched as his house team took a severe hammering and thus helped tremendously to lower the house position in the placings table. Do you know what house Vic is in ?
About Vic's Greater V.I. plan; he has finally resigned himself to facing facts. Well, not any old lottery ticket will bring us $400,000 let alone $5,000,000 a year and, anyway, we are all too old to cherish such dreams as acquiring the surrounding vicinity for a Greater V.I.
A few days ago, Windy cornered Vic while he was supposedly swotting in the senior reading room. He was trying to expand the binomial (1 + x)³ when Windy turned up with about five of her friends. What a mess for a guy like Vic to be in, that is, with his intelligence and wit and all that. In that tight spot Vic was forced to surrender some space for Windy in the next Seladang.
Meanwhile Vic is busily trying to brush up his artistic streaks so that he may be able to enter an exhibit in the forthcoming exhibition. You see, Vic's parents have just stopped giving him his allowance, except for a bare minimum, because Vic's school work was beginning to show a bit too many unpleasant remarks. So Vic now has to forfeit going to the pictures and things like that. That is why he is desperately hoping that his paintings will sell. Vic's parents had even thought of sending him to some grammar school in England to brush up his grammar but Vic argued that he had to stay in a comprehensive school like this one because his comprehension was weaker. Anyway, never fear. Vic will never leave the V.I. The bond between himself and his school is too great to be severed.
The School Cadet band has recently acquired some new instruments (brass, they call it, but they really are all silver) and the cadets have been spending hours trying to produce haunting melodies (haunting, because they've murdered the tunes) in the refectory behind the tuckshop. Never has Vic heard more weird and eerie sounds than this. And he has attended such distinguished recitals by orchestras such as the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Julliard String Quartet (free, of course, because Vic knows a few of the top brass through their daughters). Vic hopes and prays that they will be able to master a few tunes in time for the exhibition because Vic has unknowingly boasted to a few friends about the skill of the new brass band. They are coming especially to see the band display.
Anyway, things are working out fine just as Vic wants them to and so till Vic's around again, Auf Wiedersehen.
Leong Yoke Weng, U6A2
Leong Yoke Weng, U6A2
Yes, that's the one.
The one so shining, smooth and so square,
Whose presence permeates such a wondrous sight and sound,
That nightly gathers us all around;
&The bright eye at us It glares,
Irresistibly back at It we stare,
The black and white,
The grey and light.
The flashing image and fleeting sounds,
Its voice, yet loud or soft or sweet,
Does often throb a hypnotic beat,
And so night after night in front of It we sit,
To worship Its almighty celestial deity.
And we at the breakfast table
Reach for those familiar papers,
Whose faces full many facts do inform us much.
The printed words in big and small,
In rows so very neat and right,
Pre-packed for us in parcels tight,
Of speeches 'clear' and 'good',
Of opinions 'proper' - as they should.
That we get all the "Original goods".
"Don't worry," he smilingly tells us so,
"You'll get everything,
Everything you need to know
Or ought to know, that is,
You wouldn't want the wrong things, would you?
You shouldn't be led astray, should you?
By reading more than required,
By knowing more than desired.
To know too much is a dangerous thing.
So you see, we always say,
Your concern is our concern!"
With energy full it blare
Out music hot and fast, or music slow and serene.
But whatever's on, the regular ad never fails to appear.
'Smoke Smithy's Soothing Menthol Cigarette,
Good for the lungs, good for health!
Get more out of life with Smithy!'
Or else there's that exhorting slogan
"Be wise! Be safe!
Vote the United National Party!
The only party fit for you!"
And so on it goes and goes.
The words resound, the world revolves
The T.V. is ready, the Radio's prepared,
The Press is willing, many others waiting,
To serve us all with the packaged news,
The cigarette, the car and champagne;
As well as instruct us all,
To adopt the 'proper and correct' view,
Not to question but to follow and obey.
Party and other leaders,
Propagandists all about,
Will do the work for us,
Will gladly think for us.
They solve all serious problems,
They give us all time to enjoy.
So let's not clutter our brains with thinking,
Just relax on our comfortable couches,
Or join the milling crowd
And move along like yet another zombie,
A body without a spine,
A brain without a mind.
For after all, how many would miss 'think'?
Last update on 8 October 2000.