The Victorian 1978

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Chang Chee Wah
(The prize-winning essay in the Group B English Section of the Rukunegara essay-writing contest, 1977)

The Rukunegara (literally meaning the country's principles) consists of 5 attributes namely:

The belief in God
Loyalty to the King and the country
Upholding the constitution
Upholding the law
Good behaviour and morality.

These principles (not laws) were laid down so that on abiding and living by them, Malaysians will achieve her goat of racial harmony and progress. One specific aim is to create a disciplined society.

By the word 'disciplined', many would connect it with 'legalism', 'strictness'. Many of us have the misconception that to be disciplined would mean to be enslaved to an old-fashioned legalistic system of do's and dont's. We equate it with giving up of pleasures and entertainment and other worldly pleasures and living of a puritan life guarded by rules. It is no wonder that much of the young generation, who are eager to live life and to be free from limitation, do not want to really pay heed to the Rukunegara thing. The reason is that they do not want to be 'disciplined', at least, in the way they take the word 'disciplined' to mean.

So much for what it is not supposed to mean. What then does it really mean, to be disciplined? In my opinion, to be disciplined means to live in peace, in safety, even in freedom, though this seems paradoxical. For a disciplined person is indeed free, free from the evils and the troubles that being undisciplined would bring. A disciplined person has his passions under control. He knows what is good for him. He does not need rules to tell him how to live. On a rainy day, there are no road signs saying 'do not speed' and yet motorists know that they should not speed lest they involve themselves in an accident. They know what is good for them. And a disciplined person, a disciplined society, does not need to be told what to do. This is indeed freedom. Does a motorist ever complain that his freedom is barred by road signs telling him not to exceed a certain speed limit, which is put there for his own safety? In short, to be disciplined means to know what is good for oneself, and to guard oneself from doing things which seem pleasurable or profitable, not because one lives by a law, but because one is wise enough to control oneself from pursuits which will end in misfortune. A disciplined person has no need of road signs along his road of life.

The disciplined society, therefore, is one which is wise, in which every member lives wisely, controlling their passions and their emotional inclinations. In Malaysia, this would mean a society which practises tolerance. For in a multi-racial society like ours, racial, traditional, cultural and religious tolerance must exist in order to fuse Malaysians of different races, different creeds into one unit which will not identity itself on basis of religion or race or colour. Besides tolerance, a disciplined society will also mean one which is morally 'pure', bearing no moral decadence, living in purity. Therefore, the word 'disciplined' in terms of the Malaysian society would be connected with unity, tolerance, morality and the keeping of the law.

To think that the Rukunegara is the key to such a society would be to presume too much. Not everyone will seek to abide by it. But in it lies the principles on which such a society can develop. It is not the answer. It is but a means to that answer. By keeping it, every Malaysian is set on the road to a disciplined society.

The first rukun or principle - the belief in God - is one which seems controversial. For to a multi-racial society, the word 'God' has many meanings. To the Muslims, it means 'Allah', to the Christian, 'Jehuwah' or 'Yahweh'. To the Taoists - the Tao, to Hindus 'Krishna'. How can a unified society come about if, humanly speaking, Malaysians were to believe in God? They would worship Him in so many different ways, creating so many factions. Religion can be an area of hot debate, so how can this bring about a disciplined society which practises tolerance?

But on closer examination, the belief in God is unifying, despite differences in religion. If a man truly believes in the one universal God, then whether he be a Muslim or a Christian or a Hindu, he is unified with other believers of God, though they are of different religions. For there is one God, one Creator. Men who believe in Him are one in desire of heart. They all seek to know him better. Who cares about religion? For religion is but a game which people play to prove to others that they are 'holy'. A so-called 'religious' person may not be a worshipper of God at all. He is just a zealot for his own religion. It is such people who create disunity. But a believer in God seeks the God behind the religions of today and such a person is not sensitive over religious issues or doctrinal differences. He is united with all believers of God. For there is one God, and His believers, the true ones, are united in their worship of Him.

One who believes in God believes ultimately in the brotherhood of mankind. He who knows God will know life and know how to live. He believes there is a God who rewards good and punishes evil. In this way, belief in God can create a society which seeks good, which has no racial or political prejudice (since such a society upholds fraternity), which will abide by morality and will not tolerate decadence of any sort, both spiritual and moral. In this way, the road to a disciplined society is paved.

'Loyalty to king and country' - the second principle, means more than just what it appears on the surface. Our loyalty to the king does not mean our loyalty to the person himself. We are to be loyal to what he represents - the government would mean obedience of its laws and adherence to its principles, which are laid down for the good of all. A disciplined society can arise from this because on keeping the laws, law and order (which is connected with discipline) is maintained. Loyalty to the country would mean a love and concern for the country's well being. A society which practises this will do its best to maintain the good name of the country, to promote its progress, to create a better society. It is only through discipline that such goals can be achieved.

'Upholding the constitution' would mean support for the ruling authority. Apart from the keeping of its laws, it would also mean support of its programmes aimed at the country's progress. Co-operation would result and a society which 'upholds the constitution' respects the ruling system and gives cooperation and support. Along with this must come inter-racial tolerance and unity - two aspects of a disciplined society.

'Upholding the Law', the fourth rukun, is one of the factors governing a disciplined society. A disciplined society is one which would keep itself from harm, from momentary pleasure which will result in hardship and suffering. The country's laws are laid down for such a purpose, never intending to limit freedom, but to create harmony. For man must live by certain rules, to give a little, to take a little, to bear with certain limitations for the good of all. A society which upholds the law will indeed be disciplined.

A society of 'good behaviour and morality' - the fifth rukun - is, doubtless, one which is disciplined, for morality and good behaviour are two pillars of a disciplined society. A moral society will learn to live wisely, keeping itself from passions which will ultimately cause destruction. Good behaviour can only come about if the society is disciplined enough to sacrifice certain actions which, though apparently pleasurable and profitable, will cause harm and destruction.

The Rukunegara is very much interconnected and one rukun leads to another. Herein lies the formula to a disciplined society. Our problem at present is not whether the Rukunegara is really valid or not, but whether the peoples of Malaysia will follow it, and walk this road to a disciplined society.


Arni, U6A1

peace brings solace
peace brings satisfaction
peace brings friendship
peace brings love…….
and everything that's nice.
But does peace really exist in this world?
I doubt it if anyone can answer that.
The world…… yes,
the world was made to be peaceful
and contain peace.
It is the people who make it unpeaceful,
unsafe to live in.
So don't blame the world for all the sufferings,
miseries and all those sickening wars
that exist now.
Blame the people, people like you and I,
people like Smith, Hitler, Stalin,
Lon Nol, Vorster,
Would peace exist in this world
if its inhabitants were animals
and not people like us?
I don't think it will make any difference
because we, human beings,
who were supposed to be Superior -
God gave us a brain and the capacity to think
are behaving like animals right now
and turning the world upside down.
It doesn't make any difference at all !!!
Doesn't anybody ever stop to think
and look back…….
And see what they have done to this world?
To the people in it, and all others
with all their new creations……
Weapons - as they called them,
Threatening the lives of people
And nature - God's gift.
Isn't there enough suffering,
to make them realize?
Doesn't anybody care at all
to try to stop all those sufferings,
miseries and evil wars
or at least………

at least stop them from spreading?


Chin Keok Chee, U6BM2


From the dry sterile ground,
a fragile green stalk
struggled for life.
Its every movement unmeasured in the timeless present.

Yet day by day,
the delicate leaf strove to
free itself from the unfriendly ground.
The rain came
And the blade of grass burst into life.

As I watched that blade of grass grow,
my life changed from
.....coldness to warmth,
.....enmity to friendship,
.....hatred to love,
.....conflict to peace.

I returned one day,
And the green was no more;
Only a dry withered stalk amongst a green field.

My tears could not revive that one single blade of grass,
which lay on the cold moist earth.
But the precious memories of the
contentment, joy and care
that blade of grass showed me
will always remain in my mind.

And someday,
I will live again
because of that one single blade of grass.

IF YOU DIED.............

Leow Fui Fong, U6EM

If you died, which of your friends would you trust to clean out your drawers? This is a true test of friendship. How many of us can come up with a name or names immediately?

Friendship is one of the most beautiful aspects of life. The word "friendship" invades our lives so unnoticed that we often take friendship for granted and lose sight of what it actually stands for and what it means to the people who share it. Most of us do not even realize that it is actually this thing called friendship that sustains us and weaves in the golden trimmings of what we would consider a beautiful day, a day well-lived.

We meet people everyday, some of whom we term as "new acquaintances" and others whom we casually call our friends. More often than not, some of us take pride in the great number of people we know and condescendingly comment on how certain people "don't seem to mix well". This is a strong indication of our ignorance of the true concept of friendship because it is not 'how many' but 'how much', for one can get to know countless numbers of people and yet go through life missing the beauty of having a true friend. How much we know people whose paths cross ours serves as a reliable measure of our interest in them, our appreciation of friendship and our attitudes towards it.

It is a very beautiful thing to have a friend - a person whom we can trust our thoughts with, someone who can truly understand us with the capacity that we hope he or she would, and someone who is always there, be it at a sad time or a happy one. It is a privilege to share the many things that revolve around our personal lives, especially the "little things" which matter most, having the confidence that this particular person appreciates them too.

The times when we get unnecessarily disappointed with our friends prove that we are expecting too much from them. When we expect instead of accept, we are making demands on the very individual and unique aspects of our friends' characters. Friendship is to be shared, not demanded. On the other hand, we should not deceive ourselves and believe that our own personalities can blend smoothly with the personality of every other person we meet and communicate with. Thus we have every reason to cherish and value our friends for what they are.

Most of us are of the opinion that true friends are hard to come by, especially in this materialistic society, where we find ourselves sensing feigned affections and doubting the motives of others. Maybe it is not that difficult to find a friend. As much as we want friendship, we must give friendship. As much as we crave for a person whom we can really call a friend, we must not fail to realize that we, too, have to give of ourselves.

We have to be honest with ourselves before we can be true to our friends. If we ourselves are genuine and sincere, if we make sacrifices without feeling heroic, and if we make allowances for the idiosyncrasies of our friends just as they do for us, we need not search very far within ourselves for a name to answer the question, "if you died, which of your friends would you trust to clean out your drawers?" In all probability, we could even come up with a few names.

And wouldn't it be even more beautiful if the friend you thought of were to think of you, too, when faced with such a question?


Lian Siew Fong, U6BM3


"Write an article for the Victorian," she said. "Oh, help!" I said gasping, turning to an unbecoming shade of Robin Hood's favourite colour. Oh, it should be easy for someone like you, friends say. Well, I say, what do they know. I'm not one of those lucky literary types who can dash off one thousand words in beautiful prose in no time. Neither am I one of those persevering persons who research their subjects painstakingly and present their case methodically in clinically precise language. I am one of those unfortunate souls who rely heavily on sudden rare bursts of inspiration.

To add to my woes, I am also one of those who are torn between an intense but controllable yearning for literary accomplishment and a terrible dread of making a fool of myself in print. That's the worst way to make a fool of oneself. The evidence is almost impossible to destroy. Once you appear a fool in black and white, that's the end of you. Kaput goes your self-respect and you slink around eyeing familiar faces with suspicion and shame. Why did you do it, you ask yourself, tearing at your hair and squirming in anguish. Ah, my condolences to any of you who have suffered such devastating experiences.

Because of this schizophrenic attitude towards literary toil, my output of printable material is extremely small. Only when inspiration strikes and the adrenalin flows does my ink flow along with it. However, now and then I attempt to give the laggard inspiration a little shove, resulting it acceptable, mediocre may be, but still acceptable compositions.

It's even worse when someone solicits an article from me. What if I don't meet his/her expectations? How embarrassing it would be to have my brainchild rejected. I'd take ages to live that down.

So imagine my despair when she asked me to write for the Victorian - the school magazine. What will I write about? What will I say? Would a dry knowledgeable piece be suitable? Oh, but that would ruin my reputation as a normal person! Or would a comical piece be too undignified for a senior like me? Help! I can't do it!


Tan Kien Chee, L6BM1

Oh sleep….. gentle sleep
Like the vanishing mist
When touched by the fingers of the morning sun
So you elude me.
My eyes are heavy…. my body longs for rest……
My spirit cries for reprieve
From the fetters of cares that bind me,
From the yoke of worries that weigh me down.
Receive me into your bosom, sweet sleep.
There my soul finds a haven,
My spirit - a soothing balm
And my mind a peaceful harbour
Sheltered from the stormy world of wakefulness.
I feel the embrace of your silken arms,
Tempting me from the realms of consciousness.
I am lifted…. floating in a sea of velvet blackness……
As I wing my way to a world of forgetfulness.
I have found rest.


Sharmini Navaratnam, L6BM1


"Debating" Aha! Do I instantly hear that familiar sound which is often associated with the word, "debating"? YAWN. What can be more boring than listening to a few loud mouths trying to convince the world that they are right! Maybe that is so for all of you out there but wait...... there are always two sides to a coin, you know. Haven't you wondered how we, your debaters, feel about what we do?

To tell you the truth, most of us agree, or shall I say, are "gently persuaded" to debate without really, knowing what we are going to be in for. Some bright spark in the Arts Union decides that you are likely to survive the trauma of a debate and before you know it, you are roped in. All protests of "Why me?" fall on deaf ears.

After agreeing to the title, you get down to work. Your fellow team-mates and you must meet. In a school like the V. I., where all of us come from different classes and each one is deeply involved in some activities, meeting becomes a major problem. However, as is the case when time is short and the matter urgent, a solution is found. We settle down somewhere quiet and begin discussion. The problem is, it takes quite some time before we get down to business. Debaters, like all red-blooded boys and girls, like to clown around. However, fortunately there is usually a slightly more sane debater on the team and he brings the rest of the team back to earth (in spite of his being accused of being a spoil sport and a nagger).

Anyone will find that talking about the motion of the debate helps. It is amazing how, when you are by yourself, everything seems bleak and dismal and when you speak to someone, the ideas keep flowing. The first thing to do is to convince yourself that the stand you are taking is the right stand. This is sometimes very difficult. However, it is a challenge, since the hallmark of a good debater is versatility. Your mind must be flexible enough to think of convincing arguments even if you do not really agree personally with the stand that your team has to take. We, debaters have come under a lot of fire and have been accused of being hypocrites or liars!

After many trips to the library to try and find something even vaguely related to the topic, you find yourself desperate. Nothing seems to be going right. Pre-debate tension is building up, you haven't written your speech yet, friends add to the feeling of desperation by asking you how "it's going". People can be exasperating at this time. Most of them are entirely indifferent towards your plight, some are overly optimistic, while yet others can be very depressing to talk to. The most comforting people to have around are your fellow-debaters who can share your moans. There are also the teachers who encourage you and generally give moral support.

The worst time is the hour before the debate. Your speech is ready but you are not. You cannot eat, drink, stand or sit. You become anti-social, you isolate yourself, retreat to your favourite shady spot and frantically memorize your speech.

The time has come. Quaking with fear, with butterflies in your stomach and knees like jelly, you go up to deliver your speech. The audience fades into a faint blur of faces. And then it is over....... and amazingly, you are none the worse for it. Now comes the agony of waiting for the results to be announced. It seems like a lifetime. The chairman usually has a maddening habit of prolonging the suspense by making his own comments on the topic.

Finally - "Winners - Victoria Institution!". A deafening roar is heard. You can't believe it - you've won! Relief rushes through you and a burden rolls off your back. All that hard work and the sleepless nights were worth it. This is every debater's sweetest moment!

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Created on 5 October 2000.
Last update on 5 October 2000.

Ooi Boon Kheng