Sunday, October 25, 2020

 This is a sequel from The Outsider In SIS from Mr. Thanda

The turning point in my life

Thanda Govindasamy/Wan Faridah Wan Jaafar


Big brother approach

As earlier mentioned, I grew up in a multi-racial kampong, and studied in a similar environment in school and college.  When I became the Hostel Master I was in the same environment as my growing up years. Race, colour, religion were no obstacles in performing my duties. All I saw were boys from poverty stricken areas of poor families. This made me decide, that I am not only a Hostel Master but an elder brother too to all these growing up kids. I vowed to help them grow up into responsible and useful citizens.

Food, their basic need, was there and taken care of.  Guidance was what they needed most.  Fortunately the hostel prefects were a great help. They helped to maintain discipline and made sure that the residents abide by all regulations and maintain regular study hours.  In these aspects I supported the prefects whole heartedly.  Our priorities were discipline and studies besides sports and games.

When I faced no problems with race and religious issues, I brought along my younger brother to study in the school and stay in the hostel. He too never had much problems in integrating with other residents, though food was a problem for him.  Minor problems yes but never on race and religion.


Kelantan bomoh debunked

My parents came over for a visit during one of the school holidays and stayed for two weeks in the hostel. They too were very impressed with what they saw and felt the simplicity of the people in Pasir Mas, very much similar to the experience they had in our kampong back home.  All the talk of charm and bomoh were hearsay and mere stories of the past. They found the people very friendly and welcoming. Possibly Pasir Mas folks knew me as a school teacher and that was indeed a big plus when my folks went about in town. The local people had a real big respect for teachers in those days unlike nowadays.



I was often called up by Mr. Ghouse to answer to the hostel management issues; why the electric and water bills were suddenly too high, why the hostel boys were too involved in so many games and school activities. He would from time to time request for students’ school performance.  Normally I had some ready-made answers to each of those questions. Yet one morning, I was called up and asked, "Who put my son’s bicycle up on the tree. It must be your brother. I want it removed, now".  Of course the bicycle was removed but no one mentioned who did it.  Till today I still don't know who did it. When asked, my brother’s response was, “No, I didn’t do it”.  The hostel boys never snitch on their friends.  Should any severe punishment be meted out, it was always the guilty party that owned up to their wrong doings or being caught red-handed.

There were times, the teachers staying in the hostel, found their biscuit tins emptied and fruits or some food missing. We teachers in the hostel, made no big fuss over the matter. Siapa lagi?(who else did it?).  It was years later when the culprit owned up.  Mohamad Zawawi Ahmad, in his essay, did mention quite a bit of things that happened or things committed by the hostel boys. But all were done in good spirits.


Pranking the boss

I have not told this incident to many but Iam sharing it now for us to share a good laugh.  During the year end long November-December school holidays only the Form 5 boys stayed back because their examinations were on.  I too stayed back to help supervise them.  One weekend, it was flooding and Mr. Goh, the Officer In Charge of Police District (OCPD) of Pasir Mas, used to go to flooded areas to help rescue flood victims and take them to safer areas.  One evening we went out to the Rantau Panjang area. We could not differentiate the road from the river, but the boatman was real good steering us away from potential problems. We rescued some people who were desperately waving from roof tops.

After the rescue operations we returned to the police station.  By then it was about 4 am in the morning. We were resting in Mr. Goh's house with hot coffee and having breakfast, when I decided to pull a fast one on the headmaster Mr. Yusoff Ghouse..

The hostel was supposed to be a relief centre for flood victims. I picked the phone and said, "Ini panggilan dari Bilik Operasi, Pejabat Daerah.  Kami akan hantar lebih kurang 30 mangsa banjir ke asrama sekolah tuan.  Tolong bersedia untuk tempatkan mangsa di asrama tuan”(This is a call from The Operation Room of The District Office. We are going to send over about 30 flood victims to your school hostel. Please be ready to place these victims at you hostel). Mr. Yussof Ghouse of course answered the call at about 5.30 am in the morning and said, “Ia boleh”(Yes, you can). We knew that the hostel was supposed to be a flood relief centre.

After the call we went back to the hostel. I was reading the papers at about 6.30am, when Mr. Yusoff Ghouse came and said, “Thanda, about 30 flood victims will be sent here shortly”.  So we walked through the hostel and he gave me instructions, “Lock your area and do make sure that they only stay inside the hostel. We don’t know who they are or where they are from. Anyway be careful. Am not sure what time they will come, be prepared to direct them”. When he left after a few more instructions, I went straight to bed, feeling sorry for the old man. May his soul rest in peace.

An Outsider In SIS Pasir Mas

 This is the story about Mr. Thanda, my former teacher and Hostel Master from Bukit Mertajam Penang who came to teach in a far flung school known as Sultan Ibrahim Secondary School in 1962 immediately after graduating from Malayan Teachers College.

An Outsider in SIS Pasir Mas

Thanda Govindasamy/Wan Faridah Wan Jaafar

 Racial integration

The Kelantanese are generally friendly and helpful.   However, they do keep an arm’s length from people from outside the state.  This is especially so with people whom they recently meet and do not know too well.  These outsiders are normally termed as orang luar(outsider).  Despite this idiosyncrasy, once an orangluar is accepted, the Kelantanese will usually embrace an orangluar as a family member.

I was prepared for life in this Malay dominated state.  I had a two-year stint at Penang Malayan Teachers’ Training College, being thrown in the dormitory together with mostly Malay students from Kelantan, Terengganu and Johore. Furthermore, I had an early dose of racial integration as I grew up in Kampong Baru, Bukit Mertajam, Penang.  It was multi-racial kampong (village) and people of all races mixed freely. We assimilated so well that in school, it never crossed my mind that I must be careful with what said or did, so as not to hurt thefeelings of friends. Race, religion, culture and food were never issues of concern at all. Life was easy going for all of us.

At the end of our second year in the training college we were given forms to fill.  One was for us to indicate where we would like to be posted to start our teaching career.  My Kelantanese friends said to me, “Come to Kelantan”.  So I wrote “Kelantan”. I never told my parents that I had requested for a Kelantan posting otherwise they would have freaked out! For whatever reason, they believed that Kelantan then was not a safe place to be.  Those days there were too many stories floating around of bomohs(shamans) and black magic practised in these states, especially in Kelantan.

As requested, I got posted to Sultan Ibrahim Secondary School (SIS), Pasir Mas, Kelantan.  I was happy but dared not show how thrilled I was in front of my parents. Of course my parents were persistent that I appeal against the posting. I told them that if I were to appeal I might be posted to a worse town or a more remote village. I must have appeased my parents with that reasoning for the appeal issue was never again raised.

Getting to Pasir Mas

There was a nationwide railway strike in 1963 and all train services in the country were put on hold.  So how was I to get to Pasir Mas then? There was nobody from my village whom I knew were knowledgeable enough for me to ask about getting to Pasir Mas.

In panic, I forgot that schools had already reopened after the December long year end school holidays.  I also forgot that in Kelantan schools start on Sundays. In desperation, Icalled and spoke to the Principal, Mr. Yussof Ghouse.  He told me that I should take a flight to Kota Bahru. Flight? ButI have never flown before! After some inquiries I managed to get a flight to Kota Bahru, but the seat was only available a week later.  The airport was then in Butterworth.  All set, my flight was on 13th January even though schools in Kelantan had reopened on 2nd January. Never did it cross my mind that I was going to a Malay dominated state with different culture and customs.

I landed in Kota Bharu to be welcomed by my first shower of the heavy northeast monsoon rain. After asking around, I got into a shared taxi and headed for Pasir Mas. After over an hour’s ride, the taxi came to an abrupt stop.  It stopped near a wide river and while I was still at a loss as to what to do next, the other passengers got out of the taxi and rushed to some small motorised boats moored by the jetty near the river bank. I was told that the school I was headed to was across the river. I had to get into one of the boats, what the locals called ferry, to cross the river. In spite of my initial apprehension, we got across safely and again I looked for a taxi to take me to my final destination.

Upon inquiry, I was instead greeted by good-natured shouts of, “Mana ada teksi? Inilah teksi”,(What taxi? This is the taxi) from a few men standing under the shade.  They were pointing to what were really trishaws or beca. My first language lesson of the local dialect! However, I found that the people were very friendly and helpful, just like what my friends mentioned in college.  I relived the teksi ride many times over, a beholding sight it was!  Imagine tall me fitting into the small teksi cabin, with my luggage on the cabin floor by my feet and the poor thin teksi rider huffing and puffing across Pasir Mas town to deliver me to the gates of SIS.

On entering the school compound I met with two teachers, Mr. V. V.George and Mr. Leslie Abraham. They showed me to the school hostel as directed by the school Principal.

 A life new chapter

Came 14th January, I reported to the Principal.  After the formal welcome greetings he directed me to ask Mr. George for my class timetable.  Only then did I realise that Mr. George was the school Senior Assistant.  He had heard a lot about me from Mr. Pang Chok Chu, who was my college mate. Apparently, Mr. Pang had told Mr. George a great deal about me; that I was this and that, and could do this and that.  Thanks to my absentee introduction, I became a home teacher, teacher in-charge of the English Literary and Debating Society, and the Scouts Master to top.  Matilah saya!(I am dead!)

Worse of all, my class was in the afternoon. There goes my time for games.  After this initial introduction, I headed back to the hostel.  The hostel residents were looking strangely at me, as if I had just arrived from Africa!  The smaller boys, with all heads popping in and out of the windows, looked frightened.  It was further terrifying for them to know that all of them were going to be in the afternoon session class with me!

Next, I was to enter a strange world, Form 1B, my home class.  To my surprise the class had only eight boys and 16 unruly girls.  To every question of mine, it was the girls who answered.  I told myself that this would not do.  For the first time I became biased against the girls!  Just to niggle the girls, I chose two of the quietest boys as the class monitor and  assistant.

I taught English to my class and woodwork lessons to all Form 1 class boys.  There were two form one classes.

It was much later when I realised that I had a mixed class of students; a group who came through bridge class and another from Standard 6 from the neighbouring English Primary School.  A bridge class in the school was essentially an adjustment class meant for students from vernacular schools who opted to continue their secondary education at SIS.  SIS was then the only English medium secondary school for the whole district of Pasir Mas.  In SIS most of the bridge class students were from the surrounding Chinese primary schools.  No wonder there was such a vast difference in speech, mannerism and level of confidence.  I decided I had to do something about this major differences; not according to race, religion and culture but based more on the confidence level of each student, especially that of the boys.

As months passed by, I managed to get the boys and ex-bridge class students to be more vocal and participative in class activities.  Little did I realise then that these devils I had would later break the school’s record with their Form 5 examination results!

To those who came through the English primary school, they had Mr. Vijaya to thank for developing their confidence while in Standard 6.  He did a great job and I was sure of that from the boisterous sample I had in my class.  Many still recognised his contributions.  Some from the bridge class who also managed to do well in Form 5, went on to university to further their studies and became successful in their chosen careers.  Well done to all my ex-students!  Surprisingly one who did not manage to do well quit school early but later in life was able to build by himself, his own two-storey house in his later years.  He is a successful man now, all by his own making.

Race, religion and culture were never ever mentioned or uttered in all the six years I spent in SIS, be it among my colleagues or students.  A big syabas (congratulations) to my ex-students especially the ones who completed their Form 5 in 1967 and 1968.  I had the privilege to move with the same class from Form 1 to Form 5, except in 1966, when I left for a one year in-service training course at the Specialist Teachers’ Training College in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur.

Those were the days, most memorable, unforgettable and the best part of my teaching career and life too.  A big thank you to all my good friends.

 The hostel story

My hostel story is another unforgettable episode of my days in Pasir Mas.  My SIS hostel days were so interesting and memorable, so much so that I am not sure how to start and end writing about all the experiences that I went through.

Mr.Vijaya, the Hostel Master, told me frankly, loud and clear that my hostel stay was only transient.  At the most I will be allowed to stay for another two or three days, after which I would have to move out and find accommodation elsewhere.  When I returned to the hostel after my first day in school, Mr.Vijaya was waiting for me, all dressed up to help go look for a room for me to reside.  So we went room hunting, but no rooms were available.  The few that we saw, Mr.Vijaya did not take a liking to them.  Privately, I was happy.  This went on for next two or three days.  Fortunately for me, Mr. Peter Souster started saying, “I don’t mind sharing room with you, further I am supposed to return to England in August”.

By that time Mr.Vijaya had taken a liking to me as he found out that we shared common interests.  He asked about his ex-students who were in my class then.  Our conversations became interesting and Mr.Vijaya suddenly said, “If Peter doesn't mind, you can continue to stay on”.  Peter was happy too because we played the same games; hockey, cricket and rugby.  We clicked well and what a relief it was for me as I no longer needed to worry about food, laundry or transport.  What more could I asked for?

Gradually I got to know some of the bigger hostel boys, especially those who played games.  The feeling that I was accepted by the Hostel Master and the student residents took a load of pressure and tension off my shoulders.

Yes, I became part of the hostel and enjoyed every moment of my stay there.  Sometimes in June/July, Mr.Vijaya gained admission to the University of Malaya and Peter left for England in August.  Both left and I was appointed as the Hostel Master.  With the job came the responsibility.  Mr.Yussof Ghouse told me in no simple term, “You cannot be smiling and just be a good friend to the boys.  These boys are mostly from the kampongs and need to be developed with proper discipline and mannerism.  They need proper supervision and you have to be strict.  Punish them if necessary”.

There were only three Chinese boys staying in the hostel and one of them was the school Head Prefect and automatically became the Hostel Head Prefect.  This further reinforced my belief that race, religion and food were not sensitive issues at all.  I had a meeting with the Head Prefect, got all the information I needed and began the task of working with the tiniest to the naughtiest.  Soon I found out that the Rantau Panjang gang was calling the shots in the hostel.  Most of the boys from other kampongs were scared of this Rantau Panjang gang.  I got around them by getting these big Rantau Panjang bullies involved in games.

The hostel residents were outstanding in nearly all school activities.  I found them well-behaved too.  The boys had nothing to complain because they had four meals a day compared to some of their classmates.  They were indeed well fed as just after three months in the hostel, one could see them gaining weight, looked healthy and were very active.

Having the opportunity to stay in the hostel was indeed a plus point for these boys.  However, these privileges came with strict conditions.  Should they be caught breaking the hostel rules, they could be expelled.  But I do not recall having to dismiss anyone from the hostel.  They were mostly from poor homes and life in the hostel was more than anyone could ask for, me included.  Similarly,  should I fail to perform my duties, I too would be replaced.  This made all of us in the hostel took our roles seriously.

 An Outsider Accepted

I was the Hostel Master from August 1963 till the end of 1965.  In 1966, I was away for a one year in-service training.  Mr. Pang then took over the role of the Hostel Master.  When I returned in 1967, the Principal asked me to take charge of the hostel again.  That was a surprise to me.  More so of the news of Mr. Pang getting married and moving to the teachers’ quarters.  I continued to perform the Hostel Master’s duty till the end of 1968.  By then I was fully accepted by the students and especially the hostel residents, that the orang luar feeling was all gone. It was indeed sad when I had to leave the place.

eTak Oh eTok

 Etak (Corbicula fluminea) Reposting an old article.

Fresh etak being soaked in water

Raykinzoku wrote a great informative piece about etak which he called etok (the way the Kelantanese called it is somewhere in between etak and etok) in his blog: Distinctively KeLaTte : ETOK This is how Ray describe the etak.
Etok is a small, pebble-sized, freshwater corbicula clam which lives at the bottom of rivers and canals, alongside scavenging fishes and crustaceans. Mostly found in the shallows and sandy parts of the river, they are least known or simply neglected by most Malaysians.
A very apt description. I can't do any better than that. Via his blog we now know that etok is not only found in Kelantan but also in other states of Malaysia and as far away as Japan! Only thing I would like to add is it is found only in fresh waters and it is very sensitive to the quality of the water.
When I started schooling in 1957, I went to school in Kampong Kangkong about 5 miles from my home in Kg Chekok both in the district of Pasir Mas to live with my maternal grandparents. The river was our source of life. We get our water for cooking and drinking from there carrying by the pails. My being small I have to carry a small container which is a kettle. We depend almost everything that has got to do with water on the river. Washing, bathing and as the toilet. A floating raft complete with cubicles with a gunny sack of a curtain as the door was the public toilet! Transportation back then was by river boat plying downstream to Pasir Mas and around noon upstream back home. Tarred road only became available much later.
Above all that we get some of our food like freshwater fish and prawns and etak from the river too.
Every time we go to the river for whatever activities especially bathing where we will get wet, we will use the opportunity to collect some etak. Without the 
pengokok, we either use our hands or feet to search for them. To use the hands was easy provided the place is muddy and there is no pebbles in that area. Most of such areas are by the river bank and much deeper than the sandy area. The way we do it is to dive in and feel for the pebble like etak among the mud and throw them on the bank or put them in the part of the cloth we wore to cover our 'aurat'. I was considered too small then and can just dip in without covering the 'aurat'. The etok from muddy areas are usually darker in colour and larger. The sandy areas where the water flows much faster the etak is of much lighter color and look very clean.
For the sandy areas usually towards the middle of the river where the water level is much shallower due to flat sandbank, etak can be collected by shifting the top 2 or 3 inches of the sand on the river bed to one side using our bare feet. If the etak were there they would be exposed and become visible to the naked eye provided the water is clear which was often the case in the olden days. The water should be shallow enough to bend down like you are in the 
roko' position when doing the prayers. Another condition is there must not be ripples on the surface of the water which was usually caused by the wind if it was a windy day. The ripples will prevent you from seeing the etak when it was exposed. During the dry spell some parts of the riverbed will be exposed. If it was recently exposed many etak will still survive and there are tell tale signs to show where the etak are. Digging it with the finger will expose it and if it is big enough, it will be collected. If the sandy river bed is exposed to the sun for too long the etak will die off.
Using the 
pengokok needs some strength.The pengokok is made of metal bars of about 2 mm diameter strung together with wires to form an open cage attached to a long bamboo or wooden pole for handle like in the picture below. A bamboo pole is preferred as it is lighter.

Syed Azmi demonstrating how the pengokok is used


Details of how the pengokok is made

It is like a sieve to filter out the smaller sands and keep the etak inside. Some pebbles that are larger than the gaps between the metal sieve will also be retained. At the stage where the etok and pebbles are caught in the 
pengokok, an expert can segregate the etak from the pebbles using the principle of differences of specific gravity between the etok and the pebbles and the water flowing through the sieve. While the non expert will have to collect the etak by sight. In places where the sand is fine, only the etak will remain in it.
My activities of collecting etok ceased after I went to an English school in Pasir Mas. The occassional weekend trip home didn't provide enough time for such activities. Only after 1981 when I started working with Kumpulan Fima and based in Kuala Besut that I began to go to Sungai Besut to collect the etak. The locals there who were mostly descendents from Kelantan knows how to collect and consume etak. So whenever I feel like having etak, a trip to the river near Kg Amir will yield enough etak for my small family.
Later in 1996 when we moved into our own house in Kg. Kasa, Pasir Mas that we were able to enjoy etak again. Kampong Kasa is located on the bank of Sungai Kelantan and lots of etak were found. They were gathered and cooked by roasting it on a small fire after marinating it in a paste made of salt, blended with lemon grass, shallots, ginger and garlic. I suspect monosodium glutamate is lavishly added. Some may deny using it entirely to entice those non MSG consuming etok lovers. The marinating process takes at least an hour.
Before marinating the etak it must be washed clean and soaked in clean water. The soaking will make the etak purge all sand particles and mud within itself which may make it feel gritty when eating it if it is not totally purged. Soaking it over a minimum of 3 hours is necessary and overnight will be best.

Washing the etak

Roasting platform

Lighting the fire.

As Ray correctly said it, etak are mainly used as light snack but some people use it as appetizer to go with their rice ecpecially nasi kerabu. It can also be taken as lauk which I will describe later.
Roasting over a small fire on a platform raised 2.5 feet above the floor. The platform is made of long split bamboo pieces spaced close enough to each other to prevent the etak from slipping through. Over a slow fire the etok are constanly turned with a piece of plank attached to a wooden handle. The constant turning over is necessary to ensure evenness of exposure to the heat below. An hour of roasting is enough. Overheating or too long an exposure can result in the split up and the flesh to dry up and become less succulent. If there are extremely large etak in the mix, they must be separated and roasted first before adding the rest to it.

Turning ove the etak

Other than roasting over a fire, the etak can also be roasted in the hot sun. Some people love it that way. This way will ensure that the flesh will be succulent enough. For those who make a living out of roasting and selling etok, the sun is not a reliable source of heat and the timing isn't suitable. Grilling job must be finished by the latest at 11 am for them to start selling.
Roasted etak or etak 
salai as the local term for it is highly hygroscopic due to the salt coating on its shell. The best container to keep it is a badang which has more surface area or a bakul. A badang is best. Both are made of plaited bamboo slices and so has better breathing quality compared to metal containers. Thus the etok will not become wet too soon due to the hygroscopic nature of the salt coating it. If metal containers are to be used, absorbing materials are necessary to be placed on the container before putting the etak in it.

A badang

Etak in a badang

Newspapers being very good material to absorb moisture is the best material to use as wrappers. Unfortunately the ink used for printing is hazardous to health and the sellers are often reminded by health inspectors to refrain from using newspapers as wrappers. If you care for your health, better don't buy them when they are wrapped in newspapers. If you still have to use newspapers, quickly transfer them to some other containers so as not to allow the newspaper ink to stick to the shell of the etak.
Etak salai can be taken as snack or as 
lauk with rice be it nasi kerabu or nasi putih.

Etak salai showing the succulent flesh.

Beside roasting, etok are also consumed by making it into a dish called sayur etok where the gravy becomes opaque like, after adding pounded shallots, garlic and crushed lemon grass with salt and sugar to taste. MSG can be used instead of sugar. For etak masak lemak, santan is used instead of plain water as in the case of sayur etak. Why the word 
sayur etak is used by the Kelantanese really confounds me. It must be the misuse of the word like they say makan air or makan rokok. Makan angin is of course a different matter altogether.

Etak sayur

Etak masak lemak

sayur etok or etok masak lemak is easy as the shell will be split open when subjected to heat but eating etok salai is a different ball game altogether. To retain the flesh succulent, the shell must not be allowed to split. If it is splitted, the flesh will dry up.
Lots of practice is required to acquire the skill to open the shell of the etak. Unlike the cockles which merely needs sufficient force to open them, the etak is too small and smooth to grip the shell the way you do to cockles. The regular eaters will just use their teeth to split them using the incisors (the front teeth) without breaking the two sides apart. The shell should open outward with the hinged part intact. The next act is to suck out the flesh from the inner side of the shell. The ingredients sticking to the external part of the shell will give flavour to the flesh. That is why splitting it with the teeth always taste better.
Those without the incisors or using dentures can still enjoy etak 
salai as there are other means of opening it. Ray's mother taught him how to use the knife to open the shell to save his teeth from wearing out faster. In Ray's case his mother taught him to scrape the edge of the etak to reveal the slit between the two sides. Inserting the blade of the knife and twisting the blade to either side will open the shell. In my case I will just put the knife blade across the slit and slowly turning the blade to align with the slit with a little pressure will make the blade penetrate the slit. A slight twist of the blade will open up the shell.

Using the knife to open the shell

Using half a shell

If you don’t have a knife around, using one half of the shell can be a substitute for the knife. Using the sharp edge of the shell, use it the same way as a knife. With some practice, it will get just as good as a knife and less dangerous.
My two grand daughters Lis 8 years old and As 6 yrs from Puchong which I used to call 
Budak Puchong in my earlier blogs is back in Pasir Mas for 2 months. We have introduced them to etak salai and they are learning up on how to open up the etak with their teeth. For the moment they could open them but the shells spilt apart. Give them a bit more time they will soon get the hang of it.

Lis and her sister As enjoying etak

Etak salai can be purchased in many places like the markets and roadsides. Near my home in Kampung Kasar there is a special gerai constructed by the Majlis Bandaran Pasir Mas solely to sell etak. Unfortunately not many sellers prefer the place and only one or two sellers use the place. Others prefer their own spots down the road.

Mak Su Minah selling etak

I first returned in Pasir Mas in 1996, etok was still available in the Kelantan river. A few years later they were not there anymore. What happened?
I asked Syed Azmi a regular etak gatherer whose livelihood solely depends on etak. He said etak disappeared from the Kelantan river some years back. The reasons was the proliferation of the use of chemicals to catch 
udang galah, the fresh water prawns. The other reason is the many sand mining operations along the river. The spawns of the etak were sucked up by the powerful water pumps used to suck up the sand being mined.
So where does the etak come from now?
He said he has to go everywhere as far as Pekan in Pahang, Terengganu, Sungai Sayong in Kota Tinggi Johor and Perak to get his supplies. He will go in a mini lorry with his other brothers and brother in law. They now know where the locations are and every trip will secure about 100 kg. His own need is about 30 kg per day so he had to store them somewhere. Earlier they tried putting them in the Kelantan river and harvest them again for use on the day itself. To his consternation he found that only 50 percent survived. That was a heavy price to pay. Now he kept them under refrigeration. At RM8.00 a kg, his loss was quite substantial.
A commentator at Ray's blog said etak was a nuisance at his place in Pahang. During the dry season they had this vast expanse of flat sandbar near they village which they use as a football field. They even call it the stadium. The problem is the dead etak leave behind sharp shells that often cut up the players feet as 'beach soccer' is of course played bare footed in his kampong in Pahang. He is appealing to anybody to come and harvest all the etak from his place. It will be a gold mine to people like Syed Azmi if he were to know the place. Unfortunately Pahang banned etak gathering as etak is considered as food for their fresh water fish.
The only solution is to educate the people there on how to consume etak. Once they have acquired the taste, they will harvest them for their own consumption. Another way is to teach them how to harvest the etak and sell them in Kelantan. It will be an economic activity and contribute to their income. Hey isn't that an easy way to make money?


Saturday, October 24, 2020

My Hostel Life In SIS Pasir Mas.


The door-gift to commemorate the reunion of 1966-1970 SIS hostel residents.

Hostel Life in the 1960s at Sultan Ibrahim Secondary School

By Mohamad Zawawi Ahmad

1968 Alumni


Accommodation was a major problem for outstation students attending the only English medium school, Sultan Ibrahim School in Pasir Mas in the 60’s. Public transport then was inefficient and not many people could afford personal conveyance like cars, motorcycles or even bicycles like the present day. The solution to such a problem was to find accommodation in a relative’s house near the school (if you have any willing to provide), share renting accommodations with other school friends or stay in the school hostel. In my case, I experienced all  the earlier mentioned form of accommodations until 1963 until I moved to the school hostel in 1963 while I was in Primary 6 at Sultan Ibrahim Primary School. My accommodation reverted to the rented house again from 1964 to the middle of 1967 when reverted to staying in the hostel again until the end of my schooling days at Sultan Ibrahim Secondary School in 1968.

Life in the Hostel in 1963

My elder brother who was a teacher, suggested to my parents that I should stay in the hostel in order to enjoy a better living condition that will provide a more conducive environment for me to study. He agreed to support me with a monthly allowance of RM20 of which RM15will go to pay for the hostel fee while the remainder was for pocket my money.

It was easy for me to gain permission to stay in the school hostel as the Hostel Master then, a Mr. Vijaya Samaravickrama, a Kirby trained teacher, was my Standard 6A class teacher at Sultan Ibrahim Primary School. He nodded to say yes after a verbal request in class. 

So on the same day I carried all my worldly belongings comprising the essentials; a mattress, a pillow, a single size white bed sheet, a pillow case and other personal things, to the school hostel. A fork and spoon was a must have as eating with fingers was not allowed, especially for dinner. I had to take a trishaw ride from my previous rented home shared with my cousins and friends at Lorong Pak Nik Man, not very far from the hostel. The bundle of kapok mattress wrapped in a reed mat was too big for a small me to carry and hence the need for the conveyance.

The hostel was located within the school fenced-up compound just next to the school field and adjacent to the school buildings.  It was a single storey wooden building panted in light blue color equipped with thirty plus double decker Vono steel spring beds. The beds were  arranged in two rows in a hall making a dormitory. Each of us was assigned a cabinet or a smaller locker placed above the cabinet. Being a newbie with very little possessions, I got a small locker.

The same hostel catered for both the primary and the secondary schools. As such there was a mix of students, the smallest being from Primary 1 and the biggest being from Form 5 of the secondary school. Either big or small we were all given the same treatment including doing toilet cleaning and watering the hostel landscape plants on a rotational basis. We had a mix of various ethnicities with Malays being the majority, a few Chinese, an Indian and a Thai all living harmoniously together.

In 1963 Lee Eh Hock who was both the school and hostel Head Boy, his brother Lee Eh Hong and Lee Boon Lai and another Chinese boy from Tanah Merah (whose name I could not remember),were the Chinese residents at that time. G. Palanivel, the younger brother of Mr. G. Thanda whom he had brought along to study at the school, and little Nik Chanon made up the sole Indian and Thai resident  respectively.

Living in the hostel was the most memorable part of my life. Food, though some complained of not being tasty, was in abundance and we had four square meals daily. This was something I could only dream of outside the hostel or even in my own home in the village. Meals consisted of breakfast, lunch, tea and dinner. Table manners, especially at dinner time, were strictly observed. Loud talking and sharp clacking of forks and spoons against the plates often resulted in sharp rebukes from the Prefect’s table and pin drop silence ensued.  For the first time in my life too I learnt that burping in the presence of others was bad manners.

Till this day I vividly remember the life we lived in the hostel. Life in the hostel was bliss.  It was the life of brotherhood, irrespective of your skin color or religion. There was bullying  from the seniors and but we the small kids were left much to ourselves provided we do not break any rules.

Regular night study hours, or preparatory class or better known as prep time started from 8.00 pm to 10.00 pm.  Several school classes were expended as prep classes.  Lights were switched off as we readied for bedtime at 11.00 pm. However, those who were in major examination year were allowed to stay up to study for as long as they wish.

Making up bed was the most important ritual in the morning. An inspection by the hostel prefect on duty with everyone standing by their beds ensured that all beds were made before residents were allowed to go for breakfast. Bed sheet must be unruffled and the sides firmly tucked under the mattress. Dirty bed sheets will not be tolerated. The blankets must also be neatly folded and placed at the feet end of the bed. Anybody who failed to make up their beds will be punished.  Normally they were made to clean the toilets the next day, much to the delight of the persons on roster duty assigned to do the job. The toilets were also inspected too to ensure that those on roster duty did it properly. Failure means having to repeat the cleaning before being allowed to go for breakfast. The prefect may also announce locker inspection and everyone were to stand by their lockers for this purpose. This ensured that lockers were neatly kept at all times.

The harshest physical punishment meted out by the hostel prefect was for those punished was to crawl under the steel double decker bed. With just about a one and a half feet clearance from the floor and having to crawl under 15 beds from end to end, any knocks of the head against the steel frame can be very painful. The agony of the crawling was not as bad as the bruise to your pride as you were being watched by the rest of the residents including the small urchins from the primary school. Such punishment was meted for the most severe breach of the hostel rules, such as being caught smoking cigarettes.

The Hostel Master could mete out an even worse punishment like expelling residents from the hostel. Once a senior resident returning from a night out for a dikir barat performance outside the school compound, found his beddings missing. To his dismay, at daybreak, he found his beddings at the foot of the hostel steps. He had been unceremoniously expelled from the hostel and had to find accommodation elsewhere.

Such were the regulations in the hostel. The hostel prefects were the enforcer and not many dared to break the rules. That was how we were disciplined in those days.

Very few of us could afford to send our clothes to be washed by the cleaners. We washed our own clothes and weekends were washing days for most.

 Friendly Quarrels and Mischief.

My most unforgettable incident that year was when I set a ‘booby trap’ to catch the person(s) who had been lying on my bed when I went for class in the morning. The bed was not remade after I returned from morning class.  Due to the shortage of classrooms in the secondary school, students of the lower forms had to attend the afternoon session class. It was twice that somebody from the afternoon session had been sleeping on my bed after I left for school. Upon the advice of a friend, Abdul Halim Abbas, I planted a pin in my kapok mattress with the sharp end barely protruding from the mattress. Abdul Halim had even lent me the pin. If anybody were to sleep on that bed after that, he would have a painful prick on his back. True enough when I returned from school in the afternoon my bed sheet was disheveled and the pin was roughly pulled out from the mattress leaving a small torn hole. The trap worked! I know I now had to face the wrath of the person involved. I was in fear but there was nothing much I could do about it.

When the afternoon session students returned, I was confronted by the student who had been my victim. My victim turned out to be the person who had been the nicest of person to me. He was Wan Hussin Wan Ali! I was expecting a whacking from him but when told the reason for my placing the pin in my bed, he felt guilty himself and the matter was laid to rest. I was so relieved that I slept well that night.

Later in life when I met Wan Hussin and related to him about the incident, he could not even remember it. I guess the pain was not bad enough to merit a space in his memory.

Though the camaraderie and brotherhood were evident among the residents, some serious quarrels did occur. Two such quarrels that led to a fight happened between Lee Eh Hong and Aziz and another one between students from the higher forms. Two boys had ganged up on another person. I did not know the reasons behind their quarrels and only knew about the two fights on the night itself.

For some reasons, Aziz had challenged Lee Eh Hong to a fight which was accepted by Lee Eh Hong. It was to be on the hostel free night. The area decided for the fight was at the back of the hostel where there was open. It was a secluded and dark place and not visible to outsiders especially the teachers.  The bare fist fight was watched by most of the of the residents who knew about it including Lee Eh Hong’s brother, Lee Eh Hock(the Head boy).  We all watched from a distance and nobody interfered.

Lee Eh Hong had earlier borrowed a Buddhist amulet from Nik Chanon, the Thai boy. With the amulet in his mouth, Lee Eh Hong fought like a man possessed. He clearly had the upper hand and Aziz took a beating. When it was obvious that Aziz was losing the fight, a ring of boys hiding in the darkness of the night appeared from around the fringe of the fighting area. They were led by a Hamzah Hussein, an ex-student who led his gang of gangsters from outside the hostel. Sensing danger to himself, Lee Eh Hong shouted at the top of his voice that that fight was supposed to be a one to one fight and no one else should interfere. Fearing that the loud shouts would bring out the Headmaster from his living quarters nearby, everybody dispersed.

In the other fight the lanky guy had given the two opponents a good beating.  Again Hamzah Hussein and his gang came to the hostel at night and beat up the lanky guy in the hostel.  Fortunately Mr. Vijaya heard the commotion and everyone quieted down.

Hamzah Hussin had to call for a truce after the lanky guy sought the help of his relatives from Sungai Golok, Thailand who came to the hostel to warn the feuding duo. Peace was restored.

I would consider raiding the teachers’ left over dinner as some mischief  by some seniors. The hostel kitchen did provide food for the resident teachers. Every day a worker from the kitchen by the name of Ahmad Danial would deliver food for the teachers and set them up on a table in the teachers’ side of the hostel. The food were slightly of better quality than those provided for us.  The teachers’ room was accessible from the dorm. It was via this door that some seniors would sneak in to take the food. It would be alright should these raids happened after the teachers already had their meals and only leftovers were taken but sometimes they were late for their dinner. After such a raid, those teachers who have yet to take their meal, had to walk to town for their dinner. On one occasion, the teachers set a trap to catch the raiders but the raiders were usually on the alert and avoided being caught.  Those naughty boys.

Sometime in the middle of the year, Mr. Vijaya, left the school and the hostel for what we believed was going for his university studies. Mr. Thanda Govindasamy, another hostel resident teacher, was appointed as the Hostel Master filling the vacancy left by Mr. Vijaya.


A 1963 picture of the hostel dwellers with Mr. Thanda (Hostel Master) and Mr. Peters (a Peace Corp Volunteer) flanking Lee Eh Hock, the School cum Hostel Headboy. The primary school students sat cross legged in the front row with yours truly seated directly in front of Mr. Peters.


I left the hostel after the Standard Six examination and at the commencement of the end of year school holidays. My reason for leaving was because I could no longer afford the RM15 monthly hostel fee as my brother who had been supporting me was getting married. Even though RM15 was dirt cheap as it covered all the meals and the roof we were under, but for poor families like mine, it was a small fortune to be paid out on a monthly basis. I went to stay with my sister who was studying in the same school but renting a house with her friends.


Seniors enjoying their free time. Recognizable in the above picture:

Sitting on the grass from L – R, Mohd Ariffin Ibrahim, Wan Kassim (Dato’), Wan Ismail Wan Ali (Headboy)

Standing: L – R Mohd Husin, Nik Mahmood, Halim and Hassan Mamat.



Hostel residents at their leisure time.  Behind them were the cabinets and lockers lined along the corridor where the residents belongings were kept.

 Life in the Hostel in 1967

My second stay in the hostel was in 1967.  My classmate Ashaari Amin was instrumental in getting me to return to the school hostel. Prior to that I was staying with my foster mother on the fringe of Pasir Mas town. We were in Form 4 then. Reading story books was my main passion then compared to preparing for my examinations.  Since the Overseas School Certificate (OSC)/Malaysian School Certificate(MCE) examination was only due in 1968, I thought preparing for the examination can be done during the examination year itself. During a Biology discussion, Ashaari asked me to describe the alimentary system. He was horrified to know that I could not describe it. The alimentary system was elementary to students of a science class who were due to sit for the OSC/MCE examination in slightly less than a year's time. He immediately asked me to move into the hostel and promised to talk to the hostel master for a place for me. I definitely was qualified to stay in the hostel with my home located 10 miles away, compared to Ashaari whose home was just a mile away from the school gate. A short letter addressed to the Hostel Master, Mr. G. Thanda, and handing the letter personally to him was all it took to enable me to join the hostel life for the second time. I cannot recall the exact date of my return to the hostel nor could I recall how I carried my beddings and few belongings to the hostel.

Some of the hostel boys in 1967 or earlier

Squatting L – R Awang Che Seman, Suhaimi Jaafar, Unknown, Aziz Ahmad, Noorudin Ramli, Unknown.

Standing L – R Ghani Senik, Muhamad Jusoh, Mahmood Awang Kechik (Dato’ Dr.) Abbas Akbar(deceased) Bong Lot (deceased), Unknown, Rahim Jusoh (deceased), Che Ahmad Che Daud.


A 1967or earlier picture of the hostel residents on one of their free days. Only three persons can be identified, Wan Kassim(Dato’), Abbas Akbar (deceased)and Ariffin Ibrahim.

The hostel dwellers having lunch. Being photographed was truly exciting and everybody wanted to be in frame.

Nearest to camera: Che Ahmad Che Daud.

Standing: Nasir Che Mat(deceased), Wan Ali Wan Mat, Wan Kassim (Dato’)

 Being a school prefect I was automatically appointed as the hostel prefect. A prefect had slightly more privileges. Life changed for the better for me since now I will no longer be going to class with an empty stomach. Meals will be regular. There will also be games in the evenings and prep after dinner till 11 pm for the seniors. Those who were in Form 5 and preparing for the OSC/MCE examination will continue studying until the wee hours. A more regimented study hours and studying with my peers helped improve my grades. 

Mr. G. Thanda demonstrated how to be an effective Hostel Master. We rarely saw him around the hostel except during his occasional walk around the dorm. One night during prep class, Abdul Rahman Hassan Koya (deceased), was fooling around by going out of the prep class and was making some silly dance moves. The next minute we saw Mr. Thanda walked over to him and in the sight of everyone gave Rahman several tight slaps on both cheeks.  Rahman felled down and Mr. Thanda helped him up to his feet and the slapping continued. That was the one and only time that we saw Mr. Thanda punished any one of us but the impact was long lasting. That served as a strong reminder to all of us that though unseen, Mr. Thanda could be somewhere in the darkness watching us.

 Playing Pranks

Another memorable incident in my hostel life that year was when one night I got drenched while in deep slumber. I must have been boastful after prep class and somebody thought that I needed to be taught a lesson. The way it was usually done was to place a small container full of water on your mosquito net while you were sound asleep. The weight of the container filled with water will gradually lower itself until it finally reached a certain level whereby any body movement will cause the container to spill its content on you. It was more like a time bomb that will drench your body,the blanket and the mattress. I got mine on the night when Pasir Mas was at the height of the monsoon season and flood water was close to overflowing the Kelantan river bank.

I was so frustrated that I took my revenge on the most innocent of persons who happened to be sleeping on the bunk above me. The victim cursed aloud and the dormitory light was switched on. With lots of guilt, I pretended to be asleep. The person who slept above me was none other than my best friend Ghani Senik (now Tuan Haji).  So Tuan Haji, I was the one who caused your cold discomfort that night. I believed many knew that I was the one who did it but they just did not point me out.  Snitching was not our way of life in the hostel.

Later I found out from Ashaari that it was Suhaimi Jaafar who set the water bomb on me. When I met Suhaimi in London  in June 2009 and related him incident, he could not recall it at all. Suhaimi had then migrated to England.

Meeting Suhaimi Jaafar again (beside me in dark suit) after 41 years. If you are curious about the persons in front of me, they are of Wan Hulaimi aka Awang Goneng the famous Malaysian reporter cum writer based in London and his spouse Kak Teh, another famous correspondent.

 The Teachers Went On Strike

There was not really much to recall for the year 1967. The Teachers Union went on strike over some dissatisfaction over the teachers’ terms of service.  The teachers carried placards and hangout outside the school compound. However, classes were conducted as usual and there was no disruption to our studies. However, the teachers boycotted all extracurricular activities and we were left very much on our own as far as these activities were concerned. There was no Sports Day and even, Sempana, the school magazine was not published.

The end of year school holidays gave us all a chance to return to our families. I went back to my village to help my parent plant tobacco, the main cash crop in Kelantan then. Tobacco planting was a lucrative industry then and the crop was planted on a large scale with a ready market ensured by Malayan Tobacco Company.


Life in the Hostel in 1968


The 1968 hostel residents. In blazers, from left, Aziz Ahmad, Mahmud Awang Kechik (Dato’ Dr.) Mr. Loo Hock Guan, Che Ahmad Che Daud, Mr. Thanda (Hostel Master), Ismail Yusoff (Dato’, deceased;the School Headboy cum Hostel Headboy), Mr. Yussof Ghouse (deceased; the school Headmaster), Abas Akbar (deceased), Mr. Maniam,  Mohamad Zawawi Ahmad and Mr. Pang Chok Chu (deceased).

 The year 1968 was my final year of stay in the hostel. I consider it as the most memorable part of my hostel life.

Some of us were being cheeky. Whenever a group of girls were to walk along the road in front of the hostel on their way to class, they will be taunted with marching chants from the hostel residents of  ‘left, right, left, right, left, right’ making it most uncomfortable for them to walk. Most of them ended up running to the school or avoid that route in front of the hostel altogether.

The teachers had ceased their boycott of the extracurricular activities after their Union dispute with the government was resolved. Everybody seemed to be making up for lost times with the school calendar full of activities. All school societies were moving at full speed. Every weekend was slated for at least one activity, sometimes two. So much so that we were hard up to find a place to hold our activities. Even the hostel dining hall became an activity venue.

Most of the hostel residents were active in sports and were represented in almost every sport. An obvious sportsman among the hostel resident and the school was the late Abas Akbar. He was an icon of a sportsman and excelled in almost every sport, be it athletics or team events. Later he played for Malaysia and scored a goal at the Asian Youth Football Tournament in Manilla Phillipines in 1970.

Abbas Akbar, standing 3rd from left.

The Bachang Tree

Once a week we had a free night where we were free to do our own things and could opt not to attend prep. One particular free night we had nothing better to do and we were hungry. Some of us decided to collect unripe bachang(Mangifera foetida) fruits, a poor cousin of the mango. The tree was located at the fringe of the school field on the side of the primary school and almost immediately in front of the semi-detached quarters occupied by both the primary and secondary school Headmasters.

Mr. Ahmad Rahman, the primary school Headmaster was the first to notice our group of raiders and he informed our Headmaster of what we were doing. The late Mr. Yusoff Ghouse, our Headmaster, came towards us and told us to go back to the hostel. He told us there were ghosts on the bachang tree which of course we did not believe. Out of respect we backed off carrying with us the few fruits plucked by the climbers. Everything would have gone off peacefully if not for the realization that one of the three climbers was thought to be still on the tree. He was Ibrahim Hussein.

Some of us decided to go back and to look for him. Instead of just a few, almost all of the 60 hostel boys followed making a real din that Mr. Yusoff thought we were defying his orders to leave the fruit tree alone. By then Mr. Yusoff was already running after us. Pandemonium broke loose and we ran helter skelter in every directions. He angrily chased after us but we were too fast for an old man of his age. Further, the school compound was our home and even in the darkness of the night we can easily outran him to hide behind the many school buildings. He finally went back to the hostel building, and surprise of all surprises, he managed to catch hold of Nik Hassan Nik Mat. Nik Hassan could have easily escaped from the Headmaster’s hold had he wanted to but out of respect Nik Hassan apologized and followed him.   Nik Hassan’s last post prior to his retirement was the Officer-in-Charge (OCPD) of Shah Alam Police Contingent!

With Nik Hassan in his hold, the Headmaster called the hostel master Mr. G. Thanda and asked us to gather in the teachers’staff room. Prior to the gathering, Mr. Thanda asked us to meet in the hostel's dining hall as he wanted to know the reason for the commotion. He called on me to speak up. I told him that 'it was sheer panic' that we ran away when the Headmaster came after us when we were actually on a mission to rescue Ibrahim Hussein from the tree. He gave us his fatherly smile and we know that he was not angry with us. After all we were just a bunch of hungry young boys on a free night and not meaning any harm. The noticeable absence in the meeting with the Hostel Master was a hostel prefect who chose to escape by climbing over the school fence to avoid being caught. There and then Mr. Thanda stripped him of the hostel's prefect-ship.

We were made to gather in the teachers’ staff room. It was almost midnight. One by one we were made to bend over and had our butt caned by Mr. Thanda. The number of strokes depended on the age and size of the boy, and at the command from the Headmaster. The smallest and youngest from the primary school received one stroke. The bigger ones received more. When it came to Abas Akbar's turn, the Headmaster said "that boy is a big bull, give him five". We know Mr. Thanda was pulling the punches because he was using the middle of the cane instead of the tip of it and the blow was not at full strength. The Headmaster seemed to realize it and wanted to take over the caning. "If you don’t know how to cane, let me cane them myself", he snapped angrily. Of course Mr. Thanda would not let him but instead made it appear that he was hitting us a little bit harder.

Should the Malaysian Guinness Book of records be already in existence then, this could have easily be entered as a record as the largest number of pupils (more than 50) being caned in one session for the same offense. I dare say that this record will never ever be bettered anywhere anytime.

At the school assembly the next Sunday, the Headmaster announced what happened during that week but he obviously omitted telling the real cause of the pandemonium. He told the assembly that he had never been made to run that hard in his life. Other than the hostel residents, the rest of the assembly was very vague as to what really happened  then.

The Night of a Thousand Stars

The highlight of the year was Malam Seribu Bintang(The Night of a Thousand Stars), a two night stage show where students’ talents were showcased. The hostel students were allotted a slot to perform and we chose to perform a dance drama entitled “A Gangfight In Golden Sand”. It was based on the dance style of West Side Story and without any dialogues.

The dance drama was performed with the sound tracks from the film The Good, The Bad and The Ugly. Since the idea was mine, I took on one of the main roles. The story revolved around two gamblers, played by a form four student Natpi(deceased) and yours truly. One of whom cheated the other leading to a gangfight. The gang leaders were played by Mahmud Awang Kechil(Datuk Dr.) and Ashaari Amin. The original line was supposed to end with Ashaari being killed by a stab of the knife. Before that happened, Mahmud had accidentally  nicked Ashaari’s thigh with the sharp knife. Blood oozed out from the wound, dripping to the floor. The audience was unaware that real knife was used until Mahmud dropped the knife and the knife stuck upright with the tip embedded on the wooden stage floor. Fortunately, the performers kept their cool and the show went on unimpeded. Ashaari was helped out from the stage by his gang members and rushed to the clinic to have his wound sutured.

 We were given permission to perform on the second night with the expressed condition that no real knife was to be used. We bought a realistic looking plastic knife as a replacement. The late Abbas Akbar took over Ashaari’s role for the second night’s performance.  The audience had a good laugh when the knife bounced off instead of sticking to the floor when dropped during the gang fight like what happened on the first night.

 The Examination

This was the year my class of fifth formers was facing the OSC/MCE examination. Two certificates were awarded for one examination sitting. It was the second last year that the OSC was awarded as it was discontinued after 1969.The MCE was also replaced with the equivalent Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM).

Due to peer pressure among the hostel residents, we studied hard for the examination. Most of us studied late into the night. Towards the end of the year we could discern each other’s sunken eyes due to lack of sleep. Particularly noticeable was Ghani Senik's skin which became so loose that it could be pulled against the flesh. That was really hard work. I took a much less strenuous approach and did not burn much of the midnight oil until very near the examination itself. I was too busy with my extra-curricular activities.

The exam came at the end of the year. We had to sit for the exam at Sekolah Sultan Abdul Hamid in town. When the result was announced in the early part of 1969, 13 of us from the hostel passed the exam with a grade one in at least one or both to be awarded the OSC/MCE certificates. Quite an achievement for students who were very active in sports and other extracurricular activities. The hostel provided us with a very conducive environment to develop ourselves and the best of atmosphere to study.

Armed with our exam results, we went our separate ways in pursuit of our education and careers in life. Many did very well later in their lives.

The old wooden hostel was later demolished and replaced with a new double storey building. To many of us and former hostel teachers, the old hostel building was home for some years of our life. Camaraderie and brotherhood was instilled among us as a family away from home. Memories of our life then will forever be cherished.

A 1968 Picture. From left to right;

Front Row: Shafie, Mohamad Zawawi Ahmad, Che Ahmad Che Daud

Middle Row: Natpi (deceased), Aziz Ahmad, Abbas Akbar (deceased)

Back row: Bong Lok(deceased), Mohd Nor Hassan.



In February 2017, about 60 of us who stayed at the old hostel from 1966 to 1970 were reunited at a gathering held at a hotel in Kota Bharu. Present as our guests of honour were teachers; Mr. Abdul Rahman Ali, Dato Dr. Toh Kin Woon, Mr. G. Thanda, Mr. Loo Hock Guan, Mrs. Foo (formerly Miss Wong An Yu) and Chegu Halim Hassan. It was great to reconnect and see each other again after a span of almost 50 years.

Reunion of the SIS Hostel residents (1966 -1970) on 20.02.2017 at Grand Riverview Hotel Kota Bharu.

Among the teachers present: Dato’ Dr. Toh Kin Woon, Puan Wong An Yu, Mr. Abdul Rahman Ali, Mr. G. Thanda and Mr. Loo Hock Guan.