ACS Ipoh - A Heritage In History
ACS Ipoh - Main Building in the 60s
When I first started my schooling life in ACS, short for the Anglo-Chinese School, in Ipoh, a town (now a city) in Perak, a State in Malaysia. It was unknown to me at that time, that this school already had a history of about 60 years, At that age, I was just 6 years and 7 months to be exact when I first set my eyes to be in Primary 1, as it was called in Malaya and known then. School was not exactly new to me, since I attended 2 years of Kindergarten or pre-school before started by the Salvation Army then. Being such a young child, I did not ask why I had to attend pre-school, and neither do I know what kind of questions to ask my parents about why I was sent there – the most probable reason is to get rid of me in the daytime (or at the very least in the mornings from Mondays to Fridays of the week), since I have another 3 younger siblings my mother had to attend to. Well it made no difference to me, since there were new toys and friends to play with in the Kindergarten apart from the meals, probably milk and biscuits (cannot really remember what I had those days).
Not to digress from the original subject of this hub, which is the School I had to attend for the next 11 years.
Looking back, we did not realize how lucky we were to be part of a great history of the School, and do not really appreciate the school song, the lyrics of which were written about its founder, Reverend W.E. Horley, in the 1890s and how the School started and how important it was.
This was also the first place I get to know so many new friends then, and made lasting friendships until now, which we managed, and over the past 2 years, reconnected and now keeping in touch, via emails and Facebook, a platform we use for communication, even when some of us have migrated to other countries as far as a 20 hour flight time.
I seem to be digressing, but I am not, as we are part of the history of the School now, and nothing can change that.
We have a lot of firsts – the first to have its own Swimming Pool, which was a big thing then, although it is only half the length of the Olympic sized Pool. We, the students, then had to put in a lot more effort than most people do nowadays, as we need to get donations for building the Swimming Pool, which was probably considered as part of the School Building fund. The school had to raise its own money for such projects, and so we did not just ask for donations for the sake of asking. We staged theatrical plays, following what Shakespeare wrote, like MacBeth, Midsummer’s Night Dream, Julio Caesar, Hamlet, Romeo & Juliet, etc. Staging the plays also helped the students in the final year of Secondary School, where students take English Literature as part of the curriculum of studies. Although some of us (me included) did not really enjoy school life then, we have since learned how to appreciate what we were taught, especially the discipline – this the next thing which I will get into.
Discipline was a big thing then, and we had a Discipline Master who kept us in line, of course, we did not like him, what with his stern looking face and all that. We even gave him a nick name, “Lo Mo”, in literal translation? “Old Hair”, whatever that means, and who started it, I don’t exactly know or when the name started – God Bless His Soul!
Well, we turned out ok, none of us got into the Police Hall of Fame for criminals, nothing which will shame the School name. I admit that we all have our reservations on some of the disciplinary action he meted out to us then, like we could not find anyone of us who was not caned by him, whether in private or in public. How could this be, especially when almost all of us were 'angels' or trying to be one even when we were caught being mischievous. Comparing with the advancement of Human Rights nowadays, he would not have survived. Still, we only had admiration for the man, even after we left our alma mater – a character we could not forget.
Anglo-Chinese School, Ipoh had all the facilities to make us proud, and we had more than other schools in the same Town. Other than the Swimming Pool, which came in the middle of our schooling years, we had a good Library, a School Hall, a Canteen, which we called a ‘Tuck Shop’ those days, the various Science laboratories (Physics, Chemistry and Biology labs), the Gym, the playing fields for all the necessary sports, including Cricket, and of course Athletics. The School produced some Olympians, if I can call them that, mainly in hockey and swimming where we had representatives in some of the events for the Olympics then.
The School actually started in 1895, in not as elaborate the circumstances as the photo depicts, but sometime in 1914, the Main building was built, and is still standing today. The School started as a Missionary School – from the Wesley Methodist Church, to be exact, so all of us from the era of the 50s and 60s are familiar with the Bible, irrespective of what religious faiths we are now in, partly thanks to our Discipline Master, as non attendance of Church Services on Fridays will warrant a visit to his office for some sort of action to correct us to be in the "right path".
The Methodist Church, still in existence today, was built at the same time of the Main Building of the School, and can be considered synonymous – looking at the compound of the School today, it is extremely sad to note the division, similar to that of the former ‘Berlin Wall’ dividing both East and West Berlin. Even the School Crest, which we so proudly wear throughout our schooling days, had changed, and why we asked? Well, the old crest show a cross and it is not necessary for me to explain the circumstances on why it was removed, unless you do not know the country of where this School resides.
Another disappointing building which was recently pointed out to me, was the Library. It was our pride and joy during our schooldays, and I can still remember the declaration of the ‘New’ Library and how proud our Principal was to announce that. We had the books in the Library, be they fiction or otherwise, being rented out to the students of our days, and the Librarian on duty will keep the necessary records on who rented and when returned. Failure to return will definitely be referred to the Disciplinary Master for action, and late returns will generate a fine, which probably will populate the Library fund then.
We found out, albeit abit late, that the Library is currently in its poorest state, and hardly manage – definitely the pride and joy has long gone. Some of us, who visited the School Library as late as August 2010, found out the poor condition the Library is in, and that even some of our names were still on record for some of the books there – cannot really imagine that in the space of more than 40 years, no new entries had been entered as borrowers for those books since. It is either that the age of computers has caught up where nobody physically read books, or that the Library is of no more importance to the current students of the School, or that it is no longer being promoted as a place to visit.
There are a lot more things I can write about the school, the everlasting memories it has brought to a lot of us for the time we spent there. But the most important of all is, the School, Anglo-Chinese School or ACS Ipoh is still not considered a Heritage Site to be preserved as part of the notable History in Malaysia. Why? Only those in the political arena can answer that. As for us, especially me, I am proud to have been a student of this great School, and having a history to back it up with its Main Building still standing today, and which should have been a Heritage Site in the History of Ipoh, Perak, Malaysia. We are still hopeful that one day, it will be declared as such, hopefully in my lifetime, but until then, we still make visits to our alma mater and organize our regular reunions with a visit, wherever possible, to the School we grew up in and proud to be part of its History, and which will remained forever in our hearts and the rest of our lives, until either amnesia or dementia or alzheimer sets in - hopefully not!