Those of you who know Walski personally may (or may not) know that from the ages of 7 to 17, he went to many different schools. To be exact, 5 different primary schools, and 3 secondary schools. No, Walski wasn't one of those scholastic rejects that no school wanted. It's just that his dad, for work reasons, got transferred from town to town every two years on average. And Walski refused to go to boarding school.
Out of those schools, there is one that Walski proudly claims he is an alumni of (there is one other, but we'll leave that for later). And today, that school's good name has been restored.
Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Victoria will revert to its old name of Victoria Institution (VI) from today now that is has gained national heritage status.
“The world already knows the school as Victoria Institution so it is my pleasure to announce that its name beginning today will be Victoria Institution,” said Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.
Shafie called for the school’s heritage to be conserved as each characteristic “be it a wall, a window, balcony, roof, tower or its field has its own story."
(source: The Star)
Victoria Institution has always sounded better to Walski's ears, befitting it's rich history and significance. And February 15, 2009 will be the day that VI started is journey towards restoration.
(VI's distinguished alumni, and more, in the full post)
Blame it, perhaps, on the crap way that history is taught in school, and the crap curriculum that accompanied it, but as a primary and secondary student, Walski hated the subject called History. It was always dates, people and places - but never emphasized enough was the story behind the event. And it's usually the story that evokes a greater sense of why a particular event is important.
Walski's love for history came a lot later in life, when he began to wonder why certain things, ideas and ideosyncracies are the way they are. By no means is he today a history buff - it's just that Walski has a much greater appreciation for history now than he ever did while in school.
But, yet once again, Walski digresses...
If one were to look at a list of distinguished (and recognizable) VI alumni, it becomes clear that this august institution has produced many persons of great caliber. But more importantly, that list also reflects the true multicultural nature of Malaysian. And that is something to be very proud of. Walski, at least, is.
Among the recognizable names (in no particular order):
- HRH Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah - Sultan of Brunei
- Haris Ibrahim
- Dr. Ng Yen Yen
- Rustam A. Sani
- Sivarasa Rasiah
- Ezam Mohd Nor
- T. Ananda Krishnan
- Mohamed Noordin Sopiee
- Raja Petra Kamaruddin
- Francis Yeoh
- Amir Muhammad
- The Sidek Brothers (Misbun, Jailani, Razif, Rashid & Rahman)
- Lord Panda
- Soo Beng Khiang
- Harjit Singh Hullon
And that's just a very, very small sampling. Not at all a bad list to be associated with. Especially when Lord Panda is on it....
It's sad that in the zeal to establish a national identity, the path taken is to sometimes whitewash history. It's no shame that we were a former British colony. The British, while responsible for creating the separate-but-one nation we live in today, also gave us a lot of good things. No point in pretending that the British years never happened.
But pretend it never happened is precisely what has been done in the past, consciously or not, by doing things like changing road names, and in the case of VI, making it as though it were just another generic National Secondary School.
Well, generic it is definitely not. And today, Victoria Institution has been given back its rightful and historic identity.
For this old boy, it's post-Valentine's Day traumatic bliss...