But first, here are a couple of images from that inglorious era. JSS had grand plans such as running seminars during the school holidays to rejuvenate and inspire laid-back and browned-off members of staff to be better teachers, to turn the school into the A-Team of Education. That of course assumed that the teachers did not "know better" before this. At thirty-two, I "knew better" : you can't teach an old dog new tricks.
|Oh Yeah? Tell us something new!|
|Blah! Blah! Blur! Blah! Blur! Blur .....zzzzzz|
|Towards Change for Betterment|
By late 1976 and early 1977 I was feeling the strain of being a minority Malay in a minority English medium in an Integrated Chinese-English School like JSS. I was getting weary, having constantly to look out for my kids in the English stream, having to negotiate a way out of every nook and cranny of overt and covert discrimination. This was like a re-run of my years in Yusof Ishak Secondary School (1967-1974) when I played out the role of a 'bouncer' for the Malay medium kids vis-a-vis the English medium.
Sometime in early 1977 I responded to this advertisement for teachers in Brunei.
I was called for an interview at Shangri-La Hotel on 12 April 1977. In mid-1977 I was informed that my application was successful. I got cold feet and tucked that letter away in a file. They sent me another letter asking for my reply in November ( if my memory served me right). I kept on thinking of SLL's - my good friend and confidante - advice: "Maz, as a Malay graduate, you won't go far in Singapore. Your future would be better if you were just a factory worker. If I were you I'd leave for Malaysia."
Well, as usual, circumstances and fate (?) helped me to make the right move. Just a few days before January 2 1978, the beginning of the new academic year at JSS, I received a letter from the MOE (Ministry of Education) stating that I had been transferred to ACJC (Anglo-Chinese Junior College). I knew something sinister was afoot. It was a plan that the Nanyang Mafia had drawn up to get rid of the craw in their throats.
In the first place, such transfers were usually given out weeks before the beginning of the new term. This was like the rabbit that the Nanyang Mafia had pulled out of their hat. Secondly, as a teacher in a Christian Missionary Sixth Form College, albeit one of Singapore's pukka schools, my future was doomed. Moving you sideways meant that your upward mobility was extinguished.
I was told that during the first School Assembly at JSS, no mention was made of the whereabouts of Miss Hamid, one of the school's Senior Teachers. Usually the Principal would announce the arrival of new teachers and thank those who have been transferred. I was quite simply airbrushed out of the picture. I would whenever possible, make several visits to the school to meet up with my former colleagues. At times I would 'bump' into the Nanyang Mafia and their cronies on the school premises but they very quickly slunk away for an escape hole when they see me about. I do enjoy re-visiting my /their sins!!
I dutifully reported for work at ACJC on 2 January 1978. The day before, on 1 January I handed in my one month's notice of resignation to the MOE. On that same day I wrote a letter of acceptance to the post of Education Officer in the Government of Brunei's Department of Education.
That transfer would be the biggest favour that the MOE of Singapore had given to me.
To be continued .......