Tuesday, 10 April 2012

Another Tale or Two.

.........  and to continue where I left off.  I was writing about the nail in the coffin that the Nanyang cabal at Jurong Secondary School had prepared for Miss Hamid.

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
Of course every seminar must have a theme.

Towards Change for Betterment
 Remember, this was 1976 - so little old JSS was quite a pioneer in catchy slogans and self-advertisement.  But that "Towards Change for Betterment" was not my idea.   In response to the wishes and objectives of the gaffers the words were chosen by Mr J,  another  English medium teacher who was in JSS way before I turned up.   He was 'appointed' the general factotum for any task requiring the English language - doing tedious and time-consuming tasks that nobody else in the English stream wanted to do - like writing the minutes of every Staff Meeting.   Poor Mr J!  He 'co-operated' with the system because he was given the hope by those in power in JSS that they could help to expedite his application for Singapore citizenship.  Mr J. was from Johor.

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.

Syukur Alhamdulillah.

To be continued .......


Anonymous said...

Nor...that started a chain of changes for the better for me as well..... I remember the talk we had at the Jurong Town Swimming Pool Cafe when you flew back home for a few hours and returned to Brunei after our talk. You offered to support my studies in UK. That talk changed my life and the future of my kids.

We got them out of Singapore just as we all have.


anak si-hamid said...

Thank you Mus,

We all did the right thing. We all made sacrifices. But it was worth it just to cock a snoot at Singechiapore.
Abah would have approved - that we went back home to his and our tanahair...... although it's questionable whether S'pore belongs to the present beneficiaries of the British. Imperial system.

Remember how mak was adamant about being 'anak Singapura'?

Anonymous said...

I dont blame her...her tanah tumpah darah.....and it was the S'pore she knew and grew up in...