Sunday, February 1, 2009

A Tale of Two Schools in Alor Setar

Gosh, the first month of the new year 2009 has just ended. Time passed by so swiftly in January. Lots of exciting things have happened, and February promises to be even more exciting. My brother started his secondary schooling at Sultan Abdul Hamid College (SAHC) and this excites Papa no end. Yesterday, when my brother told Mama that his application to MRSM was not successful, I swear I heard Mama cackled so heartily. Papa reasoned out that there are many more deserving students who really really need the limited places in MRSM more than my brother.

Whenever time permits, Papa always looks forward to the trip to SAHC, either to send my brother off on Saturday morning for him to attend the replacement classes or to fetch him in the evening after the co-curiculum activities on a weekday. Apart from the banners and permanent writing on the wall of the Sultan Abdul Hamid Pavilion proclaiming 100 years of excellence, what struck him most upon entering the compound of SAHC was the overall feel good ambience, as narrated to a couple of SAHC blogger-alumni:

1. Mat Cendana (10 January): Gosh, early this morning I ventured into SAHC for the first time. And I wanted so much to spend time in Stuart Library, but the door was shut, or so it seemed. The atmosphere was enchanting and full of aura. Am crazy about the old trees flanking the road leading to the teachers’ room.

2. Kak Teh (24 January): I've been to SAHC twice now, and really enjoyed the exhilarating short drive along the Persiaran Tunku Abdul Rahman as we entered the compound, then passed the imposing Main Building overlooking the rugby field and the Menara Alor Setar at a distance, and finally made our exit via the Persiaran Tun Dr Mahathir, with Stuart Library on the left and the Pavilion on the right. And the countless majestic raintrees flanking both the Persiaran, what a sight to behold.

However, rather depressingly, he felt devoid of similar uplifting
experience when he visited another famous all-girls school on the other part of town, in Jalan Telok Wanjah, near Istana Kuning and Menara Alor Setar. Relocated since the middle of 2001, St. Nicholas Convent (SNC) is just a skeletal of her former self. The one-storey classrooms situated along the main road are now converted into one big kopitiam (yellow inside), serving almost everything under the Malaysian sun for breakfast; nasi kerabu, nasi dagang, and toast, baked beans and grilled sausage, if that takes your fancy.

And the double storey buildings where the teachers’ rooms were located now lay abandoned, and unloved. Was there a concerted effort to preserve that great school whose illustrious alumni include Dr. Wan Azizah, Malaysia’s first female Opposition Leader?


Kak Teh said...

I feellike crying looking at the pictures of SNC. I went back to see it turned into a fun park or something - how can that be for that was where we were taught the toughest of disciplines. Sad, sad.

GUiKP said...

How very sad. From Hero to Zero. From Pride to Snide. Is this a sign of the time or folly of the past?

Wonder what was the "official" reason given for the relocation then? And now 8 years later, no real progress. SNC is sitting on a prime land, I know, I know.

Al-Manar said...

Your elder brother has lost nothing for not being selected into MRSM. He has every thing to gain at home with parents like yours. Through experience at Almanar Pak Cik am convinced that under certain circumstances a child is best educated at home. One of Almanar pupils obtained 8A’s and has been offered a place at a good SBP. Despite advice from almost every one, including members of his family (single parent) he is adamant that he will stay at his present school, a far cry from SAHC. Another boy with similar PMR results is offered a place at one of the four top MRSM colleges. He, too, refuses to budge. A third boy, whose own choice is to stay put, seems to have softened under his parents’ pressure. A few others, with offers from MRSM, are still undecided. These pupils were not even good enough at their UPSR to qualify for entry into SBP or MRSM at form 1. Yet they have shown that all A’s at PMR are still achievable, nevertheless.Likewise it will still be achievable at SPM. So, in your brother’s case, it is not such a big deal to get into MRSM. I congratulate your parents’ outlook. Your brother will follow your father’s footsteps, insya Allah, and you too in good time.
Pak Cik

GUiKP said...

We are always mindful that some kids succumb to peer pressure and tend to listen more to their "cool" friends than their "uncool" parents. Thank you for sharing your wisdom. You are always worth listening to.

Anonymous said...


This is far too depressing on a Tuesday morning. My heart sank looking at the pictures.

*too distraught to write more*

GUiKP said...

Dear Auntie Cheeky
This is a tragic and painful remembrance of things past, and so be it. Let us hope that SAHC will still be around in 2010 when I "pecah suara". Oh you never know, if SNC experience is any guide.

GUiKP said...

Of course, I mean 2020 lah. In 2010probably I don't even know how to hold a pen. So how to enrol in SAHC, Auntie Elviza?

ruby ahmad said...

aMiR, am on the road, csnt write much. Just to wish you,

Happy Valentine's.

GUiKP said...

Ruby, Hope you have a safe travel, wherever you are. And fabulous time with your Valentino in a romantic location.

Naz said...

I'm a former St Nick's. Until today, I could not understand how the decision was made to transformed one of the landmarks in Alor Setar into what she is today.
Thanks for the pictures and No, I don't think SAHC will go down the same lane as St Nick did.

GUiKP said...

Salam Naz
Welcome to our land of sunshine, all the way from your land of snow.
I read somewhere that the decision was made not to preserve SNC because she has no heritage buildings unlike her sister Convent Light Street in Penang, established more than 150 years ago.

Yes, I worry unnecessarily. SAHC is an institution with glorious past, solid present and bold future!

Psst, from reading the coffeetable book to commemorate SAHC Centenary 1908-2008, we discovered that the doctor in Kedah Medical Center who sambut kelahiran our eldest (now in Form 1 at SAHC) is also an old boy of SAHC. Serendipity?

Naz said...

Serendipity indeed! But I do think Collegians are good at finding their way back to the people. You know what I mean?
My eldest is also turning 13 this year and I have always thought that if we were to reside in Msia, I would send him to SAHC. Mimpi la ni.. :D

Regarding St Nicks, jangan kan building, they wanted to change the name too dulu. uncle Samy said *anything for dayvlepment*!

I link you dalam blog I. I hope it's ok with you.

GUiKP said...

The honour is mine. Thank you Naz for linking it.

Kitchen Guardian said...



You ni siapa ek? I was also from St Nicks, 1985....ohhh those pictures of the corridors and classrooms...brought tears to my eyes, dulu i prefect so kena ronda satu sekolah, and those pictures brought so much sweet memories and no justice can they do to its present state damn who????

Ys, I also have loads of memories from KSAH, the kawat, the tuition, the dating....some of them in KSAH!!

GUiKP said...

Welcome to GUiKP, KG.
I'm afraid I have no connection with St Nicks. 1985, that's the year I moved to London from Norwich, after having completed BSc. I stayed in Queen's Park, and "studied" at Emile Woolf in Holborn. Err, I have also never studied at KSAH. So, don't think you know me, and I'm not about to go "full frontal" just yet, although it is not difficult to figure out who I am.

GUiKP said...
This comment has been removed by the author.