Sunday, 15 February 2009

A National Heritage...definitely a cultural exchange!




Yesterday, 14th of February 2008 2009, I was fortunate to have witnessed the ceremony where my Alma Mater, the great Victoria Institution was declared a National Heritage by the Minister of Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage, Malaysia. The ceremony was held at none other than the Victoria Institution School Hall!


10 pre-war buildings were among 172 items listed as national heritage, including collections from the National Archives, archaeological artifacts, traditional delicacies and art. The school, founded in 1893 is one of Malaysia's best known, premier and prestigious schools - if not THE BEST School in Malaysia!! During the war, the school was taken over by the Japanese and used as their headquarters. when the Japanese finally surrendered, the surrender was actually signed in the School Hall.

I was in the VI from 1980 to 1984 and the occasion of VI being declared a National Heritage was indeed a very proud day for me. What was even better was that it was declared that the official name of the School would revert to Victoria Institution - now that is has gained national heritage status. Although everyone knows and refers to the school as Victoria Institution, or VI for short, the official name was changed to Sekolah Menangah Victoria (Victoria Secondary School) in keeping with the official Bahasa Malaysia (Malaysian National Language) method of naming schools.


This is the slide that appeared when the announcement was made

The Minister, in his speech, called for 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.” He also said that every building in the VI, even building 206, would be conserved as a National Heritage. This was received with raucous applause as building 206 is infamous to all Victorians as the boys toilet!!

The plaque that was quickly affixed to the main entrance just outside the hall and under the clock tower.



I went to the function with a good friend of mine, Ramesh, and we met a few other old schoolmates there as well. After the declaration, we spent a lot of time walking around the school, taking lots of pictures and meeting some of our old teachers. We met Mr. Jeyaretna, Mrs Chong, Mrs Vaz and Mr Teh Mun Heng. We also spent some time talking to some of the present students and it was good to see that although there are definitely some changes in the school since we left more than 20 years ago, the School traditions and the School Spirit is still very much intact - so there is some truth to the last line of the School Song

That the New Victorians, match with Old Victorians!.


The famous clock tower where the 4 faces of the clock have always shown a different time. It has always been too costly to fix the complicated mechanism of the old clock and now hopefully with Heritage status, the clock tower may yet be fixed!

I'm very proud to be a Victorian and I leave you with the School Motto - Be Yet Wiser - that comes from Proverbs. Give a Wise Man instruction and he will BE YET WISER.

7 comments:

Beth said...

That's awesome, Dharm! Congrats!

Bellini Valli said...

How wonderful Dharm. I have sent your post over to my dad to see if he recognizes the building because as you know he spent some time in Malaysia when he was in the army after the war.

JennDZ - The Leftover Queen said...

Sometimes it is really fun to go back to where we went to school! Sounds like a good day and the weather looked perfect!

Ivy said...

What a lovely experience. I wish I could go back to my school and meet my school mates again.

Judy@nofearentertaining said...

What an incredible experience Dharm...you may want to check the date though!

Dharm said...

This was indeed an awesome experience!
Judy, thanks for highlighting the date error!!

bondan said...

Dharm and friends,
I have just chanced across an article which says that Penang's char kuay teow is among the 172 national heritage. I have tried to ask Uncle Google and so far have only found 50 items declared in 2005. I am doing a research on this, and would appreciate if you or anyone who read this can help me to provide the list in full.
Brgds,
Bondan Winarno, Jakarta
bondanw@gmail.com

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