Wednesday, August 29, 2007


On August 30, 1957 school children lined the streets of George Town City, Penang to bid farewell to the last British Resident. I was then a standard two pupil of Sekolah Melayu Kelawai or the Kelawai Malay School (demolished in the 1970's to make way for the Menara Yayasan apartment).

The headmaster, the late Cikgu Abu Salim, uncle of late Utusan Melayu editor A.R. Kamaluddin, directed the entire 350 pupils to proceed to Pangkor Road to join pupils of Westlands Primary School, Wellesley Primary School and Northam Road Girls School.

As usual, we were happy to leave the classroom and to walk for slightly more than one kilometer although we did not know why, as long as to be out of the classroom. When we reached Pangkor Road, pupils of a private Chinese school were already there and further down the road were the boys of Westlands. The boys of Wellesley and the girls of Northam Road lined-up along Northam Road fronting the Runnymede Hotel .

Each pupil was handed a small flag - the Union Jack - and we were told to wave it when the Resident's motorcade passes by and to shout "good bye".

When the pupils of the Chinese school suddenly turned noisy and jumping up and down while waving the tiny flags, we noticed the Resident's motorcade and started to jump and shouting "bye-bye or good-bye".

The Resident and his wife travelled in a big black car (Rolls Royce) and they were smiling and waving to the school children. The motorcade comprised several big cars with Mems and Mat Sallehs and local VIPs.

They were on their way to Swettenham Pier to board a ship to Singapore onroute to the United Kingdom.

My late class teacher, Cikgu Omar, explained that the British had to leave because Malaya is achieving independence or Merdeka the following day. Being a standard two pupil, Merdeka then was something hard to understand but at least I was happy on that particular day to be with the other school children to be "free" from the classroom.


No comments: