Anwar As I Know Him From His Schooldays



These poignant words ’I am indebted to you, Sir ’from an ex-student of national and international refute and fame make me proud and happy. All his teachers at MCKK bear testimony to the fact that he had always expressed his appreciation and gratitude to every teacher for some new knowledge gained or some new skills acquired or even for some ,little favours such as words of advice or encouragement .Even as a student at MCKK, he kept in touch with his Primary School teachers thanking them for all they did for him to make him a better student –a better person .
Here is an interesting incident that shows the breed of teachers of yesteryears as well as the character of Anwar as a pupil.…His letter of thanks to his English language teacher, Mr.Francis Ho , was returned to him with the all his mistakes underlined in red . Anwar proudly showed this to the class ,and promptly sent back a new letter with all the corrections made ,.of course ,with an additional ’ Indebted ’ note attached .
When YB Anwar returned to MCKK, after decades, as the Minister of Education, to officiate ‘ The Speech Day’, ’the non-teaching staff’ were over-whelmed by his presence, and tried to keep their distance as a mark of respect for their YAB. Anwar went searching for them– houseboys, the cooks ,the sweepers– put everyone at ease by thanking them for looking after his welfare during his schooldays. In his own characteristic way, he made everyone feel important when he declared to them ,’’Kejayaan saya adalah kejayaan awak juga’ The two outstanding attributes that set him apart from the rest of his peers are his humility and his love for humanity.

As a student in MCKK, he was loved and respected not just by his peers but by all the teachers and non-teaching staff as well . He was simple and humble in his ways and was always polite and courteous in his speech. As a self-disciplined student ,he is one of the few, if not the only one ,[during my 25 years in MCKK] who spent the entire college life without getting punished for breaking any of the countless stringent college rules and regulations. He was considered a Role Model for his peers not just by the teachers but by his peers as well .The teachers appointed him as a Prefect. His peers elected him unanimously as the Secretary-General of B.R. UGAMA,  a post which speaks itself for the religious credentials of the holder.
Any indication of his ambition. ,for eg the choice of profession? Nothing ! However ,there was more than enough evidence to show that he was deeply . disturbed with the prevailing social conditions -the widening disparity between the ‘’HAVES’’ and ‘HAVE-NOTS’’, as he termed them, This disparity’ was a recurrent theme in his ‘writings’ and ‘’speeches.
[ In the early 1960’s ,students at Form 3 Level in MCKK were not writing ‘Guided Composition’ but’’ Free Essay’s and even detailed ‘Reports’ based on research on political, economic and social problems both at local and international levels. Anwar who had proved himself to be skilled orator /speaker from his first appearance on the stage within weeks of joining MCKK was by now a school debater . His tyle of presentation spiced with subtle humour and deeper meanings embedded in the words and expressions was too persuasive for any opponent to counter his arguments.]

Anwar combined both his ‘ writing skills’ and his ‘speaking talents’ to put forward his ideas ,first, among the classmates and schoolmates during the weekly society meetings, and ,later, to the many followers from other -schools in particular from other residential schools.’. He would provide valid and reliable statistical evidence based on data collected from educational institutions, government .departments. and private sectors, to argue his case.
He would point out that it was just NOT the British but the ‘ALLIANCE’ that had failed miserably to provide for and protect the interests of the’ BUMIS— group identified by Anwar as ‘HAVE-NOTS ‘‘ In his’ writings and speeches’, he attacked the ESTABLISHMENT for not being sensitive or responsive to the needs of the’ Bumis ’and continued to attack the ‘‘new colonial masters ’’for their failure to remove or least reduce the disparity in income ,position and status between the’HAVES’ and ‘HAVE-NOTS’- Many misunderstood his stand and labelled him as a ’racist’ but the mixed group of teachers at MCKK were well-aware that he was in fact fighting hard for social justice, for greater opportunities for education and employment and a fairer distribution of income for the’ BUMIS ‘ He never asked for’ special privileges’ .. He was confident that given equal opportunities the majority of the ‘BUMIS’ were equally able and capable of competing successfully with the ‘NON-BUMIS’ on their own MERITS and in their own terms..
AUGUST 23 was a’ Special Day’ for my wife and me. DSAI came to wish us the best of health .The last time I met DSAI was 13 years ago. I expected to see changes in him. .It was the same old Anwar…joking and happy, recollecting pleasant memories .of the past. There was no change in him- no bitterness about people or life.! We said farewell and as he departed ,.I realised he was still on the SAME OLD MISSION —to fight for THE RIGHTS OF ALL THE ‘HAVE NOTS’


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