Once again the clarion call was made to Victorians of all ages to attend the annual dinner of the Victoria Institution Old Boys’ Association (VIOBA), this time to celebrate 90 years of existence, making it the oldest and still active former students’ association in Malaysia. This annual affair has always been an occasion for old boys to catch up, make new friends and to rekindle the spirit of the VI.
The event was planned by the VIOBA Management Committee many moons ago with the Dinner Organising Committee headed by K. Ganes going into overdrive towards end of April and May 2012. It was held at Mayang Sari Ballroom, JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur on a balmy Saturday evening of May 12, 2012 and graced by the Guest of Honour, Dato Seri Shafie Apdal, Minister of Rural and Regional Development and Victorian 1974.
Amongst the Victorian luminaries that evening was Tan Sri M. Jegathesan (former national sprinter and Asian Games champion), Tan Sri Ramon Navaratnam (former Secretary General Ministry of Finance ), Dato Tan Chin Nam (Founder of Tan & Tan), Dato Sieh Kok Chi (Honorary Secretary Olympic Council Malaysia), Dato M. Shankar (former High Court Judge), Mr. Mac Ngan Boon (Managing Director Muhibbah Engineering Bhd) and Y.B. Sivarasa Rasiah (Member of Parliament, Subang). From the ranks of the greats who had served with the VIOBA were Dato Dr. R. S. McCoy, Uncle Yeo Cheang Swi, Mr. Jack Lee of Yut Kee Restaurant.
School Captains who attended were Tan Sri Francis Yeoh (Victorian 1975 and Host for the evening), Dato Mustafa Ali, Dato Yusli Yusof (Victorian 1976, VIOBA Patron) and Dr. Thiruventhran Thilaganathan (Victorian 1984) and Iqbal, the present School Captain.
Former teachers included Dato Abdul Rahim Majid (Headmaster 1982-1988), Mr. Dharam Prakash (an Old Victorian and a former Senior Assistant), Mr. A.Jeyaratna, Mrs. Chong Hong Chong, Mr. Chan Bing Fai (an Old Victorian), Mrs. Leow, Mr. Lee Kok Leong, Mr. Teh Mun Hing and Mr. John Doraisamy. Alumni from other schools included MCKK (represented by Tan Sri Abdullah), Penang Free School, Royal Military College and Kolej Tunku Kurshiah.
The entire Lower Level 3 floor of the JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur was transformed into the VIOBA with the entrance being designed as the VIOBA entrance with the foundation stone. The entrance into the Banquet Hall was designed to look like the VI School Porch.
By 6.30 p.m. the crowd began to build with many Victorians dressed in lounge suits with the new VIOBA tie and also long sleeved batik shirts. As they entered the reception area, they were ushered downstairs to collect the door gift of a specially designed polo T-shirt with the 90th anniversary logo. A Walk of Fame wall had been put up so that Victorians might be able to take pictures of themselves. There was also a merchandising counter set up buy VIOBA selling VIOBA ties, limited edition VIOBA shirts and Annual Dinner shirts.
The event started with the grand entrance of the VIPs heralded by the VICC Bagpipes at 8.15pm. Then the rendition of the school song in all three verses rang out the ballroom with a wild cheer for the VI at the end of the song.
The MC for the evening Dato Mahazhir (Dale) Lokman, an Old Victorian, was then introduced. He began the roll call for the evening with batches from the 30’s leading up to the largest congregation of the 80s and 90s batches. This was immediately followed by the roll call for Houses with the all 8 Houses represented.
The formalities began with the speech by K.Ganes, the Organizing Chairman for the Dinner. Ganes thanked the audience for the support and the organizing team for their hard work. Then the speech by the President of VIOBA, Amrul Zeflin Anim. Amrul reminded the audience how far VIOBA has come in terms of getting the Clubhouse re-opened with a fully functioning kitchen with support from Station One KopiTiam and also being able to secure the renewal of the lease of land on which the clubhouse sits on for another 99 years. The next challenge would obviously be to build a bigger building on the land which will bring with it income to sustain VIOBA activities.
Then the Guest of Honour Dato’ Seri Shafie Apdal was invited to the stage for his remarks. Dato Shafie thanked the VIOBA for having invited him and was encouraged by the large turnout from multi-racial Victorians. He reminded the audience that the VI was built on ensuring the best education opportunities for all races. Malaysia is indeed lucky to have had so many success stories and the VI is surely one of the better ones. It is amazing that a multi-racial group of schoolboys could work together for common objectives and beautifully encapsulated by the lyrics of the school song “not one race by one in feeling”. This was very much why the 1Malaysia theme was initiated and heavily promoted by the Government.
The end of the formalities signaled the start of the festivities with the wonderful bouquet of food, glorious food wafting in the air. A glorious sumptuous feast for the eyes and mouth began with the traditional 4 starters and individually double boiled mushroom soup. Victorians immediately concentrated on the arrays of dishes so wonderfully prepared by a chef from Hong Kong. This however did not stop all the talk and reminiscences of the old days.
Towards the middle of dinner, Host for the evening Tan Sri Francis Yeoh was invited to say a few words. Tan Sri stated his joy in welcoming everyone to the JW Marriot Kuala Lumpur and hoped that the hotel arrangements and preparations for the function had pleased the Victorians. He was proud of the fact that a number of luminaries had taken the effort to attend the function such as Dato Tan Chin Nam and Tan Sri M.
The Guest of Honour was then invited on stage, accompanied by Tan Sri Francis, Dato Yusli (VIOBA Patron), Amrul, K. Ganes and the oldest Victorian for this function, Mr. K. S. L. Narayanan who is 88-years-old to cut the cake signifying the 90th anniversary of the VIOBA.
The festivities continued with the introduction to the new Management Committee of the VIOBA and VIOBA Foundation for 2012-2013. They were all reminded that they bear a duty to ensure the continuing success of the VIOBA and VIOBA Foundation.
K. Ganes then went on to introduce a project close to his heart, initiated by the school boys with the assistance of VIOBA; the restoration of the VI Clock Tower. The clock tower is and always will be one of the legendary locations in VI that every true blue-blooded (navy and sky blue only, please) must have reached one point in his school career. The inner sanctum is filled with names of past Victorians who have made it there. Ganes went on to appeal for funds to put up a working clock in the tower so that Victorians will know how much time is left before recess starts or school ends.
Show time then started with a fantastic three-piece band playing all the hits. Known as Freddie and Friends, the band created a sound level so loud the senior Victorians at the front tables requested on numerous occasions for volume to be turned down so that they can hear themselves think! It is amazing how loud two instruments can be.
Finally the finale that everyone was eagerly awaiting for… the fantastic and statuesque Syafinaz. She brought the house down with her powerful vocal performance of several popular hits including Volare, I will always love you and Nessum Dorma. A lucky Victorian was even invited on stage to boogie down showing off his prowess in an extra-curricular event.
In conclusion it was a most successful evening of friendship and camaraderie. Many thanks to all the Victorians who made the event such a success, the Host for the evening, Tan Sri Francis Yeoh for his continuous and generous support, all the staff at JW Marriott Kuala Lumpur and Sponsors. Terima kasih and until we meet again, adieu!
Report by: Kwek Keng Chye
Last update: October 28, 2013.