On the 23rd August 2014, VIOBA held its Annual Dinner at the Royale Chulan Hotel in Mutiara Damansara, Kuala Lumpur. As well as marking the 121st Anniversary of the founding of the school, it was also the start of an ambitious plan by VIOBA to map out a five year plan of Annual Dinners that would culminate in 2018. The main significance of the year 2018 is that it will be the 125th Anniversary of the founding of our great alma mater.
As part of the five year plan, the VIOBA would honour Victorians with a different theme each year. This year’s dinner marked the first theme which was to honour Victorian Scholars and Educators. The themes for the following years are Honouring Victorian Sports Personality, Victorians’ Service to Nation, The Corporate Victorian and finally The Victorian - Scholar, Sportsman and Gentleman.
There was a light drizzle that caused a bit of a traffic jam but nonetheless Victorians started rolling up to the Royale Chulan hotel early and by 7 p.m. there was already a crowd gathered in the hotel lobby to mingle and catch up with old friends and to make new friends. The school prefects were in attendance to help with registration and also to form a welcome ‘guard’ at the entrance together with some of the members of the VIOBA Management Committee.
Just a little after 8 p.m., the sound of drums and bagpipes filled the air as the School Band Bagpipers started to play “Atholl Highlanders” and led the way in escorting the Guest of Honour, Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz, into the Ballroom. She was accompanied by the VIOBA President, K. C. Kwek and other dignitaries as well as members of the VIOBA Management Committee following behind.
The guests remained standing as the event was officially kicked off with the singing of the School Song. The singing was loud and boisterous and full of pride. This was followed by a "roll call" based on the School Houses and as each House was called out, the members of the houses roared in approval.
K. Ganes, the Organising Committee Chairman then gave a welcome speech that was full of humour and good cheer. This was followed by a speech by the VIOBA President, KC Kwek. In his speech he highlighted the five year plan and explained that this year’s theme was to honour Victorian Scholars and Educators, namely, Victorians who have excelled in the Academic Field and contributed to education in the country. He also postulated that the reason the V.I. produced so many luminaries was because of the detention system where students were made to polish the brass hinges of the school hall doors with Brasso. Obviously the Brasso seeped into the bloodstream of the boys and that was what produced such luminaries! He went on to lament that the school hall hinges were no longer shiny nor polished these days and perhaps we needed to bring back the Brasso to improve the quality of the present students!
Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz then took to the stage and in her indomitable style gave a rousing speech. Tan Sri Rafidah said she was honoured to have been invited as the Guest of Honour and she was pleased to see so many old friends around. She also touched on the importance of tradition and also the fact that as Malaysians of different backgrounds we should inculcate the spirit of acceptance and of celebrating our differences.
Dinner was then served and many old boys took the opportunity to move around the hall and meet old friends and also teachers. A number of present teachers as well as ex-teachers were present. Notable amongst them were Mr A. Jeyaretna, Mr Lee Kok Leong, Mr Teh Mun Heng, Mr Sin Ah Tah, Dr Azhar as well as the ever lovely Mrs Belinda See.
Midway through dinner the Awards honouring our Victorian Scholars and Educators were presented. Those receiving awards were PROF. EMERITUS DATO’ DR. M. ZAWAWI BIN ISMAIL, PROF. EMERITUS DATUK DR KHAIRUDDIN YUSOF, PROF. EMERITUS DR. YONG HOI SEN, TAN SRI DATUK (DR) RAFIAH SALIM, DR K. ARICHANDRAN, Mr. DHARAM PRAKASH and DATO DR HAMZAH MAJID. The awards were presented by Tan Sri Rafidah. Each recipient received a crystal plaque with his or her name engraved on it. Dinner and merriment continued and the last speech of the night was given by the Chairman of the VIOBA Foundation, Farizuddin Aman. Fariz explained the role of the Foundation and some of the programmes that the Foundation carries out. It was indeed an eye opener for many of the old boys present, some who had never even known that such a Foundation existed.
The crowd was entertained throughout the dinner by the NJ Band and also by “Helmi the Gimmick”. At one stage the VIOBA Committee was called on stage. With the President K. C. Kwek gamely waving a large Malaysian Flag, the Committee joined in singing Tanggal 31 Ogos - the song made famous by the late Sudirman. It was a truly enjoyable night and it came to an end just past 11 p.m. with lots of old friendships renewed and new friendships formed amongst Victorians.
By Dharm Navaratnam (Victorian 1984)
Last update: June 1, 2015.