Wednesday, 3 Aug 2011


Class of 1961

Golden Anniversary

The Marriott

July 2-3, 2011

Report by Majorie Chiew

Time may blur the memory, but friendships forged in school stay strong. That’s what a group of old boys learnt recently.

Former Formmates:
top: Ng Kim Boon, Khoo Kee Ming, Gnanam Duraisamy, Tan Chang Soong, Renuka Sodhy, Khoo Suat Pheng, Chong Sun Yeh
bottom: Padmini Menon, Tay Leng Kuan, Norman Foo Yeow Khean, Poon Yew Chin, Au-Yang Chee Wah, Chew Hon Nam, Wong Yin Fook

Five decades after leaving school, the Upper Six class of ‘61 invited Victoria Institution alumni from 1941 to 1988 to meet up for a big bash early July. Five school captains and three head girls were among 200 former students who came together for the Grand Golden Reunion at Putrajaya Marriott Hotel, Kuala Lumpur.

Many of the VIOS (VI Old Students) have kept in touch with each other over the years, “but meeting face-to-face has made the e-mail exchanges all the more significant,” says Renu Chander, who is from the class of ‘61.

Although many VIOS have lived, or are currently living, abroad, the ties that bind have remained strong, Chander adds in a report on the event, compiled in collaboration with other ex-students. “The goodwill that provides a mantle of friendship to VIOS worldwide is legendary.”

Friendship and joyous rebonding was evident throughout the reunion weekend, which kicked off with a game of golf at Bangi Equatorial Hotel.

The School of Hard Knocks:
Where superannuated students work for free

The next morning, more VIOS reconnected during a tour of Royal Selangor Pewter, led by its Datin Paduka Yong Mun Kuen, an alumnus herself. They visited the School of Hard Knocks, where they fashioned their own pewter bowls and carved their initials on these souvenirs. The tour was especially memorable for those who had been on school visits to the pewter factory in Setapak, Kuala Lumpur, during their schooldays.

Things stepped up a notch after the group arrived at Marriott Putrajaya. For many, the thrill of seeing old, familiar faces again for the first time after 30 or more years led to cries of delight.

Some of those present were family members who had been separated by distance and the decades; reuniting at the VI event led to poignant hugs and handshakes.

The presence of three beloved teachers – John Doraisamy (Economics), Yeoh Oon Chye (Biology) and Vincent Voo (Art), who were accompanied by their spouses – also brought back endearing memories of lessons taught, and learnt.

These teachers have frequently expressed pride in their students’ achievements. Now in their late 70s or more, they were literally aglow when surrounded by old boys who are now “luminaries” in various fields. Among the latter were Cheong Kee Cheok (ex-dean, Faculty of Economics, Universiti Malaya); Chew Kia Ngee (former deputy executive chairman, PriceWaterhouse Coopers, Singapore); Johan Shamsuddin (ex-president of the Petaling Jaya City Council); Norman Foo (professor emeritus in artificial intelligence and knowledge systems, University of New South Wales, Australia), and Gnanam Duraisamy (former director of our National Blood Bank).

Many seniors graced the occasion -
Top: Sheila Sodhy, Krishna Rajaratnam, Lee Choong Keet, Jagdish Chand Bhandari, Ismail Omar, C. Thavarajah, Isher Singh Sekhon
Bottom: Leong Siew Mun, Chia Ah Bah, Wong Wai Yew, Goh Yoon Fong, M. Shanmughalingam, Chew Chye Guan, Daniel Thuraiappah

Their juniors too -
Top: Yim Yoke San, Kan Ah Chye, Alice Lee, Phua Juay Chee, Lo Ka Hang, Ann Foo-Flowers, Koh Tong Chui
Bottom: Cheng Hoong Keong, Tang Wing Chew, Cheong Kee Cheok, Chris Liew Peng Fook, Quah Chooi Hon, R. Thillainathan, Mizanur Rahman

The excitement and joy of recognition was apparent, Chander says. Someone let out an incredulous cry, “Is that you Gunslinger?”, followed by a hearty exclamation, “You look the same!” There were a few tears too, as names of old flames cropped up and long-buried emotions resurfaced.

The reunion was “particularly memorable” for the oldest VIOS present, Chew Chye Guan, 87, as his daughter had flown back from New Zealand to join in the celebration. The octogenarian’s stories held many in awe for a good part of the evening.

After a group photo, organising committee chairman Khoo Khee Ming toasted the class of ‘61. This was followed by a rousing rendition of the school song, and the cutting of a cake.

Chung Chee Min was then presented the Outstanding Victorian Award for his 600-page illustrated The V.I. Anthology which was published last year. Then VIOS Eddie Foo ("The Elvis of Singapore") and VIOS Bala Mahesan ("The Satchmo of Penang") entertained the guests.

After breakfast the next morning, the VIOS continued to catch up with each other and make plans for further meetings.

“The bonding was rich with nostalgia. It was a feeling of warmth and affection that transcended time, place and all superficial differences. The spirit of VI of the 50s, 60s and 70s was rekindled,” reminisced Chander.

Outside Malaysia, VIOS hold frequent get-togethers in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, Vancouver, London, Cambridge, Washington D.C., and Singapore.

Next year, from Aug 31 to Sept 3, the VIOS group in Britain plans to hold another grand reunion at Cambridge University. Naturally, all alumni from around the world are welcome to join in the fun.

Until then, the class of Upper Six 1961 is proud to have met in 2007, 2009 and again this year. No one would dispute that their golden reunion is the grandest, so far.

Post-dinner revellers from various cohorts

VI The V.I. Web Page

Created: November 23, 2017.
Last update: November 25, 2017.