Mr Shaw's Last Visit

March - May, 1929

VIOBA Report by Chan Hung Chin
The Victorian, 1929

t was a great pleasure to the Old Victorians to be given the opportunity of showing in a practical manner their affection for their past Headmaster, Mr. B. E. Shaw, M.A. (Oxon.), and their great appreciation of the valuable services he rendered to the school during his long period of headmastership (1894-1922).

While absence certainly "makes the heart grow fonder" great must be the welcome that a long-absent one receives on returning home. After an absence of seven years during which period he was always remembered with great affection by his old boys, the venerable. schoolmaster returned to this country – where he had laboured unselfishly and untiringly for well-nigh thirty years for the good of the young, and was warmly welcomed wherever he went.

During the three, months that Mr. Shaw was here, not only was he lavishly entertained by his old pupils at Kuala Lumpur, Ipoh, Malacca, Seremban, and Klang, but he also attended several functions at Government House and Carcosa, and spoke at the Official Opening of the new Victoria Institution on the Petaling Hill.

This indicated that not only his old pupils value highly all that he did for them, but that the Government also recognized the great work he has done for Education in Selangor in particular and in Malaya in general.

By courtesy of The Malayan Daily Express, we give the following full accounts of the various functions which were given by the Old Boys in honour of Mr. Shaw.

We hope that these extracts will not only be of interest to Old Victorians, but that this inauguration number of The Victorian will also be treasured by them as a souvenir of the memorable visit of their beloved Headmaster.

Old Boys Entertain Mr. Shaw

A large and distinguished gathering was present at the new Victoria Institution Hall on Saturday evening, April 13th, when a banquet was given by the Old Boys in honour of Mr. Bennett Eyre Shaw, M.A. (Oxon.), headmaster of the Institution from 1894 to 1922. This took the form of a farewell to Mr. Shaw, who is returning to England early in May.

The Selangor State Band was in attendance.

Mr. K. T. Ganapathy Pillai, the President of the Old Boys' Association, took the chair and he had Mr. Shaw on his right and the Chief Secretary, F.M.S., the Hon. Sir William Peel, K.B.E., C.M.G., on his left. The others present were:—The Hon. Mr. H. G. R. Leonard, the Hon. Mr. A. S. Bailey, the Hon. Mr. Wong Yick Tong, the Hon. Mr. S. Veerasamy, Dr. A. K. Cosgrave, Mr. Loke Chow Thye, Mr. G. C. Davies (the present Headmaster), Messrs. M. Cumarasami, G. E. S. Cubitt, Choo Kia Peng, J. A. Hunter, A. Kier, M.C. ff. Sheppard, W. G. W. Hastings, C. C. Reade, A. J. Bostock-Hill, B. F. Bridge, G. K. Narayan, Liew Weng Chee, San Ah Wing, R. H. A. Jeff, R. D. Ramasamy, B. J. Eaton, E. A. S. Wagner, G. A. Hereford, R. W. Blair, F. W. South, J. Bain, Wee Hap Lang, R. F. Gunn, Yong Shook Lin, F. F. Cooray, M. N. Cumarasami, Ng Bow Poo, S. Muthu, M. A. Akbar, Chan Ping Kee, D. M. Pillay, Yap Futt Yew, A. Navaratnam, Tan Joo Yee, C. Champion, R. Sabapathy, Chan Ping Shu, A. L. Foenander, Yap Tai Chi, Hoh Chup Mee, Wong Tin Leong, Liew Woo Chin, H. C. Chan, T. Magasu, M. Vallipuram, A. Rajah, R. Thampipillay, Ong Thye Ghee, T. Mylevaganam, P. E. Navaretnam, D. A. Pillay, S. Velupillai, Lim Kon Yew, Ngoh Kong Thiam, Yee Chi Seng, Wong Wai San, Wong Ewe Beng, S. K. Pillay, K. S. Pillay, H. V. Ponniah, Kam Kee Soon, Ahmad bin Mohamed, Ong Teng Ngah, S. Murugesu, Chin Yoon Thye, Chong Khoon Lin, Loo Yew Hoi, Loo Yu Son, Tan Heng Yam, Oon Peng Swee, James Robson, Mohamed Tasa, W. H. T. Abraham, Mohd. Jaffa, Tan Seng Poh, Yoong Ah Hung, Moey Liam Thoon, Leong Ah Tee, Chan Yue Pui, Tan Seng Teck. A. H. Moosdeen, Lee Kok Yew, Chiew Teik Hock, L. F. Koch, Raja Mahmud, A. G. Daud, T. Rajendra, A. R. Mahmud, Ahmad bin Haji Ibrahim, Stanley Jansz, Chia Lian Seng, Sarma, Chan Hong Chong, Yap Swee Fatt, Hoh Kim Meng, K. Sinnadurai, M. Jalaluddin, Choong Ying Pui, Leong Ah Kan, Lee Kok Choon, Chia Kee Chak, Lim Mook Long, T. Christian, Lee Mun Hoe, Loke Yaik Quai, V. Rozario, Choy Tong Woon, M. Maidin, Goh Siang Kow, A. Halim, Liew Nam Kit, Chan Kim Chong, S. Suppiah, M. V. Kandiah, Ng Hock Phooi, R. Sinnappan, Chan Kam Ming, Tang Huat. A. Majid, Teh Yok Kye, Teh Yok Teong, Ng Bow Poo, Yap Kon Fah, Yap Tai Yam, Chiew Sze Kon, E. Sibert, V. Suppiah, Chua Boon San, Teh Yok See, L. T. Karasu, C. Sinnathuray, Chew Sze Foong, H. E. Talalla, Mohd. Yusope, Samsudin bin Mat Sam, S. Renganathan. S. Muttiah, A. Venasitamby, V. Nallathamby, Chong Soo Kiow, Chong Sin Yew, Drs. Teh Yok Chee, M. A. Gabriel, L. S. Perera, Ng Bow Huah, R. Vytilingam, K. Thillyampalam, A. Latiff, W. Thuraippa, and H. M. Soo, and representatives of The Malayan Daily Express and The Malay Mail.

The Toasts.

The Chairman proposed two toasts, that of "H.M. the King-Emperor" and "H.H. the Sultan of Selangor"; both were loyally pledged.

The health of the principal guest was proposed by Mr. R. Thampipillay, the oldest member of the teaching staff. In doing so, Mr. Thampipillay said:—

Mr. Chairman and Gentlemen,—It is with the greatest pleasure that I rise to give you a toast which I am sure yon will welcome most enthusiastically that of the principal guest of this evening. A great deal having already been said during the past two or three months, both in the press and on the platform of the sterling virtues of Mr. Shaw and of his devoted and unselfish work in the Victoria Institution, it is difficult, even for one who has known him long, perhaps for a longer period than any one else in this country, to add anything new to what you already know of him. In the opinion of his Old Boys the secret of Mr Shaw’s success as headmaster of the V.I. lay in his true conception of the purpose of education — to understand life, to appreciate life and to make the most of life — or the complete development of the individual and his unceasing efforts to realise this ideal. He realised that if the purpose of education was to develop the best forms of individuality the body must not be ignored and that play was as much a part of a well-balanced life as food, or sleep or sunshine. With this end in view, the physical as well as the mental side of the curriculum of the school was so organised that the V.I. came to be recognised as one of the leading educational institutions of British Malaya. (Applause).

I need not say that Mr Shaw always had the hearty co-operation and loyal support of his assistants who, having imbibed the zeal and enthusiasm of their chief, did their work to the best of their ability. The fact that the V.I. was largely responsible for the formation of the Malayan Infantry is not known to many. It was Mr. Shaw who suggested the idea to the speaker, presided over the meeting of the Tamils who offered their services as volunteers, exercised influence to get their offer accepted by the Government of Selangor and lent the school ground and school carbines for the use of the first platoon that was formed—No. 1 Platoon of the M. V. I. Selangor. Soon after this, the Chinese Platoon, the Malay Platoon and the Y.M C.A. Platoon were formed in Kuala Lumpur and the movement soon spread to the other States of the Federation. Mr. Shaw has been, for the past two or three months, the guest of his Old Boys who thought the best practical way of showing their high appreciation of his work in the V.I. was to invite him to revisit this country in order to renew his old friendships and to be present on the occasion of the opening of the new V.I. which he had hoped to see erected before he retired in 1922.

Gentlemen, I give you the toast of Mr. Shaw: (Applause)

The toast was heartily pledged.

Mr Shaw's Reply.

On rising to respond, Mr. Bennett Shaw received a great ovation. He said he was pleased to see Mr. Ganapathy Pillai there as he formed a pleasing link between the Victoria Institution and the past. His father, Mr Thamboosamy Pillai, was his old friend and he was not only the first Asiatic he met on arrival in this country in 1894, but was one of the original trustees of the V. I. and one of the original subscribers to the Fund from which the Institution was built. (Applause). He saw also another link with the past and that was his friend and very highly valued assistant — Mr Thampipillay. (Applause). Mr. Thampipillay had been a student in the Institution and was now a master since 30 years ago. He believed that Mr. Thampipillay was one of those who held the record of long service to the public. (Applause).

He thanked them all from the bottom of his heart for their presence that evening and for the great compliment accorded to him. He would always remember that evening with the keenest pleasure when he returned to that obscurity which was euphemistically described as their well-earned rest—no rest he meant. (Laughter). His visit to this country, where he had spent the greater part of his working life, had been so delightful that he was full of regrets to leave it again soon. This was a country where the sun always shone and unlike England where they had to pay for their sunshine. (Laughter).

It had a perfect climate and had an up-to-date town where a paternal Government provided them with houses at a nominal rent and they could raise a cricket team capable of beating Singapore, to say nothing of Australia. (Laughter and applause). He read the other day a speech by the Mayor of Sydney, in which he said, he regarded it "as sure as the sunrise" that the capital of the British Empire, would soon be transferred to Australia. "Is it," the speaker asked, "that the Mayor has not yet heard of Kuala Lumpur"? (Laughter).

He would assure them that from the office peon to the "big noise" in business, all in Kuala Lumpur were on velvet and if as the racing tipsters remarked "listen to the words of wisdom from one who is in the know," none of them would think of retiring and living in England until Mr. Churchill had reduced the Income Tax to six pence in the pound. (Loud laughter). He hoped that the Old Boys were there with a double intention. They were there not only to bid the old V.I. and himself farewell but to wish Mr. Davies and the new V.I. and staff god speed and success in the future. (Applause).

He was sure that Mr. Davies would greatly value their support and continued interest in their Alma Mater. He hoped that the public of Kuala Lumpur would give Mr. Davies and staff the same generous support and show the same keen interest in the new school as they had accorded to all of them in the old school. To him, it was a matter of considerable regret that the governing body of the old V.I. had now been dissolved. The school owed much to the Trustees in the past, of whom there were from time to time more than one hundred, and he would take the opportunity of publicly thanking those gentlemen, who had voluntarily given up much of their valuable time to the cause of education. (Applause).

They could accomplish only very little if the trustees had not given them their ever-ready help in schemes for the improvement of the school and their kindly and sympathetic assistance in overcoming their difficulties. During his 28 years in the V.I., he had been the servant of more than one hundred masters and "in spite of this," Mr. Shaw said, "I managed to keep my job." (Laughter). He could not tell them how he did it but when he looked back on those years he would not cease to be surprised. He had been told that there were some men in Government service who had had as many as five different jobs in four years. (Laughter). It had taken him 28 years to really know his job but he felt, that there was yet much left to learn. He would bid farewell to the loyal staff, his old pupils and the many friends in this country with not a light heart.

He loved and had a pride in the old V.I. and its surroundings. He had raised all the trees round the grounds from seed in his own garden and he had done his best to make the grounds attractive and beautiful. He had found it a very pleasant spot in the centre of the town. They had many festive days then and held entertainments in the hall, which, they would all agree, could not be, compared with the one they were in. They had also not a few sporting incidents, among which were killing a crocodile, catching pythons in the stables, and monitor lizards, which came to devour his chickens, under the verandah, and the shooting of a mad buffalo which ran into the grounds during a morning interval.

He was happy to see that the Old Boys, by inviting various guests, had shown, in a public way, their intention to keep the old in touch with the new (Hear! Hear!), to assist Mr. Davies and his staff in carrying on the old traditions of good fellowship and good sportsmanship in the new surroundings and to help the new generations of students to keep up the reputation of the school for service to the public. (Loud applause). He was pleased to say that many of the Old Boys had in recent years met with great material success, owing to the wonderful progress and the great increase of business in the town.

One of the Old Boys, Mr. Yap Futt Yew, had been extremely generous in providing a club house for the Association. (Applause). He hoped that other Old Boys would come forward and help their less fortunate school fellows to place the Association on a sound financial basis and, if possible, to obtain for the members, a playing field of their own in which to carry on their club games. He would suggest that an annual Re-Union Dinner should be held — with Mr. Davies' permission — in the Hall, at which the guests of honour should be those Old Boys who had distinguished themselves by long and useful service to the public. (Applause). It would be gratifying to him to hear that the scheme had materialized, and he was sure that there was someone in that gathering who would undertake to see it through.

As they were probably aware, he had spent most of his life, in the work of education1 and he believed that they had expected him to speak some wise words on the subject or to give some useful advice for the future. He would tell them that a clever young man in the town remarked the other day: We are suffering from an excess of imports and experts. (Laughter). He would not inflict upon them a discourse of that description. He thought they had all heard the story of a man who suffered from lumbago, and who went to consult a doctor. "Doctor," he asked, "do you know anything about lumbago?" "Do I know anything about lumbago?" asked the doctor. "I should think I did and I have suffered from it for the last 30 years." "Good-bye, Doctor" and the man disappeared. (Laughter).

"Well, gentlemen," said Mr. Shaw, "I have suffered from education experts for close on 50 years and I am sorry I cannot tell you of any cure for them." (Laughter). It was unfortunate, he thought, that they differed from each other as much as the doctors, and school masters might well feel puzzled by all the contradictory suggestions that were being made to them for the improvement of the curriculum. In a former report on education in the country, school-masters were described as being the "most conservative," the "most obstinate" and the "most self-opinionated of men." (Laughter). If that was so, he was inclined to think that it was somewhat fortunate, for they were thus not likely to be swayed like a reed by every passing wind. No reference to you, Mr Reade. (Laughter). School-masters knew that there were two types of men, those who only learned what they were taught and those who were incessantly learning for themselves. They also knew that whatever fancy subjects they were called upon to teach, the first and the greatest commandment the teacher had was to teach his students how to learn for themselves. (Applause).

Mr. Shaw said he keenly appreciated the honour they had done him. He had enjoyed the visit thoroughly and would return with pleasant memories. He wished Mr. Davies and his staff as happy a time in the new V.I. as they had in the old one. Concluding, Mr. Shaw said, "May this school meet with a full measure of success and prove a lasting benefit to this community." (Loud and prolonged applause).

Mr. Loke Yaik Quai then sang When Irish eyes are smiling in the chorus of which the whole gathering joined heartily.

The Victoria Institution.

In proposing the toast of "The Victoria Institution," Dr. Teh Yok Chee, M.B.B.S., said:—

In accepting the honour of making the toast of the Victoria Institution this evening, I am putting myself into a grave responsibility. The task before me is a stupendous one, and should have been entrusted to others endowed with the power of oratory. With such a distinguished gathering around me consisting of men of letters, capable barristers and experienced teachers who have spent more than half their life towards the uplifting of education, I feel I am treading on dangerous territory. It has been said that alcohol taken discriminately and in appropriate quantity stimulates the mental faculty, and facilitates the delivery of after dinner speeches. Some of you perhaps have heard that Horatio Bottomley, the ex-Parliamentarian and prolific speaker, invariably consumed a full-sized quart of champagne prior to his making a dramatic climax in elocution. (Laughter).

It is fortunate for me to be able to resort to the aid of Bacchus to-night, thanks to the generosity of the managing committee; I seek this artificial assistance not to augment and beautify my speech but rather to numb that sense of feeling which I fear may be unbalanced by my present vocation. During the last few weeks so much has been said and written about the Victoria Institution that it seems superfluous for me to enumerate in detail the lengthy history of the school. The romance of this edifice of learning is wonderful in its evolution. (Applause.) That crude sampan located near the shallows of High Street and capably captained by our pioneer Mr. Shaw has now evolved into a stately Majestic moored in the prominent harbour of Petaling Hill. (Laughter).

The present pilot, Mr. Davies, who has already shown great keenness will, we have no doubt, maintain the craft up to date. (Hear! Hear!) During that long voyage of more than 35 years, the good ship had landed no less than five thousand passengers safely and distributed them into useful spheres of activities. The construction of the early craft was carried out with great difficulty. It was originally propelled with the aid of a few paddles and fitted with flimsy attap sails provided by a few energetic, leading personalities — Sir William Treacher, the late Capitan Yap Kwan Seng, Mr. Thamboosamy Pillai, Dr. Loke Yew and Inche Thamby Abdullah who all were then most ambitious to help humanity. That insignificant stage formed the nucleus of the present gigantic achievement. The vessel, metamorphosed on passage through good and bad times, is now financially sound and is fortunate enough to be supplied with first class petrol by the Government and the general public.

We are proud of the Victoria Institution, in that it is now the most substantial building in Malaya. I myself cannot help feeling a pang of envy to note such grand opportunities of study are now given to the younger generation. Perhaps if the doctrine of reincarnation be true, we may yet one day step in this portal of learning happy and contentedly. We are further happy to note that the Victoria Institution is entirely a public school, and as such is thrown open to all nationalities irrespective of casts, creed, colour and religion. By owning a school exclusively you curb its possibilities and strangle its expansion, for you cannot expect the public to contribute generously to any institution which is the limited property of one body.

With a reputation fostered by genuine traditions and guided by sound principles, I feel sure, this seat of learning will remain to posterity as the lighthouse of Malaya. (Applause).

Buoyant with this assurance, gentlemen, I now respectfully ask of you to rise and drink to the prosperity and longevity of the Victoria Institution. (Loud applause).

The toast was enthusiastically pledged.

Mr. Davies Replies.

The Headmaster, Mr. G. C. Davies, M.A., in reply, thanked all for the way in which they had responded to the toast. It was most gratifying to him to feel that the relationship between the Old Boys and the school was so cordial. He could not help thinking that one of the chief reasons for this was their guest of the evening — Mr. Shaw. (Applause). He was the bond of union, as it were, between all those who were, or had been connected in any way with the V.I. nor should he forget that very loyal staff that the V.I. possessed most of whom were Old Boys. He did not mention names but there was one name which he wanted to mention and that was Mr. Thampipillay's. He did not know whether they realised that Mr. Thampipillay held the fine record of 31 years on the staff of the school and today he was the keenest master of the staff. He was proud to pay that tribute to him before such a large assembly of Old Boys of the V.I. That was the first time, since the opening of the new V.I, that he had the pleasure of addressing them. He would ask all of them there who were in the old school lo look upon that building as their alma mater. (Loud cheers.) After all it was only the building that was new, the school was the same. If they walked round the school they would find there most of the things which they had been able to remove from the old school.

Malaya was no exception to the general rule which related to the encouragement of education. They had got that fine building, and the highest rung in the education ladder had been placed in Raffles College. Raffles College had been made possible mainly through the generosity of the Government and to a great extent its success would depend on the support it received. Many who were present there were parents of boys either in the V.I. or in other schools and he wished to appeal to them to send their boys to Raffles College in order to crown their school careers. It would be of very great use to the country and there would be no need for them to go out of the country because they could receive all the education they needed at Raffles College or the College of Medicine. He only mentioned this because he hoped, as Raffles College progressed and became a University, that the V.I. would be always represented there and would always do well there. (Applause). He thanked them all for their good wishes.

The Guests.

Dr. L. S. Perera proposed "Our Guests." He had not intended to make a long speech and in rising on the occasion, he would particularly mention the name of Mr. Shaw, coupled with that of the Hon. Sir William Peel. (Applnuse). The Old Boys were a living memory and the V.I., a standing monument to Mr. Shaw as an inspired teacher. (Applause). They felt highly honoured by the presence of so many other distinguished guests and would look upon the occasion as an unique one which they would long remember with pride. He would ask them to join with him to drink to the health of the guests. (Applause).

The toast was warmly pledged.

The Chief Secretary's Reply.

The Hon. the Chief Secretary, in reply, said he felt disappointed that he had to make a speech, though he had made up his mind not to say anything that evening. He found that he could not escape from it as he saw Demande et response stated after his name on the toast list. He keenly appreciated the honour they had done him and his fellow guests in inviting them to what was in the nature of a domestic gathering. At the same time they felt, with the exception of the principal guest, rather like interlopers at the board and while there might be some reason why they should be seen there was very little excuse for their being heard. On behalf of himself and his fellow guests he thanked the President and Committee of the V.I. Old Boys' Association for the honour they had done the guests that night and for their kind hospitality.

He also wished to congratulate the Old Boys and Mr. Bennett E. Shaw on that very happy reunion. It must have been a source of immense satisfaction for Mr. Shaw to return to his old love and to realise the affection in which he was held by the boys whom he had helped to bring up and train. His heart must have swelled with pride to learn that great success had been achieved by some of these Old Boys. He (the speaker) thought that great schoolmasters were born and not made. It was necessary that they should have great tact, pride in the profession which they practised. They were all agreed that Mr. Shaw possessed all those qualities. That was the secret of his success. Mr. Shaw had had one advantage which he had referred to and that was considerable amount of continuity. Mr. Shaw had referred to some officer who was transferred five times in four years. He (the speaker) could say that 20 years ago he held five billets in 14 months. (Laughter).

They were also agreed that Mr. Davies also possessed those qualities, which made a great schoolmaster and a worthy successor to the mantle or perhaps the gown of Mr. Shaw. He congratulated them on the great success which they had achieved through the medium, of the Victoria Institution. These reunions were only a great opportunity for what might euphemistically called swopping reminiscences. School memories lasted a long time. He was sure that they would be much happier swopping those memories than in listening to him.

The O.B.A.

The V.I.O.B.A. was proposed by Mr. Loke Chow Thye in a happy speech, Mr. Chow Thye said the toast was the last on the list but it was the most important of all. It was for the Old Boys, who were the hosts of the evening. (Hear! Hear!) It was a worthy toast because the V.I.O.B.A. had invited them to share with them the task of honouring their beloved old master. (Applause). The fact that Mr. Shaw had come out at the personal invitation of the Old Boys bore eloquent testimony to the love they had for Mr. Shaw. (Applause). He had noticed several faces, who had been to England to be educated under Mr. Shaw's care. He understood that during his visit, Mr. Shaw had been round to Government and private offices to find out whether the Old Boys there were under-paid or over-paid. (Laughter). That showed the cordial relationship and affection existing between Mr. Shaw and the Old Boys. (Applause).

The Old Boys' Association was, in his opinion, very important. It enabled Old Boys to meet and discuss together anything they intended doing. He hoped that the Association would continue to prosper. He was sure that the Old Boys would always remember Mr. Shaw, and in this connection he had something in view. He would suggest that they should petition the Government to ask that the names of either Birch Road or Davidson Road should be changed to Shaw Road not as a substitute for Gaol Road. (Loud laughter). It would be a pride to the school and he was sure that Mr. Shaw himself would appreciate it if it was agreed to. He would ask them to join with him in drinking to the prosperity of the V.I.O.B.A. coupled with the name of Mr. Ong Thye Ghee. (Applause).

Replying to the Toast, Mr. Ong Thye Ghee said:— Mr. President and Gentlemen, I rise to respond to the toast which is at the bottom of the list. Man is a social being. No matter in what environment you place him, the spirit of Unity and Brotherhood is sure to reassert itself, and it is for this reason, if for nothing else, that the V.I. Old Boys' Association, like all other Old Boys' Associations, came into existence. The membership of the Association, for whom I speak, extends over a period of thirty years. Youth and Age mingling together believe in one Fraternity which is carved out from the glorious V.I., in whose apartments we have the pleasure of dining tonight. Our union this evening may be likened unto the four sides of a mighty square.

At the top, North, we have the Founders, with whom may be associated the name of our Gurudeva, Mr. Bennett Eyre Shaw. Secondly, there is the late Sir William Treacher, whose able administration will forever be identified with the history of the State of Selangor. Then, we have the late Dr. Loke Yew whose descendants are still big landowners in this country, the late Mr Thamboosamy Pillai, whose beloved son is no other than our enthusiastic President, and, finally, there is the late Capitan Yap Kwan Sang who has left behind a big clan of Yaps, including Messrs. Yap Tai Chi and Yap Pow Ching who are leaders of the Chinese Community.

On the South may be categorised the Victoria Institution itself, which among so many other things is to be remembered by a body of very altruistic trustees, and a line of brilliant headmasters. As I stand in this abode of learning I cannot help being reminded of the Malay saying, "Selamat Skola yang Dulu." Now in that message of three words we have, coincidentally, the initials of the names of three headmasters who have presided over this centre of learning. The word Selamat begins with the letter S, so does Shaw, Skola begins with S, so does Sidney, and the word Dulu with D, so does Davies. Thus you have "Selamat Skola Dulu" — "Shaw, Sidney, and Davies". I did not invent these words, the discovery came to me all of a sudden.

Westward, we may place the V.I.O.B. Association, which believes in upholding the traditions of the past as it looks forward to co-operate with the school in all her future activities. Our motto is borrowed from the Shaw House of the V.I. bearing the watchword "Carry On." Yes, we will carry on the torch of Learning, we will carry on the torch of physical prowess, nay, we will carry on unceasingly the torch of a brave, clean and strong morality.

Towards the East, it will be in order to name the supporters and well-wishers of the Association. The Government, the Press and the general public may be specially mentioned. We have so many things in common. We hope they will be patient with us and show us a sympathetic attitude whenever we approach them for assistance from time to time. Gentlemen, I do not propose to keep you any longer. I thank you all for your kind presence. To Mr. Davies I would express our gratitude for his kindness in allowing us the use of this Hall for an occasion which is bound to become historical, and finally to the guests, I would on behalf of the President, the Committee and Members of the Old Boys' Association, extend our heartfelt appreciation for the very warmth with which the toast has just been drunk. (Applause).

The function was a great success and the gathering dispersed shortly before midnight.

May 2nd was a sad day for the Victorians. Many boys — Past and Present — would have been glad to avail themselves of the opportunity to bid farewell to Mr. Shaw at the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station on that day, but circumstances made it impossible for them to do so. Nevertheless, several Old Boys from Kuala Lumpur, Sentul, Klang, and Port Swettenham gave Mr. Shaw a rousing Send-off as the S.S. Ipoh steamed away from Port Swettenham for Penang where the T.S.S. Anchises was waiting to take him away from Malaya to his beloved homeland.

T.S.S. Anchises,
18th May, 1929.

My Dear Mr. Ganapathypillay,

My visit to Kuala Lumpur and to my old friends so long looked forward to—seems to have ended suddenly like a happy dream and I can hardly realise now that I have left you all.

I am writing to you — the Chairman of the Committee — to tell you and the Committee what a wonderful and happy time you all have given me during the three months that I have been with you, — a visit that I shall remember for the rest of my life with the keenest pleasure and also with much thankfulness, for the unique honour which the V.I. Old Boys have bestowed on me in inviting me to visit them and the most delightful renewal of our friendship have shown, me that my work in Selangor must have been of some use and that I have, in my humble way, "done my bit" in the service of my fellowmen.

I can assure you and all my other friends — now that I am drawing near the end of my life ("the days of Man are three score years and ten," as our prophet says) — that your most kind and generous action has done more than anything else could have done to make the remainder of my days a period of happiness and peace of mind, knowing as I now do, that I have the approval and affection of those for whom I worked and with whom I lived for so long.

Will you please assure all the V.I. Old Boys of my continual love and remembrance.

Always your sincere friend,

We are glad to hear that Mr. Shaw has arrived safely in the dear Old Country!

We wish both Mr. and Mrs. Shaw the best of health and many more years of happiness!

Hon. Secretary.

P O S T   S C R I P T

Shaw House Report
The Victorian, December 1940

.... Our Housemaster (Mr Ng Seo Buck) has been a regular correspondent of Mr B.E. Shaw, the 'old gentleman' of our House. Mr. Shaw's last letter to him was dated 9th September, 1940 and the following is an extract of a part of the letter: —

9th September, 1940.

Dear Mr. Seo Buck,

..............You have rightly refrained from discussing this horrible war in your letter; we can only regard it as a disgrace to our vaunted civilization.

I may, however, mention how it actually concerns me personally at the moment. Since beginning this letter I have been called out for "duty" at "the Post," as an air-raid has been signalled and has been in progress for some time. Our air-raid guns have been firing and attacking the German planes, but as it is night, we cannot see anything but searchlights.

Last night the attacks continued from 5 p.m. to 5 a.m. this morning and considerable damage was done, but we are said to have brought down 85 German planes. So you see we are all now "at the front" of the battles, not as it was in the last Great War, when the soldiers only were concerned.

I am merely a humble member of "A.R.P.", (Air Raid Precautions), owing to my age, and I regret greatly that I am not allowed to be more than a sort of "watchman," ready to give warning of casualties in my section, which I patrol with certain others. I am thankful to say I am still in excellent health and well able to do the simple work that falls to my share, indeed I could well do more.

10th Sept., 1940.

I had to break off my letter again yesterday and go "on duty."

One bomb came down so near us, that I thought it had fallen in our garden. However, it was in another road. After this we thought it best to retire to the large shelter, which is not far from this house and there we spent the night with many others and with a fair amount of discomfort naturally, for we could only have one rug and one cushion each! The "all clear" was sounded at 5.30 p.m. and now I must conclude, hoping it may reach you and find you well.

Yrs. sincerely,
Signed B. E. SHAW.

P.S. I hope I have avoided details which the censor will object to, we are all cheerful and confident in ultimate victory.

Ng Kok Thye. †
Hon. Secretary.

† son of Mr Ng Seo Buck and later a medical doctor

In Memoriam of Bennett Eyre Shaw

The Victorian, Diamond Jubilee Issue, 1954

MR. BENNETT EYRE SHAW was born at Cork in Southern Ireland on the 6th of February, 1862. He was of a family of clergymen and when a child he emigrated to London where he was educated at one of the Grammar Schools. His father intended him to be a clergyman but he completed his education at Oxford University where he obtained the M.A. degree.

Physically, he was tall and strikingly handsome. In his sensitive face was reflected that happy blend of talking and doing which his friends recognised in his conversation and in his work as an educationist.

When the School was founded in 1894 in commemoration of the Golden Jubilee of Queen Victoria's reign, Mr. Shaw was appointed as its first Headmaster. For the first three decades, the history of the Victoria Institution is the history of Mr. Shaw whose educational ideas found expression in the gradual evolution of the young school.

As an educationist, he was far ahead of his time. This was clearly shown by the fact that his advice was much sought after by the Government and by private individuals.

By his great work he made the name of the V.I. a name of which every Victorian can be justly proud. It was his aim to make every boy a straightforward, kind-hearted, morally strong and law-abiding citizen. His teaching expressed itself best in his own strong personality. His was a clear, healthy conscience and he had a cheerful determination to put in his utmost in doing his life-work.

In 1929, he returned to Malaya at the invitation of his grateful and loving old boys. He was thus able to witness the official opening of the present school on Petaling Hill.

In the fortieth anniversary edition of The Victorian he sent to the School a message. We might perhaps know B. E. Shaw, the man, better when he said, "I will now give you my the words of an old saying, the authorship of which has been sought in vain, 'I expect to pass through this world but once; any good thing, therefore, that I can do, or any kindness that I can show, let me do it now; let me not defer it, for I shall not pass this way again.' "

During the First World War he served in the Civil Guard. As an Air Raid Warden in the Second World War, he remained at Ealing, in spite of the heavy air raids, till his death on October 27th, at the age of eighty-two.

News of Mr Shaw's death reached the V.I. only after the war, in November 1945. A special assembly was called and the acting Headmaster, Mr Ng Seo Buck, made the announcement to the school. Everyone stood with bowed heads for two minutes in memory of the "Grand Old Man." The school was closed for the rest of the afternoon as a mark of respect.

See also:   The Opening of the New V.I.   (1929)

VI The V.I. Web Page

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