Saturday, 29 Sep 2018

Tommy Thomas: I was full of mischief when I was in school

by Yimie Yong

KUALA LUMPUR: Attorney-General Tommy Thomas revealed that he was mischievous during his secondary school days at the Victoria Institution, one of the oldest schools in Kuala Lumpur.

"My friends asked what am I doing up here [as the guest of honour]," he said in his speech at the school’s 125th anniversary dinner here.

“My role in the school was to be a naughty student, full of mischief, who spent a lot of my time in detention class,” he said in his speech at the school’s 125th anniversary dinner here.

“We were playing pranks all the time, using short cuts during cross-country [running], and so on,” he quipped.

“Therefore, my friends say, What am I doing up here?” he said, explaining why he thinks he is “undeserving” to be the guest of honour.

“When there are thousands of outstanding students and an equal number of success stories in later life, my choice is an utterly undeserving and surprising choice. But I am grateful and privileged,” he added.

Introduced at the dinner as the “whale hunter” due to his role in taking on the 1Malaysia Development Bhd scandal, Thomas said he entered the school some 54 years ago, in January 1964.

He reminisced his schooling days and said it was also “a fabulous decade to grow up” in the 1960s.

“Musically, we were dominated by the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan and other artists,” he said, adding that it was exciting in the sports field.

He said the school provided a wonderful sanctuary during the time of uncertainties, referring to the 1960s with the formation of Malaysia, the Indonesian Confrontation, the exit of Singapore and later the May 13 riots happening throughout the decade.

He said tight discipline was imposed in school by the principal, strict teachers and prefects.

“It created a competitive environment where merit was awarded. Race and religion were wholly irrelevant and are bygone verbs,” he said, allowing students to build friendships.

Thomas appeared to be the superstar at the dinner as the Victorians and teachers were busy taking selfies with him.

“Of course we are proud of him. He reflects the quality of being a Victorian, in serving the nation. We are all behind him,” said one of the alumni, David Lian, Zeno Group managing director.

Shanti Purushothman, an English teacher at the school, said Thomas expressed grave concern on the standard of English in school.

“He expressed grave concern over the level of English. He hopes all educators will strive to raise the level of English in schools,” she said.

VI The V.I. Web Page