A Tribute to
Dato Jaffar Indot
Victorian of the Year 2009
Full Name: DATO JAFFAR INDOT
Place of Birth: 30th August 1934
Education Period in the V.I.: 1947 - 1951
Primary Education: Pasar Road English School
Career: (1) Shell Refining Company (FOM) Bhd -
Independent Non Executive Director & Chairman of Audit Committee
Seladang: What was V.I. like back then?
Dato Jaafar: It was after the World War II and there were many students in the school who were much older because their studies were affected by the intervening war years. I was lucky. Because of the triple promotion I had at Pasar Road, I was not affected.
Seladang: What do you consider being the greatest achievement in your life?
Dato Jaafar: I was the first Malay salesman for the Shell Oil company. In the company, I progressed up through the ranks, becoming a Chief Executive at one point of my career. I have contributed to the Malaysian Reproductive Health Association in many ways for 27 years. I have also served as the chairman for the VIOBA foundation and the Proton Foundation. I have made my mark in many fields and, for me, these are the greatest achievements of my life.
Seladang: What differences do you see between the old V.I. as compared to now?
Dato Jaafar: A great deal - discipline is lax and the spirit of being a student of one of the top institutions in the country is notably absent due to many factors principally because of the Governments’ Education Policy. The school no longer enjoys having the best and most qualified Principals and teachers. The V.I. is known for its high academic standards. It inculcates a value system that embraces diversity tolerance, compassion, personal responsibility, discipline, respect trustworthiness and communal solidarity. LET US ALL DO OUR UTMOST TO RESTORE THESE QUALITIES.
Seladang: What changes should be made to bring the V.I. back to its glory days?
Dato Jaafar: I am very happy that we have been granted Heritage Status and as a result the school has reverted to being known by its original name - VICTORIA INSTITUTION. Next, as has been proposed, the V.I. should be converted to a local Independent School managed by a Board of Governors (which exists now) that is empowered to select and recruit its own Principal and teachers on terms and conditions independent from the Government Salary Scheme and Terms & Conditions of Service. This would not only restore the high standards but produce citizens with high ethical values and a sense of social responsibility, which we need in a plural society of different ethnic and cultural background essential for building national unity.
Seladang: What did you like about the V.I.?
Dato Jaafar: What I love most about the V.I. is its level of discipline. Way back then, we had headmasters most of whom received their education from their native countries such as England, Ireland, and Scotland. So, what we basically had in the V.I. then was a copy of the system implemented in their countries. A higher standard of discipline was imposed. And that brought many benefits. Up to the 20th century, we see many first class Victorians being churned like Datuk Ananda Krishnan and Datuk Francis Yeoh.
Seladang: As a father of three children (now adults) and a grandfather, how have you managed to spend time with your family?
Dato Jaafar: Talking about spending time with my family, I’m about to celebrate my 50th wedding anniversary this Saturday. It has been almost five decades of being together, but the sweet memories of us staying together as a couple have never faded. It has been difficult to manage between business and family life way back then. But, now I’m retired and a happy man. I get all the time to spend and enjoy my time with my family.
Seladang: If you were given the chance to do everything again in the V.I. what would you do?
Dato Jaafar: From what I observe, the main problems that face our alma mater are the lack of discipline. It simply does not reach the standards we used to have back then. Another issue is the government policy of treating all the schools equally. So, with the implementation of this policy, many of the legacies our forefathers carved out have begun to diminish. I understand the Old Boys are trying very hard to battle against the current. I am glad they express their concerns on these matters very well. In fact, they are the only link we have to the glorious history we used to live here in V.I. I would definitely attempt to restore V.I back to its original state, an institution which nurtures good intellect, sportsmen and helps bring out the gentlemen in us.
Seladang: What have you learned in the V.I., as a student that you have practised in your currently competitive career?
Dato Jaafar: Principally, honesty and integrity, and a strong belief in fairness and a high sense of values. Above all, to respect each other’s religious beliefs.
Seladang: As a successful Malaysian and Victorian, what’s your advice to all the Victorians?
Dato Jaafar: First and foremost, every Victorian has this sacred duty to contribute to the progress of the school. You are privileged to have been admitted to such a well-known institution with a strong tradition and a record for successes that is difficult to compare. Never act as if you are different from the school, so value that position and live up to the standard. Victorians should also realize that life is a continuous process. It does not end after you set your foot out of the school. Work and achieve glory as well as success. And, never forget the alma mater that shaped you. After all, if you look back in time after you completed secondary school, you would realize that V.I has indeed played an influential role in forming you. What is so hard to give back to the institution that had gave you so much? Help to restore and to build up the high integrity that is synonymous with a VICTORIAN.
Dated: 3 March 2010.
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Ladies and gentlemen:
I would like to thank the organizers of this annual dinner for inviting me to speak and to pay a tribute to this year’s Victorian of the Year, Dato’ Jaffar Indot. I won’t repeat the citation for the award which has been reproduced in your programme, but I will touch on some of his attributes as they reflect on and relate to his school days. I am able to do that, because we were both from Pasar Road School and the Victoria Institution, at about the same time, and we more or less had the same teachers and headmasters.
I still remember my first day at Pasar Road School, sitting behind Awtar Singh, resplendent in a turban. It was the first time I saw a turban at close quarters. Since then, diversity has become the most natural thing in the world for me, and it enriches all our lives.
Jaffar came to the VI in 1947 from Pasar Road School, one of its feeder schools. After obtaining his Cambridge School Certificate in 1951, he won a scholarship to complete his A-levels at the Malay College Kuala Kangsar.
After a brief spell as development officer at the Rural Industrial Development Authority (RIDA), he joined Shell as an oil salesman in 1956. This was the beginning of a life-long relationship with the Anglo-Dutch oil company, where he displayed remarkable skills in creating and maintaining good relations with clients, building his credentials as a corporate figure par excellence, and becoming its first Asian Managing Director. Although now retired, he remains a director of Shell. This year marks his 53 years with the company, which continues to be the beneficiary of his enviable management skills.
Jaffar has also been prominent in community work, playing a leadership role in the Malaysian Alliance for Corporate Governance, the Proton Foundation, the Family Health Foundation, the Malaysian-Dutch Business Council, the Institute of Strategic and International Studies, and the Harvard Club of Malaysia. Nearer home, his monumental work as chair of the VIOBA Foundation has invigorated and strengthened it beyond recognition, multiplying its funds to RM3 million, following the generous donation of one million Brunei dollars by a VI Old Boy, His Highness the Sultan of Brunei.For all his many accomplishments, Jaffar has been honored by the Sultan of Selangor and the Yang Di Pertuan Besar of Negri Sembilan. But his greatest accomplishment was that he persuaded Patricia, the lovely daughter of a VI Old Boy, to marry him. This he accomplished by serenading her, when he was lead singer of the talent time-winning group, ‘Kool Kats’. He then went on to accomplish fatherhood and grandfatherhood. As you know, he has three children and three grandchildren. So, he’s a datuk many times over.
Jaffar, like each one of us, is the product of the love and care of his parents and siblings, the devotion of his teachers, and the benefits he received from those countless, nameless individuals who make up what we call society. He knows that, in return, we all have a duty and social responsibility to give something back to our families, our schools and teachers, and especially to society. He believes that if we only take from society without giving something back, its social capital will be depleted and it will eventually grow weak and drained of its ability to provide its citizens with a meaningful, healthy, peaceful life for its citizens.
Jaffar has received much from his family and the Victoria Institution, and has given back a great deal. He has shown that education is a means of developing one’s unrealized potential as a human being and that, while education imparts knowledge, it should also build character and nurture creativity and natural talents.
In today’s world of information technology, education has become synonymous with the dissemination of knowledge. At the same time, increasing materialism has spurred a kind of academic inflation with the achievement of high grades and multiple academic degrees, as a means of earning as much money as possible. But character building, creativity and ethical values in education are facing severe neglect.
The provision of progressive, quality education is one of the most important duties of any government, but education policy in Malaysia is in tatters. The present state of the VI, once the leading school in the country, is a good example.
Human intelligence is dynamic and school children should be encouraged to ask questions, politely contradict teachers, if necessary, expound on their original ideas, think out of the box, act out of the box, and be free spirits. So-called modern education, which is skewed to gainful employment, is in danger of squandering natural talent and stunting the capacity for creativity, innovation and independent thinking.
While there is a great need to produce competent doctors and engineers, there is a greater need to produce citizens with ethical values and a sense of social responsibility. In a plural, multicultural country like ours, we need to build national unity. If all young Malaysians went to the same type of school, it would boost unity enormously. Jaffar and I and our contemporaries went to the same schools and I think we are good examples of integrated citizens. In a globalised world, we need to be proficient in a global, universal language like English, as language is merely a tool for communication. The teaching of English need not exclude the teaching or use of Bahasa. Surely, education policy is too important to be allowed to become a political football.
Jaffar Indot is a fine product of the Victoria Institution and an education system that aimed at high academic standards and inculcated a value system that embraced diversity, tolerance, compassion, personal responsibility, discipline, respect, trustworthiness and communal solidarity. These are important values to preserve and schools are the best institutions in which to nurture them. The VI has a rich history to be proud of. We the Old Boys and Girls must ensure that the VI will continue to have a future we can all be proud of, as we are proud of our past and our Victorian of the Year, Dato Jaffar Indot.
Last updated on 1 January 2011.