Historical Inaccuracies &
Mysteries of the V.I.

by Loh Kok Kin
Victorian 1991 - 1995, Chairman of the V.I. Museum Board 1995

[Extracted, with some additions, from The Victorian, 2001]

ave you ever wondered why Hollywood producers earn much, much more than world-famous history professors? Well, movie audiences generally find ‘correct history’ to be boring and few care for the proof or disproof of a historical fact. For example, in real life, Maximus was a failed gladiator, but look what Hollywood did to his image in the blockbuster movie, Gladiator! But who cares? It’s more fun to watch the fantastic, the sensational and the legendary come to life. People like that "nice and good" feeling coming out of a movie instead of reading up on historically accurate but dull and unvarnished facts.

The Victoria Institution is no different. Take for example, the claim on page 66 of the 1988 Victorian that ‘Legend has it that if the HMS Malaya Bell is rung, the whole of Kuala Lumpur will be engulfed in a disastrous flood.’

Where does this come from? A way to find out is to ask the Old Victorians about it. As it turns out, no one in the 1950s or 1960s has ever heard about it! That is not surprising because it turns out that this claim started in The Seladang January-April 1971 edition. The title on page 8 proclaims: ‘Legend of the V.I. Bell: When the bell tolls, KL will be drowned in flood waters’.

Bell legend 1971

How did this "legend" start? One must understand the context. In January 1971, unusually heavy rains flooded many Bell legend 1971 parts of Kuala Lumpur. Soon after, a Lt Kamaludin b. Suhaimi wrote to the Straits Times, wondering - wrongly of course - whether the floods were caused by the ringing of the V.I. bell. (He was referring to the H.M.S. Malaya watch bell which hangs under the clock tower.) The Seladang reprinted Lt Kamaludin’s letter but, with the intention of giving the lie to such an claim, published below it an interview with Mr. Richard Pavee, the longest serving school clerk and old Victorian. The article quoted Mr Pavee's telling of the historical background of the bell saying that the claim about the bell causing floods was just sheer nonsense.

How did this "legend" become famous? Unfortunately, later generations of Victorians who came across this article simply looked at the title of the article or at Lt Kamaludin's letter and decided to believe the claim without reading the refutation that followed! Such is human nature. Thus a V.I. myth was born through sloppy reporting and even sloppier reading and comprehension.

There are two lessons to be learnt from that. Firstly, the V.I. publications have a very important role to record and preserve the ACCURATE history of the school. Misleading titles, misprinted facts, careless mistakes or outright untruths cause many Victorians to absorb, learn and pass on historical inaccuracies. Secondly, a historical inaccuracy, once created, is very difficult to erase. Thus, the ridiculous legend of the V.I. bell survived for 30 years! It is very important for all Victorians to ask himself or herself about the credibility and origins of the ‘fact’. Ask "Is that believable?" and "Where or whom did that claim come from?". Repeating minor untruths, like rumours, causes ugly distortions. It’s relatively easy to start a nuclear chain reaction, but it is very hard to stop it.

This article analyses some other V.I. myths and is structured as follows. Each point starts by stating the claims as they exist now. Then, the 'facts' and their possible origins or sources are presented. For easy reading, these will be followed by the conclusion, instead of the analysis. The analysis will be presented in the final part of the article and will ask questions like "Why does the legend or inaccuracy exist?", "Why can't this myth be true?" and "Are there better explanations?". By thinking systematically, we can hopefully get logical and convincing arguments that will put an end to these V.I. myths and re-establish accurate V.I. history in our minds.


1) NOT TOTALLY CORRECT : The school was born on 14 August 1893

VI anniversary

a) On 15 June 1893, the first Board of Trustees for the V.I. was formed to run the new school (The Victorian 1954).

b) On 14 August 1893, Lady Treacher laid the foundation stone of the V.I. and this is recorded on the school plaque which today can be found under the school porch..

c) On 15 January 1894, the V.I. started its first, unofficial classes at a Government English School (A Short History of the V.I.: 1893 – 1961 page 2).

d) On 1 July 1894, the building of the V.I. was completed (The Straits Times 2 July 1894).

e) On 30 July 1894, Mr B.E. Shaw officially opened the new building. (Sixty Glorious Years in The Victorian 1954 by the V.I. Headmaster, Mr G. P. Dartford). Interestingly, it was on 30th July 1954 that the V.I. celebrated the 60th Anniversary of the School! The 1954 school magazine (page 16) actually referred to 30th July as Founders’ Day!!

CONCLUSION : The officially accepted establishment date is 14 August 1893. However, there are many other dates when the V.I. first ‘came into being’, so let’s not forget them.

2) NOT TOTALLY CORRECT : The first V.I. headmaster was Mr Bennett Eyre Shaw

Hepponstall and Shaw

a) Mr G.W. Hepponstall was headmaster in a temporary building in High Street, from 1893 to 1894 (A Short History of the V.I.: 1893 – 1961 page 18).

b) Mr Bennett Eyre Shaw was headmaster of the old V.I., High Street, from 1894 to 1922 (A Short History of the V.I.: 1893 – 1961 page 18).

CONCLUSION : Mr G.W. Hepponstall was the first unofficial/acting headmaster of the V.I. while Mr Bennett Eyre Shaw was the first official headmaster of the V.I. He is also the longest serving.

3) MYTH : The school philosophy has always been ‘To be a Scholar, Sportsman, Gentleman/ Lady’

sportsman, scholar, gentleman

a) This slogan never ever appeared in The Victorian before 1989, except once, a different context, in the message of the headmaster Mr V. Murugasu to The Victorian of 1966, in which he claimed that a V.I. boy of his time was already a "gentleman - scholar - sportsman". (see above extract)

b) The next time it re-appeared was in the 1989 The Victorian Editor-In-Chief’s opening message on page 3.

c) This slogan was first officially labelled as ‘School Philosophy’ in 1991, appearing in the Peraturan Am Sekolah and on the board outside the hall where it still stands today.

CONCLUSION : Indeed, this slogan is the official school philosophy today. However, we must recognise that the school only recently (1990/1991) started using this officially. Offhand remarks don’t count as the official school philosophy.

4) MYTH : The school motto has always been ‘Be Yet Wiser’

Be Yet Wiser


a) In October 1953, the founding editorial board of The Seladang first thought of the name for the publication and a motto ('Be Yet Wiser') for it. (Source: Mr R. Nithiahnathan, founding editor).

b) In 1964, there was a General Knowledge Quiz written by a Seladang sub-editor, Haniff Majeed (The Seladang 1964). In the VI Affairs section, Question 21 asks ‘What is the school motto?’. The given answer was ‘Be Yet Wiser’ although, in fact, the school never had a motto (V.I. The First Century : 1893 –1993)!

c) Today, the motto is officially recorded in Peraturan Am Sekolah on page 2.

CONCLUSION : ‘Be Yet Wiser’ is now recognised as the school's official motto because the school administration took on a de facto (and mistaken) school motto. The date of adoption is unclear. However, we know for sure that before the mid-1960s, no school motto ever existed.

5) MYTH : The School crest has been represented correctly in The Victorian of the 1980s and 1990s.

Two renderings of the crest

a) The school crest was designed by Mr G. Burgess in 1930. In the December 1930 issue of The Victorian, the quote/citation says : "The shield, it will be observed, carries the letters V.I. in dark blue on a light blue ground, thus displaying the school colours. The star and crescent and the head of a Seladang will be recognised as symbolic of the State and its people. The key is the Key of Knowledge and the goals, wide and narrow, are the Goals to be won, not only on the football and hockey field, but in the world after school days are over."

b) Later editions of the School magazine, for example, The Victorian of 1993 (page 171) or The Victorian of 1984 (page 180), claim that the Seladang represents a unique species of animal (symbolising the uniqueness of Victorians) and that the star and moon represent Islam as the official religion. (The Victorian 1984 also claims that they come from the national flag.) It is also claimed that the steps are the steps to success (The Victorian 1993 (page 171)).

c) These later ‘versions’ were copied into the Peraturan Am Sekolah (see page 2 of the booklet).

CONCLUSION : Clearly there are contradictory versions. Thus the quote/citation from 1930 should be referred to as the correct one because it is closest to the time when the crest was designed. Always refer to the original to avoid mistakes.

6) MYTH :The present day school badge follows the design and colours of the original school crest.

Crest with gold

a) The December 1930 issue of The Victorian has a copy of the original design (without colour). That edition also has the original quote/citation for the school crest (see point 5 above).

b) The crests above the stage in the hall and above the front door of the hall reveal the Seladang, key, goals, star and moon and the border of the shield (the non-blue symbols) to be gold in colour.

c) The non-blue symbols are all gold in colour in the 1958 and 1959 Speech Day Programme Booklets and in A Short History of The V.I. : 1893 – 1961 page 25.

d) Mr Toh Boon Huah, student of the V.I. from 1933 to 1938 and a teacher of the school from 1946 to 1961, has confirmed that the non-blue symbols were originally gold even during the 1930s.

CONCLUSION : We must refer to the original design to avoid mistakes. The present day iron-on school badge shows a distorted V.I. crest. The Seladang’s horns are too short, the moon is too large and the goals are of the same size - which is wrong as they are supposed to be "wide and narrow' according to the original citation! In addition, the original colour of the non-blue symbols is gold.

7) CONFIRMATION :The blues of the school crest are the same as those of Oxford and Cambridge.

Oxbridge colours

a) The Victorian December 1930 has the original citation/quote for the school crest (see point 5 above). Notice that it doesn’t mention Oxford and Cambridge (Oxbridge).

b) Nonetheless, students from the 1950s knew the blue colours on the crest as the blues of Oxbridge. Their teachers like Mr Lim Eng Thye and the no-nonsense V.I. historian Mr Ganga Singh (who was teaching in the V.I. when the crest was designed) would have corrected them if this was not true.

c) Mr Toh Boon Huah, student of the V.I. from 1933 to 1938 and a teacher of the school from 1946 to 1961, has confirmed that the story about the Oxbridge link was already around when he was a student in the 1930s.

CONCLUSION : The light and dark blues do represent Cambridge and Oxford Universities respectively.

8) MYTH :The ‘smiling sun' and 'radiant moon’ symbolize certain V.I. 'philosophies'.

Smiling sun and crescent moon

a) These quotes/‘philosophies’ never appeared at all in any of the Victorian magazines before the 1980s.

b) In the 1980s, quotes about those objects began to appear. They were called the ‘philosophy behind the sun and moon’. In The Victorian of 1989, (pages 41 and 42), the captions proclaimed ‘The Smiling Sun – Symbolises magnanimity in victory and the radiating rays denote disseminating knowledge to young Victorians and others’ and ‘The Smiling Crescent Moon – Depicts fortitude in defeat and learning could still be achieved from our victors. The star represents hope that success may follow defeat’.

c) There are different versions of that quote. In The Victorian of 1991 (page 20) the quote says ‘The sun symbolises courage and bravery. When light triumphs over darkness, Truth emerges’ and ‘In the darkness, a crescent moon radiates with hope; portraying a Victorian’s Spirit to succeed in the face of uncertainty’.

CONCLUSION : The ‘philosophical quotes/captions’ were coined by the writers simply aesthetic purposes in The Victorian. There are no ‘philosophies’ behind those symbols.

9) UNSOLVED MYSTERY :The 'smiling sun' and 'radiant moon' may have come from the Old V.I.

Missing sun

a) An article in the Straits Times of 2 July 1894 on the new V.I. building on High Street mentions that ‘…the main roof is broken at each end by the half timber gables over the project class-rooms in front, and at the side of these gables are gablets containing carvings, representing the sun and the moon…’.

b) The Old Boys of the school remember that the sun and moon now at the front of the school hall, were already there in the 1950s.

c) But in the pictures of the Japanese Surrender at the V.I. on 13 September 1945, those artifacts (the sun at least) are missing! Were they taken down and hidden away before the Japanese took over the school and only restored after the war? Or were they never there before the war and only hung up after the war? And if so, why is there a light patch on the wall in 1945 where the sun would have been?

CONCLUSION : Did those objects (the sun and moon in the hall) come from the old V.I.? This is an unsolved mystery. They may be over a hundred years old and then again they may not be.

10) MYTH :The shape of the main building is based on the V.I.'s "E philosophy".

E shape

a) The "philosophy" of the E-shaped building was "explained" to everyone for the first time in The Victorian 1989 (pages 41 and 42). The two-page foldout entitled "The Philosophy of Victoria Institution Handed Down Through The Ages" showed a picture of the main V.I. building with the declaration: "to provide education of the ELITE so that they can EXCEL in all fields and achieve EMINENCE in society".

b) The Malayan Daily Express of Wednesday 27 March 1929 reported on the opening of the new V.I. building. In the report, the only mention about the shape was ‘…… the building is more or less in the shape of an E’. Nothing else.

CONCLUSION : The "E philosophy" appeared for the first time as a filler for the pages of The Victorian of 1989. The writer invented rather imaginative meanings for the letter 'E'. This filler was only there for aesthetic purposes, like the verse ‘We the Victorians, The spirit of the school…’. There certainly wasn’t any deep or mystical 'philosophy' that guided the architect and the building contractor in the design and construction of the present school building.

11) UNSOLVED MYSTERY : The V.I. was used as a military centre by the Japanese.

VI - Jap HQ

a) From March 1942, almost immediately after the British surrendered; Malaya, Sumatra and Singapore were combined under the rule by the 25th Japanese Army headquartered in Singapore (page 98 of Southeast Asia Under Japanese Occupation by Alfred W. McCoy)

b) From April 1943, the 29th Japanese Army took over control of Malaya and their headquarters were based in Taiping, Perak until the end of the war in 1945 (page 98 of Southeast Asia Under Japanese Occupation by Alfred W. McCoy).

c) The Kempeitai (Japanese Secret Police) Headquarters in Kuala Lumpur was in the Lee Rubber Building, which still stands at the corner of Jalan Hang Lekir and Jalan Tun H.S. Lee (‘Letters & Comment’ Asiaweek 15 September 1995 and various Malaysians who lived through World War 2).

CONCLUSION : The school grounds were never used as the headquarters of the Japanese army in Malaya or the Kempeitai in Kuala Lumpur.

12) UNSOLVED MYSTERY : There was a war time secret tunnel from the VI to the MBS or to Chinatown.

Secret tunnel

a) Dr G.E.D. Lewis, V.I. headmaster 1956-1962, when questioned about it in 1998, dismissed the idea of the tunnel.

b) Mr T. Thiruchelvam, a former History teacher of the school and an Old Boy himself, remembers that a team from the Malaysian Historical Society once performed studies on a possible ‘tunnel’ but no tunnel was detected.

c) In the 1980s, an American geophysicist used his radar device to test for a possible tunnel running from under the V.I. stage to Rex Cinema. It drew a blank (V.I. The First Century : 1893 – 1993 on page 272).

d) In 1998 Mr Thiruchelvam and Mr Chung Chee Min examined a possible ‘secret tunnel’ near the hostel (see pics above) which had first attracted the notice of VI Hostel boys in the early 1990s. Mr Chung returned later for a second visit with another Old Boy, Mr Cheong Chup Lim, a former DID (Jabatan Parit dan Tali Air) engineer, who identified the 'tunnel' as merely a part of a drainage system (prefabricated from concrete, with smooth, perfectly rounded walls!) for funnelling excess water from the nearby Stadium Negara drains and it was, definitely, not a secret tunnel. This pipe could not have been tunnelled into the earth anyway; it had to be laid by trenching. At any rate, Stadium Negara was built in 1960, long after the war.

CONCLUSION : There is no proof and it is hard to say that the tunnel exists/existed or that it doesn’t exist. It is an unsolved mystery. But analytical questioning seems to suggest that this myth is hard to believe.

13) INCORRECT : The school song has been sung in the 1990s with the following lines rendered as:
"All who PASS through this our school",
"Not one race but one WITH feeling",
"That INSTRUCTIONS be not all",
"With such zeal and WITH such measure".

FACTS : (all references taken from the original lyrics found on page 14 of The Victorian 1949)

a) All who passed through this our school

b) Not one race but one in feeling

c) That instruction be not all

d) With such zeal and in such measure

CONCLUSION : Careless singing has caused the song to be sung wrongly. Though only one word in a line may have changed, the entire line takes on a whole new meaning. We must pay attention to details.


Now that we know the myths and the facts, we have to understand where we went wrong. The main question is "Why should we believe this?". The analysis is below. However, note that some of the answers are ambiguous. They are the unsolved mysteries of the V.I., and we may never know the exact explanation for them. Nevertheless, it is important to know and understand these unsolved mysteries so that we don’t invent new myths.

1) The birthday of the school: ‘Birth’ is extremely vague and could refer to any of the dates quoted above. In writing history, be specific about the event that happened. So, was the school wrong in celebrating its Centenary in 1993? No, the school was not wrong because it is can be argued that the laying of the foundation stone on 14 August 1893 meant there was no turning back. So the V.I. ‘came into being’ on that day. As well, a precedent for 1993 had already been set in 1968, when the V.I. celebrated its 75th Anniversary. But let us not forget those other dates!

2) The first headmaster: This is another example which shows that it is very important to be specific when writing history. It is more correct to say that Mr Hepponstall was the first unofficial headmaster while Mr Shaw was the first official one. Mr Hepponstall was in charge of administrative matters during the building of the V.I. premises, and also of the temporary classes. He did this from 1893 to 1894. Mr Shaw only arrived in Malaya on 25 June 1894 (V.I. The First Century : 1893 – 1993 page 15). He was the first headmaster to be in charge in the official school premises.

3) The school philosophy: Mr Murugasu’s use of the phrase in 1966 was probably not an official declaration of the school’s philosophy. He probably used it the same way that a society report nowadays would use ‘Majulah Sukan Untuk VI’ or ‘Berkhidmat Untuk Negara’. Besides, Victorians and teachers of the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s have never heard it used. If it were the official school slogan, shouldn’t they have heard of it? The message here is that even though the goal of past Victorians was also ‘to be a Scholar, Sportsman, Gentleman/ Lady’, it was only recently that it been adopted as the explicit and official school philosophy.

4) The school motto: That 1964 quiz answer was clearly wrong. But from then onwards, students believed that the answer was correct and started passing it on as V.I. tradition, for example, in the Editor’s opening message in The Victorian of 1971. Over time, this erroneous fact was believed to be true by students and staff because nobody ever corrected it. So, eventually, the school administration took it to be the official motto (the date of adoption is unclear). Thus, the school acquired its motto by accident because people continued passing on the mistake of 1964! The lesson here is that it is important to check out any historical ‘facts’ before using them.

5) Interpretation of the school crest: The December 1930 citation should reflect the original ideas and intentions of the designer, Mr G. Burgess, a former Art Superintendent of Selangor. So it is wrong to ascribe new meanings to the Seladang and to the key that are different from those in the original citation. And in 1930, there was also no mention of 'steps'!

However, the symbolism of the star and moon is a different matter. In the original citation, they symbolise the state. Note that in 1930, there was no Malayan or Malaysian nation and so there was no national flag (The Victorian of 1984 was wrong). The state refers to Selangor. The star and moon thus come from the Selangor flag; the original version before it was slightly modified in 1965. So indirectly, the star and moon on the crest do symbolise Islam vis-à-vis the star and moon of the Selangor flag, NOT the Malayan or Malaysian flag.

6) Design and colour of the school crest: The star and moon must have come from the original Selangor flag (see the analysis of point 5). This is important because it gives us the correct design - the crescent moon is thin and should not engulf the star, unlike many ‘versions’ of the crest today. It is also important to note the length of the Seladang’s horns (in current ‘versions’, they tend to be too short), the lower jaw of the Seladang (it should be almost fully hidden), the size of the goals (should be narrow and wide) and the shape of the shield.

Meanwhile, the Seladang, key, goals, star and moon and border of the shield (the non-blue symbols) have been coloured white, silver or gold over the years. Historical artefacts like the crest above the stage and living memory (Mr Toh's) point to gold as the original colour. Are these proofs believable? The crest above the stage has been around not too long after the crest was designed in 1930 as Mr Toh remembers. It is in a very unreachable position and so it is very unlikely that it would have been painted over. As well, in many school publications like those mentioned above, the colour of these symbols is gold. So the artefacts suggest gold as the original colour. Meanwhile, Mr Toh was a Victorian just a few years after the crest was designed. Thus, he would have seen the original colour as a student. All these proofs seem believable.

7) The Blues of the V.I. crest: First we must note that the blue colours often have the wrong hues. In most of today’s ‘versions’ (like the school badge), the light blue is too deep-toned, like cobalt blue. The light blue on the original crest is more like cyan-blue while the dark blue on the original crest looks like navy blue.

What about the interpretation of the blues? Since the original quote/citation doesn’t specify it, we don’t know for certain whether Mr Burgess intended the blues to represent those of Oxbridge. But this story has been around for a long time, even when old V.I. teachers (who were around in 1930) were still teaching. Teachers like Mr Ganga were very strict about Victorian traditions and would definitely have come down hard on anyone who created any myths about the V.I. But this story about the Oxbridge link was not refuted by these teachers. Why? Was it because they already knew of Mr Burgess' intention to use the Oxbridge colours? In addition, Mr Toh (who was a student just after the crest was designed) confirms that the Oxbridge story was already around just after the crest was designed. So it is unlikely that it is a myth.

8) The ‘philosophies’ of the smiling sun and moon : V.I. boys of the 1950s or 1960s never heard of those ‘philosophical quotes’. This is not surprising since the captions only started coming out in the Victorian magazines in the 1980s. Why were they written? They were probably used for improving the magazine’s aesthetic design. So these quotes are not about any philosophy nor the meaning of the symbols. Rather, the writers wanted some whimsical poetry about them and this ended up in the magazine. The lesson is that one should not ascribe meanings to objects which never had any meanings in the first place.

9) Origins of the smiling sun and moon: It is tempting to say that the sun and moon in the hall today are the same sun and moon from the Old V.I. High Street which were then transferred over when the school moved. But there are two arguments against this. Firstly, the Straits Times article does not mention ‘SMILING sun’ nor ‘SMILING crescent moon’. So we are not sure whether those ‘sun’ and ‘moon’ are the same ones that the school has today. Secondly, why weren’t they in the Japanese Surrender picture? Is it because these objects are post-war objects? Nonetheless, there are two opposing arguments. Firstly, the two objects are not present in the Japanese Surrender picture because they were temporarily removed, either just before the war (for safe-keeping) or were in Hall all along but removed just for that 1945 ceremony. Secondly, the designs of these objects look like nursery rhyme designs. Why nursery rhyme designs for the V.I.? Remember that the V.I. began in High Street as an infant school. So it probably used decorations for young children. Even after the V.I. became a full secondary school in 1929, these objects may have been kept as historical artefacts. But, overall, we are not sure whether these objects came from the old V.I. or were new objects installed in the new V.I.

10) The ‘philosophy’ of the E-shaped building: Why was this E-shape concept never described nor highlighted when the school was opened in 1929? The Malayan Daily Express sounded almost dismissive and off-handed in describing the ‘E’-shaped building. If there was actually an E-philosophy for the brand new building – the pride of Kuala Lumpur - wouldn’t the newspaper have been more emphatic and excited? Why did it take so long for The Victorian to publish the philosophy for the first time (70 years after the building was finished!)? How did the 1989 magazine find out about it if the philosophy had never been stated anywhere before?

11) V.I. used as a Japanese military centre: This claim probably started because the Japanese-British surrender ceremonies took place on the school grounds. After seeing the photos of the signing in the hall and the samurai sword handover, it is easy to assume that the V.I. was chosen because the Japanese used the school as its headquarters. This is VERY DANGEROUS! We must not jump to conclusions. We should only make a claim when there is evidence to show it, otherwise, it is only a rumour, or worse, a myth.

12) The V.I. tunnel : The important word here is ‘rumour’. The tunnel may exist, or it may not exist. Without proof, we cannot know for sure. So it might be helpful to ask some speculative questions. If there was a tunnel from VI to MBS who would be using it? Why would they need it? Where and why would it end at MBS? (Don’t forget that the V.I. and the M.B.S were deadly rivals in those days!) How come no one at MBS has ever mentioned such a thing? What route would it take? Don’t forget that prewar there was a steep hill sloping down from the V.I. where the Stadium Negara is now. (It was Coronation Park before the Merdeka.) As it headed towards the M.B.S., wouldn't this tunnel, if indeed it existed, have to plunge down very steeply to avoid coming out into the open into Coronation Park?

13) The school song lyrics: Using different words would imply different meanings. "All who passed through this our school". Singing ‘pass’ suggests the general student population compared to the past tense, 'passed', which specifically refers to the Old Boys. "Not one race but one in feeling". The incorrect ‘with feeling’ phrase suggests that there may be many emotions and feelings. But ‘in feeling’ refers specifically to a united emotion. "That instruction be not all". The plural ‘instructions’ means a set of directions and orders, while the singular ‘instruction’ means lessons or education. "With such zeal and in such measure". The grammatical difference between using ‘in’ and ‘with’ can be found in a good dictionary.


When I was a student in the school, I blindly believed all the V.I. traditions and history that was told us by the seniors and propagated by the school publications. I must confess, too, that much later, I in turn wrongly passed them on to my juniors. We really thought all of those ‘traditions’ and ‘facts’ were correct. I would have changed my beliefs then if someone had done some research and showed me that I was wrong. I hope all Victorians share this feeling. Since Mr Doraisamy’s seminal book ‘V.I. The First Century : 1893 - 1993’, much truth has been uncovered. For example, there is an article on pages 153 to 155 of The Victorian 1998 entitled ‘Exploding Some V.I. Myths’. There we may learn that the V.I. palm trees were not planted for the teachers who died in the war, the school bell did not sink with the Repulse, the 206 toilet was only built after the war and Mozart did not compose the music of the school song. These articles do not force us to accept their claims. Rather, they provide proof and analysis to support their claims and asks the reader to decide for himself or herself.

No one has a full picture of the V.I.’s long history. Most of those who were around in the early years are now departed. It will be a slow process to (re)discover everything. But to find solid proof is important so that everyone can analyse the truth about V.I. history. Analysis needs questions like "Is the proof good enough?", "Who is the person who is writing this?" and "How does he or she know this?". These are not easy questions but we all have to ask them. And even after forming an opinion, we must be willing to change it, if more solid proof is found later. This is the theme underlying all serious research and this article as well. As I write, these are the facts as I know them and I use them to make my analysis. But proof may be found later that says that I am wrong. If so, then I urge all Victorians to use that proof well, so that we continue to build a more accurate understanding of the long and glorious history of our dear school.

I acknowledge the assistance of Mr Chung Chee Min (Victorian 1953-1959, Editor of the Victorian 1959 and former teacher 1965-1967), Dr Chong Siew Meng (Victorian 1962 – 1968, great-grandson of Capitan Yap Kwan Seng), Dr T Wignesan (Victorian 1946 – 1950 and an academic in Paris) and Wilson Wong Jun Jie (Editor of the Victorian 2001) in helping to compile this article. The information is primarily gleaned from interviews with Old Boys and former teachers, photos shared by Old Boys and historical publications and documents of the school and National Archives.

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