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The unforgettable James Macken FSC Print E-mail

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ImageUnforgettable, that’s what you are … that’s exactly what Bro. James Macken FSC is to his old students at the St. Xavier’s Institution, St. George’s, Taiping and St. Paul’s at Seremban, Malaysia. The good Brother spent more than four decades of his life (except 1965-1967) teaching at the three schools. He is  now enjoying his retirement in Ireland filled with fond memories of his days in Malaysia. He regularly keeps in touch with his old charges.

Only recently, when the St. Paul’s Class of 1983 celebrated their 25th anniversary of leaving school, Bro. James sent his greetings via an email and vividly recollects the days he spent with them. It is reproduced hereunder by courtesy of Old Paulian Voon Chee Man who was truly ‘the man of the moment’ during his days at St. Paul’s.

 

Quote Bro. James Macken's message:
“Warm Greetings to the Class of 1983 on the Silver Jubilee of their graduation. A quarter of a century is a long time especially if you are three quarters of a century old as I am. Things become rather hazy but we had great times in St. Paul's in those days.  "Those were the days my friends; we thought they would never end."
             
Image1983 was indeed a great year for St. Paul's and then, when did we have a bad year in those days? That year we really in shone in athletics but then we had the Voon twins who tore round tracks like electric trains and so with a great team and coaches we were state and district champions with many records broken.

As usual we were champs in hockey and and our academic results left nothing to be desired.  Then Cik Maamor surprised everyone by reviving rugby in the school, bringing a team to Tampin beating Sek.Tunku Besar 51-0. Let me hear it for good old Cik Maamor and the other great teachers and leaders like Sunny and Jimmy (Lee), Kim Heong, Kok Keong etc. just as for Maamor after their achievements.

The Scouts, for example, always seemed to be having a great old time especially, on Saturday mornings, which were devoted to the Uniform Units. It seemed to be “anything goes” on that morning. 

                          

                         

I remember “chariot” racing, flour “battles”, commando training and of course cooking competitions.  The annual campfires were tremendous occasions and contingents of scouts and girl guides from other schools in the town and indeed from other states would come along and a great time would be had by all under the Malaysian skies and the “terang bulan” – the bright moon. The fires played havoc with the asphalt of the assembly ground but what could anyone say to Scoutmaster Lee Kok Keong, who kept the “fire” going in the hearts of the scouts.  Talk about the Scout motto – “Be prepared”, one had only to visit the Scout Den and see the collection of ropes, mats, pots, pans, lamps, flags, bamboo, tarpaulin etc. I always told visitors when showing them round, that our scouts were ready for earthquake, famine and war. Mr. Lee was, of course, a former Paulian scout and then a teacher in his beloved school and completely devoted to all things Paulian, especially Scouting. What more to say? Let's hear it for good old Kok Keong!

The St. John Ambulance Brigade cadets were another splendid school organization always willing to lend a hand at sports, exhibitions and parades. They had their own “clinic” too and were always practicing “First Aid” in all its forms, especially on Saturday mornings. When our games men  were  injured on the playing fields and courts they were always there and at fire drill they excelled, putting everybody to shame by their speedy and efficient turnout.  They entered “First Aid” competitions at local and national level and I think I have to say, that in a school noted for prize winning at all pursuits, they were the most consistent trophy winners of all. They always seemed to bring home “the goods”.  Not surprising, the teacher in charge there, was Mr. Tham Seng Kow, former head prefect of the school and himself a high-ranking officer in the Brigade. He has since gone on parade where “The Saints Go Marching In.”

Then we had the Paulian Military Cadets.  I called them “St Paul’s Finest” after the NYPD. They were trained on Saturday by Malay soldiers from the Malay regiments in the town and it was no nonsense training. They were supplied with uniforms and boots by these regiments and had firearm drill and training but the guns were not kept in the school, as the Communist Emergency was still a threat.  Their great day was once a year – “The Passing Out Parade” when they put on their best show with rifles and green berets with red feathers.  The military usually supplied a fife and drum band. Our cadets were in great demand for sports and gatherings to control the crowds and act as “guard of honor” for local dignitaries and even for His Majesty, the Ruler of the State of Negri Sembilan.

Besides the above uniform units, another group stood out – The Junior Jaycees also led by a teacher and “old boy”, Mr. Loh Kim Heong. Here the boys got training in speech making and in the organization of functions and protocol at such functions such as dinners and lectures.  They usually organized a sponsored, annual “Big Walk” which was a great money spinner and I remember when they put up slogans around the school to encourage and inspire their fellow students such as “Winners Never Quit and Quitters never Win”,  “When the Going Gets Tough, the Tough get Going” and “Be Loyal to the Royal in You”.  They were always to the fore in Litter Campaigns with “No Paulian is a Litter Lout” Etc. What I remember now decades later was that the posters were never torn down or defaced. They seemed to be appreciated by the school body.  I can assure you they wouldn’t last twenty-four hours in schools I have been in since, in Ireland.

Then of course there were our Prefects, a group I was very proud of.  They were proud of themselves too, which is more important than it may sound or seem and they had a great tradition. They looked good in their “dress” outfit and they set a tone, which was consistently high.

So, Here's to the class of 1983 who were in these outfits and performed gallantly and kept up the finest traditions handed down. May the shadow of your prosperity be long and May the Good Lord Bless and Keep you till we meet again.”      
Brother James Macken FSC”   ….. end of quote.

We hope as many ex-Paulians of Class ’83 get to read Bro. James’ message that will surely bring back fond memories. If it triggers your recall of an episode that you wish to share with the rest of the fraternity, do email it to us at or . We will be too happy to pass it on.

By the way, just how many of the faces do you recognize from the photos contained in this article? Wouldn’t it be interesting to know their present whereabouts and renew friendship? Hmmm..…. this certainly would be interesting!

Acknowledgement:
Mr. Voon Chee Man for Bro. James’ message and the photographs

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