Unfree Penang Free School


by Allen Chee

I am your blog’s regular reader and an active follower of the Malaysian Politics.

Today I read your assertions on the various dysfunctional measures which the Government have undertaken that promotes racial polarisation and intolerance amongst the different races in Malaysia. I would like to point to Saudara Lim to a particular matter which I have taken a personal interest.

I believe Saudara Lim would know that the oldest school in Malaysia is Penang Free School. I am from this school and I am very proud to be associated with this school as an ex-student.

However the impression of Penang Free School being a premier school started to change over the past decade where efforts are covertly undertaken to islamize the school. The changes, have effectively change the landscape of education in the school with more islamic activities being conducted and so on and so forth.

I heard from anxious parents and ex-frees about all these and to be honest, I felt rather helpless on how to stop this from happening as technically speaking it is not legally wrong but perhaps only morally wrong.

The last straw for me, however was when I saw a two new signages being installed at the main entrance of Penang Free School, one on the left and one on the right. One is in English, and the other is Jawi. The one in Jawi is totally written in Jawi except for the name Syed AIdid Murtaza whom I think is the person donating this signage.

The question is..why?? Penang Free is not a islamic school. It is a premier secular school with proud traditions. Further, why Jawi?, aren’t we suppose to use Bahasa Malaysia??

The last time I check and maybe Saudara Lim could correct me if I am wrong, Bahasa Malaysia IS the national language. Jawi is just the language being used on the Al-Quran. Most of the people in Penang would not be able to read that signage.

I took up the matter as I felt it is the right thing to do. Now it has become a personal crusade of some sorts. I am not letting up on this, and I hope Saudara Lim can take the matter as well.

I have called upon the office of Deputy Minister of Education Dato’ Hon Choon Kim and spoken to his PA. He said he will inform the Minister. Then I manage to speak to Mr Rajen, the assistant for Miss Kumala Dewi (parliamentary Secratery for the Ministry of Education) and he said he will look into the matter.

I have tried calling the Chief Minister of Penang TanSri Koh, and managed to speak to Mark Ooi who is TanSri Koh’s PA. He said he will inform the CM.

I have tried calling Penang Free’s principal, but he is on holiday till 26th. I managed to speak to the senior assistants and they refused to comment. I have spoken to Old Frees Association of KL and Penang, and they sounded weak. I called the Pengarah of State Education Department, and he sounded irritated though he said he’ll check.

I’ve called YB Toh Kin Woon as he is the Exco for Education for Penang, and he said he’ll take up the matter as he said he felt strongly on this issue. I have tried calling Syed Aidid Murtaza whom I believe but without any proof donated the signage and left my number with the secretary, he did not call back.

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  1. #1 by Sharpwave on Thursday, 10 July 2008 - 11:13 am

    To maulator,

    I am an old free and to tell you the truth, the education given was just barely enough to help us through our exams. We made most of our own studies. Some lecturers has no professional experience and even attitude. With all due honesty, students were very disappointed with the teachers provided.

    With all the changes in the school, even the teachers are leaving the school. Most of them are great teachers to begin with.

    However, we’re not focusing on the racism any racism issue but rather the traditions and the redundancy actions made within the school compound.

    The thing is, where has the pride of being a free schooler gone to? Its a shame that many of our traditions were being tempered with as well.

    1. The metal made badge into the cloth made.
    2. The pride of being prefects were lost.
    3. Mirrors were being placed all around the school for God knows why.
    4. Placing a roller or something at the corner of the field and called it an antique was pure redundant which later became a sitting place for the student to wait for their cars after school, the roller thing looked better at its own original place and now its totally destroyed. How much did it cost and to build?
    5. While talking about the money, one of the principal even put our school in debt. And then he left? In the end we had to collect funds from around the network (students and parents included) just to cover up the debts incurred.
    6. Percentage of non-Islams decreasing
    7. The standard for student’s entry is getting easier. Students with very bad UPSR results entering the school? Then what’s the point for trying hard.
    8. The sign, why only English and Jawi? Where’s BM, Mandarin and Tamil?
    9. Being open-minded and not racist? Free to practice your religion? Some schools are not even allowed to have Christian Fellowship Societies. For example, in St. George Girl School and Convent Green Lane for what reason? Where’s the freedom in religion?

    Therefore, management proven bad and it MATTERS~!!!

  2. #2 by MrMalaysia on Wednesday, 10 September 2008 - 6:29 pm

    PFS isn’t the only school facing that. In Perak, there’s a school known as the Sultan Yussuf School (S.Y.S)`also having that similar prob, but its far worst then PFS. It was a former English school and is more than a 100 yrs old. The current Sultan of Perak and the owner of Sunway holdings, Tan Sri Jefrey Cheah are among the old boys of that school. Nw, that school i known as SMK Sultan Yussuf and it doesn’t hv any of th english culture it used to hv before.

  3. #3 by MrMalaysia on Wednesday, 10 September 2008 - 6:33 pm

    Percentage of Chinese students in SYS is also decreasing rapidly. Signs in BM are nw used to replace those in English. The metal badge which was once used is also no more. I don’y actually know if the situation in SYS can be rectified or not?!

  4. #4 by Prryan on Sunday, 28 September 2008 - 3:54 am

    I chance upon this website while surfing around.

    Being an old free as well, not really old lar … although i “graduate” there and knew many friends there (5 years), not many of us really knew what is happening to the school. Not surprising the OFA is weak.

    While we were in school, we were taught that we should be proud of our school tie and everytime when we see some VIP or multi millionaires wearing the PFS tie, we will go “Hey, is that an Old Free!!??” and someone would say “yes” …. if PFS produce so many professionas and famous people, where are they now when the authorities are tearing down the foundation of the school ?

    Everyone, including me, were to blamed for being so reactive. We dont really care what is going on until its too late.

    If it takes one person and his wallet to change the history, how much do we people who really care need to donate to change it back ??

    it is not too late, post it somewhere, pictures or something !!! put it under the PFS caption …. who knows, the Old/Ex-PFS cavalry might fight back ….

    “Fortis Atque Fidelis” … that is all i want to learn, not to write it in Jawi !!! damn it

  5. #5 by Bravehrt on Saturday, 20 June 2009 - 4:58 pm

    Below are the headmasters who have served the school:

    1816-1821: Mr. J. Cox
    1821-1822: Mr. Churcher
    1822-1826: Mr. Porter
    1826-1828: Mr. Anchant
    1828-1843: Mr. J. C. Smith
    1843-1846: Mr. Bruton
    1846-1853: Mr. Fitzgerald
    1853-1871: Mr. J. Clark
    1871-1891: Mr. G. Griffin
    1891-1904: Mr. W. Hargreaves
    1904-1925: Mr. R. H. Pinhorn
    1925-1926: Mr. W. Hamilton
    1927-1928: Mr. D. R. Swaine
    1928-1929: Mr. L. W. Arnold
    1929-1931: Mr. D. W. McLeod
    1931-1933: Mr. M. R. Holgate
    1934-1946: Mr. L. W. Arnold
    1947-1949: Mr. D. Roper
    1949-1950: Mr. M. F. Crocopile
    1950-1951: Mr. P. F. Howitt
    1951-1957: Mr. J. E. Todt
    1957-1963: Mr. J. M. B. Hughes
    1963-1969: Mr. Tan Boon Lin
    1969-1971: Mr. Poon Poh Kong
    1972-1974: Mr. K. G. Yogam
    1974-1979: Dr. Goon Fatt Chee
    1979-1983: Mr. R. Visvanathan, P.J.K.
    1983-1988: Mr. G. Krishna Iyer
    1988-1993: Mr. Goh Hooi Beng
    1993-2000: Mr. Hj. Ismail bin Ibramsa
    Jan 2000-Dec 2000: Mr. Abdul Rahman
    2001-2006: Mr. Arabi Sulaiman, P.K.T.
    2006-2006: Mr. Mohd Yusof bin Omar
    2006-Present: Mr. Hj. Ramli bin Din

    See where the problem started? There were no muslim principals until 1993.
    5 consecutive muslim principals and there you go with ‘jawi’.

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