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Sakmongkol ak 47

Tuesday 2 June 2009

The Life and Times of Dato Mokhtar bin Dato Sir Mahmud

Here is another instalment of the Life and Times of Dato Mokhtar bin Dato Sir Mahmud. Our friend Dato Mokhtar just left for UMRAH this morning (1st June 2009) and shall be back in about two weeks time.

This walk down memory lane, offers us a fascinating peep into what life was like in those days. As a result of my writings which sprung to life because of my association with this unknown but nevertheless an uncommon man, many of the really old boys (those 80 and above) have been in contact with each other. I feel delighted to have contributed to this reunion of sorts. I am sure they have many tales to recall, new things to exchange and old faults to admit and laughed at those silly things young boys do to each other.

At the same time, these chronicles which are personal in nature, reinforce the idea of the temporariness of life itself. It is with the profoundest sense of melancholy to mention the names of young men, in the flesh, up and about, doing what young men did once, are no longer with us. I am sad some of the many personalities mentioned have passed on- Tan Sri Azmy Kamarudin (the judge), Tan Sri Jamil Jan, Tengku Salleh and many more admirable and delightful characters. I am wondering what happened to the livewire Meor Ali who we can picture, pelting the boys with peanuts and other objects usable as projectiles.

Tan Sri Zaiton Ibrahim bin Ahmad who must be around 88 now, went on to become a distinguished diplomat. He was at MCKK as a senior when Dato Mokhtar was at prep school. Tan Sri Zaiton gave personal tuition to Dato Mokhtar on how to get into the scouts team. Dato Mokhtar can never grasp the practicality of securing scouts tenderfoot rankings. To him, lighting a fire can be simplified by just torching a piece of paper and inserting into the pile of leaves and wood.

Tenderfoot is the first rank earned as a Boy Scout. The requirements of becoming a Tenderfoot provide basic skills to begin preparing the scout for higher adventure outings. Earning badges and receiving recognition can be very satisfying to boys. Dato Mokhtar spent several months with Tan Sri Zaiton Ibrahim as personal coach. But as he admitted when boys get together, most of the time would be spent whiling away at innocent nothings.

I hope the children of these figures are reading these writings and like me, are hitchhiking down memory lanes.

Readers will recall that the sports buff Tengku Ahmad Shah (present HRH Sultan of Pahang) would complain to Dato Shamsudin bin Yaakob, the senior at MCKK then. But Dato Shamsudin Yaakob (who has also passed away) did find the most diplomatic way of solving the problem. In the next few weeks, Dato Mokhtar received news that he is promoted to the senior team. That was in recognition of the 'sterling' work he had done with the prep boys team. Of course, Dato Mokhtar now had to play against the bigger and sturdier boys. His team could never regain the glory he had achieved with the prep boys team.

There were only two classes for the prep boys. These were housed at a building adjacent and in the rear of the Big School. The upper floors were student's accommodation, classes were downstairs. In that sense, the prep school building was like a large private house.

During H Carey's tenure as Headmaster, prep boys didn't have uniforms. The 'uniforms were a Baju Melayu,Songkok and Sarong. The boys would wear these and attend classes below. They can either wear slippers or shoes. The all white uniform, white shirt and white long pants were introduced during Headmaster Luke's tenure.

In those days, the main building, the one showed in the picture in an earlier article, was called Big School. It houses the boys in the higher forms- remove classes, form 3, 4 and 5. After the war, Dato Mokhtar moved to the Big School.

One particular personality that Dato Mokhtar remembered well was Tan Sri Ghazali Mohd Seth, who later went to become Head of The Armed Forces. Tan Sri Ghazali's bunk was diagonally opposite Dato Mokhtar's. In those days, Tan Sri Ghazali's personal routine of the day, began with styling his hair ala Elvis. You know, you comb the hair with the jambol look.

In addition, Tan Sri Ghazali Seth was among the few boys who would use talcum powder and applied it to his face. The boys thought this was a bit queer. It never crossed their minds that this queer boy would turn into a darn good soldier. Another peculiarity with Tan Sri Ghazali, was he would use wooden clogs or terompah to classes. As he walked down the stairs, the clogs would produce the unmistakable clucking sounds of the terompah and everyone knew who was coming down.

After the war, younger students were admitted into MCKK. They were housed in the King's Pavilion. Among the younger boys who came in that Dato Mokhtar remembered, was Dato Mokhzani Abdul Rahim who went on to become a well known economist and corporate man. Dato Professor Mokhzani Abdul Rahim hailed from Perlis.


One of the most cherished and joyous occasions Dato Mokhtar remembered was when parents of students sent food parcels to the boys at college. Dato Mokhtar fondly remembered the Kelantan boys. There were a number who came into MCKK after the war. Among them were the Nik Daud brothers- Dato Nik Sulaiman bin NIk Daud and Dato Nik Ishak bin Nik Daud. They became state secretaries of Kelantan and Terengganu later. There was also one Tengku Anuar and one Nik Mohamad.

Whenever food was sent, they came by post. Everyone would know when someone had received food from home as the postman would normally deliver the food parcel while boys were attending classes. The recipient would sign off the receipt and everyone would be looking forward to partake in enjoying the food.

Food would always be shared out among students provided there were enough to go around. The Kelantan boys were famous for their sambal daging serunding or beef jerky. This item, Dato Mokhtar found to be especially delicious. When he went home to ask his mother to cook this delicacy, he was told, Pahang people have not mastered this delicacy.

Boys from other states had never tasted this Kelantanese delicacy and would wax lyrical over it. For his part, Dato Mokhtar would share his Apam Baghdad with students.

There was this unspoken rule, that if food came, it would be shared among everyone. There was a rationale and benefit from doing so. For even though personal consumption would be smaller, one gets to enjoy more variety as food from others are shared. Hence the boys got to enjoy more food in the end really.

Those scrooges who hid their food in their lockers would always be punished by having their lockers broken into by someone. The food found therein would be shared among the student 'plunderers'.

Tengku Ahmad Shah (the present Sultan of Pahang) would receive food from the Perak Istana. He is related to the Perak royalty. Food from the palace would be delivered by the Istana boy directly to Tengku Ahmad Shah.

As he was in the habit of eating later he would keep the food in his locker too. This action may have been mistaken as hoarding food. It was given the same peer punishment.

Dato Mokktar would often be an accomplice to the intrusion of the Prince's locker, resulting in food from Tengku Ahmad Shah's locker gone missing. Someone would often excuse himself during prep study to go to the latrine. Being the class prefect in charge of one class, Dato Mokhtar would of course 'release' the applicant concerned. Hence, poor Tengku Ahmad very often found his locker broken into and the delicious cookies from the Perak Istana, requisitioned as it was, by unknowns at large.

When the boys return to their respective dorms to retire for the night, Dato Mokhtar would slip his hands under his pillow and behold- there would always be some delicacies conveniently placed there.

Next: Ah Loke Kedai Kopi, Double Lion Restaurant, Grand Theatre, Empire Theatre, North West Passage, Johnny Weissmuller, Dorothy Lamour, Bukit Chandan, Theresa Kaur , Chingaru Singh.


Unknown 2 June 2009 at 09:51  


Regardless of what some may feel about MCKK, I think it has done tons of good for some people.

My brother who is now a Professor in the US at one of US's Top University, was an MCKK student for 5 years. His 7 children are all US Citizens and doing well.

Given the little opportunity he had, he's manage to carve himself his own little history in the United States.

Ariff Sabri 2 June 2009 at 10:10  

i think so too. most of the MCKK boys have done well for themselves and help this country of ours. in my days, getting into MCKK was the dream of many. though i did not get into MCKK, i do not think the less of this august institution. in 1967 or 1968, i remembered sitting for an entrance exam in my school in Kuantan to go to MCKK but later the state education department decided not to use that entrance exams as requirement.
nowadays, our children can easily get into MRSMs and other boarding schools- but there will always be one MCKK.

Unknown 2 June 2009 at 19:06  


I could still remember sending my little brother to MCKK from Kota Bharu Kelantan...

Those days we had to first get to KL. Then we had to take more than one Taxi Sapu to get to KK. Both of us never knew where MCKK was or what it looked like. When we got there the day before opening, it was evening. Since I had to be back in KL the same night (I had to leave the country the next day), I had to leave him that night in the hostel alone. I did ask kakak at the Kedai Kopi KK to watch over him in case he needs anything. It was heartbreaking to leave that little boy alone. I Gave him what little money we had to keep him going until the college can take care of him..
He told me (years later) that he was terrified sleeping alone at the hostel. The next day when parents were sending their children to the College, they were asking him where his parents were as he was tidying his bed...
Imagine, that little boy is now a Professor who is highly respected, with seven children (one already married, another getting married soon)living in the US with other migrants from other parts of the world.

Ariff Sabri 2 June 2009 at 19:44  

encik nik,
MCKK must have thought yr brother how to cope with life. i take it then, yr parents werent around at that time?
i congratulate you and yr brother for yr achievements. i can only imagine the heart wrenching decision to leave a very young boy of 13 years of age alone in a new place. he must have spent a horrifying night that day.
my own son who went to a boarding school felt isolated for a few weeks but finally made the adjustments. yr brother at an even tender age, must have gone through his own baptism of fire. pls convey my highest regards to him.

Ariff Sabri 2 June 2009 at 20:03  

encik Nik,
i am fascinated by yr own and brothers' achievements. are you in KB, KL? i am often in KL and like to go up to KB. you know e mail at the sidebar on my blog. would treaure it, if we could meet up sometimes. if come down the Kuantan way, pls drop me a message.

Ariff Sabri 2 June 2009 at 20:17  

encik nik,

sorry- must have taught yr brother....the missus pointed the mistake i made...what do we do without them eh...

ala 3 June 2009 at 03:13  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous,  3 June 2009 at 15:23  

Question...(just sincerely wondering...)

What has this Professor bred of MCKK now done for Malaysia? (not being cynical or whatever, just curious to see to what extent the best and brightest have contributed to their own people and religion)

I honestly do not see what is so great about becoming a citizen of a nation with so much blood on their hands. We seem to have our priorities askew...I'm sorry...I studied in the US too, but given a choice, I would have nothing to do now with a nation administered by murderers masked as beacons of human rights and democracy.

Yes, that part I am highly cynical given the huge amount of suffering in Aghanistan and Pakistan and Iraq, Palestine and elsewhere caused indirectly or directly by the US today.

Nothing personal towards Nik or his brother...just how we perceive success and "making it" ...masih mentality org kampung "wah, anak aku belajar di Amerika..."

What IS America anyway? The change we need is HERE. We need those brilliant people like Nik's brother here...not THERE.


Anonymous,  4 June 2009 at 00:47  

Well..i read somewhere that PWC was paid 3m for the special audit...don't really know how long it took but I reckon 2 weeks will be more than adequate..

anyone got exact numbers?it would be interesting to compare with the MegaWan numbers..

Everything about PKFZ seems to be the answer to our good Dato "repricing" proposition.

STEADYAKU47 8 September 2009 at 22:30  

Saudara - salam.

Just hoping that you can confirm something for me. In the early sixties I was staying in Kuantan with my parents in Telok Sisek - just across the road from Istana Teruntum - on the way to the old VIP rest house and I spent many happy hours menjala for belanak along the beach nearby. One of my friends then was Mudzaffar - I call him Joe and his grandfather, Dato Mahmud, was one of the people i use to meet who also menjala for belanaks by the same beach. Dato Mahmud was quite old then but he liked walking by himself along the beach with the jala on his shoulder waiting for the belamak to come close enough for him to throw the jala over them. Is this the same Dato Sir Mahmud , ex MB of Pahang? i am writting about my time in Kuantan and just wanted to make sure of my facts. Did you know mudzaffar? and his cousin Mahmud( MCKK) and Mahmud's brother Long ex SEDC? My father was CPO Pahang at that time and JJ's father was one of the Police Officers in Kuantan at that time. Would appreciate your assist in this . Tqs and salam.


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