SIMPLISTIC it may seem, a comic strip, published in The Andersonian, Defining Moments, Centennial Edition 1909-2009, illustrates sufficiently how Ipoh's premier education institution -- the Anderson School Ipoh -- came to be.
The cartoon shows parents, whose children were not accepted into the then newly-established elite Malay College Kuala Kangsar (MCKK), pleading with the British authorities to take some measure to ensure their children received a decent education.
So strong must have been the pressure from parents, especially the Malay parents, that the British authorities decided to establish a new English school in Ipoh -- Anderson School.
Named after Sir John Anderson, the governor and commander-in-chief of the Straits Settlement, high commissioner for the Federated Malay States and consul-general for British North Borneo, Brunei and Sarawak, the school was officially opened on Feb 6, 1909.
"There were the Anglo Chinese School (established in 1895) and the Methodist Girls School (1897) but it is claimed that due to religious concerns, Malay parents refused to send their children to these missionary schools. They wanted to send their kids to MCKK but enrolment there was limited.
"So having considered the sentiments of the Malay parents of that time, the British Administration in Malaya incepted the Anderson School Ipoh just four years after the establishment of MCKK. From then onwards there was no turning back... charting its course towards excellence in every field," said Anderson principal Muhammad Nawawi Yaakob.
Lt-Col J. H. Tyte, a senior assistant at the Victoria Institution, was appointed Anderson School's first headmaster. The school, which was originally housed in a stately building on Douglas Street (now Jalan Panglima Bukit Gantang) before moving to its present premises at Jalan Hospital, initially had seven classrooms with an enrolment of 52 students.
Today it has 116 teachers, 1,326 students and 22 support staff.
According to Nawawi, the school's motto was coined by its fourth principal C.F.C. Ayre, who happened to be the longest-serving head of the institution from 1922 to 1936.
In the special Centennial Anniversary: Anderson School Ipoh Malaysia coffee-table book, a passage mentions that "... Ayre, who hailed from Malacca High School adopted from Tennyson's poem called Ulysses, the school motto, 'To Strive, To Seek, To Find and Not To Yield'."
Among its noted alumni are political activist Abdullah Thani Raja Kechil or better known as Ahmad Boestamam, the Chief Justice of Singapore Chan Sek Keong, cartoonist Datuk Mohammad Nor Khalid, or "Lat", the first Menteri Besar of Perak Datuk Panglima Bukit Gantang Datuk Abdul Wahab Toh Muda Abdul Aziz, Malaysia's first chief education adviser Aminuddin Baki, Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, former chief secretaries to the government Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid and Tan Sri Salehuddin Mohamed and former Perak menteri besar Tan Sri Tajol Rosli Ghazali.
There are Andersonians, as the alumni proudly call themselves, who reached the pinnacle of their careers in the Malaysian army, navy, air force and the police. Notable among them are general (Rtd) Tan Sri Zahidi Zainuddin (ex-chief of armed forces), general (Rtd) Datuk Seri Mohd Azumi Mohamed (ex-chief of the army), admiral (Rtd) Datuk Seri Ahmad Ramli Mohd Nor (ex-chief of the navy), lt-gen (Rtd) Datuk Seri Yunus Tasi (ex-chief of the air force) and former inspector-general of police Tan Sri Mohd Bakri Omar.
And, owing to the century-old contributions of its principals, teachers and support staff in producing many luminaries, the school was declared "a premier school" by Sultan of Perak Sultan Azlan Shah during the grand centennial celebrations in February last year.
"We hope one day that this school will be the proud alma mater of the country's future prime minister.
"That is a great challenge but one I trust can be realised if our students keep the school's motto to their hearts," said Nawawi.
Article Published on August 17, 2010
By Jaspal Singh and S. Ista Kyra