From a Malay School boy to a Cliffordian, part 2

Raja Chulan Raja Ahmad Tajuddin returns with more tales from his early years as a Kuala Kangsor boy. Today’s post is the second part describing his early days at the Clifford School Special Malay Class following his early education at the  Sekolah Rendah Melayu Pusat. Here Engku Chulan reminisces the friends he made at school and the antics they were up to!


Among my Cliffordian friends who came from Kota Lama Kiri were the children of Allahyarham Mohd Nor Long, the famous football referee of Kuala Kangsar. Mohd Safaruddin, one of his sons, was a college mate at The College of Agriculture Serdang in 1969. Other Cliffordian friends included Krishnan, Bala and Muniandy, who stayed in Residence Hill; Kat Pin Hon who was a good hockey player and later became a businessman; Leong, whose father owned the Leong electrical shop opposite Yut Loy coffee shop; Ariff, the son of Pak Ngah Laksa; Zainal the son of Pak Desa, the mee seller at the old bus station in town; Majid who retired as a customs officer and Dato’ Ahmad Dhaman Huri who retired as the Ketua Setiausaha of JKR. And unforgettable too were the Scottish brothers Richard and Stuart Henning, whose father was the District Engineer. I cannot forget the day that I got into a fist fight with Richard when I thought he was flirting with one of the girls on our school bus. Despite that, we remained friends and I was even invited for Christmas at his house.

Our class master, or form teacher as it was known then, was a Eurasian named Mr Ball Hatchet (forgive me if memory fails me in correctly spelling his name), feared for his ‘crab pincers’ which essentially was a pinch to the stomach as he reprimanded naughty pupils in class. I was, of course, the most frequent recipient of the penalty.

A photo of Clifford School taken in 1897. (Source: Clifford School Kuala Kangsar Facebook page)

Clifford School as it stands today. (Photo: Raja Chulan Raja Dato' Ahmad Tajuddin)

Finishing the Special Malay Class, I moved school again to enter Standard Six at the Clifford Primary School which was located at Jalan Station near the Hospital Perempuan Kuala Kangsar. Since the school was rather far from Hill Road, I had to take the schoolbus driven by Pakcik Ghazali. The headmistress then was the late Mrs Yap. It was during my standard six here that we pupils were often taken to the Istana Iskandariah at the invitation of Almarhumah Raja Perempuan Taayah, my beloved grandaunt. Following my grandaunt’s demise, may Allah bless her kind soul, the school held its annual English essay writing contest and Mrs Yap asked me to write about Almarhumah. I won first prize because my essay was based on fond and loving memories whenever I visited her with my late father at Istana Iskandariah.

By this time, I became very close to YM Raja (Dr) Ahmad Tajuddin Shah Raja Bendahara Abdul Rashid* (also known as Ku Matta), who is a granduncle although we are only months apart age-wise. This close acquaintance proved useful in later part of my education when he and his MCKK colleagues gave prep tuition to this Cliffordian! And to this day, I am grateful to them for helping me to obtain my Higher School Certificate with flying colours. And unforgettable too were the nights when this Cliffordian was smuggled into the College to watch movies at the Hargreaves Hall. More often than not, after watching these movies, I would spend the night at Istana Gahara at the invitation of YM Ku Matta (or RATS* to his Serdang colleagues). Even as a kid, I could feel the familial bond that exuded from the warm and tender care of YAM Tuanku (Raja Puan Kechil Aishah Raja Saidin), bonda of Ku Matta. Soft spoken, always with a smile accopanying her charming personality, she treated me as a mother would. The ambience of Istana Gahara was one of royal splendour and serenity, with small vines that creeps the wall at both wings of the palace.

It was during these early Cliffordian days that my late father attended night classes at the insistence and recommendation of his superiors at the agriculture department in Kuala Kangsar. It was his diligence and dedication at work that eventually enabled him to obtain a Diploma of Agriculture at the Serdang Agriculture College. It was his sense of belonging as a son of Serdang that he sent me to attend the College of Agriculture Serdang in 1969, incidentally just after the tragic May 13 riots.


6 thoughts on “From a Malay School boy to a Cliffordian, part 2

  1. You still remember the Scottish friends – Ian Hanning the elder, Stuard Hanning the middle and Richard Hannning the youngest in the Hanning family. Mr. Hanning was the District Surveyor of Kuala Kangsar in those days. Thanks, Raja Chulan. You reminded me of those days we were together!

    • Dear Razman (one reason I cannot forget you as my close buddy is because of your name-sake with my dear departed grand father!) – Of course I cannot forget the Hannings family. Like the Malay saying goes, “tempat jatuh lagi dikenang” what more the first ‘orang puteh’ that you wrestled with! And that fist-fight took place right across the road from your house then. And how too could I forget your house? It was our hide-out, in the garage besides your house, well shaded by a few huge trees. It was fun really and I missed the bicycle rides to school. My salam to all your kind siblings.

  2. If this is the Rajah Chulan that i knew before when i was in Sungai Penchala in Kuala Lumpur way back in 1992, then you are my long lost mentor, friend and brother. That Rajah contributed a lot of what I am today. I just want to thank him.

      • This is a shocking news to me. He left a great legacy not just to his students in Malaysia but also around the world… and I’m one of them.

        I could still recall the trips I had with him before as far as Alor Setar down to Johor Bahru. Along the way, he kept on teaching and telling stories on the successes of Malaysia. When we are on our way to Kuala Kangsar, he gave me a “Juba” which I also gave to an Indonesian friend from Bandar Ache when I left Kuala Lumpur in 1992.

        Ustadz Rajah, you are just a little bit ahead of us. I know we’ll see each other again in Paradise someday.

        To the family of Rajah Chulan, thank you so much for helping him achieve his dreams and aspirations in his career and his Malaysia. Although unsung but he contributed a lot for the greatness of the Royals of Malaysia.

        Good bye for now to a great mentor, friend and brother!


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