About Klang A.C.S.
History and Progress of Anglo-Chinese School (A.C.S.) Klang
- The Beginning
- The Methodist Mission
- New Building
- First Building Extension
- Glimpses into the Past
- Post-war (from 1946)
With the appointment of J.G. Davidson as the first British Resident of Selangor in 1874, the political and economic domination of the British was so great that in 1892 the rich merchants or Towkays of Klang desired the benefits of a good English education for their sons. They were in a position to send at least 14 boys to attend school if a school-master and a school-house could be found.
The District Officer of Klang then, Mr. Walter W. Skeat, wanted to provide better education which included the teaching of English for the Chinese, Indians and specially for the Malays. He visited various kongsis (Chinese merchant guilds) in Klang to canvass financial support to enable a school to be started. The amount promised was too small and so letters soliciting support were sent to the various Kapitans China (Chinese headmen or captains of commerce), the Straits Trading Company and the wealthy philanthropist, Towkay Loke Yew, who was a state councilor at that time. All responded to the appeal but it was Towkay Loke Yew who exceeded all others in public spiritedness and contribution.
The people involved were prepared to subscribe over 30-40 dollars a month for their sons’ education. It was then discovered that there were two possible places to accommodate the boys – the disused Reading Room and an abandoned house of the Dato’ of the Mukim (the Chieftain of the District of Klang), Penghulu Mohid, situated at the end of Rembau Street (Jalan Tengku Kelana today).
Penghulu Mohid agreed to let his house and repairs were carried out. A suitable school-master was found and the school started with an enrolment of 14 students. When all arrangements had been made, advantage was taken of the visit of the Resident of Selangor, Sir William Hood Treacher to request that he be so kind as to open the school in person. The school was officially declared open on the afternoon of 10th March, 1893. This was the humble beginning of our school, ACS Klang, the first English-medium school in the State of Selangor.
The School was considered a private school as the expenditure for the first two years was borne by the residents of Klang, especially the local merchants. It was managed by a committee under the chairmanship of the District Officer and representatives from the various communities in Klang. The committee opened the school to all nationalities. Support was soon coming from other sources, particularly the Indian community. In 1896, it became a government aided school when the British Government in Malaya took over the responsibility of the administration of the school.
It became apparent that there was a very urgent need for a new school building to accommodate the rapid increase in the school enrolment. The new building was an imposing two storey structure, the grandest building in Klang then, facing Jalan Raia West (Jalan Raya Barat now). The school was declared open on 16th July, 1921 by the Resident of Selangor, Mr. Oliver Marks, in the presence of the Sultan of Selangor, DYMM Sultan Alaudin Sulaiman Shah ibni Raja Muda Musa. The building was dedicated by Bishop G. W. Bickley.
In 1921, Rev. and Mrs. Abel Eklund came to Klang and Rev. Eklund succeeded Mr. Lim Chin Kheng as the Principal and the school made progress under his able management. The first batch of Senior Cambridge School Certificate candidates was presented by the school in 1922. The annual school magazine, known as the “School Review” was published in 1924. The first scout troop in Klang, The First Klang Scout Troop was formed in September 1925 in this school.
From then on, nothing could stop the school from growing.
In 1921, 15 girls were already attending ACS. Mrs Eklund made it her mission to establish a girls’ school in Klang. Thus she founded the Methodist Girls’ School (MGS) on 24th May 1924 in Jalan Bukit Jawa, Klang occupied by the Methodist High School now.
It is indeed interesting to look into the early days of the school, the students, teachers and life around the school.
Not all parents were eager to have their children educated at that time. Some only sent their children after much persuasion, while others had to be “bribed” by ensuring that their children would be offered scholarships and special privileges.
The students were taught hygiene, Geography, History and Art, besides the three Rs.
Great efforts were made to make the school as “English-patterned” as possible. The only History learned was all about the British Empire – Indian and Malaya in particular. Boys found speaking in their mother tongue were fined. School lasted for five hours from 8.00 am to 1 pm and Assemblies were held once a week in the school hall. The most important and enjoyable days were the Sports Day, Prize-giving Day, Empire Day and the days when there were special visitors to the school.
Teachers had to be able to teach all the subjects in one class as there were no specialties then. The essential quality students to have then was a superb memorizing power. Examinations were held every term and students were not promoted if they fared badly in their examinations. The Government Examination were Standard Seven, the Junior and later the Senior Cambridge Examinations. Those who had completed Standard Seven and had attended Normal Classes (teacher training) could teach. The salary was $80 while in training and $130 upon qualifying. The teachers had to be very professional in their appearance as they were highly regarded both by the students and the local people. They had to dress in white suites with ties and had to wear topies (white hats). The students on the other had dressed as they wished as there were no uniform then. The commonest wear was shorts reaching down to the knees and shirts which were buttoned up to the neck, but there were also those who came in tunics, dhotis and sarongs. Shoes being a luxury, not everyone could afford then. As for headgear, they varied from Chinese skull caps with (pig-tails peeping from below them) to songkoks, topies and turbans. Almost everyone had some form of head gear or other, so much so hat racks were provided in each class for students and teachers alike. One could imagine what a sight it would have been, and that was perhaps the beginning of fashion parade!
Transport was a problem. Most students had to walk to school, many of them for miles. The richer ones enjoyed the luxury of coming to school in sedan chairs, rickshaws, bicycles and later even cars.
Students at that time were well-behaved and there were no serious disciplinary problems. Students who complained of punishment by teachers would quietly receive another round of it! Parents gave teachers full permission to cane their children for misbehavior. However, it was not all work and no play even in those days. Football and cricket were popular games. ACS Klang had one of the strongest football teams in the 1920s. Scouting was popular as there were not as many clubs and societies in school as we have today.
The School during the Japanese Occupation (1942 – 1945)
During the Japanese Occupation, the Japanese military occupied the school for three months in 1942 as their headquarters. Part of the building were used as a hospital, a court house and living quarters.
During this period the students had to use the premises of MGS Klang (the Methodist High School today) in Jalan Bukit Jawa. Due to the shortage of classrooms, three classes were held in an Indian Temple nearby, the Mariamma Temple in the same road, and two classes were held in the house of Mr. Ng Moh Say, a member of the teaching staff, in Mohet Road.
When the Japanese vacated the school it was reopened and renamed “Jalan Raja Gakko”. The teachers and students were asked to return to school. There were 15 teachers at that time and all of them had to attend Japanese Language classes at the Convent School Klang, and to teach what little they had managed to learn. The Japanese Language became the most important subject taught. Singing lessons (Japanese songs) were also important. English was still used as the medium of instructions. School started at 8.00 am and ended at 1.00 pm. Every morning before starting their lessons, the students had to go through a routine of 16 types of exercises for 45 minutes, after which those between the ages of 12 and 15 had to go to the field to do vegetable gardening for 45 minutes, whilst the younger ones were back to class. The school field was divided into different lots and each class was responsible for one particular lot. The types of things grown were determined by the Japanese administrations, such as vegetables, tapioca, sweet potatoes, maize, chillies and also tobacco. They had to return to school to water the plants. The school was under the leadership of Mr. G.S. Arumugam during the period.
The school existed for 2 ½ years, after which it had to be closed down because of financial problems.
After the Second World War ended in 1945, the British returned to Malaya and the British Military Administration occupied the premises of the school. It was used by the Indian Medical Camp, a military hospital for the Indian troops of the British Army until January 1946. Restoration and renovation to the school buildings under the Acting Principal Mr. V. K. Arumugam, took place after the British Military vacated the school. The students returned to the school and lessons started in February 1946. In the same year, a group of the nine girls from MGS Klang came to join the Cambridge School Certificate Class ( Form 5 now) in ACS because the Education Department would not allow a class of just nine students, and the only alternative was to send them to ACS. They had their attendance taken in MGS (which was nearby) but had their lessons in ACS. This situation existed until 1951. In 1947, Mr. G. S. Arumugam became the Principal. He worked tirelessly and took great pains to keep the school grounds bright and beautiful with trees, flowering plants and ferns. His interest extended to all aspects of school life.
The first extension which was completed in December 1941 and whose opening was delayed due to the war was officially opened by Sir Edward Gent, Governor of the Malayan Union, on 17th May 1947 and dedicated by Bishop Edwin F. Lee.
In 1948, scince as a subject was taught for the first time and Mr. P.S. Nagaratnam, the first scince teacher, managed to lay a strong foundation for the teaching of Science in the school. (He was later appointed as Principal of the Methodist School in Parit Buntar)
In 1951, the second extension to the school, the Science Block was completed under Mr. G. S. Arumugam. It was officially declared open in the same year by the Sultan of Selangor, DYMM Sultan Hishamuddin Alam Shah ibni Almarham Sultan Alaudin Sulaiman Shah Atiqullah, and dedicated by Bishop Raymond L. Archer. In 1954, a single storey building with 4 classrooms for the primary section was built.
Mr. G.S. Arumugam retired in 1955 and was succeeded by Mr. Tan Teik Guan who increased the number and variety of books in the Library and he introduced the school uniform.
Mr. D. R. Daniel became principal on 1st July 1957. He introduces a number of changes and improvements to the school. He improved the school premises, enforced strict discipline, re-introduced the school magazine, renamed “Pelita Murid” in 1957, formed more school societies and helped to revive the Ols Boys’ Association. A face-lift was given to the 1921 Block with a grant from the Government. The 1st Klang Boys’ Brigade was formed in 1957 under the leadership of the Captain, Mr. Peter Dawson, and the Chaplain, Rev. Ronald Butler-White. Mr. D. R. Daniel composed a new school song “ACS Forever” set to the tune of “The Maple Leaf Forever”.
1957 was an auspicious year as our country achieved independence. The school was split into two sections- Primary and Secondary under the Razak Education Committee Report. Mg. Ng Moh Say was appointed as the Supervisor for the Primary. In 1958 Mr. Ng Moh Say was appointed as the first Headmaster for the Primary while Mr. D. R. Daniel continued as Principal of the Secondary School when the school became separate entities.
The third extension for the secondary school, a three- storey block occupying the corridor-way between the 1921 and 1941 blocks, was completed and officially declared open on 16th February 1963 by the Minister of Education, Captain Abdul Hamid Khan bin Hj. Sakhamat Ali Khan and dedicated by Bishop Hobart B. Amstutz. The year was also the 70th Anniversary of the school. In 1975 another New Building project had to be earmarked upon to replace the majestic 1921 Block which had been declared unsafe for occupation and a new three-storey block replaced the 1921 block. Another four-storey extension adjoining this building was completed and declared open by Dato’ Musa Hitam, the Minister of Education and dedicated by Bishop C. N. Fang on 21st October 1978.
It was a fitting climax to the 21 years of service of Mr. D. R. Daniel as Principal of the school. He retired in November 1978.
Mr. A. R. Peter succeeded Mr. D. R. Daniel on 15th May 1979 and he continued to bring about continuity and improvements in all aspects of the school – academic, co-curricular, disciplinary, infrastructure and other fields. Co-educational Form Six classes for Arts and Science were started. The Report Card Day was also introduced. The Concert Band was converted into the School Band. Additional clubs and societies were formed and charity activities were organized for the students to inculcate a sense of social responsibilities. The school has come to be known as “A Caring School”. He retired in 1993.
Extensions to the Primary School were carried out in 1960 (a single-storey six classroom block) and in 1968 (a double-storey block with four classrooms and an office). A double-storey building comprising the canteen and a hall was erected in 1972 under Miss Jessie Proctor who was the Headmistress then.
A double-storey building comprising 6 classrooms was built in 2000 during the headship of Mr. Tan See Hang.
The Heads who served after Mr. Ng Moh Say were Mr. J. K. Appaduray, Miss. Jessies Proctor, Mr. Lee Hin Koi, Mr. David Liew Chin Au and Mr. Tan See Hang. The incumbent Head is Madam Yeoh Mee Ee, since 2000.
The Principals who served after Mr. A. R. Peter were Mr. Ong Lai Hock, Mr. Wong Peck Hong, Mr. Lim Weng Seng, Mr. Ng Ber Seek, Mr. Kok Tuck Khow and Puan Siti Zainon binti Selamat who had made their respective contributions to the progress of the school. The current Principal is Tuan Haji Muhamad Hamin bin Dorani (from 2011).
We must recognize and appreciate the contributions in the various fields made by the School Heads, the school staff, the Boards of Managers and Governors, the Parent-Teacher Associations, the Old Boys’ Association and various individuals to make ACS what it is today.
We must also not forget the tremendous contributions by the school’s founders, pioneers and supporters, without whose vision, dedication and determination, ACS Klang would not be in existence today.
The School was 100 years old on 10th March 1993 and celebrated its Centenary that year. From a humble thatched roof school with 14 students in 1893 the school has matured into a modern educational institution comprising a primary and secondary school with large enrolments and many teachers. It has served the community well, providing our youths with a sound moral and spiritual as well as intellectual education. It has produced some of the leading citizens of Klang and of the nation, professionally and in the business world. The school is proud of its Old Boys and Old Girls who have distinguished themselves in all fields and in all walks of life. The school is justly proud of the past with its rich history and tradition, and it looks forward to the future with confidence and determination.
The Centenary Celebrations Committee comprised the School, the Methodist Mission Representatives, the PTA and the OBA under the Chairmanship of Mr. jimmy Yeoh Joo Chuan, the OBA President then. Various celebration activities were held in the school on 11th February and 10th March, 1993.
The dinner was jointly organized by the School and the OBA under the Chairmanship of Mr. Ng Seng Geng, a Committee Member cum Social Chairman of the OBA then.