Monday, 31 December 2007

Favourite BBGS tradition

From June - Dec 2007, a poll on this blog asked BBGSians what their favourite traditions were. A total of 133 readers responded and here are the results:

1. Choral Speaking 89 (66%)

2. Fun Fairs & Food Sales 37 (28%)

3. Class & Toilet Cleanliness 31 (23%)

4. Cheerleading 24 (18%)

Long Live Choral Speaking!

And many thanks to all who voted.

Rotorua song

Hi Joanna,

Medaline Chang here. I was in the year with people like Savitha, Pek Tho, Melissa Siew, etc - 4Sc5 (1988) and 5Sc2 (1989). I was a Girl Guide and dear old Mrs Simon would teach us some unusual songs, like a Maori one which went like this:

Pokarekare ana
Nga wai o Rotorua
Whiti atu koe hine
Marino ana e
E hine e
Hoki mai ra
Ka mate ahau
I te aroha e

Hurry hurry hurry home love
Hurry home to Rotorua
To the mountains and the valleys
Hurry home to me
I know I know
You had to go
Please hurry back home love
I miss you so

Thanks for this song, Medaline. I remember it well from my Girl Guides days too!

Saturday, 29 December 2007

Calling on Miss Yeap

(L-R) Ms Yeap, Joanna, Ms Li, Tomasina, Pn Che Bah, Lock Yee

Like many BBGSians, I have a high regard for Miss Yeap Gaik Khoon who was the Principal during the 1980's.

Miss Yeap helped me reach many major decisions: ranging from choice of subjects & extra-curriculur activities to university & scholarships. She sat down and cried with me when I received disappointing SPM results. She celebrated with me when I emerged as top STPM student. She has followed my career throughout the years.

And so I was really excited to pick up the phone and speak to her last Christmas. She sounded just the same: warm, caring and genuinely happy to hear from an old girl.

Always the dedicated teacher, Miss Yeap is still teaching English to unemployed graduates to help improve their chances of getting a job. We talked about how fortunate BBGSians were to have gained such a strong command of the language. It has helped us gain a foothold in the job market and develop our careers internationally.

We also talked about old girls, what everyone is up to, and she told me how delighted she is to bump into BBGS girls who remember her fondly. We laughed about how some girls had told her that they were more afraid of being sent to see Joanna Yeoh than Miss Yeap! (O dear...was I really that scary?)

Of course, we ended talking about the school grounds. Miss Yeap was almost apologetic when she mentioned how naive everyone was in assuming that BBGS would be safe because the land had been gazetted for educational purposes. That means we never had any claim to the land (in terms of ownership or lease). So once a business tycoon with deep-enough pockets could make an offer, the land was re-gazetted as commercial land, and the school was moved.

But building or no building, we'd like you to know how grateful we are for all the years that you spent teaching us, both school lessons and life lessons.

May God bless you richly, Miss Yeap.

Friday, 21 December 2007

A tribute to our teachers

As we celebrate the six-month anniversary of this blog, I'd like to pay tribute to the women who were so generous with their knowledge, experience and love. We owe them a debt of gratitude for helping us become the women we are today.

Dear BBGSians, join me in standing ovation, as we salute our BBGS teachers.

These photos are courtesy of Ms Betsy Li, and were taken during the annual BBGS teachers reunion in 2007. She also provides us with the latest updates on our favourite teachers.

  • Ms Yeap is retired but does short stints at the training centre of Institute of Bankers teaching English to unemployed graduates to prepare them for the job market. She still walks her dogs everyday and this explains why she stays healthy all the time. For more on Ms Yeap, click http://
  • Ms Betsy Li convocated last year with a Masters of Management with distinction (Congratulations...we're so proud of you!) For more on Ms Li, click
  • Ms Moey as CEO will drive Methodist College to greater heights. She also teaches Bible Knowledge classes to Form 4 and SPM students and conducts CU camps every year- end in St. Mary's School in Selayang, thanks to the generosity of the principal, Ms Goh Hai Bee, who incidentally is an ex BBGSian. Sadly there are no longer any participants from Seri Bintang Utara
  • Mrs Betty Wong is Senior Assistant of Sek. Men. Damansara Jaya, retiring next year
  • Mrs Lai is teaching A Levels at Taylors' College
  • Ms. Yap Kwee Lan is Afternoon supervisor at La Salle PJ
  • Mrs Siaw is Head of Science in Sek, Men.Tun Dr. Ismail
  • Mrs Tay is a seasoned traveller who's been going to places where less have been - like the desert in Australia, Alaska, Silk Road, Turkey and Egypt. Reason - she alreadybeen to all the regular places
  • Mrs Gan Ber Keat has migrated to US and is holding a teaching job in LA
  • Mrs Simon is still doing active work as the State Commisioner of the Girls Guides movement in KL
  • Mrs Chia Pooi Lan has retired and is now teaching in Wesley Methodist School in Sentul , the feeder school for Methodist College
  • Mrs Chew Hai Hong is a retired tai-tai in Singapore
  • Miss Tham Mei Fong teaches line dancing. Every Friday at 2.30 -4 pm she teaches line dancing to the ex BBGS teachers- Mrs Tay, Mrs Siaw, Mrs Mak , Joo Sim, Betty Wong at the UM Alumni clubhouse off Jalan Universiti
  • Mrs Guru is busy caring for her grandchildren( it started with one but it may have increased to two or three)
  • Mrs Kylas, on the other hand, longs for grandchildren but her two daughters are too busy pursuing their careers and do not seem keen to settle down
  • For news on Mrs Abraham, click

Remember Ms Li?

Joanna & Ms Li (Betsy) at their favourite restaurant, Dragon I @the Curve

I love coming home to KL! Even more so when it gives me the opportunity to catch up with my favourite BBGS teachers. This time, it was Ms Betsy Li Phui Chun who is now also known as Mrs Wong ;-) I am so privileged to count her as a close friend and confidante today.

Most of us remember Ms Li as the Deputy Principal who was the Accounts & Economics guru of BBGS. She was always impeccably dressed in power suits with heavy shoulder pads (this was the '80s ya?!). My classmates and I admired her no-nonsense approach to teaching her favourite subjects, and were always in awe of her pointer-swishing skills. She was the only teacher who used to carry a pointer in those cool.

Betsy (it's taken me 20 years to pluck up the courage to call her that), left BBGS in 1992 when she was promoted as Principal of SM Jalan Ipoh. After many years of serving in government schools, she entered the private education sector and worked for Taylors College & Inti College. She is currently the Deputy Director of Academic Studies for Methodist College. Coincidentally, Ms Moey Yoke Lai is the CEO of Methodist College. It's so good to know that the academic torch of BBGS is still burning bright in the hands of these amazing women.

Betsy is very proud of her links to BBGS and even prouder of her proteges. She is ever keen to find out the whereabouts of old girls and is the main point of contact for BBGS teachers. Being at the forefront of technology, she's even created a blog on BBGS teachers which I will share in future posts.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Bukit Bintang : a poem

When long ago this country, jungle clad,
Saw rising by the muddy meeting place of streams,
A hamlet of poor huts, a dwelling place for quiet country folk,
Was Starry Hill a name conceived in dreams?

When tin was mined and rubber planted row on row,
When streets were made, and gharries came, and bicycles and cars,
When people crowded in, and women, freed, came out to work with men,
Did someone say, "What shall we build upon the Hill of Stars?"

The mission came and sought the land upon the Starry Height,
The School arose and girls began to fill
Its halls and classrooms with a throng of bright young life,
And placed a coronet of stars upon the hill.

The Principal, the gentle moon, sheds radiance on all,
The Staff, the planets in their courses, truth instil,
The Pupils, more and more come year by year,
To clothe with great and little stars the Starry Hill.

This poem by Mr M. Lomas, Asst. Director of Education (Girls) 1951, was written in honour of Miss Glasgow, the principal then and printed in the first issue of the School Magazine in 1951.

Are SBU students part of BBGS?

I've been corresponding with a whole new generation of BBGSians on Facebook. These young ladies also attended Seri Bintang Utara, so I posed the following question:

"Dear all,

I belong to the '80s era of BBGS when we still had the buildings, and the traditions were very much alive! What was it like to belong to Seri Bintang Utara? Does it still feel like BBGS? If truth be told, many old girls from the earlier days probably wouldn't even consider them to be BBGSians. How can we help them preserve some of the culture? Or is it so different that it no longer matters?"

Emily Chang replied:

Our school moved to the new premises when I was in Form 4. I can't remember if they changed our name before that, but I still feel very much part of BBGS. This is because I've been in BBGS since primary days and honestly, I still say I'm a BBGSian :)

Sadly though, I think that all our BBGS traditions are slowly slipping or have they already slipped away? It's a pity..

Ainun Ghazali replied:

Hiya! I think this is a rather important question to tackle because it's something that I've been wondering over awhile as well.

I've been a BBGS girl since Std 1 till the day I graduated secondary school in 2002, and I am very proud of my alma matter.

I suppose I was fortunate enough to experience both the BBGS culture and the SBU culture, since we transferred when I was in Form 4. Even before I had graduated, sadly, a lot of the ol' BBGS spirit was waning.

Choral Speaking, despite being such a huge tradition in our school, had taken a step back in terms of its importance in inter-class competition when our school was not allowed to compete in the nationals anymore for the fact that we had won too many times already.

Cheerleading has not really been what it used to be. The Fun Fairs and Sports Day spirit that I had looked forward to so much in my first 2 years in secondary school was pretty much absent.
Even our school motto has changed from the famous,"Nisi Dominus Frustra" to "Kecemerlangan Tekad Kami".

We have a museum in the new school compound, a modest room that displays the very few artifacts and history that is left from the old school compound. And despite a stint as a museum prefect for a year, I feel that the museum does not do much justice to the legacy that is BBGS.

Before I left school, Form 2 students were required to do an assignment on the school history. And despite the good intentions, I'm not really sure if the new generation really understood the spirit behind the school. Much of what made BBGS so unique and beautiful in its spirit, tradition and culture have sadly dissipated into the past. And the fact that now SBU is a co-ed school, I suppose is a final blow. What is left behind is our school song, the centenary song, a much neglected museum and an attachment to the history pages.

Personally, I acknowledge BBGS and SBU as two different schools, with two different alma matter.

I may have graduated from SBU, but I will always and forever be a BBGSian in my heart.

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Belle remembers

Belle Luer, or Tinkerbell Love Lee as she was known back in BBGS, is happily married with 2 beautiful children, living in KL and enjoys travelling, travelling and more travelling.

Belle is organising a 20th year reunion for the class of '88 in April 2008, so please get in touch with her if you're from that era.

Meanwhile, she shares these memories with us...

  • Makcik's fried chicken and spicy potatoes in the canteen
  • watching boys in speedos dive off the platform at Weld Swimming Pool
  • Food Sales (esp the asam laksa, roti jala and air bandung)
  • sneaking off to KL Plaza after school (even with a change of clothes the BATA shoes were a dead giveaway)
  • chalking up our school shoes before spot checks
  • Mrs. Aziz (my favourite teacher)
  • Ms. Cooke (loved her but was petrified of her)
  • Interact Club (which really was abt interacting with boys from other schools wasn't it?)
  • Mrs. Choe Ling our animated scarf-wearing Sejarah teacher who'd dictate entire chapters to us while we frantically scribbled in our books
  • playing with the bunsen burners in the Science Labs
  • grimy cups of diluted orange juice sold by the prefects
  • toilet duty (aargh)
  • saying "Selaaamaat Pagi Cikguuuu"...

Roll of Honour

Did you know that there's a BBGS museum within the school grounds of SM Seri Bintang Utara? I was informed by Ainun Ghazali, a much younger BBGSian who was part of the transition to the new grounds in Cheras.

Looking through the museum pictures, my heart literally leapt for joy when I spotted the School Captains Honour Roll that used to hang in the school hall. What a nostalgic sight!

I'm probably over-emoting and slightly biased because my name is on that honour roll, but it was a special honour to serve as BBGS school captain, and till today - it's an accolade that I proudly display on my CV.

School Captains of BBGS

1947 Boey Poh Theen
1948 Tan Leng Gek
1949 Liew Peng Nyun
1950 Ong Cheng Sim
1951 Chooi Kut Nooi
1952 Catherine Angus
1953 Wong Sui Fong
1954 Lim Chock Leng
1955 Sosie Kwong
1956 Ong Cheng Im
1957 Goh Yoon Fong
1958 Tan Kim Lewi
1959 Khoo Suat Pheng
1960 Tan Yoke Wan
1961 Choi Kwai Eng
1962 Leng Ah Mooi
1963 Boey Pick Yoke
1964 Kang Geok Sue
1965 Chew Fei Yin
1966 Chew Fai Peng
1967 Patricia Ong Buan Tee
1968 Tong Wai Sin
1969 Ng Ay Vin
1970 Alice Samuel
1971 Lee Yin Ling
1972 Phang Sow Yoong
1973 Kiang Chew Peng
1974 Kwan Poh Lan
1975 Yee Yoke Sum
1976 Caroline Ho / Kon Sui Phin
1977 Leong Kit Lan
1978 Audrey Kum
1979 Teoh Pooi Boon
1980 Yap Yoke Chin
1981 Lau Chow Ong
1982 Chin Yoke Mun
1983 S.S. Patricia
1984 Lim Yuet Suan
1985 Cheah Swee Peng
1986 Koh Lee Wah
1987 Lum May Yee
1988 Liow Bin Wei
1989 Joanna Yeoh Kui Pheng
1990 Lisa Ng Hew Mei
1991 Shariza Sharif bte Yusof
1992 Uma Devi Kylasam
1993 Yan Yin May
1994 Tong Yin Fen
1995 Tay Hui Ping
1996 Aina Zahari

If anyone knows the names of school captains post-1996 or the whereabouts of any of these special ladies named above, please drop me a note and I'd be delighted to feature them on this blog.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Letter from Belgium

I received this note from Goh Kee Kee last week, while travelling in China. Unfortunately, there were some restrictions on posting so it's a little delayed.

Kee is from the 5S1 class of 1999. She writes to us from Belgium, where she is pursuing her postgraduate degree.

I came to Belgium in September 2006 after accepting a scholarship. I am in a place called Gent (half an hour away from Brussels by train), completing my MSc in Food Science, Nutrition and Technology.

If you ask me how is life in Belgium, I seriously don't have an interesting answer:P This is partly because this place I am staying at is a considerably poor area, with not so many Belgians but more of other immigrants. The surroundings can sometimes be anything but conducive for living.

However apart from that, things have been great as I have been travelling to other places, for studies as well as for holidays. I was basically in and out of Belgium the first 10 months as the course promotes mobility i.e. moving around different institutions around Europe. Now it is nearing the end of my stay and I will be graduating in February 2008, after which I should be returning home to Malaysia.

Although this is not my first time studying abroad (previously stayed a year in Australia), I must say that still it took a bit of adapting to, here in a typical European country especially when basically nothing is in English, not even food labels in the supermarket. In my opinion it is certainly a huge difference from other western countries such as the UK, the US and Australia -culture wise, food, etc. With a positive mindset, all these are in fact very enriching experiences.

Apart from studying, the biggest 'event' here for me was being nominated as a student representative for my course. The photo I provide here was taken during the first general assembly meeting of the Erasmus Mundus Alumni and Student Association in Brussels.

I guess my days in BBGS, every single skill and experience that I got while I was 'within those cherished walls' made me into who I am today, I am able to do well because I was a BBGS girl. The way we carry ourselves sets us apart, it is almost as if we have the label BBGS printed on our foreheads:P I am very thankful being a BBGS girl and I've always wondered what will it be like if I have not attended BBGS...quite a number of my other BBGS classmates are now young professionals and they are everywhere around the globe, something to be very proud of.

I also met another BBGSian whom I call Aunty Lai Yin here in Belgium. She lives in another city called Antwerp with her husband and children (I'll inform her of this blog).

Thursday, 29 November 2007

Remembering Life at BBGS

Outside BBGS - taken in 1997

A couple of friends and I reminisced about our fondest (or otherwise) memories of our dear alma mater..... We hope this will also strike a chord with other BBGSians, and for those who came much later, to give you a glimpse as to what life at BBGS in the mid 1980s was all about !

Moonlake Lee (5S5):
  • Film Shows in the assembly hall - we had to all sit on the cement floor and watch those movies (Shaggy Dog, To Sir with Love) shown on the old fashioned projector. Some girls brought paper fans and others had a battery-operated gizmo purchased from the old hawker at the bus stop.
  • Mrs Thanen and the production of the musical "The Boyfriend" - I was one of the "boys". I also acted in "The Taming of the Shrew," playing Petrucchio.....come to think of it, I was always given the male acting parts because of my short hair.... (no wonder i grew my hair long later!)
  • Speaking Bahasa Malaysia on Wednesdays.....or the prefects would fine you.....
  • Spot checks by prefects - hiding photos of boyfriends, romance novels (Mills & Boon), cassette tapes, etc - the library was always a great place to hide things :)
  • How i hated to be librarian on duty at the door of the library when we had to pass our hands over the pockets of girls leaving the library to ensure they were not taking things out. ...

Yong Pui Kim (5A4)

  • I remember making sure that my shoes were nice and white by using a white chalk.
  • Rules such as earrings had to be gold studs or gold loops only, and ribbons for the hair had to be either white or black.
  • Flashers were rampant in the area. Ms. Yeap, our headmistress, said that it was due to our unlady-like way of sitting especially those that had classes facing the road. Although most girls wore shorts under our skirts, we were still expected to sit demurely with legs crossed and not wide apart.
  • Floating classes in Form 4 (applicable to 4Sc4, 4Sc5, 4A4) - Imagine lugging heavy school bags from the canteen block (2nd floor) to the sewing room (above the home science kitchen) near the school hall.
  • No loitering at Sungei Wang Plaza after schools. If you were caught, you would get punished.
  • Weekly collections for the gym. The class that gave the most collectively were announced on assembly day at the school hall.

Mandy Ho Siew Mee (5A4)

  • Floral arrangements - It was one of my favourite things besides being the ice kacang girl during food sales. The ones in charge had to buy flowers and arrange the flowers on the teacher's table every Monday. We had to make sure to remember to change the stinky water everyday too or the flowers would wilt and die - no marks from the prefect for dead flowers!!

Tho Mei Poh (5S3)

  • Toilet duty - we had to carry the water to the toilet and make sure the toilet smelled nice when we finished cleaning it.
  • The bell ringing to signal the end of recess time :-(
  • Choral speaking rehearsals - especially the special sound effects that we made.
  • Sports day- a fun but very hot event. Luckily we had all those big giant trees at the other side of the field to hide under. I remember cheering for Jasvinder Kaur and Pang Wey. I was from PROUSE house (purple) - I remember our cheerleaders shouting, "Give me a “P;” Give me a “R;” Give me an “O”..U...S..E; What do u get - PROUSE!!!!" .... and getting a sore throat afterwards. There was also a DYNAMITE song too but I can barely remember now. (Moonlake – BBGS dynamite, don’t play with dynamite – yeh yeh yeh…)
  • Food sales - hamburgers, ice kacang, sandwiches, homemade candies, roti jala, drinks, etc to raise funds for our own school bus??? I always thought BBGS ice kacang was the best that i have tasted. I remember turning that ice machine and pouring evaporated milk into the bowls.
  • The noise that we made when the teacher was not around between subjects. Someone shouting "Ms Yeap is coming" and the girls scrambling back to their own desks and SUDDENLY total silence......All of us will looked like angels doing our work silently by the time Miss Yeap walked by.
  • Lining up outside our classes and the prefects checking our finger nails

Christina Tan Teng Teng (5S4)

  • The ever dedicated teachers like Mrs Aziz, Mrs Abraham, Mrs Simon who taught me that building up my character and learning life's essential values other than just learning books in school is as important if not more.

Ong Jin Kar (5S1)

  • Singing sessions during Assembly. How many of us still remember the words to " Sweetly sings the donkey"?
  • Mrs Abraham reiterating that “Love” is pronounced "Larve" not" lo..ove" when singing the part about “love to all men ‘neath the sun” in the BBGS school song

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

Within these walls

If through these walls, we can hear the stories long ago
Those BBGS dreams their hopes and more
If through these walls, we can see the days before
We'll see the joy, the rise and growth
Every smile that greets hello

Names may change and faces pass
But the tune's the same we'll make it last
We'll learn these words before they come to pass
BBGS in my heart, ten decades we've grown to love
Add a hundred more, my heart will still belong
Within these cherished walls

Here on these walls, I found meanings of love
To conquer fears to wipe the sorrow tears
Here I learnt of friends, learnt to give a helping hand
And when I'm lost, they'll guide my way with God's will till the end...

Names may change and faces pass
But the tune's the same we'll make it last
We'll learn these words before they come to pass
Within these walls we've built our lives
For a hundred years it stayed with us
Let us keep it standing strong...

Lyrics and music by Raja Ismahan and Nik Serena - winners of the BBGS Centenary Song Competition, 1993

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Before Pavilion, there was..

Hi Everyone,

Lately, I've been reading a lot about the "evil" Pavilion that "stole" our school grounds, and it doesn't feel right to be thinking such bitter thoughts about my beloved BBGS. So in a bid to inject some positive energy into this debate, I'm posting some pictures of what it used to look like. And we can all think happy nostalgic thoughts...

Sharing my favourite photo of BBGS...again.

Office block where most of my classrooms were: 1C1, 5Sc5 and Form 6. This was the "face" of BBGS to the world outside since it fronted Jalan Bukit Bintang. Just look at how pristine and clean the lawns were...amazing...

Prouse Wing which had 6 classrooms. I spent some years here in 2C1 and 3C1. I used to love walking to the school hall under the canopied walkways that were planted with purple morning glories.

Clinic Block which housed 3 classrooms downstairs and the Home Science kitchens upstairs, which were my sister's favourite place in the whole school.

Hope you've enjoyed this pictorial tour through the old grounds.

Warmest regards,

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Funny Stories

Looking through the old school mags, I found some really funny stories that only a true-blue BBGS girl would appreciate. Here goes...

"I remember one incident when a female dog on heat was being chased around the school by a male dog, followed by the school jaga wielding a stick, and hot on his heels was Miss Cooke, determined not to allow any "hanky panky" to take place in front of us innocent girls!

Another incident was the infamous fly that flew into our Econs teacher's mouth as she droned on and on. And we stared hard in disbelief - watching and waiting - the fly never flew out!"
Lee Su Kim - Form 6, 1974

"Looking at the Weld Swimming Pool from the window of Art Class and laughing at the boys' orange-flowered swimming shorts! (Yes, yes, I know were were not supposed to.)"
Chen May Yee - Form 5, 1987

"Watching a friend sitting on another friend's chicken burger. That's what you get for eating in class!"
Yap Wai Khen - Form 5, 1988

"Fun-fair being spelt as FUND FAIR (which is more appropriate). Choral Speakng became QUARREL SPEAKING (when the very keen students fought to use the school hall for practices"

Boey Chooi Kheng (Mrs Bastion) - Form 5, 1952

"The time when my classmate - in desperation - dumped her favourite actor's picture inside her blouse when the prefects were about to start a spot check. Coolly, she told me, "They'll never dare to search in here!"
Woo Yoke Bing - Form 5, 1985

"During one of my daily routine checks, I spotted a girl wearing a hot-pink lace bra under her white baju kurung. No, I didn't confiscate it!"
Joanna Yeoh - Form 5, 1987

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

On top of Spaghetti...

Here's another one of those "silly" school assembly songs we all know and love. Try singing it to your kids - and watch out for giggles galore!

(Sung to the tune of "On Top of Old Smokey")

On top of Spaghetti
All covered with cheese
I lost my poor meatball
When somebody sneezed...Aaahchoo!

It rolled off the table
And onto the floor
And then my poor meatball
Rolled out of the door

It rolled to the garden
And under a bush
And now my poor meatball
Is nothing but mush

The mush was as tasty
As tasty could be
And then the next summer
It grew into a tree

The tree was all covered
All covered with moss
And on it grew meatballs
And tomato sauce.

So if you eat spaghetti
All covered with cheese
Hold on to your meatball
And don't ever sneeze!

P/S: Thanks for the rest of the lyrics, Irene.

Monday, 19 November 2007

How is Mrs Yeoh? a question I'm asked often by readers of this blog. Being "Mrs Yeoh's daughter" in primary school was akin to being a minor celebrity, and the label used to amuse me greatly. Today, I stand proud in recognition that my mum, Mrs Yeoh Shing Choo made a huge impact on the lives of many BBGSians who remember her fondly. She greets you here in her own words...

Hi there!

It looks as though I have faded from the radar so let me "appear "again, through my daughter, Joanna. God has been good to both Roland and I . Since transferring from SRKP Bukit Bintang (2) by choice in 1990, I have lived in Penang. I taught in a primary school, SK Minden Heights, till the end of 1998 before retiring. Roland, my husband of 38 years, and I now live in a condominium in Sg. Ara.

We have, by token of our girls' support and love, visited Australia, England, Europe and the USA. I now tutor Chinese-school-going children in the English Language. In the very near future, I shall be helping some young people from my church to communicate in good English. I really enjoy what I am doing.

My favourite hobby is cross-stitch embroidery. I have been churning out assignments requested by Joanna and Juliana. My love for this craft dates back to my BBGS schooldays when it was taught by the fearsome Miss Too. We had to embroider a tray-cloth as part for our Art Paper for LCE (PMR now). "Never use red and purple together!" were the strict instructions from Miss Too. Woe betide the girl who forgot! The whole piece of lovely work had to be unpicked and done again to the approval of Miss Too. It really made our blood pressure hit the roof - only at that time, as 15-year olds, we did not realise it. I recollect that my piece of Art work that year was not returned to me. I believe, to this day, that Miss Too kept it for posterity.

In retrospect, I am truly grateful that in the sunset years of my life, I can still do what many are unable to. Thank you BBGS!

My love and best wishes to all, Mrs S.C. Yeoh nee Chong Shing Choo (Class of 1961)

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

Letter from Chen May Yee

Hi Joanna,

Stumbled on your blog and it was very fun to read about what various people have been up to. Okay, I admit I was googling myself but only to check if the crazy story I wrote about Malaysia's plan to create cyclones to scrub away the 1997 haze wasn't still showing up first (It still is, sadly.)

Anyway, a quick update: I've been in Minneapolis for almost four years. My husband's family is from here. I write and edit healthcare news at the local rag ( which is a great gig, for the most part.

I've got two girls - Zoe, 4, and Maya, 2, and my husband Chris is home with them.The community is vibrant and there are wonderful parks and children's museums so the kids have fun. But it's too cold most of the year for tropical girls like me. I have to say my outlook on living here has brightened considerably since Peninsula, a Malaysian restaurant opened by a lady from Ipoh, opened about a year ago. Amazing nyonya laksa.

Here's a piccy of the girls.

Monday, 12 November 2007

How far have we spread?

When this blog was started five months ago, I was curious to find out how widely BBGSians have spread their wings around the world. And you dear readers have certainly delivered! At last count, this blog has received over 400 visits from 20 countries. The most popular countries are :
  1. Malaysia (that's obvious!)
  2. Singapore (apples have not fallen far from the tree)
  3. United Kingdom (not surprising given our Anglophile upbringing)
  4. United States (a popular education destination, no doubt)
  5. Australia (another traditional colonial outpost)
  6. Thailand (a little surprising but I'd love to know your story!)
  7. New Zealand (students perhaps?)
  8. Hong Kong (BBGSians at work or play?)
  9. South Africa ( I know for a fact that Liew Siew Ling is logging in from Free State)
  10. Canada (yet more students?)

I'd like to say a big THANK YOU to all of you for logging in. Do continue to spread the word to more BBGSians so that we can continue keeping the school spirit alive.


Sunday, 11 November 2007

BBGS Class of 1986's 20th Year Reunion

Update from Moonlake Lee (Class of 1986, 5Sc5 - This is Moon's first attempt at blogging!)

The BBGS Class of 1986 celebrated its 20th year reunion last year....(this posting is a little late, but better late than never, right?)

A group of 48 ladies met up at the KL Hilton on Saturday, August 5, 2006 for high tea—and what a time it was! Though many of us were based in the KL/PJ area, some came from Perak, Sarawak, Singapore, Japan and England, to attend the event. We dominated the area set apart for us, and had great fun in catching up with each other and taking countless photos. Of course, there was the odd embarrassment of either not recognizing an old friend, mistaking her for someone else….or worse still, forgetting her name !

Without realizing it, 20 years have quickly slipped by—it didn’t seem too long ago when we were all at BBGS, dressed in our white blouses and blue pinafores, with the prospect of the SPM examinations always at the back of our minds. Despite this, we found time to develop friendships, many of which have lasted decades—and hopefully, for decades to come…

We’ve all gone on different paths in life— schools, careers, spouses, kids, other countries. One thing remains that unites us all, however, and that is our identity as BBGS girls, and the memories of our beloved school on Jalan Bukit Bintang.

Sadly, the physical building is no longer there but nothing will ever take away the memories, the friendships and the lessons on life values that we learned when we were all at BBGS.

Many thanks to Yong Pui Kim, June Koh Pek Yin, Lim Szu Ling, Selina Tan, and Tho Mei Poh for helping to moot the idea of a 20th year Class of 1986 reunion, and working hard along the way to drum up support for the event.

We came up with a Class of 1986 booklet to commemorate the event, and also to provide an opportunity for those who came to the event, and for those who were unable to make it, to keep in touch with each other. It’s also fun to see the “Then” and “Now” photos to see how much we have all changed….or how we still look the same!

Looking forward to our next event….the 25th year reunion!

Nisi Dominus Frustra—Without God, All Things are in Vain.

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Loo Poi Yoke remembers...

5 Sc 2 (1987) reunion: Michelle, Lynett, Yee Git, Rena and Poi Yoke

Jackie Loo Poi Yoke is mother to 2 boys, and she currently runs a wellness business with her husband. She shares her recent BBGS reunion photo and some memories with us:

  • I remember the sardine toasties we had to make every foodsale
  • On Monday it was complusory to speak English, while Wednesday was Bahasa day
  • I remember Mrs Maniam lying on the school chairs at the back of the class while we underlined the whole Sejarah book
  • I remember washing toilets and floral arrangements
  • I certainly remember having to sing the Donkey Hee-haw song, mowing meadow song and the Meatball + spaghetti song during assembly
  • I remember the strict prefects who made us pick rubbish and wrote our names down if we arrived late
  • I remember how we have to keep left everytime we go up or down the stairs
  • The permission slips for everything from A-Z, the spot checks, the black and white ribbons on the hair,
  • The sick bed
  • The BBGS school bus

That's all I remember!

Thursday, 8 November 2007

Our dear Mrs Abraham

Oh what a wonderful day! I was thrilled to meet up with Mrs Abraham for lunch. We haven't seen each other in over a decade, and she looks as bright and cheerful as ever. She sends her regards to all the BBGS girls who are reading this blog.

Mrs Laura Abraham enriched the lives of many generations of BBGSians with her passion, creativity and infectious laughter. We had such good fun in her English class: writing limericks, coining advertisments and singing the Animal Farm anthem to the tune of 'La Cucaracha'. When I credited Mrs Abraham for the richness of her lessons, she humbly replied, "We just took all the values learnt from Miss Cooke, and passed them on to you girls".

Mrs Abraham retired from BBGS in 1994, after serving our alma mater for 22 years. She's currently busy supervising the renovation of her home. Her children, Thomas and Anne-Marie, are successful professionals with Big Four firms.

Remember how Mrs Abraham used to lead the sing-alongs during school assembly? One of her recent projects has been to compile all these BBGS favourites into a songbook. It's been a labour of love, and I suggested that it should be published. How many of you think it's a good idea and would like to own this unique memorabilia? Drop us a comment and let us know.

Monday, 29 October 2007

BBGSian wins Amazing Race Asia

An all-girl Malaysian team did the country proud by winning the first Amazing Race Asia. Did you know that one of them is a BBGSian? I spotted Tee Joe Jer (in orange dress) on a BBGS group in Facebook, and invited her to share her story. She graciously agreed, and here's what she had to say:

Hello Joanna!

I remember you as the school captain for sure! How are you? How are things? Hope you're doing great.

Thank you for your interest in featuring me in the BBGS blog. Very flattered.

Years at BBGS...

I was BBGS-ian all the way through from Standard 1 (1984) till Form 5 (1994). Well, almost all the way through.

Fondest BBGS memories...

Fondest memories were choral speaking competitions although my class never won. Also, checking toilets as a prefect. And the RM1 fried kway teow I used to eat for lunch almost every day. Oh yeah, and playing a clown with Dhalita Kaur for the BBGS 100 year celebration.

Life lessons...

The most important thing I go by is being happy in life. I try not to look back and regret things. But that doesn't mean I'm perfect. Far from it actually. I just want to lead a happy life. That's my ambition.

Current situation...

I am currently in New York, being happy.

Future plans...

No plans for the future as yet. There are too many possibilities to narrow it down to just a few.

Thank you again, Joanna, for your keen interest. I am very flattered.

Take care!

Joe Jer

Sunday, 21 October 2007

Tomasina Oh

I have just returned from another memorable BBGS reunion. We found Tomasina Oh and spent over 3 hours catching up on 20 years' worth of stories!

Joanna, Lu Meng & Tomasina

Dr Tomasina Oh (formerly known as Tommie) is now an Asst Professor at the National University of Singapore. She earned her PhD from Cambridge University and specialises in the psycho-linguistics. Tomasina is married to Steve and they have 2 beautiful boys: Hugo and Oliver.

Steve, Hugo, Tomasina with baby Oliver, Lu Meng & Jimmy

We had quick round of introductions, some tea & biscuits before all the boys were despatched to the void deck for a game of dodge ball. Meanwhile the girls retreated to the world of BBGS and laughed ourselves silly over stories of :-

  • a teacher who insisted that naive was spelt "na-eve"
  • another teacher who wanted us to make Valentine "koowshens"
  • yet another teacher who terrorised us in Geography class
  • the famous 3C1 vs 3K hockey game when the biggest team of misfits played the school hockey team and lost by only ONE goal. Tommie spent the entire game pretending to run around while avoiding the puck - "I was so scared of the ball!", she recalls
  • Tommie becoming a cheerleader because she couldn't bear the thought of running, high-jumping or throwing a javelin
  • the drama competition that we won by playing communists!
  • all the winning poems that we recited for Choral Speaking

We had so much fun that we're already planning our next tete-a-tete.

Friday, 12 October 2007

What is BBGS culture? (Part 2)

A summary of findings gleaned from a questionnaire sent out to ex-BBGS girls in conjunction with the BBGS Centenary Celebration. This extract is taken from the Centenary magazine (May 1993).

As we look back over the 100 years, we often wonder if life in BBGS has changed since our grandmothers’ days. What has changed? More importantly, what has remained? All these were part of the BBGS lifestyle and culture. Some things might have changed now. But the heart and spirit that move each BBGS girl to give, to share and to make the school a great place surely has not changed.

Fun Fairs
Fun-fairs were really fun events. Whether they were mammoth fun-fairs of the smaller food fairs, all BBGS girls enjoy the distraction from lessons. An old girl related how her class would look for the slightest excuse to beg the teachers to allow them to discuss urgent food fair arrangements instead of the usual lessons. We all learnt to make red and green square coconut candies during our BBGS days. All of us experienced the temptation of over-pricing our food so that our class could make the most money.

Fun and food fairs, if you think about it, taught us the basics of doing business. They helped infuse us with the entrepreneurial spirit. We learnt the rudiments of Profit & Loss (although the latter was taboo!). We picked up Supply & Demand and Marginal Returns faster than we managed to from our Economics class. We learnt what team work and team spirit were all about. We cultivated our creativity and ingenuity.

All said and done, fun-fairs and food fairs were great events, probably more so for BBGS girls than from those in other schools because we always needed funds to do something more for the school.

Toilet Cleanliness

Another aspect of BBGS life is the Toilet Cleanliness Campaign administered by the prefects.

Most of us hate it but force ourselves and our classmates to clean the toilets with a vengeance in pursuit of the Cleanliness Shield.

Buying toilet fresheners, repainting the class-designated toilet, locking it up so as to prevent others from fouling it up – these are but some of the things we do to have the cleanest and best-smelling toilet in the whole school. (You see, BBGS girls do all things – including the less pleasant ones – well)

Class Cleanliness

None of us will ever forget the necessity to keep our classroom neat and tidy. Remember the days when we used raffia to ensure our desk were straight and in line. The days we had to rush to the market across the road before school for fresh flowers for our class? The days we had to cut out interesting newspaper articles for our class notice boards (our interest was often centred on our handsome badminton heroes, one of whom used to be the boyfriend of a classmate)?

An eye for detail is something that is almost engraved in our minds, thanks to BBGS. How many of us, for example, can resist not straightening a crooked picture on a wall? How any of us look around and think twice before we throw even the tiniest scrap of paper on the street? How many of us consciously walk away from potted plants lest our skirts brush against and injure those precious things?

What is BBGS culture? (Part 1)

A summary of findings gleaned from a questionnaire sent out to ex-BBGS girls in conjunction with the BBGS Centenary Celebration. This extract is taken from the Centenary magazine (May 1993).

As we look back over the 100 years, we often wonder if life in BBGS has changed since our grandmothers’ days.

What has changed? More importantly, what has remained?

All these were part of the BBGS lifestyle and culture. Some things might have changed now. But the heart and spirit that move each BBGS girl to give, to share and to make the school a great place surely has not changed.

Everlasting values…

Certain values such as discipline, responsibility, conscientiousness, respect, courtesy, loyalty and the fear of God are often associated with BBGS girls. As anyone, and these words will roll off her tongue quite spontaneously.

It is the BBGS culture to learn these values well. When you are taught, you listen, absorb and try your hardest to remember. When you address your teacher, you are naturally polite and respectful. Where there are rules on how to dress, you follow.

You learn right from the start of your BBGS life that there is God. And that this God is loving, although almighty. You learn the basis of life: that without God, all is in vain.

Choral Speaking

What activities are characteristic of BBGS days? Without a single doubt, choral speaking and fun fairs stand out regardless of which generation the BBGS girl comes from.

Choral speaking, which was started in 1958 by Miss Cooke, is a BBGS trademark. Year in, year out, as one old girl put it, we “practiced and practiced till our voices dried out”. BBGS would not be BBGS if choral speaking was not part and parcel of the school’s major activities. Listen to the pride in the voices of girls who have won choral speaking competitions during their schooldays. Despite the tedium of practices, the strain on the voice and the demands on the memory, every BBGS girl will attest to the memorability of choral speaking. Who doesn’t remember the importance of listening to the whisper of “one, two, three, stand” command for the third row to stand on the bench?

Letter from Mae

I've been connecting with many younger BBGSians through Facebook. It is so heartwarming to know that our love for BBGS is strong and true - regardless of when we may have graduated. Here's a letter from Mae.
Dear Joanna,

Good day to you. My name is Mae.

I stumbled upon your BBGS Blog when I was going through my friend's Facebook. I just feel that I have to write this email to tell you what a wonderful job you have done keeping the memories of BBGS alive. Even though the years we were in school are so very very far apart, yet I was still able to relate to the things you wrote. Especially the perfection of our uniform, the discipline we have to go through, the toilet cleaning and about the "Dynamite" Cheer. Believe it or not, it has been a trademark for BBGS. I attended a camp organised by my church sometime ago and we were supposed to come up with a cheer, I suggested that Dynamite Cheer and immediately I was linked to BBGS.

I wonder if all the BBGS traditions are practised now in our so-called new school.

Just today I found out that I have 2 other BBGSians in my department. Wow... I guess if we wish to take over the world, we just might be able to do so!

Wednesday, 10 October 2007

Fantastic Facebook

I was introduced to this cool new networking tool only 3 days ago and I'm thoroughly addicted already.

And the best thing about is that you can find lots of loyal BBGSians, passionately promoting all things BBGS. There are 2 groups called "BBGS" and "Bukit Bintang Girls School" who have over 500 members between them. They've also been kind enough to link to this blog, so let's all re-connect and network our way across the globe!

P/S: We are also on Wikipedia. Check out the entry and contribute anyway you can.

Sunday, 7 October 2007

Miss Cooke's Story (Part 2)

This is the story of Miss Cooke, BBGS' Master Builder, taken from her article published in the School Centenary Magazine, May 1993.

Seeking Nothing But the Best (Part 2)
by Miss Elena M. Cooke
Ex-girl, ex-teacher and ex-headmistress (1958 - 1977)

Teach us to bear the yoke in youth
with steadfastness and careful truth

I never thought I would be a teacher but that was God's plan for my life and once I got into the profession I found great delight in opening up new worlds to my pupils. But it was not always easy. Taught from early childhood 'Whatever your hand finds to do, verily do it with all your might', there was this keen determination to bear the yoke with steadfastness and careful truth.

Late nights became the order of my day as I prepared the next day's lessons and marked piles of exercise books. That did not mean I had to lose delight in simple things. With great enthusiasm I began the school choir when all I had in qualifications was a love of music!

It was soon after the war. Our library was non-existent. I remember visiting friends and suggesting that they should let me have some of their collection to begin a school library again. All contributions were carefully scrutinised and thus began a lending library on the verandah outside the Fifth Form classroom. Every interval found me sitting on a low stool advertising my books and telling the girls they did not know what they would be missing if they did not stop by and borrow one of my best sellers all neatly packed in cardboard boxes on the floor beside me.

I was soon to find myself spending nearly every afternoon in school looking after such extramural activities as the Literary and Debating Society, the Geographical Society, St John’s Ambulance Brigade and the Christian Union. Those were the times I really got to know my pupils especially when we went on excursions and debated with other schools. They were fun times too.

Yes, they surely were hard times too, when difficult pupils could make life unbearable and when I had to learn to win them over – to break through long standing barriers. Then there were the not-so-academically-minded pupils who had a defeatist attitude to learning. They had to be helped out of that sad state and made to realize that they had their talents too. Yes, there were those from broken homes, those from poverty-stricken backgrounds. Knowing and appreciating the care and concern of my teachers when I was at school, I prayed for special strength and understanding to help my many pupils.

Early years of teaching were a time of learning and teaching. There were the special training classes every Saturday and sometimes, during the week, speech-training and singing. And when those exams were all over then came my private studies for entrance to a university in the UK. An activity-oriented life intermixed with much fun and laughter and sometimes tears as well.

Father in heaven who lovest all
O help Thy children when they call
That they may build from age to age
An undefiled heritage

That became my prayer when I was appointed Principal of BBGS – a position which I never wanted and which filled me with fear. But one never cries out to God in vain – His ear is ever bent low to hear our feeblest cry and He enabled me through those difficult early years and then the challenging years that followed. Mistakes were made and hard lessons learnt.

From an enrolment of 500 the school was to grow to over 2000! School extensions became necessity every time there was yet a further increase in numbers. Fun-fairs and food sales became the order of the day – hard work but so challenging one could not resist it! They were truly fun times too as the whole school – head, deputy head, staff and pupils (both old and present) all worked as a team. There was such a tremendous sense of achievement when all the necessary funds came in time for the various building projects.

The policy of the school from its inception was to build only when funds were in hand. I remember being told by the Board that we could not build a hall the size I planned as we did not have the funds for such a large building. I felt strongly we had to build it according to the original plans and hence prayed much. God answered in a wonderful way when the Lee Foundation contributed RM40,000 and made our dream come true. Yes, those were challenging years and I am always thankful that Mrs Tan Lai Kuen, our deputy head, was always there to support and be fully involved in all our dreams. Together, two very different personalities worked as a team both seeking nothing but the best for BBGS.

We aimed at excellence in every aspect of school life. We were anxious that each BBGS pupil should give of her best and so towards that end we worked. Cleanliness, a sense of order, a love of beauty had to be inculcated and so began competitions in class cleanliness, toilet cleanliness and floral arrangements in every classroom. Discipline had to be maintained and a sense of dignity instilled and total loyalty practised. Above all our sincere desire was that every pupil should know without a doubt that without God in their lives all would be in vain. And hence our school motto – Nisi Dominus Frustra – has been and, I hope, will continue to be a guide to right and wholesome living to every BBGS pupil.

Miss Cooke's Story (Part 1)

This is the story of Miss Cooke, BBGS' Master Builder, taken from her article published in the School Centenary Magazine, May 1993.

Seeking Nothing But the Best

by Miss Elena M. Cooke

Ex-girl, ex-teacher and ex-headmistress (1958 - 1977)

Teach us delight in simple things...

As I look back to the days when I was a pupil of the Chinese Girls' School in Davidson Road, which later in 1930 moved to Bukit Bintang and became known as Bukit Bintang Girls' School, I realise more and more that those happy days were truly filled with delight in simple things. Miss Prouse and those early teachers enriched our lives by their dedication to their profession. While there was strict discipline, there was also real care and love. A cane was to be found in every classroom and I had my full share of its use. Today as I think back on those times I realise just how beneficial they proved to be.

But intermixed with learning were those carefree times dancing round the May Pole to music on Sports Day, picnics by the sea, badminton tournaments with other schools and the making of wonderful friendships which have lasted to this day.

Miss Prouse must have known what an over-active little pupil she had in Elena Cooke and I remember how thrilled I was when, one day, she singled me out and asked me whether I would like to read an interesting book she had. Furthermore, she said she had other books she would lend me when I had completed the one she was lending to me. And so began a life-long love of books.

There was Mrs Lim, my primary teacher, who constantly gave me two cents and sometimes the princely amount of five cents to spend at interval because I had lost my pocket money! There was Miss Too whose art lessons I found a delight because I could spin all kinds of stories for her and thus help her forget that she was almost completing my drawing for me.

Miss Ma will never forget my piece of embroidery which she and many others had a hand in finishing! Miss Glasgow introduced us to the wonderful world of English Literature and held us enthralled. She transported us to far-distant and fascinating places but at the same time was always on the ready to catch any mischievous imp seated right in front of her! I think of her deep concern for me when I lost all interest in living when my father suddenly passed away. I think of the challenge she put to me: "Your father was so proud of you. Do you think he would be happy if he saw your total lack of interest in anything, especially your studies?" That made me sit up and get on with my preparations for my School Certificate Examination.

Yes, those were the days when a good foundation for life was laid - days when I was taught by example simple kindnesses which meant so much, when I was taught true delight in simple things and mirth that has no bitter springs.

Wednesday, 3 October 2007

Letter fm Mei Ling

Many thanks for your emails. Your kind words have encouraged me to keep the blog going. I look forward to hearing from more of you :-)

Here's an email from Mei Ling Routley, who writes to us from the UK.

Dear Joanna

I was researching the history of BBGS for a project and came across your superb blog. Reading through it, I found you had quoted my poem ‘The Complexities of Choral Speaking’. I am the Mak Mei Ling who wrote it, and I am very happy you have put it in your article, as I really loved Choral Speaking.

A bit about me – I left BBGS in November 1983, and in January 1984 I came to England to do my ‘A’ levels. I went on to study law at the London School of Economics, and graduated in 1988. After that I sat for my Bar Exams, qualifying as a barrister in 1989/ 90.

I am now a full time mother with three children aged 7, 12 and 14. In my spare time I help with voluntary organisations and run charity projects. I live full time in London and visit Malaysia every other year.

Thank you for the trip down memory lane. Good Luck with your blog (and your move to Singapore). It looks wonderful and I hope many more ex-BBGSians post their thoughts on it.

Best Wishes,

Mei Ling

Tuesday, 2 October 2007

It's recess time!

I'm currently on vacation in the US visiting my sister, Julie. We've enjoyed countless hours of shopping, dining and chatting. Today, we started talking about BBGS and what we used to do at recess time. When the bell rang in the middle of the school day, we all had 20 minutes free to do anything we wanted. What did you do?

The first thing most of us did was to rush to the canteen for food, or to the toilets know...

Some special activities all BBGSians shared include:
  • Class cleanliness - arranging desks in straight rows (using rafia string), sweeping the floor, cleaning the blackboard, preparing noticeboards, emptying wastepaper baskets
  • Floral arrangement - preparing posies or bouquets of fresh flowers to be placed on the teacher's table every week. It made such a refreshing difference
  • Toilet cleanliness - this sounds disgusting to a lot of people, but we took great pride in keeping our allocated toilets clean. Every girl, even the privileged ones with maids at home, had to clean toilets. No exceptions.

Having spent 70% of my school life as a prefect, I spent a lot of my recess time giving marks for class, floral and toilet cleanliness. Although during one care-free year in Form 3, a group of us got together to play rounders using badminton rackets for bats, and oranges for balls. Huh??!

But Julie tells me that non-prefects had more fun. Girls would gather to share their lunch-boxes and chat about everything. Julie even learnt to fashion different hair styles e.g. French plait during recess time.

What did you do at recess time? Please share your stories by posting a comment.

Sunday, 30 September 2007

What's your House?

All BBGS girls belonged to a School House, and wore their badges proudly as part of the school uniform. And what made it extra special was that our houses were named after school founders (just like Hogwarts!) and not some common Malaysian flower or animal. Let's see, there was:

COOKE House who wore yellow - my mother & I are both Cookies ;-)
GREEN House who wore green
MACLAY House who wore blue
PROUSE House who wore purple - my sister's house
SHIRTLIFF House wore red

The house loyalties were especially strong during Sports Day when we would cheer ourselves hoarse during the different athletics & games events. The highlight was always the cheerleading competitions, where our bevy of house beauties would dance, sing, shout and parade in the most creative poses to win the competition.

Did you know that invitations to the BBGS sports day (via the Prefectorial Board, Librarians, Interact Club) was the most highly-traded item in KL boys' schools? Heh...heh...must have been the cheerleaders skirts that started the bidding frenzy ;-)

But despite the house rivalries, we always UNITED in one voice during the inter-school relay race singing:

BBGS Dynamites, don't play with Dynamites - YEY! YEY! YEY!

(Repeat until voices run out)

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

Chen May Yee

I've been combing the internet for stories about BBGSians when I chanced upon this article from the Star dated April 4, 2005. May Yee and I were at school together and she went on to become a journalist and author. This article describes how May Yee traced 4 generations of her family's history and compiled it into a narrative entitled "Born and Bred in Pewter Dust"

Name: Chen May Yee

Education: Bukit Bintang Girls’ School, Kuala Lumpur; Bristol University (BSc in Economics and Sociology), UK; Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism (MSc in Journalism), New York, United States

Profession: Journalist/author

Current base: Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States

What do we know about our own ancestry? Most of us are so engrossed in making money that we think little of it. For this reason, Chen May Yee deserves our envy. Not only has she managed to chart four generations of her family’s history, but she has managed to compile everything into a poignant 132-page narrative.

This will be an invaluable asset to her family for generations to come. Chen May Yee traced four generations of her family’s history and compiled everything into a poignant 132-page narrative called Born and Bred in Pewter Dust: The Royal Selangor Story. The book was published in November 2003, but it has been on the backburner since the 1980s.

Perhaps, it was a matter of commissioning the right person to capture in writing the legacy founder Yong Koon started 120 years ago. As the only journalist in the family, Chen was the obvious choice.

In mid-2001, having just left her job at Asian Wall Street Journal (AWSJ) in Singapore, Chen felt she needed a break from journalism after seven years. She returned home to Kuala Lumpur to begin work on the book. It took two years and a lot of “emotional investment”.

“Most of the research involved oral history, talking to employees, some of them in their 60s and 70s. They were eager to share their memories. For so long, no one asked them what it was like in that era. It was fairly emotional for them, and for me too. They would look at me and say things like, ‘Your grandfather (Yong Peng Kai) told me to save money. He booked my house for me in Taman Melawati and I’m still living there now’,” Chen, said.

She was back recently for her book-signing at the Royal Selangor Visitor Centre in Kuala Lumpur.
“All these things fleshed out my grandparents and what they were like when they were at work and interacting with other people. I just knew them as my grandparents. It gave me a sense of what it was they had built up, how difficult some of those years were and how everyone was in it together.”

Undertaking the project also helped Chen gain a better appreciation of why her mother and three siblings are so driven and married to their work. Till today, they remain active in the business.

“I guess I didn’t understand that when I was growing up because as children you just want your parents to be home,” added Chen.
Writing a book of such personal nature was not an easy task, especially for a journalist who was used to “objective journalism”. When she completed her first draft and circulated it among family members, there were surprisingly no objections.

She revealed that one of her cousins confessed to crying when reading the book. Before this no one had ever called her to say an AWSJ article made him or her cry. That made it all worthwhile.

“But I hope when readers read the book they are not going to think that this is the story of one little company that grew.

“It is also the story of Kuala Lumpur and Malaysia. Without tin, there would be no mass immigration in the 1800s, which changed the face of the country,” she explained.

In 2002, Chen and her husband Chris Beck, moved back to his hometown in Minneapolis. Then last April, she was appointed assistant business editor at the Minneapolis-Star Tribune in Minnesota.

Chen has no immediate plans to write another book. She has a job that she’s still feeling her way around and a one-year-old daughter, Zoe, so for now, she has her hands full.

She admitted that she missed going out, talking to people and getting stories firsthand.

“Every so often I try to get out. I like to meet people in the community, for example those who are involved in companies that my reporters cover. Seeing that I just moved to Minneapolis, I’m still figuring out the lay of the land, the industry players and how they interact,” she said.

When she joined the newspaper, Chen sensed the staff had their reservations, especially since many of the reporters were older than her and had been with the paper a long time.

“Being young was probably a question mark for them as was the fact that I was not from Minnesota. They were probably thinking, ‘what do you know of local businesses?’ But my job is not to know everything. It’s about asking what they (the reporters) know. Then I try and help them frame their stories.”
Chen confessed that she is still figuring out what an editor does. As no one has quit, she jested that she must be doing something right.

During her years as a correspondent for news wire services AFP and AWSJ, Chen said her most interesting stories were not about prominent politicians or businessmen.

“Talking to the people on the street, out of the kampung, and trying to figure out where the country was heading. This country (Malaysia), which used to be a kampung-based society, has been through so much development in the 1980s and 90s. I think it makes for very interesting stories on the ground.”
Chen was fortunate that she never had to choose between journalism and the family business. For her siblings and their mother, it was never a choice. Business was growing and their father, who was soldiering on what his father Yong started, needed them.

“And he really wouldn’t hear them doing anything else,” she pointed out. “There are 11 of us in my generation, and six are in various positions in the company (including brother Tien Yue, 27, who manages the company’s corporate sales). They all worked in various capacities elsewhere and only later went into their own professional specialities within the company. “It was always impressed on us that there should be a good fit, that we shouldn’t go in just because you are a family member. And for me the best fit is writing a book.”

Saturday, 15 September 2007

Making music

After catching the latest music video on MTV, I'm shocked. Surely this is not the kind of musical influence we'd like our children to grow up on? me a prude but I can't help but reflect on the wholesome and innocent musical fare that BBGSians grew up on.

Remember our school assemblies? Everytime we had a couple of minutes to spare, Ms Yeap would encourage us to sing her favourite song about a pomeranian pup (did you know why? - she owns one!)

If my memory serves me, the song went something like this...

One man went to mow
Went to mow a meadow
One man and his pet pomeranian pup
And a bottle of pop
And a sausage roll
Went to mow a meadow

(Repeat until you reach no. 10 and increase the speed of singing until everyone bursts into laughter!)

or what about this one....

Edelweiss, Edelweiss
Every morning you greet me
Small and white, Clean and bright
You look happy to meet me
Blossom of snow may you bloom and grow
Bloom and grow forever
Edelweiss, Edelweiss
Bless my homeland forever

and another canine-theme song

How much is that doggy in the window (woof! woof!)
The one with the waggerly tail
How much is that doggy in the window
I do hope that doggy's for sale
I must take a trip to California
And leave my poor sweetheart alone
If he had a dog he won't be lonesome
And the doggy will have a good home

A dear reader just reminded me of 2 songs that we used to sing in goes

Kookabura sits on the old gum tree
Merry, merry king of the bush is he
Laugh Kookabura laugh
Kookabura gay your life must be

Row row row your boat
Gently down the stream
Merrily merrily merrily
Life is but a dream

Saturday, 8 September 2007

CU Camp

Some of my happiest memories of BBGS took place during school holidays at the annual Christian Union (CU) Camp. Every year, about 200 girls would gather to learn Biblical truths, hymns and spiritual disciplines. Apart from attending lectures & craft sessions, we had so much fun running around with our dorm mates.

  • Classrooms were turned into dormitories, and we brought our own mattresses, pillows, bolsters and soft toys to make ourselves really comfortable
  • Showering in make-shift cubicles built around the waterpipes required daily feats of acrobatics. It wasn't easy to juggle soap, shampoo and water while your dorm mates attempted to relieve you of your towel and clean clothes ;-)
  • In an attempt to win the Inter-Dorm Competitions, we performed minor miracles by turning guitars into Santa Claus and soft toys into reindeers!
  • Candlelight Service was a chance for us to show off our acting & singing talents. Many of the finest amateur productions were performed in the school canteen while candles flickered in the balmy night
  • Midnight feasts were the highlight of the camp - chomping on Twisties and assam boey at 2 am was such good fun
  • My mum ran the CU Camp kitchen for 4 years. I remember helping her plan the menu and insisting that kids definitely prefer baked beans over fancy dishes!
  • Our beloved camp teachers led by Ms Moey were a wonderful blessing to so many generations of girls. The truths that we were taught have kept us anchored in the faith while weathering life's storms.
There is no doubt in my mind that CU Camp is one of the enduring legacies of BBGS.