Recently Victoria Institution was claim to be the oldest English school in Malaysia, and also granted as World Heritage status. As far as I am concerned, based on the History books of Malaysia, Penang Free School is the oldest English school in Malaysia, and it is as well the oldest school in the South East Asia. Victoria Institution was as though they were changing the history of Malaysia.
As I was reading the news about VI, i found a contradicting statement made by an alumnus of VI.
"The school was also the first English secondary school in the country, was prestigious and had produced important personalities from Sultans, leaders, ministers, corporate figures, politicians to sports luminaries and professionals." said by Safie, an alumnus of VI.
Penang Free School was found by Rev. Sparke Hutchings on October 21st, 1816, on the island of Penang, Malaysia. Its first headmaster was Mr. James Cox 1816-1821. Its original premises on Farquhar Street first housed the Hutchings School, but is now the Penang State Museum. In 1928, the school moved to its current location on Jalan Masjid Negeri (also known as Green Lane). The School received cluster school status from the Malaysian Ministry of Education in 2007
Penang Free School produced many notable people in Malaysia and one of them was:
- Tunku Abdul Rahman, First Prime Minister and founding father of Malaysia.
- Tuanku Syed Putra ibni Almarhum Syed Hassan Jamalullail, the 3rd Yang Di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia.
- Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin, the Raja of Perlis and the 12th Yang Di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia.
- Tan Sri P.Ramlee, Malay actor, director, songwriter and musician.
- Tun Dr. Lim Chong Eu, second Chief Minister of Penang.
- Dr. Wu Lien-teh, plague fighter and pioneer in the modernization of China's public health system.
- Tengku Tan Sri Ahmad Rithauddeen, President of the United Nations Association of Malaysia (UNAM)
- Danny Quah, Prominent economist and Head of Department of Economics at the London School of Economics and Political Science.
- Tan Sri Elyas Omar, First Datuk Bandar of Kuala Lumpur
A few letters were sent regarding this matter to the Star:
I wish to point out that Victoria Institution is not the oldest English secondary school in Malaysia. It was reported that VI was founded in 1893. Penang Free School, founded in 1816, is the oldest school in South-East Asia.
Secondly, I would also like to take this opportunity to seek clarification about names of schools and National Heritage status.
Since the Minister of Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage, who happens to be an old boy of VI, has declared that the school can now revert to the old English name following the awarding of the National Heritage status, it would also be appropriate for the Minister to also consider other world-renowned and historically rich schools in the country, such as Penang Free School, to be accorded similar status.
After all, Penang Free School is officially recognised as the oldest school in the region and had produced the third and 12th Yang Di-Pertuan Agong, the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, a Chief Minister of Penang, the first Mayor of Kuala Lumpur, the current Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations and many other notable personalities.
OLD FREES 99,
I truly agree with the writer that Penang Free School is the oldest school in South-East Asia and Malaysia.
Founded in 1816, Penang Free School is a school of excellence and tradition. In fact, the term ‘Free’ in the name of PFS is very meaningful because it means that children of all backgrounds can attend the school. Moreover, PFS had received recognition from the Malaysian Book of Records as the oldest school in Malaysia.
PFS has produced many notable figures. Among them was the late Tunku Abdul Rahman, the first Prime Minister of Malaysia. More importantly, there is a two-storey building in Penang Free School which is named after Tunku, that is Kutub Khanah Tunku.
The cost of construction of the library was largely funded by the Tunku who donated $100,000 for the construction of the library. And he also officiated at the opening of the library.
Besides that, PFS has also produced many achievers in various fields. Among them are Tunku Abdul Rahman (politics), Tan Sri P. Ramlee (arts), Datuk Dr Anwar Fazal (consumerism), Dr Wu Lien Teh (medicine), S.M. Zainul Abidin (education) and Datuk Eddy Choong (sports).
Therefore, I urge the Ministry of Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage to accord PFS heritage status as a recognition to PFS, an alma mater which has produced great people for our nation.
LEE SIU MING,
President, PFS Historical Society (2007/2008), Penang.
While I would like to first congratulate Victoria Institution (VI) on their winning the honour of being accorded heritage status, I would be failing my alma mater – Penang Free School – if I sat back and kept my views only to myself.
It will be very interesting to know the terms of reference and criteria on which the authorities in the Unity, Culture, Arts And Heritage Ministry based the selection of VI.
For the record and information of fellow Malaysians who may not know much of PFS, allow me to highlight a few facts that should convince any authority to favourably consider PFS as a “national heritage”.
>Penang Free School was founded in 1816 – even before Stamford Raffles (1819) and is the oldest school in Malaysia and yes, South-East Asia. Education was provided free of charge for young children during the very early days.
>PFS can proudly boast of having the most number of Queen’s scholars in the country, including Dr Wu Lien Teh and Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu who was a former Chief Minister of Penang.
>PFS is the alma mater of two Yang Di Pertuan Agongs – the Raja of Perlis and his late father. Our Bapa Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman was also a student of the school.
>Artistes? We have Tan Sri P. Ramlee, Ahmad Daud, world renowned pianist Dennis Lee and many others.
> Sports? We can mention the Choong brothers (Eddie and David) in badminton, Jimmy Yeoh and Allan Oh in motor rallies, just to name a few. Former Datuk Bandar of Kuala Lumpur Tan Sri Elyas Omar shone as a leader for our badminton and football teams while Dr Wu Lien Teh did PFS and Malaysia proud with his service in medicine during the plague in China.
We would like to urge the ministry to consider according heritage status to PFS and also ask the Education Ministry to revert the name to Penang Free School.
WAN RAMLI MOHD NOOR,
I did many research and investigation to about Penang Free School to obtain evidence to prove my statement right before posting this thread to the eyes of many people.
From what i heard, the ministry of unity, culture, arts and heritage Malaysia happens to be the ex-student of VI and his son is currently enrolling his studies in VI.