Sultan Abdul Hamid College

Sultan Abdul Hamid College

Infobox School
name = "Sultan Abdul Hamid College"
native_name = Kolej Sultan Abdul Hamid (KSAH)

motto = "Scholar, Sportsman, Gentleman"
medium of language = Malay, English
established = December 8, 1908
city =
state = Kedah
country = Malaysia
type = Public all-boys premier school
affiliations = SAHOCA (Sultan Abdul Hamid Old Boys Association)
Current principal = Morazuki B. Hashim
grades = Form 1 - Upper 6
classrooms =
address = Jalan Langgar, 05460 Alor Star,
district = Kota Setar
mascot =
colors =
colours = Black, Red, Yellow
newspaper =
yearbook = DARULAMAN
free_label_1 =
free_1 =
free_label_2 =
free_2 =
free_label_3 =
free_3 =
website = @
footnotes =
picture =

The Sultan Abdul Hamid College (SAHC, now Kolej Sultan Abdul Hamid) is a premier school in Alor Star, Malaysia. Formerly known as the Government English School, it is one of the oldest English schools to be established in the country. It boasts of an illustrious alumni roster that includes Prime Ministers Mahathir bin Mohamad (b. 1925) [] and Tunku Abdul Rahman (b. 1903 d. 1990) and the present Sultan of Kedah, His Highness Sultan Abdul Halim Muadzam Shah ibni al marhum Sultan Badlishah (b. 1927). A former student and teacher, Daim Zainuddin, later went on to become the Finance Minister of Malaysia.

The Sultan Abdul Hamid College is also known as SAHC (English), KSAH (Malay) or just simply and fondly "College" to the students and teachers of the school. Its yearly magazine or schoolbook is named "Darulaman" (the abode of peace), referring to the Arabic title for the state of Kedah.

Primarily a boy's school, it's students comprise of boys of Form 1s to Form 5s and mixed sexes of Lower and Upper 6s. The student population had increased tremendously from the date of the school's early inception: from less than 50 in 1908 to more than 1,200 in 2007.

The school recently celebrated its 100 years of existence(1908 - 2008).

Photo Gallery


The Early Years

Late in 1908, Mr. Mohamad bin Iskandar, a senior teacher at the Penang Free School, was invited by the Kedah government to become the first headmaster of the first English school in the state. Appropriately named Government English School or G.E.S for short, the school had the unique distinction of being established some time before Kedah came under British protection. Mr. Mohamad bin Iskandar is the father of Tun Dr Mahathir, the fourth prime minister of Malaysia.

The First School

The building was a wooden structure which stood between the Alor Star High Court building (now known as Galeria Sultan Abdul Halim) and the Balai Nobat facing the junction of Jalan Baru (now known as Jalan Putera). It was an extremely old building, having been used in the past as the office of 'Chief Minister', Wan Md. Saman, a great man whose brilliant feat in constructing the Wan Md. Saman canal towards the close of the nineteenth century caused Kota Star to be opened up. It was a tiny building that could hardly accommodate fifty pupils. But at that early stage it was much too big for its purpose.

The Kedah Government, in its zeal to bring enlightenment to the people, had not taken into consideration the extreme conservatism of the Malays. To the simple country folk, English education was synonymous with Christianity. They were not to be blamed for this belief seeing that the spread of English Education owed much to efforts of Christian missionaries in the second half of the nineteenth century. An English school in Alor Star was therefore construed to mean a direct attempt to wean good Muslims from the true faith. As a result, Mr. Mohamad bin Iskandar had the unenviable task of starting a school by going from door to door to solicit for pupils. At last, as a result of his untiring zeal, and the support that he gained from the Sheikh-ul­Islam, Hj.Wan Sulaiman, a religious man noted for his enlightened views and his devotion to the tenets of Islam, he was able to start his school on the 8th of December 1908. By the time the suzerainty over Kedah was transferred from the Siamese to the British m 1909, the school had been in existence for a few months and enrolment was increasing gradually. More Malay boys were coming forward, although Malay parents were still, as in other parts of Malaya, quite skeptical of the value of English education. In times when the most rudimentary knowledge of Malay was sufficient assurance for a good employment, it was difficult to accept the idea that the 'Christian' language could confer great benefits in time to come. Great harm was still feared to come from it and the enlightened parents sent their children to schools only after an elaborate ceremony intended to protect the boys from the evil influence of the English language. However, the persistent efforts of the Headmaster, the continued support of the Sheikh­ul-Islam, together with the fact that there were no visible ill-effects on the religious beliefs of the few who had braved the dangers inherent in the 'Christian language', soon began to bear fruit, and by the beginning of 1910, there were already more than 50 pupils attending the school. One Mr. Md. Salleh was appointed Asst. Master at this time.

Mr. Mohamad bin Iskandar did not remain long enough at the fledgling school to guide it through the difficult teething period. After a slight misunderstanding with the Education Department he resigned from his post and returned to the Penang Free School in 1910, leaving the Government English School (G.E.S) in the hands of Mr. Md. Salleh. However, the growing school required a more experienced and well-trained man to guide it. Through the influence of H.H. Tunku Ibrahim, Mr. Ismail Merican, another Senior Asst. Master at the Penang Free School and a scion of a well-to-do family as well as a great friend of H.H. Tunku Ibrahim, was appointed Headmaster of the school in 1911. The school had by this time grown considerably. The enrolment had risen to 97. Another teacher, Mr. P. M. Ibrahim, was appointed to help the Headmaster. The old building could no longer accommodate this big number and as a result open air classes were held under some Angsana trees.

A memorable event occurred in 1911 when the school was closed for a couple of months. The Kedah Government decided to hold its first census and Mr. Mandan and a number of boys were called upon to work in the Census Office, which was situated on the ground floor of Balai Besar. One of the students, Che Man bin Shamsudin was highly commended by the Assistant British Adviser and was eventually granted a scholarship to continue his studies at the Penang Free School.

The Second School

By the middle of 1911 the school had grown so large that the old building with its offshoots under the Angsana trees could no longer be tolerated. As a result, a private dwelling-house in Jalan Penjara Lama was acquired (located in the rear portion of the present-day Alor Star Police Contingent complex, opposite the General Post Office building and Masjid Nagore). This was a private house rented from Ku Baharuddin of Setol. It was by no means an ideal house. The rooms were small, dark and gloomy. There was not enough sitting accommodation for everyone. As a result the hundred odd boys were crammed into cubicles, with many seated on the floor.

In spite of the obvious shortcomings, the school continued to grow. By 1912 there were already 160 boys made up of 103 Malays, 43 Chinese, 11 Indians and 3 Siamese. Several more teachers joined the staff at this time, and the highest standard in the school had reached Standard Four. It was, however, as far as the school could go. Shortage of accommodation and trained staff made it impossible to proceed to a higher standard. As a result, boys of the top forms had to leave the G.E.S. and proceed to the Penang Free School or seek employment. The majority preferred to work since a Std. IV qualification would open the door to good posts in the land. A number of boys proceeded to the Free School while others joined the Malay College. It was at this time that several prominent boys like Tunku Yaacob, Tunku Abdul Rahman and Mr. Lee Ewe Boon left. It spoke well for the G.E.S that some of the boys who went to the Free School were tested and found fit to be in Standard Six.

The early school did not have the good fortune to have its Headmasters and teachers staying on for a long time. The poor salary was perhaps one of the factors that drew away many of the teachers to other departments. An Asst. Master in those days was paid a salary of $30 a month. It was not until 1919 that it was increased to $90 with a provision for a vacation leave of fifteen days per year which could be accumulated up to four years. The salary was further revised in 1933 when a normal-trained teacher was given a basic salary of $140.

Mr. Ismail Merican was persuaded to join the Kedah Civil Service in 1913, and Mr. Abdul Manaf who succeeded him joined the Secretariat as an Office Assistant soon after. He was succeed by Tuan Syed Jan, a senior teacher at the Victoria Institution, Kuala Lumpur. By this time it was realized that there must be proper planning for the future if the school was to keep pace with the ever increasing demand for English education by an awakening public. The fear of the evil influence of the Christian language was still there. Malay parents still continued to protect their children with elaborate incantations before sending them to school, but the obvious advantage of an English education in earning an easy livelihood outweighed all other considerations, A Standard Four certificate would open the door to most posts. The State was in the process of being opened up and the more who went to the school the better it would be for everybody, otherwise all the state departments would be swamped by outsiders -'the anak Pulau Pinang' and others. The State therefore decided to engage a fully qualified man to make plans for future expansion.

Mr. E.A.G Stuart, an Asst. Master at the Malay College, an able man who had been well spoken off by all who had come into contact with him, was appointed Headmaster of the G.E.S as well as the Superintendent of Education Kedah in 1914. He was to remain at his post with short breaks, until his death in 1927. Tuan Syed Jan continued to serve as Asst. Master until his transfer to Sungai Patani where he started the second English School in Kedah in 1918.

The Present Building

Plans for the present building had already been completed before the arrival of Mr. Stuart. A large area at Tanjung Bendahara, covering about thirty acres, at that time a padi field with tiny Malay houses dotted here and there amidst coconut trees, cashew nut trees and plantains, had been selected by Che Md. Ariffin (Secretary to the Government), and Che Ismail Merican (Headmaster, G.E.S). But the actual construction of the building was not started until 1915 and it was not completed until late 1916.

The original building consisted of a two-storied structure in the centre with two classrooms running on each side. It was not the imposing building that it is now and many who were not aware of the Government's education plans for the future thought that His Highness the Sultan of Kedah had constructed a new stable for his string of horses. But it spoke highly of the foresight of its designers that ample provisions were made for future expansions, with adequate space for playing fields and the construction of more classrooms to cater for more than a thousand boys. The muddle that was later caused in the arrangement of the building was the result of the shortsightedness of others in whose hands the expansion of the school was entrusted. The almost frivolous excuse of saving a tennis court caused an entire new wing to be built out of line

The school was formally declared open on 1 January 1917 and Mr. E.A.G. Stuart, who was the Headmaster and concurrently Superintendent of Education, had his office in an upstairs room in the central building. The playing field was a mire in the wet season and strayed buffaloes from the neighboring villages would wallow comfortably in the muddy pools that dotted all over the field. Roads as we know them now were nonexistent. Jalan Langgar was only a gravel path with a crude metal surface in the centre. During the monsoons, the sides would churn up badly and boys who walked bare-foot to school had their legs so badly smeared with mud that a special water tank had to be erected in front of the school for boys to wash their dirty feet before entering the classrooms. The boys’ dress had not very much changed since 1908. The majority of Malay boys were still averse to wearing shorts. They came to school in sarongs and Malay bajus. A few Chinese boys still had pig-tails. It was most amusing to see the boys doing physical training at this time. The Malay boys often had their songkoks on their heads and their sarongs folded and tucked up between their legs to be fastened at the back by slipping the end into the back folds of their sarongs. It can be imaged what fun the boys had when the tucked up ends came off in the middle of a jumping exercise which they often did, or when the Chinese boys' pig-tails came too close to some mischievous hands.

School hours were different from now. There were two sessions. The first session lasted from 9 am to 1 pm and the second session, which was more in the nature of ‘prep' lasted from 2 pm to 4 pm. At a time when boys were more inclined to throw their books to a corner on reaching home, it was necessary to bring them back to the school in the afternoon to do their 'prep' under the supervision of their teachers. Moreover there was the decided advantage that boys could be made to play games immediately after school. As discipline was far from what it is now, this procedure had to be adopted as it was unlikely that anyone would turn up for games at all. Mr Stuart had to exercise all the tack he could command to ensure a regular attendance at school and on the field. His task was further complicated by the fact that the school was growing rapidly. By 1917 there were 223 on the roll with a staff of eleven including the Headmaster. Out of this, however, only three were trained teachers. The others had to be trained by Mr. Stuart himself as the normal classes for teachers had not been started in Kedah. It spoke highly of the earnestness and devotion of these early Kedah teachers that many studied privately in their meager spare time and qualified for the Associateship of the College of Preceptors, which was a recognized qualification in the teaching profession. Messrs. Augustin, G. M. Khan, Ariffin, Shamsudin, Poh Soo Cheng and Lim Chien Chye had the distinction of being the proud possessors of this qualification, the A.C.P., which entitled them to wear the academic gown.

Mr. E.A.G. Stuart had the stupendous task of running two establishments both growing rapidly at the same time. The Malay schools had by 1923 grown so much that he was finding it more and more difficult to cope with the work single-handed. It was at this time he was given an assistant in the person of Mr. E.C. Hicks, to help him at the English School. But it was still no easy task. There were already on the roll by 1926 well over 400 pupils with the possible likelihood that it would be double that number in a few years time. In order to make plans for the future, the government appointed a committee to make recommendations on the future of the English education in the state. This committee consisted of Messrs Stuart, S. Dennys, E.A.P. Helps, Tunku Mohamed and Tuan Syed Mohamed Idid. It recommended, among other things, that English education should be given to 800 boys (a large number in those days) of whom 640 should be Malays; secondly that a hostel should be built at the G.E.S Alor Star to cater for at least 50 boys who came from the districts. It is interesting to note that a hostel was a necessary appendage in a school of this nature. If the school was to serve the whole of Kedah, it was extremely necessary that a place be provided for the boys from the remote villages to live in. The bigger the hostel, the more country lads would have the benefit of this type of education. Otherwise, an English school in Alor Star, as in other towns in Malaya would benefit only those living in its vicinity. Some of the most promising boys in the districts would thus be deprived of a chance to get better education.

To enable Mr. E.A.G. Stuart to cope with the fast growing problems, he was asked to relinquish his post as the Headmaster and devote all his time at the Education Office which occupied the top floor of the Post Office from 1926 until 1935. Mr E.C. Hicks who had for a number of years been assisting him at the school took over the Headmastership towards the end of 1926.

In 1927, Mr Stuart passed away at Pulau Tikus Sanatorium Penang. In conformity with his last wishes, his remains were brought back to Alor Star to be interred at the Christian Cemetery at Jalan Maxwell. The largest gathering Alor Star had ever seen consisting of members of the staff, Government Officers, Malay School teachers, school boys, old boys from all parts of the state and other friends assembled at the school and followed the cortege in the funeral procession to Mr. Stuart's last resting place.

Early in 1928 a committee was formed with Mr. E.C. Hicks as the Hon. Secretary and Mr. Ivery as the Hon. Treasurer to collect funds to be known as the Stuart Memorial Fund, for the purpose of building a library in the school compound to perpetuate the name of the late Mr E.A.G. Stuart. The Kedah Government undertook to donate a sum equal to the amount collected by public subscriptions. Donations came generously. Members of the staff alone contributed well over six hundred dollars in September 1928. As a result by 1930 there was enough money to erect a suitable building and to purchase several books, which, together with the thousand odd books bequeathed by the late Mr. Stuart, formed the nucleus of the Stuart Library by Marozuki.

School Progress 1916-1940

The school made steady progress. By 1920 it was able to submit its first few candidates for the Junior Cambridge Examination. The results, however, were disappointing. Only one passed. The following year there was a slight improvement when three passed. The same thing happened in the School Certificate Examination. In the first year, in 1923, only one passed but in the following year ten were able to get through. This result was indeed far from satisfactory. In fact the results continued to be a matter of grave concern until 1932, when Mr. R.M. Young, the Headmaster, in his report for the year remarked, "The Cambridge results were again poor. Of the 16 candidates who sat for the School Certificate Examination, only 7 passed. In the Junior Cambridge only 10 candidates passed out of 44 who sat. I hope I shall be excused if I take this opportunity of making public a few facts connected with the results of the last two years. I know there hasn't been a tremendous amount of discussion over them and while I do not pretend to explain the results in every detail, I believe that many people are drawing unwanted conclusions from half-facts. The results in the School Certificate Examinations do not call for any particular comment; they have been more or less normal; in fact knowing the classes that I did I was surprised each year that so many passed. It has been obvious - it is still obvious in many of the classes ­ that the standard of English in the school is not nearly as high as it ought to be. I must ask you not to rush to a hasty conclusion; I am not saying that natives of Kedah are unintelligent, but the facts are that a few years ago the average age of the pupils was almost unbelievably high. I have been forced to adopt a line of action which, as a policy, is deplorable - the policy of turning out into the streets numbers of old boys who have had insufficient learning to be anything but a danger to the peace of the community. The numbers superannuated in the past three years have approximated 150. In spite of this, in the higher classes well over 80% of the pupils are over age, many of these are 3, 4 or 5 years older than the boys in those standards that they ought to be. The superannuating policy is bringing an effect of course; there ought to be steady improvement in future."

The last statement was prophetic. There was a tremendous improvement in the results of the Cambridge Examination held in December 1933. Eleven passed the Cambridge Examination. This result reflected the splendid work of Mr. Young and his staff. It was further improved in 1935, in the time of Mr. E.H. Wilson. Out of the 35 who sat for the Senior Cambridge Examination, 25 passed and in the Junior Cambridge Examination, 28 passed out of 31. But it was in 1936 that the school had its best results before the war. Nineteen out of 21 passed in the School Certificate Exam and 44 out of 54 passed the Junior Cambridge Exam. Mr. T. J. Thomas, in his report for the year 1936, writes. "This is a report on the work done in 1936 during the greater part of which Capt. E.H. Wilson was the Headmaster. To him therefore belongs the credit of all the good things that came to the College that year. The Cambridge results rank among the best in the whole of Malaya, a fact which was responsible for a message of congratulations from His Excellency the Governor in Singapore."

It is rather a strange coincidence that this wonderful achievement was made soon after the school had changed its name; the G.E.S. had become the Sultan Abdul Hamid College on the 25th October 1935. But the people closely connected with the College had seen this coming for quite some time.

The Headmaster, Mr. E. H. Wilson, made his mark in other ways. He was a giant of a man who surprised everyone by his agility. He had a Games Committee which was responsible for the organization of all games, a Duty Master who had to be around in the afternoon to take charge of all the field activities and a Duty Book which had to be sent up to him every morning. He would study the report carefully every morning and deal with all matters mentioned in the Book very promptly. He himself was seldom away from the field in the afternoon. He would be found either in the pavilion with a group of teachers around him, watching boys at play, or keeping goal for the Erics (was a good soccer goalkeeper in those days), or taking part in a game of badminton with the boys or enjoying a game of tennis with members of the staff. By his own personal example, his geniality, his unbounded energy in all activities and the trust he seemed to have placed in members of his staff, he was able to get the best out of everyone. The playing field was a hive of activity in the afternoon and absentees at games were unheard of.

The period of Mr. E. H. Wilson's headmastership was indeed a period of great achievements. Several new buildings were either completed or planned. They were the Games Pavilion, the extension to the Hostel, the Laboratory and the Assembly Hall. Several new activities were started… the Physical Training Inter­House Competition, the Photographic Society, the Rifle Club, Rugger Inter-House Competition, the introduction of the House System instead of Divisions. It was at this period too that the College saw the greatest number of supporters from outside coming alone in the evenings to give the boys the benefit of their experience in various games. Mr. S. W. Jones, the British Adviser, was able to spare one afternoon every week to help the boys at cricket. Mr. Lancaster, the Veterinary Officer, Dr. Campbell, the Medical Officer, Che Md. Zain Ariffin K.C.S., and several others coached the boys at Rugger almost every evening. As a result the College had the most successful season in 1935, defeating the B.M. High School, a senior school with several years of cricket experience, the Butterworth Cricket Club and the Clifford School, Kuala Kangsar. The following year the College defeated the King Edward VII School by 56 runs. The College had a wonderful rugger season in 1936, defeating Ibrahim School by 19 points to nil, the B.M. High School by 8 points to 3, the Penang Free School by 18 points to nil, and the King Edward VII School, the most formidable opponent, by 14 points to 3. It will be further seen what a successful period those three years were when it was realized that twenty-one of the boys who passed the School Certificate Examination at that time (out of the total of 65) are now in Division One of the Public Service, several of them with professional qualifications.

Candidates who passed in 1934.1. Che Bakar bin Sulaiman (K.C.S)2. Che Hamid A.M.I.C.E. (P.W.D.)3. Che Hassan bin Said (K.C.S.) - deceased4. Syed Osman Idid (K.C.S.)5. Tunku Nong Jewa M.A. (Cantab.) (K.C.S.)6. Tunku Md. Saad A.M.I.C.E (P.W.D.) - deceased7. Wan Daud bin Wan Ali (K.C.S.)8. Che Yusoff bin Ibrahim A.M.I.C.E (P.W.D.)9. Syed Alwi bin Syed Kassim (K.C.S.)

Candidates who passed in 1935.1. Che Ahmad bin Abdullah (Asst. Superintendent of Police)2. Che Din bin Embi (Forest Officer)3. Che Long bin Osman B.A., L.L.B.4. Che Nor bin Wahab B. Sc. (Agr) (Agricultural Officer)5. Che Sutan bin Zain (Dental Officer)6. Che Ariff bin Darus (Dy. Superintendent of Police)7. Mr. Lim Swee Teng (Asst. Sup. of Police)8. Che Arshad bin Ismail L.L.B. (Legal Service)

Candidates who passed in 1936.1. Dr. Bakar bin Ibrahim M.B., B.S. (Health Officer)2. Che Hussain bin Ahmad B.D.S. (Dental Officer)3. Che Johari bin Daud M.R.C.V.S. (Veterinary Officer) [] 4. Che Natt bin Hj. Yusoff (Dy. Superintendent of Police)

Mr. T. J. Thomas who succeeded Mr. Wilson in January 1937, had the advantage of a fully trained staff that had gone through a period of first-class training in the last few years. There were by now a string of really experienced senior masters who had a thorough grasp of their work and not a few younger ones who were ready to fill in the breach whenever called upon to do so. Mr. Augustin had for a long time been connected with Geography teaching in the school and Mr. M.Y. Ariffin with Maths. The results in these two subjects in the Cambridge Examinations had been improving steadily throughout the years especially in the last few years when the good grades obtained by the boys had been due almost entirely to Geography and Maths. There was also the advantage of having a European Assistant who was serving his second term at the College. Mr. R.A. Goodchild was first posted to the College in 1936 and he returned to the College after his leave. There was also the great influence of the Superintendent of Education, Mr. E. Ia M. Stowell, who was serving his second term in Kedah. Apart from these, the Headmaster himself was largely instrumental in bringing about further improvements both in the field and in the classroom.

Mr. T.J. Thomas was a firm believer in corporal punishment. Many old boys remembered the cane being used on them for small errors in grammar found in their composition books. The period after the terminal examination was the period especially feared by most boys. The Headmaster would go around from one classroom to another with his dreaded cane in hand and every boy who had had ample warning and who still had not made the slightest improvement would get the thrashing of his life. It was indeed a difficult time but it bore results. The high standard in games was maintained and the Cambridge results, although not as good as 1936, in percentage were of a better quality as five boys obtained Grade A, (the College never had more than one Grade A at any time in the past) and one of them Che Omar bin Din, who proceeded to the Medical College, was awarded the Queen's Scholarship after the war.

Mr. L. D. Whitfield, formerly of the Anderson School, Ipoh, took over from Mr. T. J. Thomas in January 1940. However, he did not remain long at the College to make his presence really felt. He left the College after a few months to take up the post of Superintendent of Education, Kedah and his place was taken by Capt. B. Preedy who remained in the school right up to the outbreak of the Second World War.

Capt. B. Preedy came from Clifford School, Kuala Kangsar, a school long noted for its prowess in hockey. He was seen almost every day on the field together with Mr. Zam, the master in charge of hockey, driving the boys almost mercilessly towards the standard never attained before. The College maintained its high standard in all games. But Capt. Preedy is best remembered for his activities in the Passive Defence Service. By this time the war clouds were gathering fast over the Malayan sky. No one anticipated, however, that it would burst upon Malaya in the way that it did. Preparations were made everywhere to withstand a long onslaught from the air by organizing the Auxiliary Fire Service, the Air Raid Precaution Service, the Auxiliary Medical Service and the construction of air raid shelters. Every member of the staff was connected in one way or another with the Defence Services. Capt. B. Preedy himself organized an Auxiliary Fire Service in the College and supervised the training of the messengers from amongst the Scouts. He had an air raid shelter constructed. Groups of boys under the charge of their teachers were organized into labor gangs and were instructed to cut down all the coconut trees in the open space between the Hostel and the present Primary School building and pile them up to form an air raid shelter. This work took more than 2 months to complete and it was great fun while it lasted. Every morning boys would be taken to the place to work amidst great rejoicing. As soon as a tree fell there was a rush for the young nuts and "umbuts" - the soft tender part at the top of the tree. The Headmaster often had his share and it was not an unusual sight to see him going around the school with an 'umbut" in each hand.

By the end of 1941, war had become imminent. Members of the Staff who were attached to the Armed Forces were ordered to report to their units. Messrs. Abbas, Coates, Horne and Prigge left the College to join the army and when the College closed for the third term the atmosphere was intense. But no one realized that the storm would break the next day when a startled Alor Star heard the rumblings of the first bombs dropped on the aerodrome. The Hostel was still open as there were a number of boys staying back because of the Cambridge Examination which was still in progress. The Examination was abandoned and all teachers and the boys served faithfully in the Passive Defence Services during the week prior to the entry of the Japanese into Alor Star.

When the breakthrough started and the Japanese were on their way to Alor Star there was a confused scramble for vehicles in order to get away from Alor Star; very luckily the College bus was intact. Mr. Zain took command of the situation and evacuated every boy in the Hostel together with Mr. Poh Soo Chang and a few others to Kulim. It was extremely fortunate for them that there was a boy in their number, Syed Osman, who was able to drive the bus. From Kulim the party proceeded to Batu Gajah, where they still continued to serve in the A.R.P. A group of hooligans robbed them of their only means of conveyance and they were forced to remain there until the main Japanese Army passed Batu Gajah. A week later, Mr. Zain led his very tired party back to Alor Star on foot.

Games At The College

Football became popular at the school as soon as the new building was occupied although the field was by no means fit for play. It was extremely uneven and was thoroughly churned up and rendered almost unplayable in the wet season. However, the boys enjoyed themselves immensely "wallowing' in the mud, playing with their bare feet, the robust and bustling sort of soccer which was very popular in those days. The finer points of the game were almost unknown, and it was by no means uncommon to see the boys resorting to the most questionable tactics. However, such was the enthusiasm shown that interschool matches with the Penang Free School could be arranged as early as 1917. The trip to Penang in the first few years was looked forward to as a holiday especially in the first year as the passenger service by rail from Prai to Alor Star had not started The trip was made by the motor launch “Langkasuka” and most of the time in Penang was spent sightseeing or at the “ronggeng”. It is not surprising that the school suffered a continuous series of defeats at the hands of the Penang Free School. The G. E. S. Magazine, which made its first appearance as the "Herald" in 1926, records with pride in 1927 a victory over the Penang Free School. "Penang Free School came to play us at football on February 5th and were defeated by two goals to nil. This is the first time that we have defeated the P.F.S. for many years and it is a subject of congratulations." Mr. Lim Chien Chye (later H.M. Ibrahim School), the soccer master at the school for many years, wrote almost gleefully in the same issue. "This is the first time since I do not know how many years that the G.E.S Alor Star was able to defeat a P.F.S. team". This victory was repeated in the following year at Penang and from that time onwards the school continued to make excellent progress right up to the outbreak of war and was able to play on equal terms against such schools as the B.M. High School, the King Edward VII School, the Penang Free School, the Malay College, the Clifford School and the Anderson School.

Progress in soccer has been due to many factors, the greatest being the enthusiasm shown by the boys. As early as 1922, the school had been divided into divisions and there were regular matches among them in the league and Cup-tie competitions. By 1927, the demand for more playing fields had already been keenly felt. The Editor of the College Magazine, Low Thean Loy, later Dr. Low Thean Loy (deceased) in his editorial deplored the fact that there was only one playing field for nearly 600 boys. As a result the padi field behind the school was acquired in 1930, to enable more boys to take part in games.

Another great factor that brought about a steady progress in games was the great enthusiasm shown by the staff. Mr. Lim Chien Chye, as the Games Secretary and later coach, spared no pains to teach the boys all that he knew. Messrs. Rashid and Shamsudin were great soccer players in their days, both having represented the State on several occasions. Mr. Shamsudin was for a number of years the Hon. Secretary of the Kedah Football Association and many old boys would remember seeing his old car, K 45, at the S.K.C. in the small hours of the morning.

Dr. Moncur, a European teacher and a Welsh amateur international was attached to the College for a short period in 1935. He was largely instrumental in teaching the boys a more scientific type of soccer and was perhaps responsible in eradicating completely the hard-kicking and hard-tackling sort of game, which was very much favored in olden days. Above all, there was the great part played by the "Erics", a teacher's team which took part in all branches in sports, and which existed right till the outbreak of War. Every member of the staff, including the Headmaster, took part in the activities of the "Erics" in one capacity or another, and the influence exerted over the boys was immense. Apart from fostering a feeling of comradeship and trust, it kindled a sense of loyalty and affection between the teachers and the boys.

Cricket made its appearance in the school a few years after soccer but the unsuitability of the ground made it impossible to progress in the early years, However, due to the untiring efforts of Mr. J.F. Augustin in training up some senior boys, the school was able to register the first victory against P.F.S in 1925, a remarkable feat seeing that the P.F.S. had made a very much earlier start. Greater progress started after 1927 when Mr. Bloomfield caused two pitches, one for practice games and the other for matches to be laid. During the years that followed. Mr. Rashid who was later assisted by Mr. Lim Sin Chaw, nursed the pitches with such loving care that the school became the centre of all the important cricket matches in the State

Mr. Rashid seemed to have gone to bed with thoughts of the pitches in mind. He was literally on the field at all hours of the day and anyone who happened to step on the pitches inadvertently would have the unnerving experience of hearing Mr. Rashid's stentorian voice bawling at him from the teacher's quarters several yards away! By 1928 there was sufficient keenness to enable the school to start a Cricket league. Mr. Bloomfield presented a challenge cup known as the Bloomfield Cup, which was competed for by all divisions (Houses after 1935) down to December 1941. Regular inter-school matches were played against the Penang Free School, the King Edward VII School and the Malay College, Kuala Kangsar.

Hockey was introduced at the College by Mr. P. G. Samuels in 1932. The late start was due entirely to the condition of the field, which after being churned up by soccer was hardly in a fit condition for hockey, which required a reasonable level field. However, under the patient supervision of Mr. Samuels who was in turn succeeded by Mr. Ismail Shah, Mr. E.H. Bromley and lastly Mr. Zain who took over from Mr. Bromley in 1939, hockey became a regular school activity and league and cup-tie matches were played on an inter-house basis from 1933.

Rugger is comparatively a new game at the College. It was not played until October 1933 when Che Salleh bin Hussein (later H.M. Derma English School) a Raffles Graduate, who joined the school earlier in the year, began to excite some interest by running around the school with a queer-shaped ball with a dozen odd boys. The idea caught on very quickly and by the middle of the month, he was able to stage a 'demonstration' match watched by large gathering of enthusiasts. This was followed by a second demonstration, which was attended by not less than 50 boys, each one eager to play. Che Salleh had the greatest difficulty in preventing the entire 50 from running into the field. Rugger had made its appearance and it had come to stay as one of the major games of the school.

Tunku Nong Jewa (now a M.A.) the vice­captain of the first XV of the school team writes with great hopes in the G.E.S Magazine in 1933. "We look forward with brilliant prospect to the day when our school will 'plunge' a strong Rugger XV into the Rugger world". The school did not have to wait too long to see the realization of their hopes. By 1935, there was already a school rugger XV strong enough to take on some of the best rugger schools in Malaya, and the years that followed under the able guidance of Mr. R.A. Goodchild, a very amiable and energetic teacher, whose services the College was very fortunate to have for nearly five years, it achieved a reputation for rugger which any school would be proud of.

The Scout Movement

Scouting began in a very curious way. Mr. E.A.G. Stuart, who had been connected with the Cadet movement at Malay College, had intended to start a Cadet Corp on his arrival at the school in 1916. However, due to lack of support from the Government, he was forced to abandon the idea and start the Scout Movement instead under the guidance of Mr. Lee Thien Poh. Four patrols were formed under Che Hamzah, Che Ibrahim, Pak Dah and Syed Sheh and scouting of a kind was carried on for some time. But lack of proper spirit resulted in a curious idea being formed in many of the Scouts' minds. The Scout uniform was thought to carry with it certain privileges in law with the result that many unpleasant incidents took place with the police. However, owing to the efforts of Mr. E.A.G. Stuart and the tolerance and sympathy of Mr. Allen, the Chief Police officer, Scouting began to take shape gradually and by 1923 it was firmly on its feet. Mr. E.C. Hicks took over control of the Scout Movement at the beginning of 1923 and had it organized on proper scouting lines. By the end of the year, the College troops were ready to receive the Scout Commissioner for Malaya, Mr. F.C. Sands. Mr. Hicks kept up the old traditions of marching in the town and this became a regular weekly feature which was looked forward to with great enthusiasm by the Scouts. The sight of the hundred odd boys marching with a smart little band in the lead always drew a large appreciative crowd. There was great enthusiasm amongst the boys to join the Scout Movement, and quite a number were disappointed as the number had to be kept down to three Troops and a Cub pack. Outings and camping were carried out every term. The Scouts had their camps in Langkawi, Pulau Bidan and later in 1934 when the Jeniang Permanent Camp Site was opened, one or other of the College troops would always be in camps during the terminal holidays.

The Hostel

The establishment of a Hostel was first suggested by the Education Committee, which drafted the Government's Education policy early in 1927. By the end of the year, all plans were ready and a piece of land large enough for the purpose had been mapped out and everything pointed to the fact it would be ready the following year. But it was not to be so. It took a longer time than anticipated to acquire the necessary land and it was therefore not until August 1928 that the foundations of the Hostel was laid, However, it was only ready for occupation by January 1930.

The Hostel was opened in January 1930 with thirty boys on the roll and Mr. M. Y. Shamsudin as the master in-charge; he had the difficult task of moving to and fro from his quarters to the Hostel at all hours of the day and night as the Hostel was built without provision for quarters for a married supervisor in residence. Moreover, he had great difficulty in persuading the boys to realize the benefits of a closely regulated way of living. The Hostel was a novel idea and upcountry boys who had been used to the free and easy way of living in rented houses or rooms all on their own, found the Hostel regulations most irksome. As a result the big and spacious building designed for more than fifty boys did not have more than thirty boys at any one time in the first few years of its existence. As late as 1932, Mr. Young had to remark that the number of boarders was decreasing year by year. "General health and discipline were good", he remarked in his report. "The boys are a unit of considerable importance in the College". But few boys wished to become boarders. Many parents were still willing "to listen to the boy's plea for more freedom than they could get at the Hostel".

Messrs. Ismail bin Ibrahim and Radzi bin Puteh, two bachelors who joined the school in 1933, took over from Mr. Shamsudin in July 1933. They lived in the rooms immediately above the porch and thus were able to have direct supervision over the boarders at all hours. By this time the influence of the Hostel was gradually being felt and that were more applications for admissions almost every month. By the end of the year there were fifty four on the register with several more on the waiting list. By the middle of 1935, it was realized that an extension had to be made to the existing home. More boys have been admitted than the Hostel could possibly cope with. Several boys had to sleep in one of the classrooms while others occupied a shed, which was later pulled down to make way for the present pavilion.

Mr. Goodchild was appointed Supervisor of the Hostel on the completion of the extension in 1936. He was later succeeded by Mr. A.C. Prigge who remained at the post until the outbreak of war.

The New Mission and Vision

The school administration, under Mr. Mohd. Zainon b. Shafie decided to change the school's mission and vision in line with increased competition from other premier schools in Malaysia, including Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Sultanah Asma, which is located a few kilometres away along Jalan Langgar.

The New Vision: To be one of the top 10 premier schools in Malaysia by 2010

Girls In A Boys' School

Since its earliest days, the College had allowed co-education. The first girl student was one Lily Thomas who, after a couple of years' study, left for Rangoon and was last heard of in 1947.

After World War II, there was an increase in the number of girls admitted to the College. In an article in the Darulaman Magazine of 1953, Ramlah Hj Zainuddin wrote: "Owing to the shortage of teachers and the small number of students in Kampong Baru Girls' School (KBGS), co-education has been introduced into the Sultan Abdul Hamid College (SAHC) in 1948. KBGS sent only students of standard seven. They were Kalsom and Swee Eng, but towards the end of the year Che Zaidah joined them."

When asked how she found life in the new school among so many boys, Che Zaidah replied that she did not experience any discrimination from the boys nor was there any attempt by any of the boys at disturbing the girls. As for outdoor activities she played badminton and tennis. There were no religious classes then. Her favorite subject was Art and because the war had interrupted her studies, she failed her Standard IX examination. However, with private coaching by Mr. Lim Chin Chye in Maths and one or two other subjects she managed to pass her final examination. Later she got a job in the state Welfare Department where she served a number of years.

As for Kalsom bte Ismail, she found herself the only girl in the class when she rejoined in 1950. Her classmates included Tunku Malik bin Tunku Kassim, Bashah Nordin and Wahab Zainuddin. She proceeded to do her Senior Cambridge Examination in 1951. In the meanwhile, KBGS had started Form Five classes of its own. This caused the girls from KBGS to stop coming to the College, which was now only accepting those who were joining Form Six classes. Though she was the only girl in the class the boys not only accepted her as one of them but also were helpful towards her by lending notes and in doing her homework. When the number of girls increased to 50, they were given a special room behind the stage in the Assembly Hall to be used as a common room. As for the subjects taught, Kalsom remembers Mr. Hunter teaching Geography and Latin. The latter, however, was an elective subject. As for extracurricular activities, she also remembers taking part in the school concert which included choral singing with some of her classmates including Noraini Hamzah and Ramlah Zainuddin. One thing she did not seem to like was the method of punishment for any wrongdoing. It was either 'cubit perut' (pinching of the belly) or being sent out of the classroom for a few minutes.

In 1949, a second batch consisting of four Malay girls, among them Her Highness Tunku Sakinah, the daughter of His Highness the Sultan of Kedah joined the College. In 1950, an even bigger number was admitted. This consisted of nine Malay and two Chinese girls. The number of girls admitted in 1951 dropped considerably. This was due to a decision of the Headmistress of KBGS to send only those she considered to be the best. By the beginning of 1952 only eight girls were left in the College, four in standard eight and four in School Certificate class. Ramlah Zainuddin in her article in 1953 wrote, “The KBGS did not send anyone because it was thought that it was time for the school to stand on its own feet”. Moreover the number of its students was already large. It seemed that co-education in the SAHC would come to an end at the close of 1953. How unfortunate the KBGS was, for it could only carry on till the end of the second term. Many of the teachers were leaving the school, so this led to the sending of its students to the College again. The girls were put in a class by themselves with Mrs. A.W. Pinnick as their form mistress. The class was known as “Seven G”, the letter G standing for girls. There were nineteen of them - four Chinese and the rest were Malays”.

The big transfer of girls to the College created quite a stir among the students. Sham bte Mydin, wrote in 1953 in Darulaman Magazine, "The news of our transfer from the KBGS to the SAHC shocked me. I really could not express the feelings that I had at that moment. One fine morning in the month of July, we the girls of standard VII, came to the SAHC and were introduced to our form teacher Mrs. Pinnick who showed us our new classroom. We were impressed by her kindness and loving welcome. It was sad that this lovely lady passed away in August 1953. We really missed her most considerate and gentle nature”. In 1953, four more girls joined the College, making the number to twenty four in standard VIII G. “Since my transfer to this school my life had been entirely changed from an easy to a hard one. I must confess though without any thought of disrespect to my former school which is so dear to me, that I was not made to work as hard as I am here. As a result I have to double my efforts in order to catch up with the lessons that I have missed. Science was not taught in KBGS, which I always thought was a very wonderful subject. Now I am happy indeed because I am able to learn science and realize how interesting it can be. When I first entered the science laboratory my eyes were attracted by all the scientific objects in the room, which looked like a dispensary to me. What impressed me most were the various kinds of apparatus neatly arranged in rows. The blackboards were full of diagrams which conveyed nothing to me then. Special considerations were given to us to park our bicycles and we were given a separate table in the canteen. We had games twice a week and singing lessons once a week together with standard V boys. The boys were not as bad as we expected them to be. They never tease or say bad things about us. This is a Boys' School, so we could not have much freedom. We had to behave well in order to maintain our good names and gain their respect. However, the girls who studied in mixed classes had to endure more from the male classmates”.

In 1954, the College started Sixth Form and the first batch, of three girls joined the female student population. This was the period when the College had its biggest number of girls.

Some prominent “gals” of the College:

Tan Sri Dr. Salma Ismail had the distinction of being the first Malay girl to graduate as a Medical Doctor in the history of the Malay states. Although she never formally joined the Sultan Abdul Hamid College as a student, nevertheless she was accepted to study from Junior Cambridge to Senior Cambridge in two successive years 1934-1935. As she was the only girl in the school at that time, Mrs. Lewis who was the Headmistress of KBGS where Dr. Salma came from arranged for some private teachers selected from among the wives of the expatriate officers working in Alor Setar to teach her in preparation for her Junior Cambridge examination and later her Senior Cambridge. The only teacher from the College who was selected to teach her in one subject was Mr. Veeramuthu. After completing her Senior Cambridge in 1935 she had to take private tuition in science subjects for one year. This was because there was no school yet in the state which could teach a student at Form Six level. After completing her studies through private tuition, Salma left for Singapore by ship from Penang. After studying at the King Edward VII School of Medicine for four years the war broke out and this interrupted her studies at the Medical College. When the war ended in 1945 she returned to Singapore to resume her studies and graduated as a Medical Doctor in 1949. At the Medical College she found herself staying in the same hostel as Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali who was later married to a fellow student by the name of Mahathir Muhamad. After graduation Salma joined the government service as a Medical Officer serving from 1953 to 1976 when she opted for retirement in order to go into private practice. She now has three clinics in Kuala Lumpur. In recognition of her public service she was conferred a Datoship a few years ago and recently was made a Tan Sri.

Dato' Dr. Kotha PillaiShe was a student in the College in 1948 and 1949. She graduated as a Medical Doctor in 1958 at the Adelaide University, Australia. She joined the Ministry of Health for a few years after which she opted to work in the Ministry of Defense till 1966. She returned to Alor Setar and opened her own private practice till today.

Mahayun bte. Mid HassanShe joined the College in 1952 together with some of her friends and placed in standard VII G. In 1954 she sat for her Senior Cambridge examination. She was selected to go to Kirkby, Liverpool, to be trained as a teacher and after graduation was on a five-year secondment to Brunei. After completing her secondment she returned to Malaysia to serve in Taiping, Alor Setar, Tuaran, Kota Kinabalu and finally in Petaling Jaya before her retirement.

Whilst in Kirkby, Liverpool, she had the honor of being present in an assembly where Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra AI Haj and members of Malayan Delegation for independence met teacher trainees to make the first historic announcement that Malaya would be independent on 31 August, 1957.

Hajah Radziah bte Haji Ishak She studied in the College as a science student in Form Six in 1954 and 1955. After completing her Form Six, she went to Edinburgh, Scotland, and later to United States of America to study Education. After graduating she taught in Alor Setar, Kangar and Kuala Lumpur. She was selected to lecture in Education in two Teachers' colleges in Kuala Lumpur. She was appointed Inspectorate of Schools for some years and later joined the Ministry of Education as a Senior Assistant Director in Technical and Vocational Division. After retiring she became an active member of a non governmental organization called PERTIWI.

Sabehah Haji SallehWhile in the College, Sabehah, like most other girls was very hard working and proved her worth both in the academic as well as in the co-curriculum activities. One of the proud moments was when some of the girls were elected as sub-editors of the DARULAMAN, the magazine of SAHC. She served in most of the societies including the Historical Society and Literary and Debating Society. Some of the more promising girls including Sabehah were appointed School Prefects.

Dato' Dr. Siti Hawa Salleh She was a student in the Sixth Form in the College in 1959-1960. She entered University Malaya in 1961 and was there till 1966 when she obtained Masters Degree in Malay Literature. She was appointed a lecturer in the same university. She obtained her Doctorate (Ph. D,) and later was made a Professor in her specialty. Presently she is serving in University Kebangsaan Malaysia.

Dato' Dr. Asmah Haji Omar She was a student in Sixth Form in the College. After graduating from University Malaya she continued her study in Indonesia in Linguistic. Not satisfied with that she went to London University to obtain her Ph. D. She returned to lecture linguistic in University Malaya and after some years was made a Professor.

School Principal

1908 Mohammad Iskandar
1910 Mohammad Salleh
1911 Ismail Marican
1913 Abdul Manaf
1914 E.A.G Stuart
1926 E.C Hicks
1929 C.W Bloomfield
1930 R.M Young
1934 E.H Wilson
1937 T.J Thomas
1939 L.D Whitfield
1940 B. Freddy
1945 J.F Augustin
1946 G. Emarrison
1947 D.H Christie
1949 G.J Gurney
1952 A.W Pinnick
1954 M. Ogle
1956 G. Stucliffe
1958 E.A.C Balshaw
1959 Kum Boo
1960 Long Heng Hua
1961 Tan Boon Lin
1963 N.A Ogle
1964 Ong Poh Kee
1967 Joginder Singh Jessy
1974 Zainal Abidin Bahaudin
1978 Mustafa Mahmud
1981 Hamdan Muhd. Salleh
1983 Kassim Saad
1988 Hassan Hashim
1992 Shuib Hussain
1995 Baharom Yaakob
1996 Ismail Mustafa
1998 Abdul Manaf Ahmad
1999 Ismail Din
2000 Baharuddin Abd. Majid
2001 Morazuki Hashim
2005 Mohd. Zainon b. Shafie
2007 Morazuki Hashim

School Song

Strong loyalty we give our king
Firm friendship we would like to bring
We march along with strength and will
To help our country win
We aim for truth and courage
For virtues and for values
We're girls and boys of College
Good Collegians are we

K.S.A.H Alma mater
K.S.A.H young Collegians all

The problems of the world we face
Seem very small like earth in space
The rainbow of the sky we chase
A great and worthy race
We pupils here are happy
We're cheerful with no worries
For aren't we young Collegians
We are and proud to be

K.S.A.H Alma mater
K.S.A.H young Collegians all

Prefects of kolej sultan abdul hamid

The prefects body of the school has been around since its early establishment.The prefects body of 2008 is lead my form five student Megat Mohammad Fakhri Bin Kamaruzaman as the headboy.The prefects body plays a key role in the 2008 centtanial celebrations.


On behalf of Kolej's F1 in Schools Club, we are happy to announce that Kolej's own team XLR8 have made it to the finals ! Team XLR8 have been chosen to qualify for the F1 in Schools National Finals on behalf of a merit wildcard issued by the Ministry of Education. Four students, Harith, Aizuddin Fahmi, Aizuddin Zakaria and Imran will represent XLR8 and Kolej Sultan Abdul Hamid in the Finals. The whole of Kolej wishes XLR8 good luck in the National Finals. Keep on winning for Kolej.

onic Boom

Sonic Boom is the name of Kolej's 08/09 F1 Team. Founded in the middle of February 2008, Sonic Boom will strive in this year's F1 Northern Regional Finals in order to achieve strong and notable results.

The members of Sonic Boom are Sheik Muhamad Arif bin Sheik Abd Rahim (Team Manager, Design Engineer), Luqman Hakim Rohaizat (Design Engineer, Manufacturing Engineer), Mohamad Hanif bin Hamid (Manufacturing Engineer) and Muhammad Ikhwan bin Saaroni (Graphic Designer). These form 4 boys are committed to F1 in Schools and will give it their all to Sonic Boom as a team.

The Raintrees of SAHC

(by Abu Bakar Ahmad, Class of 77)

Trees are the first when the day’s begun/To touch the beams of the morning sun/They are the last to hold the light/When evening changes into night/(Harry Behn)

Anyone who has been to the Sultan Abdul Hamid College would not fail to notice, on arrival at the entrance, the old trees that lined up the avenue leading to the main building. These weathered sentinels are Rain Trees, or more popularly known by its local name, Pukul Lima. Today there are about 60 of such trees in the college compound, conferring an added sense of grandeur to an already established institution. While no one that I know of can vouch for the exact year these trees were planted, they are known to have already been of full growth as early as 1939 (as confirmed by Datuk Syed Azizan Shahabudin Syed Hassan). In all probability they could have been planted at about the same time as work started on the main building in 1915 or when the building was completed in 1917.

Many may be surprised to learn that the Rain Tree is not a local tree. It is a native of tropical America and was introduced to the Straits Settlements by the Colonials in the 1870s as part of their urban forestry drive and to reciprocate the local Angsana, which was plagued by a mysterious disease. A lofty deciduous tree, it is typically 15 to 25m tall with a very characteristic flat-topped symmetrical crown measuring 30m in diameter and a short and stout trunk of 1 to 2m diameter.

As a student of the College in the 70s, I used to be fascinated by these trees. They were a most welcoming sight as I cycled into the compound from Jalan Langgar, particularly during the flowering season when the trees were a riot of showy pinkish and whitish stamens. The leaves of these trees are green with many branches. The fruits are pods measuring 20cm long, of dark brown or black color and contain many brown seeds set-in brown sticky pulp. When we had our sports day, many spectators would throng the shades of these trees only to get their shoes stuck with these pods. The flowers as I remember were faintly but pleasantly scented and the pods emitted a sweet smell. The trees play host to a variety of epiphytes such as ferns and orchids. You can observe this in full splendor in the trees located near the canteen. During the dry season (early part of the year), the trees would shed their leaves, altering the landscape from a forest to a sparsely leafed savannah.

The name Pukul Lima is somewhat odd for a tree but there is an interesting twist to it. Due to their sensitivity to light, the leaflets of this tree tend to fold up at dusk, thus giving the impression that they are retiring from duty for the day. The tree is also sometimes called Hujan-hujan on account of the leaves folding up due to the overcast sky bespeaking of an impending shower.

Due to their age, these trees are as much an icon of the College as are the main building (1917), the School Hall (1939), the old Hostel (1930) and the Stuart Library (1930). As such, care should be taken to conserve these grand trees till the end of their natural life. They have been a witness to many an historic event and have provided shade to countless students over the years― from parades to sports, PE lessons, recreation and daily commuting. An ex-Collegian of the 1940s, Encik Zainal Abidin (fondly called Pak Non), recounts:

“When we were at the College as early as 1948, they were already there― full grown and offering beautiful avenues as if each day welcoming and bidding 'good day' when we left school in the afternoon. They offered shade for the boys to stroll during the break, walking or strolling from the classroom till the gate and back passing the 'pavilion' on the right and the teachers' quarters and the 'Stuart Library' on the left side. Kami yang tak sempat ke kantin lebih baik berjalan-jalan dan kalau boleh beli kacang yang dibungkus dalam gelongsong. Ada Mamak atau Benggali yang jualnya dekat pavilion. At the farther end almost near Jalan Langgar stood the small wooden Old Boys Association Club House. Yes the alumni had a cub house then. I do not know when it was pulled down and until now, almost half a century, no replacement. I believe there are photos available of the club house, the teachers’ quarters and the pavilion. All have disappeared. Even the pavilion has changed its facade and feature. On the other side of the field, eastward you have another road that is also lined with these trees. Now this is the main entrance since the western approach has been blocked by the viaduct and also the old road across the railway line has been closed permanently. At the northern most of this stretch you may remember there was a badminton court and the name Shamroc or Shamruc was given to it. Back in 1950's when Malaya won the Thomas Cup, badminton was the in thing, thus the badminton club. Near to it was an old grave yard. Farther down the road you would meet teachers’ quarters. They were bungalows. The first was lived in by Mr Hassan, Mr Zain etc. Next, the large wooden house on stilts (I think still around) and next the solid brick bungalow house next to the hostel block (tak ada lagi). The HM chose this house. The trees continued further in as far as the College Hall and a few others near the old Science building. I suppose these have been cut down. Ya pokok itu juga memberi perlindungan dari panas terik especially when we had our morning PE. Dulu, semua kelas kena bersenam waktu pagi. Baju di tanggal, simpan dalam kelas dan kami bersenam di jalan masuk ke College. Kiri dan kanan. Ada satu cerita semasa bersenam ada seorang rakan (Dato Abd Malik Aziz) baling batu dan kena sarang tebuan di atas pokok. Apa lagi semua ahli senaman dan che gu lari lintang pukang. Ada yang kena gigit…”

Based on a casual count made recently, there are close to 60 Rain Trees in the school compound. They are located as follows: (1) entrance road = 23, (2) what used to be the exit road=18, (3) in front of the old Hostel = 6, (4) behind the Assembly Hall = 3, (5) the Canteen area = 6 and (6) near the Science Labs = 3. It would be tragic if these trees are felled to make way for new buildings. As it is, the College is already congested. As we reflect on the 100 years that have since passed, we may want to take stock and appreciate this part of our rich heritage (which is all too easily taken for granted) and in so doing, ensure its preservation for the benefit of future Collegians.

Many universities in the United States, such as the Princeton University, take great pride in their trees and go all out to educate people on the existence of these trees and to care for them. I think we can do something similar. For a start, we can:

1/ Take a thorough count of all the Rain Trees and number them. We may even want to name these trees after famous personalities of the College as part of the awareness campaign.2/ Include proper health care of these trees as part of the gardening routine. We may need to get our gardeners to learn up from the relevant forestry authorities on proper maintenance, etc.3/ Use these trees to spin-off greater awareness and love of nature among the students. Encourage students to be more inquisitive as to the botanical aspects of the plants and trees found in the College. In short, get them to love and take pride in the trees.

As we look ahead to the future, what better way to leave behind than a living and breathing epiphany of what the College stands for? With their roots deeply entrenched in the ground and their branches raised to the heavens, the Rain Trees are emblematic of the best ideals of an educational institution that is rooted in tradition while embracing the challenges of the times, such as, the Sultan Abdul Hamid College.

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