Monthly Archives: May 2020

From ‘Work Conquers All’ To ‘Aim And Achieve’

Not a case of badge-engineering that is so prevalent nowadays. Rather it symbolized the coming of age of a school.

My school in Butterworth – Assumption Boys’ School – apparently was an offshoot of St Xavier’s Institution, Penang, planted on the “ulu” mainland by the Christian Brothers.  And it also adopted the school badge of its more prestigious elder sibling, for a long time. 

When I entered Std One in 1962, we all wore that SXI cloth badge — stitched onto the pocket of our white shirts.  No one asked what “Labor Omnia Vincit” meant.

Then, circa 1968/69, a new Headmaster came onboard.  Brother Stephen was distinctly different from his easy-going predecessors. He decided it was time for us to step out of the shadows of Big Brother – with a new (metallic) badge and an inspiring  triple-A motto: Aim And Achieve. 

‘Tao Yong Mai Hua’ … What’s That?

Established in 1906, Kek Seng Cafe at 382-384 Penang Road qualifies as one of the oldest icons of classic Penang Heritage. The nostalgic interior fittings and furniture, and even ceiling fans remain much like they were 6 decades ago.

In my kiddo days, once a month or two, my parents would take us to this cafe for a mini-feast.  What I cherished most was their signature Ice Kacang — which had generous toppings of red beans, sweet corn, a scoop or two of ice cream, and an optional lump of colourful jelly.  

My mum did not like the jelly.  So, for her order, the kopi boy would shout towards the kitchen, “Tao Yong Mai Hua” (I suppose they meant Ice Kacang Minus Jelly).  Those 4 words still ring in my ears!

Besides the ice kacang, there were other yummylicious temptations, such as popiah, lor bak, asam laksa, etc.

The Phone That Went Bananas

Before the advent of mobile phones, few if any, have heard of the name NOKIA.  Yet this little known Finnish company soon became the fastest rising star of the cellular phone world.

In 1996, it launched the model 8110 — that iconic, somewhat quirky banana-shaped phone that had everyone going gaga. It featured a full matrix LCD screen and a sliding cover that also acted as an ON/OFF button.   Several of my colleagues each bought one within a week of its launch in Singapore.  It seemed cool to be seen with this novel  design.

I too was hugely tempted to jump onto the trendy bandwagon. But after fiddling with a unit belonging to a friend, I opined that the curve shape did not really go well with fitting into a pocket, or waist pouch.  And so, I chose a conventional flat Ericsson instead.

The Big Bang Was Not Just A Theory

It was not a nebulous idea originating in the faraway limitless tracts of the universe.

Three score years ago, $350,000 (equivalent to probably $7,000,000 today) was a gigantic bang for the buck – I bet no one will disagree with me.

That was the first prize for the Social and Welfare Services Lottery draws, which took place every 20 days – the elusive pot of gold at the end of the rainbow passionately pursued by ever-optimistic punters.   Never mind if the majority never even struck any teapot or coffee pot.  The lure seemed irresistible.

The first prize was later raised to $375,000 and progressively increased to RM1,000,000 by 1988.  Well, by that time, I had already settled down in Singapore, and have lost track of its development.

Is this lottery is still alive in Malaysia now? What’s the trophy amount?

For 20-Sen, The Scales Tipped In My Favour

Haha, it was not corruption on the cheap!

Some 50+ years ago, this kind of coin-operated pedestal weighing machines was very popular in places like restaurants, the lobbies of cinemas, etc.  AVERY was the market leader.

A visit to the cinemas would see us stepping up onto the base plate, and inserting a 20-sen coin into the slot at the upperside of the dial. A second later, the needle would rotate nicely, and indicate our weights. (in pounds; kg unheard of then). 

It seemed the scale always showed favourable readings, as there were smiles all round when we stepped off the base plate.

These machines are rare relics now.  Perhaps, it is no longer cool to have personal “body prosperity index” checked in public and, only to discover that the scales no longer tip in one’s favour.  Blame fast food — maybe.