Sunday, 4 December 2011

OFA coffee table book, Part 4

It is now about a month since I started on this OFA coffee table book project. The good news is that we are making progress with the project. My co-editor, Molly Ooi, and I are splitting the writing responsibilities between us, even within the sub-sections, because there are certain areas which best suits her and there are certain areas which suits me better. I'm not concerned about grammatical errors creeping into the book because as an English language teacher, she'd be able to zoom in quickly on grammatical mistakes. Like they always say, a cup of tea.

Molly shall be taking charge of the PFS section of the book, which touches on the history of the school and the old headmasters, but I'm helping out with the old history of Penang and researching into the PFS School Rally. Why the old history of Penang? Because we wanted a brief history that will seque properly into the PFS history. Setting the background, so to speak.

Meanwhile, the main bulk of the OFA section of the book will fall on my hands. The most challenging will be to put together the history of the OFA. There's so little history or news of the association available. Although the OFA was formed in 1922 or 1923, most of the records were destroyed during the Japanese Occupation of Malaya. Like most other associations and societies, their committees had consigned the old records to bonfires in fear of retribution from the Japanese invaders. Even innocuous minutes could be used as so-called "evidence" to capture, torture or even kill the hapless victims. People were known to have disappeared in the middle of the night.

So there should be records of activities after the Japanese were defeated. However, it seemed that the post-war records were again consigned to the flames although this time around it wasn't intentional. The Great Fire at the OFA in November 1983 could not bring down the premises in Northam Road but it reduced all the paper records to cinders or mushy pulp after the firemen had finished with dousing the flames.

Nevertheless, I'm confident that we can unearth much of our history back. All I say is that it will be interesting work!

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