So at 10.45a.m. on Sunday, I stepped into the Penang Medical College in Sepoy Line and took the lift up to the top floor. It was early. The only ones there were Anwar Fazal and Alex Ooi. Alex is the president of the Old Frees' Association Singapore.
Hey, I called out to them, good morning. I think they were a bit surprised to see me but the moment passed quickly. "Are you representing anybody," Anwar Fazal inquired as we shook hands. "No, I'm representing myself," I replied. The question did not strike me as pertinent until much later when I saw the rest of the people trooping in.
Among them were representatives of the Penang Heritage Trust (Khoo Salma and Clement Liang), Penang Global Tourism (Ooi Geok Ling), the Penang Tourist Guides Association and what I believed to be the Penang Budget Hotels Associaton. Of course, there were also the representatives from the PMC itself, as they had graciously hosted the meeting, and The Old Frees' Association in the presence of MS Rajendren, the association's president. Only then did it strike me that the formation of this society might not exactly be meant for the general public's palate yet. But never mind, there were some other familiar faces who weren't representing any establishment too. I didn't consider myself intruding and I certainly wasn't alone. All in, there were about 20 people present.
At about 11.15a.m. the meeting was called to order by Anwar Fazal who went on to present the society's proposed constitution for discussion in detail and acceptance by consensus. That finished, the pro-tem committee was appointed.
Maybe I should point out here that those appointed to this committee were: Anwar Fazal (pro-tem president), Rajendren and Dr Abdul Rashid Khan (pro-tem vice-presidents), Dr Alex Ooi (pro-tem secretary-general), Khoo Soo Hay (pro-tem assistant secretary-general), Clement Liang (pro-tem treasurer) and for the five posts of pro-tem committee members, there were institutional representatives from the Penang Institute, Penang Global Tourism, Penang Medical College, and then there were Loke Gim Tay and I. The appointment was quite unexpected. I didn't expect to be in the committee and was surprised when Rajendren proposed my name. I think in the meantime, I'll prefer to hold this post on behalf of the OFA; they can fill in this seat at the first annual general meeting or earliest possible time.
Like I had mentioned earlier in facebook, there are five Old Frees in this pro-tem committee. This is only right seeing that Dr Wu Lien-teh was one of the Penang Free School's most illustrious sons. The Grand Old Lady has every reason to be proud of her alumni but among them, Wu Lien-teh (or Gnoh Lean Tuck as he was known during his schooldays) stood out as perhaps the most apolitical of them. As I pointed at the meeting, Wu Lien-teh was this country's one and only nominee for the Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1935. The country should be very proud of him but unfortunately, his achievements have all but been forgotten. It is appropriate to honour him properly now.
There was also time at the meeting to discuss some proposed activities for the society but it wouldn't be right for me to reveal them at this stage.
The pro-tem committee of the Dr Wu Lien-teh Society. Seated, left to right, Clement, Rashid, Anwar Fazal, Rajendren, Alex, Khoo; standing, left to right, Loke, Penang Tourist Guides Association representative, Penang Medical College representative, Ooi Geok Ling of Penang Global Tourism, myself, Dr Wong from Penang Institute and Arthur who represented the Penang Budget Hotels Association.