The Vintage Class of 59/61

With the harvest of academics, medical specialists, legal eagles, entrepreneurs, bankers, talented musicians and outstanding sportsmen that the Class of 59/61 produced, 1959 was indeed a vintage year for the Anglo-Chinese School (ACS).

Academically, the 59 cohort did the school proud in the “O” Level results when 5 of our students – John Liu & M. Jegathesan (the joint Seow Poh Leng Medalists), Tan Kim Ping, Allan Ng Yoon Hooi and Michael Yap Hock Leong, scored eight distinctions each.

In the medical field, we have specialists galore – cardiologists, dermatologists, gynaecologists, neurologists, opthalmologists, paediatricians, pathologists, radiation oncologists, dental surgeons, etc. Among them are Oliver Hennedige, the pioneer of mini-dental implant in Singapore, and Charles Koh, the world’s leading micro-surgeon specialising in advanced laparoscopic surgery; Charles is also responsible for many innovations and techniques, including the “KOH Ultramicro Instruments” used for laparoscopic microsurgery which remains the only set of instruments for that purpose in the world today.

We have two professors in our midst – Bernard Tan Tiong Gie and Robert Gay Kheng Leng. Bernard is also an accomplished musician and composer; known for his many published orchestral and choral works, he was conferred several public awards for his active role and contributions to the arts in Singapore.

We even have a diplomat in Michael Hwang. A senior counsel and international arbitrator, Michael is also Singapore’s ambassador to Switzerland, the Deputy Chief Justice of the Dubai Financial Centre Courts and the current President of the Singapore Law Society.

When it comes to music, the Class of 59 has no shortage of talents. We have Michael Goh (aka Singapore’s Dean Martin) who has several CDs to his credit, and also Charles Koh of the ‘Gaylads’ fame. Before you are jump to conclusions, we would state categorically that Charles is not that way inclined but how the name 'Gaylads' came about merits explanation. Before joining ACS, Charles (and also Peter Loh Boon Tan and Robert Gay) studied at the Presbyterian Boys School (PBS). When the group was formed, the name “Gaylads” was decided on to honour their PBS Principal, Mr. Gay Wan Guay, who happened to be Robert’s father!

Few cohorts can boast of the fastest man in Asia amongst them. Our ‘flying doctor’ M. Jegathesan accomplished this feat at the 1966 Bangkok Asian Games where he bagged three gold medals in the 100m, 200m and 400m events. Jega, who participated in three consecutive Olympics (Rome’60, Tokyo’64 and Mexico’68), also has the distinction of appearing in two Olympic 200m semi-finals and his time of 20.92 set in Mexico is still intact in the Malaysian record books.

Other sportsmen in our cohort also contributed significantly to make ACS a formidable force in sports, with a number of them representing Combined Schools and Singapore. Teo Kim Yam, Paul Lim, Sim Kee Thye, Foo Kim Jin, Quek Choon Huat, the late Yik Pak Yong and Kenneth Sim (all from our cohort) were in the school basketball team that made the headlines when it became the first English school to breeze through into the final rounds of the 1959 Inter-School Basketball Championships. As the game was then dominated by the Chinese schools, the feat surprised the sporting community and received wide press coverage. Paul Lim was outstanding at the competition and he was eventually selected to play for the national team.

On the national scene, Lenn Wei Ling was recognised as Singapore’s top swimming coach in 1985. The others representing Singapore were Leslie Yong (Tennis) and Choo Teck Long (Hockey, Long Jump & Triple Jump). Teck Long also has the honour of holding the school’s oldest track and field record in the Long Jump set more than fifty years ago. If not for the conversion from Imperial to Metric distances, many of the track records held by Victor Yong and M. Jegathesan would also be intact.

Whatever the activity or sports we participated in, we did our level best to excel but what is marvellous is the inimitable ACS Spirit that binds us together over the 50 years (or 60 years for some of us who have known each other since Primary One!). We still meet monthly for lunch and keep in regular touch over drinks or karaoke sessions; we even have a web site that has done much to keep us together. Few cohorts can lay claim to such camaraderie.

We are now in the autumn of our lives and what are important to us are good health, happiness and friends. Let’s continue to enjoy our comradeship and look forward to our Emerald (55th) and Diamond (60th) Anniversaries.

"The Best is Yet to Be"!

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