Sunday, November 25, 2007

STAR on Wikipedia

I remember during my schooldays, Blue House was nicknamed “Royal Blue” (probably inspired more by a shade of colour of writing ink, than any imagined pedigree) but I couldn’t remember the other houses having the following nicknames: Green Grinds, Black Kingdom, Red Rouser,White Vigour and Yellow Legion.

And where did I acquire this useful nugget of information? Where else but the collective font of human knowledge: Wikipedia. (The above information comes from the 18.09.2006 version of the article on STAR)

Try out this experiment. Google “Sekolah Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Ipoh” and see what the search engine throws up. If my blog has not grown further in popularity, you will find that at the top of the list is the Wikipedia article on STAR. I dare say that Wikipedia would be the first port of call for anyone seeking to find information on STAR rather than, sadly,

Which begs the question: Who minds the STAR article in Wikipedia?

I raise this issue as our image and brand value depends on it. If the article is not properly edited, a stranger to the school could easily conclude that students of STAR are a bunch of near-illiterate hooligans with really bad grammar (even if we are, there is no need to publicise the fact). The problem lies in the fact that it is a “free encyclopedia that anyone can edit”, as it describes itself on its main page. Just to underline that point, I’ve taken the liberty to add this blog to the links at the bottom of the STAR article.

From the Wikipedia article on Wikipedia itself, a criticism of it is that “Wikipedia has been accused of exhibiting systemic bias and inconsistency; critics argue that Wikipedia's open nature and a lack of proper sources for much of the information makes it unreliable. Some commentators suggest that Wikipedia is usually reliable, but that it is not always clear how much.”

The current version of the article on STAR seems to be quite acceptable, though. There are no controversial facts stated and (thankfully!) no grammatical howlers. But only because the entry is rather short and thus lacks any usefulness.

But because the policy is that anyone could edit it, there have been instances when people who are rather lacking in factual knowledge and language skills have, if I could put it crudely, screwed it up for all of us.

Consider the 15.6.2006 version:
“STAR currently held students from form 1 to form 5. Previously there have been classes up to form 6, but later the ministry of education only allow up to form 5 for the boarding school. At hostel students are gathered via the sports house. There are 6 house color, which is Rumah Hijau (Green House), Rumah Biru (Blue House), Rumah Hitam (Black House), Rumah Merah (Red House), Rumah Putih (White House), Rumah Kuning (Yellow House). The houses were sorted by the one which is nearer to academic block, starting from Rumah Hijau, to Rumah Kuning.”
It’s just painful to see the numerous grammatical mistakes littered all over the article. If the same article goes on to tell that we won a number of PPM English Debate trophies, I’m sure the readers would think we cheated.

I notice that some versions are self serving. Take this one from 26.08.2006:
“The houses were sorted by the one which is nearer to academic block, starting from Rumah Hijau, to Rumah Kuning. Rumah Biru is the best!!!!(emphasis added)
While I do not disagree with that, statements like that only devalues the credibility of the article. The reference to Blue House was later edited out on the same day but the Blue House fanatic still refusing to be outdone, re-edited the article (yet on the same day) to still claim glory for his beloved house:
"The houses were sorted by the one which is nearer to academic block, starting from Rumah Hijau, to Rumah Kuning.Hidup Royal Blue!!!(Style Pudin)"
Now, the mystery of who "Pudin" is still needs to be solved (I wonder if it was the notorious Cikgu Sharifuddin?) but this serves to demonstrate how the article is open to vandalism.

It is not only limited to self-glorification of houses. This is taken from the 9.11.2005 version where the contributor attempted to enlighten us on STAR’s cricket triumphs:
“The turf in the middle of the school field is a place where the school's cricket team did their routine training. The team consists of highly-talented players which keen to win many matches. Proof to that, Faliq Azemi (Fivers 2005) had been selected to play for the state team in national tournaments.”
I say well done. STAR has produced many great sportsmen but to single out a particular individual would not be doing justice to the rest.

There are factual howlers too. The version dated 12.12.2005 states:
“Rugby is very synonymouos with STAR. The team is nicknamed Cobratasha.”
I’m sorry but our team is NOT nicknamed "Cobratasha", dude.

This was eventually corrected on 25.2.2006:
“Rugby is very synonymouos with STAR. The team battlecry is Cobratasha.”
That’s more like it but too bad you still can’t spell "synonymous".

But I must say that some of the entries have been more than enlightening. From the 31.10.2005 version:
“The school consists of The Great Hall (the school's hall), administration building, one academic block, a pavillion called Astaka, 7 hostel blocks including one matriculation block - named after the sport houses Yellow, White, Red, Black, Blue and Green. Uniqely, these hostel blocks were not arranged in geometry as they were stretched from the academic block till the worker's quarters. There are also Highway (the main road in the school), Airport (language lab), hang out place, Lot 10. And one of the best architecture feature available here is a one-of-its-kind songkok-shaped water tank. Recently built including a 100-feet high flag-post to commemorate the Golden Jubilee countdown.”
Highway, Airport, Lot 10 and Songkok? I consider myself informed now boys, thanks. I wonder if Lot 10 is what we used to call Pertama in our days? (An allusion to Pertama Complex, the hottest shopping complex in KL during our time).

So what do we do to protect the integrity of information on STAR in Wikipedia? It is obvious that an administrator needs to be appointed. This administrator should at least make sure that the information posted is accurate while monitoring the standard of language used. This would mean that Form 3 boys should not edit the STAR Wikipedia article to experiment with the latest vocabulary they picked up during English lessons.

On what we should include as content, there is no need to look far. We could use the articles on MCKK on SDAR as models. Regardless of how we feel about MCKK, I must say that their Wikipedia article is well maintained, accurate and informative. The SDAR article looks fine too although the previous version had our school’s name wrongly spelt, which I corrected of course, in true Wikipedia tradition. Our new article should have distinct and informative sections on our school’s history, crest, founding, academic achievements, co-curricular achievements, anthem, traditions, headmasters, alumni and external (Web) links. Just who the administrator is going to be remains to be seen but it should be someone who has a very strong commitment to the school’s brand management without any self-serving motives.

Phew, that was a long entry! Now if you would excuse me, I’ve to spend some time editing the section on traditions in the MCKK Wikipedia article. I’m sure some MCOBA wives would like to know why their husbands still keep gay porn under the mattress.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Sisters are doin' it for themselves

You are probably wondering why news about a Srikandi event is being posted here. You might even think that I’m doing this just to get Srikandis to visit my blog. (Actually I am but let’s pretend I’m not). It is Staroba related. Honest.

This year, the STF Old Girls decided to hold their Rumah Terbuka gathering at my mother’s house (Mum is a first batch Srikandi). But it is not just because her son is a Starian that this event qualifies as STAR-related for the purpose of this blog. The more compelling reason is another Starian lives there permanently (my father, to be specific). So there I was assigned with general duties as a member of the tuan rumah team, for the gathering that took place on Saturday 17 November 2007.

In my opinion, having the party done pot luck was a good idea: not only did it allow for a variety of food to be served but it made the event financially sustainable. I’m not sure though whether it would be a good idea for Staroba to organise pot luck parties as I could imagine that we would only be inundated with delicacies from KFC and Pizza Hut. Organisers did well in sorting out who was to bring what as evidenced on their blog.

The party started off with Srikandis arriving with their goodies. With the alumni filled with so many enthusiastic cuisiniers, the cup definitely spilleth over.

As expected, there was a noticeable Staroba presence due to the many Starian-STFian mergers.

However there were other Starians who attended the event too. Staroba committee members were also invited (rent for using a Starian-provided venue?).

As you can see, the guests were all spoilt for choice. I could even hear grumblings of diets being spoilt – something you won’t hear in Staroba makan-makan events.

The party got into full swing very quickly, with cries of delight amongst reunited long lost friends and generally warm chatter.

There were even opportunities for a little bit of fund raising. Such an industrious alumni.

The Staroba representative looked to be enjoying himself very much. It’s not always that the male-female ratio at a party works in his favour.

In high spirits and seizing the moment, the girls even broke into song to wrap up the event. Their school song, of course.

Way to go sistahs! Already looking forward to next year’s event.

Related posts:

Of Pot luck and some tips

Srikandi belated Raya tea party

Monday, November 12, 2007


Meet Imran Hakim (born on 9 November 2007). Member of Fivers 2024.

Well that's what I hope anyway. But his mother is not too sure about Imran going to STAR like his dad and grandad. Between my father and me, I'm sure we could make her see some sense. We turned out all right, so why shouldn't Imran?

But it's not that simple is it? I mean getting into STAR these days. And leaving with a high quality, well-rounded education.

For a start, how does one get his child into STAR? I've heard of this old boy quota but apparently it's so competitive to get your child in on the old boy ticket since there are so many old boys' children. You have to make significant contributions to STAROBA, I've been told. So I'm making a checklist already (Item No. 1 - publishing the Malam Perdana Programme Book - checked!). But just for the record, I didn't get in on the old boy ticket since at that time my father had some funny ideas about sending me to La Salle P.J. instead (or Kolej Islam Kelang). It was only by good fortune and coincidence that I was despatched to STAR through the SBP lottery.

Then, there's this other small problem of doing well in the UPSR first. I have no clue about the Malaysian syllabus. I'm already dreading having to re-learn the various Malay peribahasa and penjodoh bilangan to help Imran through his Bahasa Malaysia exam (or is it Bahasa Melayu? They can't seem to make their minds up).

But more importantly, when he does get to STAR, is he assured of getting the same well-rounded experience that I had? I admit, it's nice to see that our boys are now doing well in public exams. Last year's PMR results come to mind (our boys were the best in the country, no less). But is that the end of the matter?

During last year's OBW, I played volleyball with the boys. They beat us on account of our lack of fitness but what they told us later was heart-breaking. It seems that the boys had no coach and had to organise training themselves. True, there was a teacher in charge but apparently all she did was make sure the boys got to the matches. It's the same story with other games. I don't know how far this is true but some boys were even prevented from playing for the state so that the school's academic record remained impressive.

[Corrigendum: According to Winged Acrophobic, we did win the volleyball game. I left the game after I lost the set and didn't realise we went on to win.]

There are other signs that co-curricular activities are being sidelined. Last year's Fifth Formers reported that it is the ambition of one particular teacher to abolish cheering for games. The abolition of cheering would be the death knell of our school spirit. I can imagine in future Staroba matches, I would be shouting 'Cobra!' and the younger old boys would look at me as if I should be locked up in a mental ward.

I don't know what's the cause of this apathy. A lost sense of pride? Undue attention to academic performance? Less selfless teachers? I'm not sure I want Imran to get 10As for his SPM but end up with the personality of C3PO.

I suspect that my father initially didn't want me to go to STAR as he didn't want me to go through the physical hardship of living in hostels (squatting toilets, sub-standard food, crowded dorms). He hasn't seen the state of the hostels and classrooms now! I was shocked when my friends and I did an impromptu inspection of the hostels and dorms during an OBW. I'm sure we have got used to the good life since we left STAR but I don't remember living in such dismal conditions. Furniture was broken. Walls and lockers bare. Clothes strewn all over the place. Don't they have inspections and inter-house cleanliness competitions anymore? Oh I forgot, they don't even have houses now.

Thoughts like that are just too daunting. Maybe I shouldn't be too disappointed if Imran doesn't get to go to STAR. But I'll keep on brainwashing the wife, just in case. In the meantime I'd better hide those old hostel photos.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Batch Nomenclature

"Hang batch mana?"

"Saya batch 45."

"Huh? Sekolah kita mana ujud lagi tahun 1945. Hang budak MC ke?"

'Tak. Batch ke-45, STAR"

(I scratch my head while trying to do some quick mental arithmetics.)

"SPM tahun 2004?"

"Tak, tahun 2005."

I was about to argue that if you take into account people who started life in STAR in remove class then they would be the 46th batch (or is it the 44th?). But then, life is short. So I just made a mental note that junior Starians take a sequential numbering approach to naming their batches.

I think it is already a STAROBA convention that batches should be referred to according to the year they were in Form 5. This way, there is an immediate appreciation of how junior or senior someone is rather than put us old folks through the trouble of calculating where we are on the seniority timeline. Of course, exceptions have to be made for the 1st and 2nd batches.

Then there is the other issue of how to use the year in question to refer to the batch. My batchmates often refer to ourselves as ‘Batch 86’. I'm not sure whether we are using this in the English or Malay sense. It seems to me that it's Malay since the adjective comes after the noun. Or perhaps we are using it in the English sense not unlike how vintage wine is referred to by the year the grapes are grown. Sauvignon Blanc 1986, sir? Perhaps not, considering our lack of finesse.

The other way to refer to batches is by using the preceding coinage 'Fivers'. For example, the boys who organised this year's OBW call themselves ‘Fivers 1987’. I think this is a cool way to describe batches as it immediately denotes that it is the year one was in Form 5 that is relevant (in case people think that it refers to the year we joined Form 1). I’m not sure my batchmates would want to call themselves ‘Fivers 1986’, though. Resistance to change and all that.

There are other variations. ‘Star959’ (boys who were in STAR from 1995 to 1999) comes to mind. Marks should be given for creativity here but this gives rise to confusion (for us old fogeys), unfortunately. Besides, how would the year 2005 5th Formers call themselves? Star015? Another one is ‘Sekolah Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Ipoh: 33rd Edition’ (again using the sequential approach). Quite catchy I must say although it’s a mouthful.

I must say that some of the methods of batch referencing are just awkward. For example, some batches call themselves ‘Batch of [Form 5 year]’. I think they must be taking their cue from the American ‘Class of [graduating year]’. I’m not sure it's even grammatically right.

But there are undoubtedly wrong ways to call batches. ‘Batch of 46’ or ‘Batch of 46th’ is just bad English, boys. I’m already confused enough with the sequential referencing so don’t irritate me further with grammatical errors. Don’t let me get started on people who think ‘batch’ is spelled ‘badge’.

So what’s the best way to call our batches? I wish I had picked Mr. Louis Rozario Doss’ brains before I left STAR. Feel free to suggest.


Note: I'm not Czar! Somebody has linked me thinking this is his blog. (Although if I were Czar, I could get away with writing about lots of stuff.)


My post on "The Perfect OBW" has been followed up in other blogs:

Starians 94


Hope to generate more discussions on STAR issues in blogosphere. Watch this space.

Also, your comments are needed for next year's OBW. Go to the OBW 2008 blog to comment.

Monday, November 5, 2007

The perfect OBW?

“How did this year’s OBW go?”

Inevitably, that would be the first question asked by friends who did not attend a recent Old Boys Weekend to those who did. This year was no different regardless of this year’s event actually being called the “STAR Golden Jubilee Celebrations”. It was , in my opinion, an extended version of the usual OBW.

My usual answer would be, “It was all right,” before proceeding to talk about how many turned up overall and from our batch. I find that the specifics of what actually happened weren't important. Could I really be bothered with who performed at the grand dinner (I actually am still wondering how I was persuaded to join the Metal Doggie crew that night) or in fact what was served? What was important was who we met and the stories we shared.

I think every year, the boys whose batch is entrusted to organise the OBW get unnecessarily anxious about what to include into the agenda. The batch's honour is at stake, it seems, so they naturally try to outdo the previous batch’s effort.

However, the focus of the OBW shouldn’t be about trying to have it packed full of exceptional activities. The guiding principle should always be, does it provide the old boys with a relevant context for meeting up and reliving those good old days? At the end of the day, whatever you do for the OBW won’t satisfy everybody so I would say keep it simple and don’t reinvent the wheel.

To be honest, I enjoyed this year’s event very much. I really didn’t care much for the Sultan’s appearance and the parachutists (though the entertainment value would be enhanced somewhat if it was the Sultan who arrived by parachute). What did it for me again was those late night teh tarik sessions and generally catching up unimpeded with my buddies. And paintball, of course.

Again, coming back to those tough customers. I was hanging about at the registration counter on Saturday afternoon and one fellow had to ask, “Why don’t you have t-shirts?” He said this as if the lack of t-shirts would singularly cause the event to fail miserably. During my year, the main complaint was the absence of games between the old boys and students. We promptly addressed the issue by quickly setting up games for the following Sunday morning. But did the the sport-loving complainant turn up? No, that would be asking for too much.

Then (last year) there were the juniors who, without tact and respect, actually had the following discussion in front of the people manning the registration:

“Nak register tak?”

“Tak taulah, kena bayar RM30.”

“Tak payahlah, kita datang aje dinner, bukan orang tau pun.”

I wondered, is it still permissable to give juniors a tight slap even after leaving school?

Well, let’s get back to the question of what makes for a fantastic OBW? The answer must be: It’s as fantastic as you want it to be. It’s really up to you to round up your batch. It's your call to all put up in the same hotel (and for good measure print your own t-shirts). The organisers are only there to provide the basics to make the OBW happen but if it turns out to be crap because only you and your best friend (who happens to be your brother-in-law whom your wife has sent to keep an eye on you) turn up due to lack of interest, don’t blame it others.


Some photos are posted up here:

Yazit & Zahir's collection: Set 1 Set 2

Czar's collection (under construction)


Azrie Izham