HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE OF THE OPTIMIST OF THE MALACCA HIGH SHOOL

The founders having attained the aim to establish the High School Literary Association on the 29th. March, 1921, attempted to publish a magazine.

Enthusiastically they set out to publish the first issue with the ambitious name of “The Educator”. The typewritten articles on four sheets of foolscap paper were on the following

  1. Hainan
  2. The China of Today
  3. Lorando and his lute
  4. General Knowledge
  5. Tasmania

The date was given as 31st. May, 1921.

The “Educator” was never printed owing to the lack of funds.

However, credit must be given to the Editor for his praiseworthy efforts. In November, 1923, an attempt was made to revive the magazine but the past failure discouraged the committee from venturing into the enterprise. After the election of new office bearers on February, 24th. 1924 a resolution was passed at a meeting a few days later to the effect that a magazine should be published and that it should be owned and controlled by the Association.

The magazine sub-committee in March, 1924 comprised of the following:

  • Honourable Editor – Chee Koh Chiang
  • Honourable Censor – Mr. L. D. Whitfield
  • Honourable Secretary (Acting as Manager) – P.N. Bardhan

The names suggested were

  1. Young Malacca
  2. Teacher
  3. Educator
  4. School

Finally, the name Optimist was adopted after a long discussion. There were som criticism about the choice but it aptly described the promoters of the magazine, none of whom had any experience in publishing with a sum of $40 borrowed from the association undertaking the task of getting contributions, the production of the magazine got under way.

The first issue of the magazine – The Optimist – marked Volume 1, No. 1, price 50 cents and dated 7th. April, 1924.

It had this for the editorial, “Birth is doubly a crisis – a crisis for the offspring and a crisis for the parents.”

That profound remark was engendered by the thought that in a few days this, the very first issue of our magazine, will be in the hands of the public. For weeks we have laboured and now our offspring is all but ready for your perusal.

The parent’s time of crisis is almost over, the child is about to begin.

When we lay the fruits of our labour before you, judge it not too harshly. Those of you who are younger sons will readily admit that the first child is nearly always the ugliest one – so too may experience improve our handiwork.

“The difficulties attendant on the publication of a school magazine have to be experienced to be appreciated. First of all, there is the question of finance. We have wondered whence we can obtain the wherewithal to pay the printer’s bill.

We only cease to wonder when we realize that, that is a question which concerns the printer much more intimately than it does us. Then there is the difficulty of extracting contributions from one’s school fellows. You understand, of course, that one cannot very well edit a magazine without contributions. Contributions are funny things, they never come out of their own accord but always have to be extracted…

When the idea of a magazine was first mooted we had no assets but that spirit of cheery optimism which Malacca seems to breed in her sons.

Hence the name, “The Optimist”. It accurately represents our feelings.

However, the sales was an unexpected success. Very soon the magazine were sold out and many subscribers had to be disappointed. The members become enthusiastic and contributions began to pour in. Some gentlemen entirely unconnected with school kindly gave donation and others subscribed liberally.

The second Issue, Volum 1, No. 2, price 50 cents, was published and issued in Julu, 1924. The following are excerpts from the issue:- although we realise that age is no criterion of tradition, we do not hesitate to asset that the High School, during teh ninety-eight years of its existence; has built up a great tradition of its own. But tradition cannot stand still – it must either increase in strength and clearness as it passes from generation to generation, or else it must diminish and fade until it becomes mere glimmering memory to the successors of those who once held it sacred.

One of teh surest ways to preserv and stengthen the virility of our school’s tradition is by means of the school magazine – a nucleus around which the trend of thought in the school it may crystallise and through it, may increase in originality, in spontaneity, in its own natural grace.

Remember, though that is is only with the help of every single boy and master of the school that we can make this magazine the symbol of our temperament and teh emblem of our genius.

1924 saw 3 Issues of The Opitmist in April, July and November – Volume 1, No. 1, 2 and 3.

One year later, Volume 11 No. 1 of April 1925 has this for its Editorial:- “A little babe in its cradle, so sweet and innocent; a year’s interval and no more a babe but a little child, just beginning to understand and to talk. Such is our magazine, and we, having carefully survived teh first year’s toil in editing a magazine, find ourselves confronted with a harder task – improvement and interest.”

The Educator, the first and last of its kind to be issued, had no cover design as all the articles were typewritten on foolscap paper. The first eight copies of the Optimist – April 1924, to August, 1926 – had plain covers with the “Content” printed on them. From December 1926 to April 1929, the magazine had on its cover the following designs :-

  • The Old School Building and a cock crowing at sunrise.
  • From October, 1929 to September 1931, the cover underwent a change at the suggestion of Mr. E.S. Redfeam and the design was carried our by Mr. Yan Kee Leong. In 1929, the Editorial Board decided to condense the wisdom and wits of The Optimist within the covers of one annual Edition, and this was to start from 1930 Issue.
  • At this time, the cover had the picture of the main building of the school with wall (in black) below it, and on this black portion was the old Fort with the following words below it: The High School Malacca.
  • From 1932 to 1941, the picture of the old Fort with the school motto: Meliora Hic Sequamur was conspicuous on all covers of the magazine.
  • The Optimist ceased to make its appearance from 1942 to 1946. A fresh lease of life was given to it in 1947 when in that one publication were recorded all Notes and News of the School from 1945 to 1947.
  • The cover design remained the same as that of 1941 with very little changes, but this year the design was again changed, the Old Fort being given sleek modern outlines in difference to modern tendency towards streamlining.

The the 1950s and 1960s, the cover underwent some changes and the quality of the paper was improved. But basically, the cover design carried the same message, that is the ‘optimist’ was an annual magazine of the old Alma Mater.

In the early 1970s, the cover designers opted for simplicity and thus we had the words ‘The Optimist’ on the top, with the school crest on the right hand corner, the school colours stripes running horizontally near the bottom. The 1975 Issue carried a different cover, perhaps preparing for the sesquicentennial year of High School the following year.

1976 marked the beginning of a new ere for High School because she celebrated her 150th. anniversary that year. The cover with a photograph of the school was certainly impressive.

So much for the changes in cover designs of the Optimist. What most of us fail to realize is the role that the school magazine plays in our school life.

The Optimist probably started off as one that served to inspire the literary talented pupils to produce articles which will help to instil greater reading habit among students.

The first post-war Issue served to present a truthful and detailed report of the school’s activities and was a representative organ of school’s outlook. It is on these lines that the Optimit has evolved through the years.

In the 1947 Issue, we find the excerpts :- May it serve to be the means of preserving and strengthening the virility of the school tradition, and of bringing together the past and the present pupils and teachers and those interested in the school to a close and stronger bond of unity for the enhancement and education of the younger generation.

Tan Gim Ann

Indeed the Optimist has served all these purposes and the Editorial Board of the 57th. Issue has tried to so so too to the best of its ability.

MALACCA HIGH SCHOOL

The hills, the seas, and waving palm,

They beckon all to peace and calm

The ancient walls and hoary gate

They urge us on to grander fate.

We’ll work and play with nobler aim

And keep up Malacca High School’s name.

Meliora Hic Sequamur

Meliora Hic Sequamur

This is our motto ! Boys ! be true !

In every thing you have to do

Here we strive for better things.

Listen to the hope it brings

Come, Let’s sing with heart and voice,

We’re Malacca High School boys.

J. BARUCH – OPTIMIST 1949

THE STAR ONLINE : Malacca High School gets ready for 185th grand bash.

Page 47 Optimist 1978

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