MESSAGE No. 1/2012

Dear Fellow Alumni of Ipoh ACS,

REACHING OUT

Both technology and the excellent work put in by the Alumni Website Project Team have bestowed upon us an interactive and instantaneous tool of communication. It enables us to engage and communicate effectively with all Old Salts and ACSians no matter how widely spread out we are on this planet.

Let us therefore, put this forum to good use, to enhance and re-establish our spirit of camaraderie and shared values; to energise our esprit-de-corps; and to enjoin our efforts to sustain our Alumni Association and our Alma Mater as viable and relevant institutions.

ALUMNI WEBSITE LAUNCH

The official launch of our Alumni Website on Sunday 29 April 2012 in Kuala Lumpur is an event of great significance. For the first time, a major event is staged not in the Alumni’s spiritual home – Ipoh but in a nexus with a high concentration of Old Salts. This is a deliberate attempt to reach out beyond to the ACS Diaspora. Other than the Alumni and Old Salts, we have with us at the launch renowned teachers of the earlier days, the School’s Board of Governors, the Parents-Teachers Association representatives and the current Principal and teachers, all stakeholders of our proud heritage.

Our Website is commissioned at an incredibly low budget in the shortest of time. I can proudly say that it was due to the passion, creativity, drive and sacrifices of the Website Team that the impossible became possible. A very good example of our creed:  much can be achieved despite scarce resources. Thank you to all of you.

A good start has been made. It is for all of us now to join in to make our Website a lively and productive one. Beyond sharing and rejoicing in our experiences and nostalgia, do we have the will and the desire to work together to champion the relevance and thus anchor the longevity of our Alumni Association and our Alma Mater?

NEW COMMITTEE [2012 – 2014]

Firstly, we would like to thank the out-going Past President, Mr. Lee Seong Yan, and the earlier Presidents of the Ipoh ACS Alumni Association, especially Dato’ Thong Fah Chong and Mr. Looi Teik Aun, and all their respective Committees. They have worked well to set up our Association some 4 years after the last de-registration of our ACSOBA and to place it on a sound financial footing.

Several Funds raised earlier by some alumni on a private initiative basis for our Alma Mater and the present students, are credibly administered by our Association in its capacity as trustees and/or paying agents.

Elections took place on 24 March this year. Six out of the 14 members of the present Committee are new faces reflecting a healthy balance between stability and renewal. We are pleased that, for the first time, 2 members from the 1975 Cohort, Dr. Leong Onn Keong and Ms. Yau Sook Fun are with us, holding the important posts of Vice President and Honorary Treasurer. This is very much in accord with our succession planning emphasis. We hope that before long, representatives from the Cohorts of the 80’s, 90’s and even 2000’s will come forward to serve in the Committee. It is also gratifying to note that 4 Kuala Lumpur-based alumni are in the Committee. Their passion and commitment, their expertise and leadership in their past careers, will play an instrumental role in the success of our endeavours.

In order to meet the challenges confronting us as an Alumni Association and to try to deliver an effective response, the Committee as well as co-opted Committee Members will assume a more definitive role in the 7 Sub-Committees that we are setting up for the first time. The Sub-Committees will respectively uphold the following focus.

[1] Alumni Website, Communication & History

[2] Membership Drive, Outreach, Liaison with other Chapters & Affiliations

[3] Sports & Social Interactions

[4] Finance (system & governance) & Fund-Raising

[5] Club House Project

[6] Strategic Plans – Alumni & Alma Mater

[7] Planning for 120th Anniversary Celebrations of School Founding

CHALLENGES & THREATS AHEAD

From 1923 to 1996, our ACS Old Boys Association [ACSOBA] was dormant for a total of 44 years and in existence in varying degrees of activeness for only 30 years. It was resurrected no less than 4 times before the curtains finally came down in 1996.

What could have caused the decline and made each operating cycle so short-lived? Various factors operating in different combinations, in varying degrees of severity, in different times were responsible. These factors included but were not limited to: ageing leadership and membership; non-existent succession planning; lack of members and support; dwindling membership; financial inadequacy; waning interest; lack of motivation and inspiration to sustain the relevance of ACSOBA; the ACS Diaspora; the very limited core of active proponents and players who themselves fell out of the way; non-engagement with Old Salts who are not resident in Ipoh; over-focus on Ipoh (almost exclusively), etc. These threats remain real today.

The current Ipoh ACS Alumni Association, the more politically correct successor of ACSOBA, is so named in recognition of the many fellow alumni of the fairer sex who passed through the portals of Ipoh ACS. Founded in 2000, it is now inching past the longest operational duration of ACSOBA (14 years between 1958 and 1971). The challenge is for the Alumni Association to remain relevant and vital at all times. Impediments to the survival of the Alumni must be urgently addressed. There is no other option than to thrive or fall prey to extinction.  Should it fail, the prospect of a successful resurrection this time round is likely to be very dismal.

RELEVANCE & CATALYSTS

How can our Alumni Association be positioned and perceived as being relevant for the present and the future? Is its role solely focused on reviving the sense of nostalgia and bonding? Does it go beyond that to promote networking transcending class groupings and geographic locations and other concentrations? Does it not have a higher and far reaching role in assisting our Alma Mater to regain its former glories as a premier educational institution capable of continuing to nurture her present and future students as well as it once did for us?  The Methodist Schools system was up to the 70’s a cost-effective and highly successful education model. Its relevance and contribution never cease.

Our Committee and the respective Sub-Committees will identify and work on the many challenges that confront us.

At this juncture, we wish to invite our fellow alumni to work together with us. Please keep on providing feedback and ideas through our Website or better still, be a part of our Sub-Committees.

There are considerable numbers of our alumni with a rich reservoir of talents and  experiences, many of whom now lead a more leisurely life. Your past and present career and personal skills will be most useful in propelling us towards accomplishing our objectives. We welcome your involvement. Age is no barrier to service. Please feel free to contact me (my mobile number is 019 316 1001 and my email address is leanms@gmail.com).

We would be delighted if the younger Cohorts would also come forward to participate in our deliberations and be a part of our succession development thrust. It is never too soon to start.

With technology and the ease of communication and transportation now available, committee proceedings are no longer necessarily confined geographically in a straight- jacket fashion to Ipoh and Ipoh residents. Skype, video conferencing and email exchanges are good proxies for mobility and bridging distances.

MEMBERSHIP AND CHAPTERS

Our current membership strength stands at a paltry sum of 285 members after factoring in the 5% growth achieved in 2011. There is no sustainability in such small numbers. Obviously, this pales into insignificance in comparison to that of the Ipoh SMI OBA. Their KL and Klang Valley Chapter alone has 500 members.

Our Alumni Website facility will be deployed shortly to help us update and clean up our membership database. We will obviously go on a high gear marketing blitz giving good reasons for our alumni to be persuaded to take up life membership in our Association. The formation of outstation and overseas Chapters will be encouraged to complement the role played by the parent association. Dual membership of the parent association and the chapter would be gratifying but not absolutely essential.

IN SCHOOL AND FOR THE SCHOOL – GIVING AND GIFTING

In recent times we have stepped up our engagement with our Alma Mater. Initially, constrained by limited resources and support, we have focused on the soft skills approach. As reported in GIFTING, DONATIONS & OTHERS, the numbers of excellence awards and bursaries have been brought up to an all-time high. We have also initiated several development and mentoring programme to nurture and bring out the intrinsic qualities. Much more can be done.

There is also a need to look into other bigger priority projects to bring about some long overdue improvement to facilities in our Alma Mater and to help talented students from marginalized pockets to reach their full potential.

One or two sympathetic philanthropists have indicated that they would be prepared to support our major funding drive on a matching basis [1 for 1] provided we have meaningful projects in mind. We will work towards that. Clearly, good governance and good stewardship are imperatives we have to emplace in our processes.

For the acquisition of the Association’s shop house / office premises early this century, several alumni made very substantial contributions to enable this to materialize. We are confident that the same spirit of contribution in monetary and in intellectual capital forms will be forthcoming.

As a start, the Website is a powerful tool for bonding Old Salts, the Ipoh ACS principal and teachers, and the present ACSians in school as well as those furthering their education into the Ipoh ACS Family.  It has started capturing our very rich heritage and indeed engendered a deep interest in its perpetuation.

Notwithstanding a good beginning, the continuation of our Website cannot be taken for granted without financial succor. There is a pressing need now to raise a sum of about RM25,000 which will take care of licence fees, Website changes and the allowance of the Website Administrator [a monthly allowance of RM500 is payable to her] for the next 3 years at least. The initial funding of RM3,500 which came from the pockets of the Website Project Team members and that of the 2 Past Presidents, Lee Seong Yan and Looi Teik Aun, has been almost depleted.

It will be most helpful if alumni can come forward, individually or as a group, to sponsor the annual expenses or any fraction thereof. We need your support, both in terms of finance and capacity building, to take the Association to a higher plane.

GRAND JOINT ACS-MGS ALUMNI DINNER

Do join us to make our Joint ACS/MGS Alumni Dinner on 4 August 2012 an evening to be remembered. We are also planning to organize a motorised Treasure Hunt. It will be flagged off from Petaling Jaya early that morning to reach Ipoh ACS in the early afternoon. There will be a tea reception in our School Auditorium before we adjourn for the 6 p.m. cocktail / pre-dinner drinks reception at the Kinta River Front Hotel.

THE 120TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS OF IPOH ACS

The immediate coming years are defining ones. They parallel the run-up to the 120th Anniversary Celebrations of the founding of our Alma Mater in early August 2015, only 3 years and 4 months away. Let the 120th Anniversary of our Alma Mater be the rallying cry for our efforts to take our Alumni Association and our Alma Mater back up to their pre-eminent roles. Let the 120th be the catalyst as well as the objective of our efforts. We can do it!

Yours sincerely,

Lean Meng Seong
29 April 2012

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