It was the year 1965 and I was in Standard 2 in St. Marks Primary in Butterworth in the afternoon session. After walking for about a mile from my house in Jalan Kampung Bengali, I finally reached the school. Then even the midday sun wasn’t as hot as it is these days. I had just about entered the school compound when I found a 20 cents coin on the ground. Twenty cents those days was big money for a kid. It could buy him “4 ice-kapai” or 2 coned ice cream and things like that. My pocket money was only 5 cents then so twenty cents would have made a significant difference to my life in the school that fateful day.
However, I have been indoctrinated from an early age that you should not retain anything that is not yours. With that in mind, I went over to the office and handed over the shilling to a teacher who was there who then recorded my details before accepting the coin. I then went back to my class.
After a while, the school office-boy came with a note apparently from the Head-Master Mr. Robert David that I later learnt was addressed to the class teachers asking each of them to make an announcement to the class to find out if anyone had lost any money that day. When no one in my class admitted to having lost anything, he went on his way to the next class….and the one after until he had covered all the classes. The answer he had received in each class was the standard “No. No one had lost any money”. So imagine my surprise when towards the end of school the same day, Mr. Robert David came over to my class and handed the 20 cents coin back to me saying that I could keep it as it didn’t appear to belong to anyone from the school. I was elated and treated myself to ice-cream and some tidbits on the way back from school.
Look at the values we had then……about a school that made a concerted effort to return a twenty cents coin to its rightful owner…….and about the HM who took the trouble to return it to the finder. Do these values still exist in us today?
These were the kind of values that kids usually grow up with but sadly along the way to adulthood, much of it is lost in many of them through influence or emulation and they often end up compromised.