USM pioneers gather for special Merdeka-themed reunion

Adrian David

KUALA TERENGGANU: It has been nearly half a century since they first met at Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang.

Thus, the epic multiracial reunion of various professionals to usher in Merdeka on Monday, was full of reminiscence and exchange of camaraderie.

The USM undergraduates, a handful of them pioneers at the varsity, had plenty of shop talk to catch up on.

They recalled how the campus had moved from the shared Malayan Teacher’s College (MTC) Gelugor grounds to the former military camp of Minden in 1971.

Speaking on behalf of the lot, retired Customs Department senior prosecutor K. Balakrishnan said the reunion was long over due.

“It has been a long time coming. We had planned for this many a time but owing to various reasons, job and family commitments, it did not take place.

“Eventually, it did happen and what a nostalgic evening it was,” said Balakrishnan, who turned 67 on Aug 13.

It was, thus, a double celebration for Balakrishnan who was feted at the gathering held in conjunction with his birthday.

Balakrishnan had graduated from USM with a degree in social science, majoring in sociology and anthropology.

He was then a temporary teacher with Sultan Abdul Hamid College in Alor Star, Kedah before joining the Customs in 1976 and serving them for 31 years.

Another USM alumni, former journalist Rajan Moses said some of his alumni had not changed much in their appearances despite the decades.

“Being closely knit at USM, we can still recognise each other at a glance.

“Age has caught up but we still have the vigour to meet up. Hopefully, we can have more of such reunions,” said Rajan, an international journalist for many years and now strategic communications advisor at Sapura Energy Bhd.

The reunion at the Sam You Restaurant in Section 8, Petaling Jaya, Selangor also included USM batches until the year 1976.

Among those present were Rajan’s wife and former deputy principal Pearl Shanta Robert, Kuala Lumpur City Hall senior executive pensioner Asir Nachen, accountant and tax specialist Sidharta Rajakumaran, and retired senior assistant directors of Customs Gurjaran Kaur and S.M. Mangaiyarkarasi.

Also present were trainer Ramachandran Naidu, who was the sole first-class honours graduate in the social science faculty and joined the diplomatic and administrative service, and former RTM Voice of Malaysia head V. Vasantha. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd