Malvern: â€œIt is an honour not only to my brother and I and our family but also to all Malaysians,â€ said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak in a speech to staff, former teachers and classmates of the newly refurbished Razak Science Centre at his alma mater, the Malvern College in Worcestershire.
Najib and Johari, both alumni of the college, unveiled the plaque, on which was written: The building celebrates the long-standing association between the Razak familyâ€.
Najib spent four years from 1968 to 1971 while Johari was there from 1969 to 1972. Johariâ€™s two sons also followed their footsteps and made Malvern College their alma mater.
Najib gave a keynote address at the brand new 140 seat Lecture Theatre in the newly refurbished science centre, with its eighteen state-of-the-art laboratories.
In a speech full of humour and reminiscence of his four years as a student here, the Prime Minister spoke of the experience of the shy 14 year old who arrived in the cold month of January thinking he would not survive winter.
He went on to spend the most important formative years of his life in the college which had produced other well known figures such as Viscount Malvern, the first Prime Minister of the Federation of Rhodesia, C.S. Lewis, the author of The Chronicles of Narnia and other well known personalities.
The Prime Minister, who arrived Sunday from Riyadh, after paying his last respects to the late Saudi King Abdullah Abdul Aziz, visited the college with his brother, Datoâ€™ Ahmad Johari and accompanied by Malaysian High Commissioner to UK & Eire, Datoâ€™ Ahmad Rasidi Hazizi.
â€œI remember my father (the late Tun Abdul Razak) saying he did not want me to be at home and be spoilt and pampered, or be lost in the bright lights of London. Thus he chose Malvern,â€ he said.
â€œMy father wanted an environment to develop my character. That environment has taught me to adapt in whatever situation. Today I find that I am equally at ease when speaking with Barrack Obama or David Cameron or Xi Jinping and I am just as comfortable sitting on the floor in a mosque with constituency members or eating with elders in a long house,â€ he said.
He said he absorbed values that made Britain what it is today and discovered British humour. He added, he has had to adapt to different environment and as a result could easily adapt to challenging situations.
â€œThat is why I am proud to launch this centre and lend it my family name. I am a Malaysian, but a small part of me will be always a Malvernian,â€ he added.
The prime minister was greeted by headmaster Anthony Clark and senior staff of the college on his arrival and was taken on a tour of the sprawling campus which sits snugly on the foot of the Malvern Hills; the hills which inspired self taught composer Edward Elgar.
Najib regaled his audience with snippets about his introduction to the dreaded rhubab as well as the faux pas while pouring tea for a lady while working as a volunteer.
He said he made the mistake of pouring the tea and adding the milk later.
He took delight in the four goals that he shot during a football match and shuddered at the thought of spending the coldest winter nights at the Brecon Neacons, a mountain rainge in South Wales.
Najib also gave tributes to his former teachers and especially remembers his former science teacher and housemaster, Michael McNevin, 89 , who had been his guests in Malaysia three times.
McNevin also met the Prime Minister while he was on previous visits to the UK. The Prime Minister visited his old school when he was the Minister of Defence.
The former pupil was shown old pictures of him with his classmates and was introduced to four Malaysian students currently studying here. Also present were parents of the students who were also students of the college.
Asilah Humaira Mohamad Redza, 17, who is doing her A Levels, said it was an honour to meet the Prime Minister.
â€œIt is a real privilege,â€ she added.
After the opening of the Razak Science Centre, Najib decided to take the proverbial walk down memory lane, from the centre to his boarding house,a short distance away, where he had lunch.
The Prime Minister told Malaysian journalists of his trip to pay his last respects to the late King Abdullah and said that Malaysiaâ€™s relations with Saudi Arabia was important in various dimensions.
Najib was conferred the King Abdulaziz Order of Merit (1st Class) by the late King Abdullah Abdulaziz Al-Saud in 2010.
â€œIt is important that I cut short my stay in Davos (for the World Economic Forum) and for me to convey my condolences to King Salman Abdulaziz,â€ he added.
The Prime Minister leaves for Malaysia this evening.-NST