School days in Bukit Ibam, Pahang

Bukit Ibam Pahang Mining School

Bukit Ibam Pahang Mining School

My school days were spent in a place called Bukit Ibam in Pahang. When you google it now, it doesn’t even look like there is much left of the place apart from a lake. It was a place in the middle of nowhere where they discovered iron ore and the ‘rompin mining company ‘ was set up to mine the tin. Apartments were built for the workers. There were two schools, one Malay and one English. There was a supermarket, another store and pretty nothing much else. My dad got a job as an accountant there. That’s were we went to school . There were a few malayalee families, and our nearest neighbour was Alice’s parents and her younger sister Ruby. My sister and I, were good friends with Ruby. We got up to all sorts of mischief and also used to fight like cats and dogs. Years later when we met up again, I was really surprised to find this very ‘pavam’ grown up young lady and had to literally shake her to find out what happened to the old Ruby we used to know.

G Gopinathan

Bukit Ibam, photo: G Gopinathan

I still remember the day when my mum and her friends were getting really excited because they were going to see a Tamil film in the ‘ so called’ cinema theatre, which was basically just an open air sheltered area with lots of benches. After that every Saturday we used to look forward to watching these black and white Tamil films and that’s how my love for Tamil films started. As you can see I haven’t mentioned anything about places of worship. Despite the fact that there were people from all religions there, there were no temples or mosques or churches. We used to just light a lamp in front of ‘Sree Krishna’s’ picture in the evenings to pray and that was the extend of my knowledge regarding religion. The first time I found out about different religions and the various subdivisions was when we were back in India. To me it was a very unpleasant awakening.

One night there was a lot of thunder and lightning and my mum was lighting the lamp. Asha and I were sitting on my bed in the opposite corner of the room. My mum had just finished praying and she turned around and was walking away when a massive lightning struck the window where she was standing a few seconds earlier. Next thing we know the glass window had shattered and the curtain had caught fire and so did Asha’s bed. Luckily my dad was there and he tackled the fire. So it is times like this that I know that there is a guardian angel or God looking after us.

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20 Replies to “School days in Bukit Ibam, Pahang”

  1. Kok Hua Ho

    Hello, I happened to come across your blog. I spent 3 years – 1967 to 1970 in the English school at Bukit Ibam.
    I remember learning about kangaroos and boomerang
    There was a weekly Saturday excursion to the swimming pool. The tennis courts, the ‘tuck shop’ and the school sports.
    Teachers- Head master a Mr Coverny, Mr & Mrs Gun, Mr Bank, Mr Choo.
    I also remember the movies played after school- Alice in Wonderland also being in a Huckleberry Finn play.
    Do you have any contacts with the teachers or anyone from the school?
    My dad worked there as an electrical chargeman

    • Chitra Gopinathan Post author

      This is really amazing. The only contact I have is through my sister who managed to track down Santhini and Prasad who were in the year below me. I was just telling my school friends in India that I don’t have anybody to talk to about my school days in Bukit Ibam apart from my sister. I remember the teachers all well. I thought the swimming trips were on a Friday afternoon, I must have been mistaken. The ‘Pollyanna’ and ‘Gigi’ films, I remember them well. I can’t remember if I have posted the Class group photo on my blog site. If not I will. I have more photos but they are all in India. I now live in the U.K. My dad would have known your dad, but he passed away last year. He would have been delighted with this news. He was always talking about his Malaysian days. Yes, we learnt more about Australia than about Malaysia as Mr Coveney was from Australia. Really nice to hear from you. Please do keep in touch

    • Phang Chew Yeen

      Huh, my dad Phang Thin Tuck also works as a electrical chargeman, so as my uncles. My dad then had a shop, Kedai Radio Phang ,corner unit.
      Yup ,I also studied there 1967 to 1970 . We could be in the same school and yes, I remember the Saturday swimming excusion, 1 mile walk to the swimming club and the tennis court and the Gym room

  2. Glenn Schumacher

    Dear Chitra,

    My name is Glenn Schumacher and I grow up in Bukit Ibam in the 1960s. I also had Mr. Gunn as a teacher at the ROMPINCO Bukit Ibam School.

    • Chitra Gopinathan Post author

      Dear Glenn,
      Tell me more. It was really nice to hear from you. Which year were you at the school?

    • Kirusnaveni

      Hi Chitra I wonder if you remember me. I am krishnaveni. The girl who sitting to the left of Mr. Gun. To the right is Sukumari . She had a sister. I was in bukit ibam 1964 up till 1969. My father used to drive the heavy machines at the mining area.
      I recall Phillips. Glen zainuddin
      Almost all the teachers I still remember MR.Coveny MR.Choo.Mr. Mrs. Gun.Mr.Arthur.
      I used to walk to school with my brother Arasu

      Some days we used to hop onto the yellow truck to get to school.
      Memories of Bukit Ibam are still fresh in my mind. The tuckshop, the movies that we saw in school.The school and the hospital near by.
      Plenty of beautiful memories still linger. Hope to see all of you one day. Not forgetting the Malek the school clerk.
      Just hope many more of our friends will read this. Let’s all gather soon. Till then bye.

    • Kirusnaveni

      Hello Glen,

      In wonder do you remember me? We were in the same class in year two and you used to be sitting behind me and find of pulling my hair. How have you been? In touch with anyone else in our class?

    • Baskaran a/l Nadason

      Dear Chitra, My name is Baskaran. I was studying at Bukit Ibam English school from 1966 till 1970. As the mine closed down we moved to our hometown in Selangor. As you have posted a class photo with Mr. Gun as our class teacher. I still remember Mr. Coveney as the Principal , Mr. Choo as our Bahasa teacher. It is nice to go back to that old days. My brother Vasu use to screen english movies in the school with 16 mm Projector. And he also used to screen tamil movies in the open wooden building.

    • kokhuaho

      Hi Glenn
      I remember an Australian boy called Glenn in school but cannot remember his surname.
      Even recalled going to his birthday party and coming home with a piece of cake wrapped in a napkin.
      You may be that boy.?
      There another Australian boy – Matthew who when to school there.
      I am living in Sydney now

  3. Foo Siew Eng

    Wow…you have described everything exactly as I remembered so well. When I visited the place in 2000 , I was not able to locate the location of the school or the club or the house we used to live in. Only located the row of shops esp the bakery. Left Bukit Ibam after Grade 2 and only have the beautiful memory of the time spent there. Remember the names of the teachers and a fuzzy memory of their faces they are getting even more fuzzy now with the aging process😊. My dad ( Foo) is now 83 years old and we went there again few years ago and it was the first time my parents had been back to the place after more than 40 years. When I migrated to australia and saw a funny looking bird and told it was a kookaburra …the song we learned in school came to mind…..kookaburra sat on a old gum tree….

    • Chitra Gopinathan Post author

      Thank you for your lovely message. I too remember the song very well and was just looking it up. Looks like the words have been changed over the years.

  4. Glenn SChumacher

    Dear Chitra,

    Great Blog,

    I remember the Baskarans, they lived next door to us in Buki Ibam.

    With regard Foo Siew Eng, I was back to Bukit Ibam in late 2016 and located the Club. It was not easy at all as it was over grown.

    I have pictures from my visit Bukit Ibam if you would like me to up load some.

    I had been away from Bulkit Ibam for some 46 years and when I returned and found some things I recognised I had the most amazing feeling of having come home !

    Thanks for the Blog.

    Warmest regards,

    Glenn Schumacher

    • Chitra Gopinathan Post author

      Dear Glen
      Thank you for your message. Please do upload the photos. I certainly would like to see them

  5. Sani Ghafar

    Hallo…i”m so glad hear a historical Bukit Ibam since Rompinco..
    Can i use some of your picture to historical moment of Bukit Ibam,for your knowledge i’m was somebody whos live in Bukit Ibam until now and try to collect some historical moment including picture for new genaration see it how Bukit past time..
    And i’m one of Villager Community Commitee..

    From : Sani Ghafar

  6. Mohd fadzil

    I was born 1967 at Kg. Lanjut, Kuala Rompin my father is working with Rompin Mining at that time, after Rompin Mining was close we move to so many places, but my family comeback to Bukit Ibam in 1979 when I was in standard 6 and me and my younger brother study at SK Bukit Ibam, so many memories to remember

  7. Phang Chew Yeen

    Great reading the blog and comments. I was studying until std 3 ,1970 when mining close down. My parents remain there operating a shop ,PHANG RADIO SHOP end lot. My father is a electrical chargeman.
    Yes remember the Cold Storage shop( own by Kenny ?), Saturday swimming ,where we all hold our breath and must go under a horizontal pipe laid across the shallow pool. Remembered I get to go to the deeper pool, then Rompinco shutdown!.
    My uncles also a chargeman, who also owns a poultry farm and pig stay.
    Not many Chinese families there, a Sundry shop by Ah Meng,Ah Gong, if my memory is correct and Chew the restaurant owner who brews their own coffee.

  8. Michael Coveney

    How wonderful to read all the comments about Bukit Ibam English School.
    My name is Michael Coveney and I was the Principal till the mine closed down in 1969.
    I have very very fond memories of my years at the school and even to this day I have friends from those years. We have communicated and visited each other and have had holidays together.
    I have some photos would anyone like me to post them
    God bless you all

  9. Kirusnaveni

    Dear Sir Micheal Coveney, I remember you and it’s a great pleasure to have met everyone here again after a very long time. I remember Mrs. Coveney teaching us cooking in your house. It was some of the best times in my life and I still speak of it to my children. Some of the amazing things she’s made for us such as rock bun, cinnamon toast and etc.. It was such a memorable time. Thank you for taking us taking us to the swimming pool and also flinging my book out of the window every now and then, hahaha. 😁😁😁 Maths is forever remembered because of you! 😂 I hope you are at pinkest of health and are doing great. Please do keep in touch and send my regards to lovely Mrs Coveney. Please take care and hope to hear from you soon.

    Your student,


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