Sunday, November 25, 2007

Special Tribute To Retired SMI Bus Driver Joseph Chai

Managed to arrange for an interview with Mr Joseph Chai Siew Wa a day before he called it quits. It was on May 27, 2005. Joseph was then 67 years old. The interview lasted 20 minutes and at the end of the session, I managed to have a feel sitting at the driver's seat, trying out the big steering wheel and experienced for a moment how this Joseph could drive a bus, ferrying noisy kids day after day for a total of 48 years!
A story was featured in the Old Michaelians Association magazine that year. For readers of the blog here, I am featuring here a write-up for all who still remember Mr Joseph Chai, the SMI school bus driver.

Started with an Austin, I progressed to a "Wogen" then a Morris. All these vehicles, Joseph said, were reliable and trustworthy.
"I started operating a school bus when I was 19 in the year 1957. There were virtually no cars on the road. Only bicycles and tricycles could be seen on the narrow roads in Ipoh then," said Joseph, who speaks impeccable English.
Joseph changed to a used Morris in 1973 for a princely sum of RM30,000 to ensure comfort and safety of his charges. With a slightly bigger bus, Joseph could ferry 45 pupils with ease.
Joseph has seven children, six daughters and a son, who works as a technician in Kuala Lumpur. (Heard that his wife is working in Hong Kong)
He remembers the time in his early days when he learned English from Brother Denis at night. (that explains why he speaks good English). Like Pakcik Din, Joseph was also working as a lab assistant at SMI. (And when the contract ended, he switched to bus driving). He remembers also when money had to be changed into Michaelian denominations to be used in the school canteen. As a boy, he had a close relationship with Mr P.J. Morsingh (our first headmaster). He has great respect for the La Sallian brothers because of their commitment towards educating the young. (taken from SMI school magazine 2002).
Joseph Chai, now nearing 70, had to say goodbye due to his failing eyesight and poor health.
Thank you Joseph Chai from us at St Michael's and from those who got on your nerves when they were on your bus - shouting, jumping, fighting, throwing papers and wrappers out from the windows yet still so much rubbish in your bus at the end of the day.
Sir, the boys had grown up. Many are already grandfathers, fathers and some prefer to be like Cliff Richard. Many are still in the country, some overseas. But they have one thing in common - they remember you fondly.
From St Michael's Ipoh, take care and thank you.


Robb said...

Uncle Joseph, I wish you good health and many happy returns for the years to come.

MikeZaskar said...

That my dad.

Thanks Peter.