Saturday, October 29, 2011

SMI Multi-Purpose Hall & Auditorium In The Making?

A discussion in progress. Mr Jimmy Lim (third from left)
The SMI Centennial Committee, headed by Tan Sri Lee Oi Hian and ably assisted by Mr Adrian Tsen and Mr Joseph Michael Lee have  touched an amazing and astonishing milestone in our 100 years of existence.  
Yes, it has got to do with SMI multi-purpose hall (as we call it now). A team has been formed to look into the realisation of a hall to cater to the ever-expanding needs of the Michaelian fraternity. I must salute these notable old boys who work endlessly and devotedly, all these years.   
As a start, renowned architect, fellow Lasallian and an old Xaverian Mr Jimmy Lim has been very kind to offer his expertise in exploring the current and future needs of the building. He arrived on October 23, 2011 to present his proposal based on his earlier assessment on the project - location, size, facilities and viability. The initial plan would have a hall to cater to dinners, large-scaled seminars or official functions or any IT expositions and book fairs. We are also going to have a 500-seat auditorium, suitable for any types of plays, musical concerts or symposiums. 
Other details will be worked out later at the next centennial meeting.
The project, believed to be massive, will cover the existing car park and basketball court.       
For reference purposes, go to
A time to unwind - The group later proceeded for lunch at Wong Koh Kee restaurant in Old Town, hosted by Mr Joseph Michael Lee (extreme left). Brother Vincent Corkery, Brother Matthew Bay and lawyer Mr Chan Kok Keong (second from left) are joining in too. 

Renowned architect Mr Jimmy Lim
Note: Jimmy C. S. Lim is a Malaysian architect, trained at the University of New South Wales. He was senior architect and then an associate of the firm Project Architects Sdn Bhd in Kuala Lumpur from 1972-1977, and established his own practice - CSL Associates - in 1978. His works, both in Malaysia and abroad, have ranged from residential bungalows to high- and low-rise commercial complexes, medical facilities, sporting facilities, and hotels and resorts; the Salinger Residence that he designed in Selangor, Malaysia, was presented with an Aga Khan Award for Architecture during the 1998 Award cycle. In 1983,  Mr. Lim was a founding member and trustee of the Heritage Trust of Malaysia (Badan Warisan Malaysia), and continues to serve as a member of the Trust Council. He served as president of the Friends of Heritage of Malaysia (Sahabat Warisan Malaysia) from 1998 to 1992, and was president of the Malaysian Architectural Institute from 1991 to 1993. 

Thursday, October 27, 2011

St Michael's A Place To Rest For British Soldiers

The plaque commemorating the presence of
British Battalion at St Michael's Ipoh.
Pix courtesy of Mr Anthony Morris
On 18th December 1941,  the 2nd Battalion The East Surrey Regiment and the 1st Battalion The Leicestershire Regiment, paused at St Michael's Institution, Ipoh for a well- needed rest after an almost continuous withdrawal through Kedah and North Perak in the face of fierce attacks by the Japanese forces. 
They stayed until the early hours of 23rd December 1941. The Japanese had the upper hand in their onslaught as they had air superiority and tanks. The British did not have a single tank in Malaya.
While at SMI, the British troops were allowed by the Brothers to stay in the classrooms of the main block on all floors. At that time, the West wing and the East wing of the Main block did not exist. The armoured cars, bren gun carriers and lorries were lined up outside the school in front and under the trees at the back. 
An image of a British Bren Gun Carrier. Courtesy of Mr Joe Willis, England.
The Brothers allowed the food for the soldiers to be cooked in the Brothers' kitchen. Brother Paul and the others were very accommodating and years later after the war, the soldiers still remembered the warmth of the Brothers and grateful appreciation noted by the soldiers who cherished the simple gesture.
Knowing full well that they would have to face the Japanese Forces in a bitter battle soon, the Reverend Henry Babbs held a service for the Anglican soldiers in the chapel. The Catholic chaplain, a Father Ward gave the Catholic soldiers a General Absolution as there was no to time to hear them individually.There was also a mass for them in the chapel. The chapel figured significantly for the Christian soldiers and for many of them it would be the last time in a Christian sanctuary. One soldier who was not a Catholic asked Bro. Paul for a scapular. Bro Paul gave him a Sacred Heart scapular which he carried with him all the time and he still had with him after the war. The soldier was Private Jock Perrin of the 1st Battalion Leicestershire Regiment. He passed away at Portsmouth in 1983.
It was at this time,on the 20th of December 1941, that Lt. Gen. A.E. Percival decided to amalgamate the two badly depleted battalions into one battalion to be known as The British Battalion. It was the first time in modern British military history that two battalions were made into one, due to heavy casualties suffered in the opening battles of the Malayan Campaign .  
St Michael's Institution had the honour of witnessing this birth of the British Battalion which lasted until 14th of February 1942. This was an important part of British Military history and SMI will always be featured whenever the origins of The British Battalion is spoken of. 
Mr Chye holding the book, "The British Battalion".Pix from the Star
In memory of this historic occasion,  a specially made brass plaque was donated by Jeffrey Liew to be placed in the school as a memorial to the British Battalion and the unique role that SMI played. This plaque was similar to the one at St Andrew's Cathedral in Singapore.
Unfortunately, the powers that be in the State of Perak five years ago, and certain officials, refused to allow this historical plaque to be installed in the school on a matter of pride which could have been solved easily, by all parties concerned . Five years later in 2008, this plaque still remains to be installed in a place of honour at SMI.
Local war historian, 80 year old, Mr Chye Kooi Loong is the custodian of this plaque and awaits the day when he can place it in the school for posterity.

Article courtesy of Mr Anthony Morris. His website is Thanks Mr Harneak Singh for the alert.

Note from the Editor: The SMI Centennial Celebration committee during the previous meeting had given the nod for the plaque to be fixed to a wall at St Michael's Institution. Mr Chye has consented to hand over the plaque to the school so that a ceremony can be held to remember the fallen heroes. We are currently working on the special day and the guests to be invited! Stay tuned - Peter Khiew.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

On An Assignment -- To Meet Up With War Historian Chye Kooi Loong

Mr Chye Kooi Loong with Harneak(left) and the blogger
Mr Harneak Singh and Peter Khiew (blogger) paid a visit to Kampar-based Mr Chye Kooi Loong, a renowned war historian and former Home Guard warden during the Emergency. He is a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (OBE), awarded by the Queen of England. 

Mr Chye spent seven years researching and documenting the Battle of Kampar (30 December 1941 – 2 January 1942), an engagement of the Malayan Campaign during World War II involving British and Indian troops from the 11th Indian Infantry Division and the Japanese 5th Division. 
Why were we there in Kampar? Anything to do with the Battle of Kampar, St Michael's or the British Battalion? We managed to document many important events and at the same time, made a few new discoveries, particularly on the wall-embedded Chubb safe at the ground floor. 
Story soon......

The Chapel Comes Alive

The crowd warms the occasion. 

A church-like atmosphere in the chapel. 
The Chapel, a paradise to many and a hide-out to some during the early years, was filled to the brim during the Thanksgiving Mass on September 24, 2011 when it was officially re-opened.
Dato' Brother Vincent Corkery presenting his speech
It was left in isolation for many years, partly due to wear and tear of certain parts and serious infestation of termites rendering it unsafe. Now that the chapel is up and going, more activities should be organised, making full use of the six-decade old landmark.
Fellow Michaelians at the Mass
The chapel is accessible to virtually any group, not necessarily only religious bodies. It can be a place to fellowship, interact and reflect.  
Getting Together For A Common Cause
A get-together after the session.
Even Brother Matthew Liew made his way from Kuala Lumpur to grace the occasion.
The turn-out was beyond expectation as those who came included many from outside Ipoh. Old boys, who included former teachers, clergies, parents who are true-blue Michaelians and the many contributors whose generosity have made the opening of the chapel possible.
I must thank the Centennial Committee members for spearheading the project, in line with our theme, "Cherishing Our Past, Embracing The Future".
Signing off,
Peter Khiew

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

News Reports On OMA Dinner- Ipoh Echo Issue 130

The function was also reported in the New Straits Times dated October 17, 2011.Many thanks to the pressmen from Ipoh Echo, NST and The Star for their years of support towards St Michael's. Special mention here to Lt Col (R) Fathol, Husairi and James Gough.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Brief Report On The Pre-OMA Dinner

Thomas Wong putting up the banner while Anthony Lourdes helps out.
Preparations were made days before the recently concluded 73rd OMA dinner held in the school. The last time time we held the dinner at St Michael's was in 1987, exactly 24 years ago. Most of the gatherings were organised at the Red Crescent Hall, near the stadium. The committee felt that this year, in preparation for the Centennial Dinner next year, we need to have a trial run to determine the logistics, organisation and maintenance aspects. Despite more involvements among the committee members, at the end, it was worth the efforts. We encountered setbacks and weaknesses but it was a lesson learnt. Organising a function this magnitude was interesting and challenging. Let's us flashback a little on the task we undertake to make such an enjoyable dinner for all.

"To the right, no, no, a little to the left" ...Under the watchful eyes of Yong Sin Wah, he makes sure the banner is properly put up. It was actually a very tedious affair.
"Why so late? Do you know what is the time NOW?...Uncle Yip calls up the company which supposed to get the chairs delivered.  
Look at ways how things were being prepared for a big dinner. 
A makeshift restaurant kitchen at St Michael's. Yes, it was a successful function. 
Thank you for a successful dinner. It was an evening worthy to remember.


Dear Readers, My apology for delaying postings on the blog. I have received numerous concerns and queries as to my delay in updating articles. Rest assured. I am still around - in a very active mode. Examinations are on-going, with many other school reports to be submitted. I will be back very soon - with more news on our alma mater, St Michael's.