Monday, December 23, 2013

Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year 2014

I hope that this Christmas Day offers you love, joy, comfort and kindness at this special time of year. Happy New Year to all - my colleagues at St Michael's Ipoh, all present and old Michaelians, parents and friends.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

PMR 2013:Congratulations... on track to Form Four next year.

St Michael's Institution marked another milestone academically when 44 students scored straight As' in the PMR this year. Our boys managed to obtain 87.23% passes with a GPS of 2.21. Last year, our students delivered a percentage of 88.03% passes with 51 of them scoring all As' and a GPS of 2.23. This works out a difference of 0.02 in GPS, indicating a better performance.
The scene in the main hall this morning.. anxious students and their teachers. 
Principal Madam Loh Wei Seng, in congratulating the PMR students at the main hall this morning, also expressed her satisfaction with the overall achievement of the boys in the examination this year.
"The boys have done exceedingly well. They improved in both percentages of excellent scorers and average grade. SMI remained at No 12 in the North Kinta District," she said, adding that it was all the teachers' and students' hardwork.

Top scorer Wan Muhammad with his parents, Encik Baharudin and Puan Zaliha. posing   with principal Madam Loh. Pn Zaliha teaches in SMI 
Well done ... a teacher conferring with the students after getting their results.
Editorial says: Congratulations boys for your hardwork. You are on your way to Form Four next year whereby more hardwork and sacrifices are expected of you. These are crucial years to determine your future. See you in 2014. Best wishes and greetings. Merry Christmas and A Happy New Year.

A Get-Together For Our La Salle Brothers in Penang

A shot to remember... our dear La Salle Brothers in Penang

Eighteen Brothers from Malaysia had their annual Malaysian Brothers Assembly and Retreat
at Stella Maris, Penang from 13 to 17 December 2013. Joining them at the assembly were nine Penang Lasallian Family members and four members from the Lasallian Youth Network, with Mr Isaac as the Youth Director. A future Brother was also there. 

Brother Visitor Edmundo stressing a point
Delegates at the assembly
It was a meaningful retreat, a great fellowship for the Brothers

Stern-looking Brother Anthony Rogers (standing) with fellow delegates

Also at the retreat and assembly were Brother Edmundo Fernandez (Brother Visitor) and Brother Thomas Lavin. The 5-day event was handled by Father Moses Lui. 

A dinner to mark a wonderful reunion of the Lasallian fraternity.

Thank you Brother Matthew Bay for the report and photos.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Let's Make St Michael's Special

Why is SMI Different?

1. A School of Quality. Why? Because We Treasure Our Legacy. We Cherish Our Lasallian Tradition. We Uphold Our Virtues Of Discipline and Respect While Maintaining A High Academic Standard. (Look At The Words Below the Masthead of this Blog)

2. A School Which is Imbued with the Michaelian spirit. 

3. Have respect for each student as a unique person.

4. We are Committed to the Poor. We pay attention to the poor, the neglected and the overlooked. We teachers give greater attention to the marginalised and to the less appealing students. St Michael's and all Lasallian schools have programs that address the educational needs of the last, the lost and the least.

5. Educators and administrators are men and women of faith and zeal.

6. We Have Teachers Who Are United and share a common vision and a shared mission. Teachers come together as brothers and sisters associated with bonds of mutual respect, cooperation, generosity, patience, humor, and humility.

7. St Michael's is not an autonomous school but operates in collaboration with others: The Brothers, PIBG, Alumni,  Board of Governors, parents and the community.

8. St Michael's is a school which organizes around the story of John Baptist De La Salle. 

QUIS UT DEUS while carries the meaning, "Who Is Greater Than God", also symbolises the yearning to learn and the quest for knowledge. It also suggests the warmth and goodness in the human heart, the spirit to unite and be truthful always!

Let St Michael's continue to be different and special next year in line with our theme,
"Onward Michaelians United &True".

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

A Quick Walk Around St Michael's

It is always a joy taking a walk around the school. There are always so much to see and appreciate. Schools would normally go quiet during the holidays but it is not the case for St Michael's. Scouts are getting ready for their induction, constructing mangrove structures to impress the Form One boys next year. 
This they have done year after year for the past 40 years. 
The Michaelian Chinese Orchestra boys, of course, are not relaxing and let the scouts work. They themselves have something up their sleeve, also in preparation for next year. Coupled with those who turn up almost daily with their parents to purchase books and necessities, SMI runs almost like any other days, busy as ever.
One has to look around the school and its details to really know about the alma mater. Each item has a story and stories do enrich our lives. Let us start with our school.
That was how we began. We humbly started educating our boys at this place. 
On 4 December 1912, at a humble wooden bungalow in Kampung Pisang, we received our first batch of 37 pupils. The location of our school was not far away though, just in-front of the current main building. The foundation stone of the current building was only laid on June 17, 1922 by Major CWC Parr, who was then the British Resident of Perak. Father JB Coppin blessed the finished building on 15 May 1923, in conjunction with the Feast Day of St. John Baptist De La Salle. Electricity was installed the following month. The school was completed in stages over a period of some 30 years.

St Michael's remarkable facade and outstanding architectural design
The Grilles.. there is a story behind the grilles you see on the first and second floor.
I referred to Brother Vincent about the amazing story behind the grilles and below is his account. For your information, Brother Vincent was the Brother Director of SMI for two terms - 1972 to 1975 and 1986 to 1988.

"The Sixth Form Block [Bangunan Br U Paul] was built in 1968. Mr Koon Yew Yin, who gave his services free, was our construction engineer and as the ground was formerly the bed of the Kinta River, he decided that piling was unnecessary.
The new building was attached to the old SMI building to facilitate movement from the new to the old. On completion, the building took some time to stabilise which appeared to put a strain on the old building.
Serious cracks appeared on the ceiling in all three floors affected the arches in front and the back of the building. This was at the point where the 1938 extension was joined to the original building. The architect suggested we brick up the affected arches as the masonry was in danger of falling.  As this would affect the façade, we opted instead for strong metal grills.  For design we suggested a motif traditionally linked to St Michael found along the SMI façade. On completion I was shocked as the design was turned to one side, but since it seemed to add strength to the design, it was accepted.
On the ground floor in front the grill was a major obstruction to the movement of classes, so it was decided later to remove the design and maintain the strong metal outline.
After more than 40 years the grilles are still effective and do not interfere with the SMI façade." 
This board is located infront of the Michaelian Heritage Gallery. It details the vision and mission of SMI.
Old audio cassettes at the Michaelian Heritage Gallery
The humble cassette tape, beloved of 80s' music lovers, may now be defunct—but it's hardly surprising given that the once-revolutionary medium turns 50 today. The natural descendant of the 8-track—which used similar magnetic tape but housed it in a much bigger, bulkier frame—the audio cassette was the brainchild of engineers at Philips. Its precise birthday is open to some debate, but Philips is insistent that the format was officially launched at its Amsterdam HQ on September 13th, 1963. Containing a length of audio tape 3.15 millimeters wide that ran at 1-7/8 inches per second, it was originally designed to replace reel-to-reel tape for dictation—but became far more popular than that.
While the tape is now an object that would confuse teenagers worldwide—superseded initially by CDs and all manner of new technologies since—for many of us it's both an iconic object and a source of misty-eyed nostalgia.
The Audio Cassette Is 50 Years Old Today
Remember how your cassette player used to chew tapes up with seemingly no warning? How they slowly deteriorated in quality when you listened to them over and over? The way you had to time songs in order to make them fit on your mix tape? Or that horrible noise they used to make on rewinding? Ah, those were the days. Long live the cassette tape.

At the badminton court ...numerous activities are carried out here. Notice something unusual?
A Form Three boy seems to be enjoying the sun light under the watchful eye of his friend. At St Michael's, everything is beautiful.
It was said that this could be the entrance to the underground tunnel, linking St Michael's to either the St Michael Church or the Main Convent. Not easy to break in though as it is the world famous Chubb door.
Those years ... we remember our teachers took us to the library or to a room for a radio listening session. All of us would stay very quiet and waited for the teacher to tune in to the right frequency. The session was a much anticipated one as we could learn something out of the classroom. Yes, those were the days. 
At the La Salle Centre, the National Lasallian Youth Convention was held for students from La Salle schools throughout Malaysia. A total of some 80 attended the convention which started from 3 to 8 December 2013.
There is still plenty too explore and appreciate at St Michael's. I have been here for more than a decade and things are getting more exciting and vibrant each day.

Oh yes, do write to me if you have anything to share about your formative years at St Michael's. Best wishes from us at SMI. My e-mail: or Twitter @peterkhiew

Thursday, December 05, 2013

What's Currently Happening In St Michael's Ipoh


In 2009, a bay for motorcycles was at the corner of the current car park. That designated area was changed when a big branch from a tree fell on some motorcycles.
This shot was taken in 2009.
St Michael's Institution, Ipoh is undergoing some changes to its landscape. Those who drive pass Jalan Kompleks Islam, along the riverbank, would have realised that the car park is undergoing a huge transformation. Works started extensively in mid-November and are still on-going. Interlocking bricks are used to pave the area, with nicely allocated parking bays for vehicles. Gone would be the days when the area was frequently flooded with at least a foot of water when it rained. Coupled with uneven ground and plenty of potholes, this project has definitely put a smile on the face of teachers and visitors alike. We must thank our stakeholders for making this project a success. Likewise, hats off to those who supervise the project to ensure that works carried out are of the highest standard and fulfill the stringent requirements.

Mid- November.. How it looks before work starts 

Refreshing look at the car park now.
Works are progressing with the interlocking bricks being laid neatly.
Workers are diligently arranging the bricks 
Besides the car park, another project currently ongoing is to upgrade and improve the staff toilets -gent and ladies at the staff room.
The gents
The ladies

A discussion in progress between the Principal, the contractor and members of the PIBG. The Teacher's Dining will be refurbished starting December 6, 2013 and due for completion before the school session starts. Many thanks to the PIBG for the thoughtfulness. The teachers are going to have a dining area which is conducive, airy, spacious and enjoyable to eat in. 

That's all for now. 

Signing off,
Peter Khiew
"Onward Michaelians United & True"

Sunday, November 17, 2013

2013- What A Year (Part II)

This bowl of appetizing curry noodle comes with cockles, yong tau fu and tau fu pok. Look at the colour of the curry paste. No need to look far. This bowl of rich concoction of hot and spicy goodies is available in St Michael's foodcourt at a stall manned by Ah Fatt. It costs only RM3.     
Dental nurses still pay our boys visits annually, normally setting up their temporary base at the class. The school parlour was the staff room before it was converted into a dental clinic during the 60s. The clinic was then shifted to the Primary School until the very days when the primary school premises were demolished. 
School level National Day celebration
The school principal flagging off Malaysian-made motorcycles and cars for a symbolical parade, witnessed by students and teachers.
Our boys after their Form Three exams (PMR). This will be the last PMR for all Form Three candidates in the country.

Old Michaelians Annual Dinner which was held in September. The dinner continues to attract old boys and girls for fellowship and to renew friendship. This year is OMA's 80th anniversary.
The great Michaelian trio who traditionally celebrate their birthday together. This year we had a good dinner at Wong Kok restaurant. Happy Birthday to Brother Vincent, Mr Adrian Tsen and Mr Louis Rozario Doss.Our wish is to have many,many more years of birthday celebration with them.  
Yam Seng...a toast to Mr Adrian Tsen by well-wishers. 

Post PMR program - off to a motivational camp at the Navy Base in Lumut. Here, the principal and teachers bid farewell to the boys moments before they board the bus.
A sad day for fellow Michaelians for the demise of our hero, buddy and best friend, Mr Harneak Singh who left us on 9 April 2013. We still miss him. 
Harneak...Rest In Peace.
Thank you everyone for a wonderful, challenging and a very busy year. St Michael's will continue to be busy as it sails forward to year 2014. We endeavor to be guided by the principles of Faith, Service and Community in our quest to produce quality and well-balanced students.
SMI theme for 2014, "Onward Michaelians United & True" will be the foundation of our character building initiatives. Together we make it a success.
Happy Holidays and greetings.

Signing off,
Peter Khiew (needs a few days off to recharge and unwind)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Lasallians Getting Together To Support

One La Salle Relief Drive: Yolanda (Haiyan). The Brothers and the Lasallian Family of the Lasallian East Asia District and the Sector of the Philippines are deeply grateful to all the Brothers, Lasallian institutions, and Districts from all over the world for their words of encouragement, prayers and pledges of donations for the victims of Typhoon Haiyan (locally named in the Philippines as typhoon “Yolanda”). !We mentioned in LEAD Story 123 that this Category 5 Typhoon is one of the strongest storms observed in world history. This year 2013 alone, the Philippines has experienced an unusual number of over 20 typhoons already but days of preparation and massive evacuations could not prevent the devastation wrought by Typhoon Haiyan's strong winds and storm surges sweeping coastal towns of several islands. 
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs estimates
about 9.8 million people are affected and more than 10,000 feared dead. !
The Sector of the Philippines has organised a disaster relief and rehabilitation operations called “One La Salle Relief Drive: Yolanda (Haiyan)”. 
Monetary donations can be made through: Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) Bank Account Name : De La Salle Brothers, Inc. - Yolanda Peso Account : 1296-714778
US Dollar Account: 8296-001156
Swift Code for Dollar Account: RCBC PHMM !
For tracking and monitoring purposes, donors are requested to send a scanned or photo copy of the deposit slip through e-mail: or fax: +632 721 5049 !
All 16 Lasallian Educational Institutions in the Philippines are coordinating their disaster response operations through De La Salle Philippines (DLSP). They have identified the University of Saint La Salle (USLS) in Bacolod City, Negros Occidental to be the main relief centre. DLSP will be sending to USLS the donations received. !
The location of USLS is very strategic given that the Sector’s priority areas for relief operations are “Sagay" and “Cadiz” in Negros Occidental, “Bantayan” in Cebu, and “Estancia” in Iloilo. These areas are not as publicised in the news like Tacloban City in Leyte and other parts of Samar but are equally in need of relief goods. Currently, DLSP is also coordinating with communities in “Guiuan” in Eastern Samar, the area where Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) made its first land fall!
We have yet to receive more precise information as to how long will relief be needed. We expect that this will take some time since those drastically affected have lost their homes and that the evacuation centres will be their onlyrefuge for now. For the rehabilitation phase, DLSP is looking at rebuilding the public schools in the affected areas in coordination with the Department of Education of the Philippines!
Information on the relief efforts can be found in the De La Salle Philippines website:

Fraternally, !!
Br. Edmundo L. Fernandez FSC!

The Combined Lasallian Relief effort On the Aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda)

This e-mail came from Brother Vincent just 5 hours ago and I feel obliged to highlight this. Brother received the e-mail below from fellow Brothers in the Philippines.

Dear Brothers and friends,

Blessings and peace!
On behalf of Br. Edmundo Fernandez, we are sending you updates on the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) in this 124th Issue of LEAD⍟Story (12 November 2013). Note: See above post.
By now, you may have seen on television and on the internet several images and videos of the devastation on some islands in Central Philippines. A video capturing the actual storm are rare but one of them is available below.
Again, we thank everyone for their prayers and support!

Br. Richie P. Yap FSC
LEAD Administrator
+63 917 712 2443 (PRIMARY)

Note: On behalf of St Michael's Ipoh, I have sent a note to Brother Visitor Edmundo that in this time of hardship and sorrow, our prayers and thoughts are with them. Brother Edmundo has acknowledged the message. 

A La Salle Brothers' Centenary Badge

The Centenary Badge
The above badge has the words “Christian Brothers’ Schools” and “Signum Fidei” clearly printed on it, one at the bottom of the badge and the other at the top. In between there is an image of Peninsula Malaysia as well as a figure of a Catholic Brother. At the top end of the image of Peninsula Malaysia the numbers “1852” can be seen while at the lower end the numbers “1952” are printed.

The Christian Brothers’ Schools are a vast network of schools set up by the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, founded in 1680 by St. John Baptist de la Salle. De la Salle was a canon of the cathedral in Rheims, France. Struck by the ignorance of the masses towards knowledge and religion, he gradually became involved with charitable schools. He worked alongside a layman, M. Nyel, to set up free schools for the children of the working class and the poor and trained a group of young men to teach and live in these schools, eventually moving in with them himself. De la Salle implemented innovative education methods and together with his Brothers, succeeded in creating a large network of schools in France. By the end of the 19th century, the institute had 14 631 Brothers working in 35 different countries.

When “secularization laws” were enacted in France in 1904, many of these schools were forced to close and The Brothers who ran it turned instead to faraway lands, continuing their religious life in countries such as Belgium, Canada, and Spain as well as Argentina, Colombia, Ecuador, Egypt, Brazil, Panama, Mexico, North Africa, and Australia. These days, the community is headed by a Superior General with the assistance of a General Council. As of 2000, the Superior General is Brother Alvaro Rodriguez Echeverria, FSC, of Costa Rica. According to the Brothers of the Christian Schools website, the Brothers now minister, together with over 73,000 lay colleagues, to more than 900,000 students in 80 countries. “Signum Fidei”, meaning “sign of faith”, is the motto of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools.

In Malaysia, at least 22 schools were founded by Christian Brothers, including a number of prominent schools like St Xavier’s Institution in Penang, St John’s Institution in Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh’s very own St Michael’s Institution. The history of the Brothers in Malaya starts with St. Xavier's Institution which goes back to 1852, when De La Salle Christian Brothers took over a Malay medium school which was started even earlier, in 1787, and renamed it the St. Francis Xavier's Free School.

Consequently, the numbers written on the badge signify the celebration of the brothers first 100 years missionary educational service in Malaya.

To find out more about the Brothers and their work throughout the world, visit their website at

Saturday, November 09, 2013

2013- What A Year

This post details the happenings at St Michael's throughout 2013. It is a good year with wonderful events and plenty of things to remember. Congratulations everyone on completing the year 2013 with gusto. Teachers, pupils, staff and the administrators. Everyone had a nice and memorable time.
Teachers having their staff development program at the La Salle Auditorium beginning of the year
The visit of Michaelian Finance Minister II to SMI in December 2012 also marked an important milestone at SMI. We continue to welcome our old boys home.
Fellowship after an event at St Michael's. Parents' participation in school activities is crucial in determining the success and dynamic of an institution.

The grand clean-up before the start of the new school term. Student and teacher participation like this is applauded. It demonstrates their commitment beyond the call of duty
The Principal (2nd from right), accompanied by Mr Rajendran (Student Affair SA), En Adi Yusry and En Alias working at a trough during the clean-up. 
It's virtually impossible to shift such a heavy safe BUT if it involves determination and tenacity, we can even move mountains! 
Prasad was the president of the Michaelian Wushu Club. He has been with the club since Form Two and he involves actively in lion dancing. Here, this intrepid boy repairing the lion head.  
Cikgu Adi Yusri is another teacher who considers St Michael's as his second home. His favourite football club is undoubtedly Liverpool and "You'll Never Walk Alone" is his favourite quote.
Cikgu Adi in Liverpool FC, England. 
SMI 2013 Annual Play, "The Lion King" was performed in April, directed by Ms Corrinne Mah.
Tommy, an exchange student from Italy bidding farewell to his friends and teachers at the school assembly.
(Note: This event was in 2012 and it's not too late to highlight)
Visitors still consider St Michael's as a must-visit destination whenever they are in Ipoh. 
Teachers during the morning assembly.
Mr Ooi, the school IT expert aka Steve Jobs of SMI (vice-president of SMI Staff Club) presenting a piece of batik cloth to the Principal. In the background is Ustaz Suhaimi (the President of SMI staff Club)
A feather in the cap for St Michael's...Cikgu Shafinazaida guided our students right to the national-level of The Star's video clip competition. It was a proud moment when they took a picture with Deputy Education Minister I Dato' Mary Yap at the function. Well done, Cikgu and our fellow Michaelians.    
It's time to landscape. We still need to keep the surroundings spick and span. Workers delivering plants to school.  
Accidents do happen sometimes. This Form Two boy dislocated his arm during a basketball session. We contacted his parents before he was sent to the hospital. The parents were grateful for the quick action.
Help has arrived... It took just 10 minutes for the ambulance to arrive. (Note: The boy has not given up on basketball. By the way, St Michael's has carved a niche in basketball, beating many Chinese schools which are known for their basketball prowess)   
Saying goodbye to Chang(centre) who came to SMI for his training. With his are Liew Boon Ket (left) the chief adviser of the Michaelian Military Band and Mr Ooi Kean Giap, the IT expert.  
Form Six students doing their part for the society by donating blood. The practice is an annual affair organised by the Sixth Form Society.
Great guys who man the blood donation counter, making sure donors are adequately advised and counselled. Not sure though whether they donate their blood.
We are proud to be Malaysians and Michaelians.

Time flies, it’s been a whirlwind of a ride, full of ups and downs, happiness, frustrations and a whole lot of other emotions. And that’s the way it should St Michael's Ipoh.

Signing off, 
Peter Khiew