Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Brother Vincent Tells His Story....."Life Ever Dawning"

31 December 1957 - the last day of the year! Approaching Ipoh the landscape below pockmarked with tin mines as far as the eye could see. I took a taxi to St Michael's through busy traffic dominated by heavy trucks transporting tin ore to Butterworth. Passing over Brewster Bridge I could see up river the dulang washers, busily sifting tin from the river bed.. Yes, I had arrived in the Kinta Valley the richest tin-mining valley and Ipoh the tin mining capital of the worlds...
On arrival there was nobody about. I was surprised at .........

That was the excerpt from the book, Life Ever Dawning, an autobiography of Dato' Brother Vincent Corkery.  In his foreword, Brother Anthony Rogers notes that through Brother Vincent's vivid recollection of the past, he skillfully gleans from his seemingly mundane daily experiences and transforms them into Lessons from the Past as Light for our Future. 
"..will be inspired by his words since all of us have been surely touched by his life" - Bro Rogers. 

I personally reckon that the book skillfully chronicles events, encounters and memories that are close to his heart, not only Brother Vincent's years at St Michael's or the early years in Ireland but the people he met and a lengthy description of old Ipoh during those years. 
In my written tribute, I mentioned that, "he chose the difficult road so that the journey of millions of others might be a little easier, and for that fact alone, we need not look far - Brother Vincent makes himself available to us".
Brother Vincent and Mr Michael Lip at the book launch during the SMI Alumni Klang Valley Annual Dinner on 26 April 2014.
The books are available in St Michael's Institution, Ipoh (walk-in or email for appointment, Alternatively, call Mr Michael Lip ( 019-2225660) or Ms Helen Lip (019-2216366) to get a copy of this marvellous book. An unsigned copy is priced at RM30 each and a signed one is RM50. 

Monday, April 28, 2014

An Email From An Old Boy..remembering his former teacher

Dear Mr. Khiew,
I am writing to enquire if you could assist me in contacting my former tutor, Mr. Lee Kah Chee.(Maths Teacher, Retired 1987)
My name is Subhash Chandran, I was the Class Monitor of Form 5 Arts 1 (Class 1987). The year Mr. Lee Kah Chee retired in November 1987. He was very inspirational with my studies, especially my Maths.
I left Malaysia in 1989 to study in London and have been a UK resident here ever since.
I am planning a visit to Malaysia in May 2014 and would like to contact Mr. Lee and thank him personally.
Thank you for your prompt reply and your dedication to the Michaelian blog. I do enjoy reading your news from abroad. I am pleased to hear that Master Lee is in good health. If you do speak to him please remind him that I was the student who baked cakes as a gesture of gratitude.
I will be in Ipoh from 6th to 8th May and then catching a train to Penang.
I will scan the classroom photograph of 87 and send it to you.

......  a day later .......

As promised here is the photograph of Form 5 Arts 1.
It is with great interest and pleasure as a former Michaelian to read your blog from far afield.
I am writing firstly to congratulate you on your remarkable dedication on giving us Old Michaelians abroad snippets into the daily like of our alma mater. I read with pride of the achievements we Michaelian continue to produce.
I first joined St. Michael’s primary (One) in 1981 as a Standard 4 pupil and left in September 1989, (Form Six) to London to complete my A-Levels and I have remained here ever since.
I feel I owe the countless teachers who taught me over the years naming a few Mr. Herbert Spykerman (1984 Form 1 – Agricultural Science Teacher, Mr. Lee Kah Chee (1988 Form 5 Arts One – Maths Teacher), Brother Vincent( who enrolled me into West Side Story(1987) aged 16, youngest cast) and the late Brother Ultan Paul (my Bible Knowledge teacher)
I wasn’t born an academic and I must admit that I was few of the lazy ones who was happy to scrape pass my exams until I encountered Mr Lee Kah Chee in 1988 as my Maths teacher. I had no interest in Maths or lessons when I was in Form 4(constantly getting red marks in my report card). Mr Lee found a way in teaching and connecting with us unruly boys and suddenly I found myself actually enjoying Mathematics. He was and an exceptional teacher but even greater is that he was a truly inspirational man. A man of few words but his teaching did all the talking and so did the way he conducted himself. A true gentlemen. He always had time to show students like myself who are eager to learn even during his break time in the staff room. He would not turn you away if you cannot solve a problem. His method of teaching was exemplifying and it has held a lasting impression in one as myself and countless other I am sure.
1988 was also to be his final year of before retirement but something strange happened one morning with three months prior to our SPM examinations, the inter bell rang for the next lesson to begin and in came a new Maths teacher… usual we greeted him and my first question to the teacher was ‘ Where is Mr Lee?
He did not reply and ask us to continue with our lesson. Mr Lee had an aura about him and was able to hold his students in complete silence and utter concentration when teaching. No explanation was given as to why we were deprived of Mr Lee when it was crucial with the exams approaching. We watched Mr Lee for the next 3 days going to teach the Science Stream classroom.
I felt my duty as the Class Monitor to speak to my fellow classmates. We all agreed that we should write a petition to the Bro. Director, Brother Vincent. I wrote the letter and each and every one of my fellow classmates signed the letter. We then marched in silence to the Bro. Directors office. I and my deputy Nava handed the letter to Brother Vincent and went back quietly to our classroom. Nothing else was said. (I am sure Bro.Vincent would remember this incident).
The following day when the school bell rang for the Maths lesson, in walked MR. LEE KAH CHEE! I have never heard a chorus of boys greeting any teacher so overwhelmingly. The mood of the classroom changed at that very moment and nothing else was said about the matter and the lesson continued as usual. It was done in a very Michaelian spirit, the gentle way that all the Brothers instilled in us through their actions. Mr Lee remained our Maths teacher until his retirement day, few weeks before our exams. I got 85% in Maths – which considering a year before in Form 4, I was only achieving 0-10%.
I never saw him again after his retirement day and moved to England soon after the SPM results were announced and have remained since.
I have never been able to say to him- THANK YOU SIR, without his inspiration and guidance I would not be the person where I am today. He gave me an opportunity and countless others (who are not super achievers) a platform to start in life and I can happily say that I have never forgotten it.
I have a good career in London and now a permanent resident in the United Kingdom, thanks to Mr. Lee’s guidance.
I would appreciate if you could pass my heartfelt thanks to Mr Lee and hope very much to see him on my visit to Ipoh soon.

Master Lee Kah Chee( Second from left) and the writer Subhash (seated, second from right) 
The photograph attached is of the group- (Form Five Arts 1 1988) who marched to Bro. Vincent’s office. Mr. Lee obliged our request for a photo shoot with our classroom teacher.

From the Editor: Thank you Subhash for the write up which has obviously brighten up our day. Drop by at SMI when you are here in Ipoh. Have an enjoyable trip back to Malaysia. 

A Roundup of Events At The Alma Mater- Part 2

Our SMI cagers with the Principal and their adviser Cikgu Adi. Our boys fought valiantly. Hats off to them for their fighting spirit.
Meveeqhen, Michaelian of the Year 2013, continues to make the school proud - he broke all records for shot putt at the state's sports meet and will represent Malaysia at the 9th SEA Youth Athletics Championship in Myanmar.

Unity is our strength. 
Michaelians still keep very strongly to the La Sallian ideals of Faith, Service and Community.

Lam Jia Wen, who aspires to take up accountancy, scored all As in her STPM. With her are her family members and school principal Mdm Loh. 

Twins Phan Wai Yuen and Phan Wai Kin also scored 4As in the STPM.
Both plan to be accountants. 
Pn Wan Norliza, fourth from right, has been transferred to Sekolah Tuanku Abdul Rahman (STAR). We wish her well in her new school.
St Michael's Institution, Ipoh - a school we cherish and honour. As I write this, news just came that Meveeqhen bagged home a gold in his pet event - shot putt in the Youth Athletics Championship in Myanmar. The principal has proudly announced this achievement to the teachers. Coming up next....more news on SMI Ipoh.
Cheers and best wishes from me in Ipoh.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

A Roundup Of Events At Our Alma Mater

Phew...What a hectic life we had in St Michael's Ipoh. It was virtually non-stop as almost daily, one, two or more things take place. Three days after the school drama, despite a bit worn out, we straight away embarked on other things. Well, Michaelians have learnt to be resilient and pliable. Brother Vincent once said Michaelians can adapt to whatever situations. Yes, that makes us tick! Below are some of the things we carry out at St Michael's.

SMI Pasukan Kadet Bersatu Malaysia (PKMB) or Cadet Corp members undergoing training. Army personnel volunteer their services.
School workers repairing damaged desks as part of the school's austerity drive.  
The principal unveiling a banner in conjunction with the "Say No to Cigarettes, Drugs and Inhalants Week". With her are senior assistants and the school counsellor. 
Brother John D' Cruz had a session with the teachers sharing his thought on the Lasallian values. Among the areas he touched on were his reasons for setting up the La Salle Learning Centres and how he views education today. Brother John, former Brother Director at St George's Taiping said real education is about individuals, nobody feels neglected or marginalised. Real education empowers and is wholesome. 
Primary school students helping the teachers with some sports equipment. The education ministry has given approval for the two primary schools to merge.  
Cikgu Sohot Surdi calls it quits after more than 30 years in the teaching line. St Michael's wishes him, "Happy Retirement and Best Wishes". 
Tan Wei Shern, a prolific junior writer is truly ambitious. He is currently producing a book on the history of the Michaelian Military Band. Wei Shern, who scored 9As in the SPM, currently waits for news whether he will be chosen for Form Six.  
Below is an e-mail from Tan. See how we can assist this young man.

Since there will be an Annual Dinner by the SMI Alumni Klang Valley Association on the 26th April , I feel that it is the right time to further contact more former bandsmen to assist in this project. I have most of the information now but there are certain people from certain "eras" that I could not contact yet. This is to fill up the empty spaces between the main facts by getting them to provide their experiences which are mostly not mentioned by the school magazine. The people that I wish to get in contact with right now are :
1) Office Bearers of 1968 (Military Band -exclude the Drum Major)
2) Office Bearers of 1972 (Military Band -exclude the Drum Major)
3) Office Bearers of 1981 and 1982 (Military Band - Including the Drum Major of 1982)
4) Office Bearers of 1987 (Military Band -exclude the Drum Major)
5) Office Bearers of 1982 (Cadet Corps of Drums -exclude the Drum Major)
6) Office Bearers of 1984 (Cadet Corps of Drums -Including the Drum Major )
7) Drum Major or Office Bearers of 1985 (Cadet Corps Of Drums)
8) Any bandsman from these years : 1973-1977 , 1978-1982 , 1986-1990 , 1991-1995 , 1996-2000 , 2003
For number 8 , the band member has to have gone through those years that I have mentioned in the Military Band. E.g : A band member whose last year in 1977 had undergone at least five years in the band with his first year being 1973.

9) Any band member with about five years of membership in the Cadet Corps of Drums from the 60s and 80s. (Preferably : 1965-1969 , 1980 /1981-1985 )

I hope this is not too much to ask as my targeted deadline of ending my compilation of facts is by the end of this month. I plan to resume my studies in Form 6 and would not want to be too busy with this project. If it is possible to contact everyone before the Annual Dinner , it is even better. I suggest that you ,Sir get help from Mr.Michael Lip to attempt in contacting the people that I have stated above. They are to contact me by the email address :

Tan, I hope our former Michaelian bandmen or those who know them could spread the word around.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

SMI Alumni Association Klang Valley Dinner 2014

The St. Michael's Institution Alumni Association, Klang Valley will hold its 2014 Annual Dinner at the Tropicana Golf and Country Club on Saturday 26th April starting from 6.30pm. The theme this year is “Michaelians: A voice is resounding”.
The autobiography, Life Ever Dawning, by Dato' Brother Vincent Corkery, former principal and veteran educator at St. Michael's will be launched at the dinner.
Tickets cost RM100 each or RM1,000 per table of 10 are available from exco members, including Francis 012-3661223, Michael Lip 019-2225660 or Helen 016-2737808

Thursday, April 10, 2014

St Michael's Ipoh - As Our School Drama Unfolds...

Students busy putting up posters and banners to promote the school drama
A big banner being put up at the frontage to ensure Ipoh folks do not miss out our play as well.
A group photo taken with the cast after the press conference.
The main hall is now equipped with new air-conditioners to replace the old units

The characters of "The Beauty & The Beast". You can see them in action on 11, 12 and 13 April 2014. 
The strong drama tradition at St Michael's lives on. 
The drama tradition at St Michael's Ipoh is strong. We started in 1954 with the inaugural stage production of "The Poet of Ispaha". This annual showcase of performing arts continues faithfully year after year. A check at the record in our archive, St Michael's has produced more than 50 plays - a truly remarkable achievements. Besides the full dress rehearsal we carry out each year before the actual play, the school has not forgotten the old folks and the children who live in homes. We played host to yet another 5 centres on April 8, 2014. We invited residents from the Anning Home in Ampang, Asrama Bintang, Salvation Army Boys and Girls Homes and Jelapang Old Folks Home. Michaelians remembered them..upholding our principle of spirit of Service.
Our guests were also feted with a hearty meal

That's our way to demonstrate a touch of the Lasallian spirit.
It's not too late to get a ticket to the show on the 11, 12 or 13 April 2014. Tickets are still available. Either get the tickets by e-mailing me at or call the school at 05-2540418. You can also drop by at SMI during office hours or alternatively, get your tickets on the day itself as a ticket counter will be set up. Hurry up to support the Michaelian Agenda!