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A True Grit La Sallian Print E-mail
ImageTan Sri Dato’ Chan Choong Tak, President of the Old Paulians’ Association, Seremban led a 20-member team, mainly comprising employees of Tenaga Nasional to conquer the highest mountain in Africa – Mount Kilimanjaro in conjunction with the National Day celebrations. The expedition received the topmost support from the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad himself in a simple ceremony of handing over the Jalur Gembilang to Tan Sri to raise it at the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro (5,895m above sea level) on 31st August, (2003).
The mission was accomplished. The pride is not so much in the conquest of Mt. Kilimanjaro itself; what is unique about the expedition is that it transgresses religious and ethnic boundaries when the 20 members come together as Bangsa Malaysia to perform a feat for our country. Below is the account by Tan Sri as contained in his response to the congratulatory note he received from Tan Sri Dato’ Dr. Haji Ani Arope, another illustrious son of La Salle, who, in his 70’s is still pursuing flying as a hobby!
"Dear Ani Arope,
Thank you very much for your very sincere expression of congratulations to my success in leading a group of 20 climbers up Mt. Kilimanjaro.

As you would have sensed it, my greatest pride is not so much as having "conquered" the peaks in Gillman's Point (5685m) and Uhuru (5895m) on Mt. Kilimanjaro but more so in the proof of my deep and firm belief that given the proper atmosphere and environment unspoilt by political and man-made religious divisions Malaysians have already been united as one Bangsa Malaysia !

Our group of two generations of climbers coming from different religious, racial and social backgrounds has been an excellent testimony to this fact. Ranging from the ages of thirties to the seventies the group has Anak Malaysia, Bapa/Emak Malaysia as well as Datoh Malaysia. Members in the group profess Islam, Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism and others as their religions.  In the expedition they acted as members of one big family. Daily they sang the NegaraKu and Malaysia Kita Sudah Berjaya.  Their patriotism was to only Malaysia and their avowed passion was to demonstrate their patriotism on  the roof of Africa. They have done so in a way that will always remain as an unforgettable and inspiring sparkle in my memory.

During the whole of our expedition they had always shown, indiscriminately, their caring spirit to each other, as Bangsa Malaysia.  They always prayed, as Bangsa Malaysia, in their respective religions, but ably led by Abd. Ghani in his Islamic prayers, for the health of each other and for the success of our mission for our Motherland - Malaysia. On the final day our hopes and aspirations would  be to celebrate, also as  Bangsa

Malaysia, the 46th Anniversary of our Merdeka  Day on 31st August 2003 on the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro and to have our Jalur Gemilang and the Flag of our greatest Sponsor Tenaga Nasional Berhad flying on the highest peak Uhuru.  When the majority of the climbers reached the most difficult peak i.e. Gillman's Point they had thought that I had already collapsed through AMS (acute mountain sickness) and quickly brought  down to the base for my safety, three of the fittest climbers led by my buddy Dr.  Satkunarajah  and accompanied by Kamal and Halim, the managing director of Landmark, left for Uhuru without delay. They wanted to ensure that our flags would be there and they succeeded. They were naturally pleasantly surprised when I too led  another group of 5 to be there too. We all were very happy that we could as a team clearly show that Malaysians as Bangsa Malaysia BOLEH !
Dear Ani, you planted the seed of Bangsa Malaysia when you commenced the CMBA course in Ilsas.  I have no doubt that you are happy to see part of the success in the performance of the TNB Kilimanjaro Expedition 2003.

Kindly convey our best regards to Saenah.
Choong Tak"
The De La Salle Brothers have imbued in us the same spirit and taught us universal values which invariably guided us, La Sallians, to care and serve others above one’s self regardless of creed, colour or race.

Tan Sri, we salute you and your team members. Your feat is more than the conquest of Mount Kilimanjaro. You have shown that we, as Malaysians can live, work, love, enjoy and advance together as Bangsa Malaysia notwithstanding our cultural diversities. All that is needed is a little understanding, caring and respect on the part of everyone.

Dated: 12.9.2003

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