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Touching Lives Print E-mail

ImageTouching Lives tells of how the La Salle Brothers and the alumni, in true Lasallian Spirit touch the lives of others. The first of the series is by M. Mahaboob, an Old Georgian whom Bro. James Macken remembers well during the schooldays. “He was a small little boy but he soaked up everything he heard in the classroom and was very well behaved and was tops in scripture.”, recalled the good Brother.

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La Sallian lessons for life
THE year was 1951 and I had just completed a short stint in a kindergarten run by the Catholic nuns. After that, my father enrolled me in St Georges Institution of Taiping, on the advice of the then parish priest of St Louis Catholic church, Father Noel Clement.

Coming from a staunch Muslim family, his move might have seemed odd to many. But my father was firm in his conviction that only a Christian education could shape me into a disciplined citizen. 
My father had come to Malaya from India in the early 1940s. Back home, he had seen how the Christian schools were run by the nuns and missionaries. So, he was determined that my elder sister, I and another sibling should go through this same system.

The school that I was taken to was run by the La Sallian brothers. They used to be clad in white robes and lived in quarters located in one section of the school.

When I first enrolled in the school, there were few Malay pupils; in fact, there were less than 10. The other students were Chinese and Indians. But my father never wavered in his decision, although there was a government school in our neighbourhood, which most Muslim parents sent their kids to.

I spent 11 years in my school and had the pleasure of being taught by dedicated Christian brothers from Ireland, Canada, (then) Burma and, of course, Malaya. What struck me most was their impeccable conduct and dedication. Their winning point was the caring attitude they showed to one and all.

I was small-sized and often took the front seat in class or stood in front at assembly. The whole school could identify me easily.

In 1960, the then brother director, known as Brother Philip, would go on his rounds to check our fortnightly progress reports. This method of checking was the hallmark of the school.

I went through this rigid scrutiny from Year One until I completed Form Five, in 1961. Any lapse in my marks or conduct never failed to catch his meticulous eye. But I was fortunate in this aspect because my academic performance was above average throughout. So I used to get a stroke on the head, or a pat on the back.

One day in 1960, my form teacher singled me out to take part in a concert to raise funds for the school’s new science block. I was to play a professor in a comedy sequence. The show was a great hit and donations poured in. The brothers were simply delighted.

When I was in Form Five, come Fridays, Bro Philip would instruct all the Muslim boys to line up, then head for a mosque nearby to pray. I did not comply with the directive because I was taking an important Science subject for my final exam and the lesson clashed with prayer time. The brother director insisted on seeing me in his office and requested that I get my parents’ consent to my skipping prayers. It was the first time the school had done something like that.

My father was elated by Bro Philip’s mindfulness and gladly gave his consent. He reasoned that the Almighty is all-knowing and that I would be forgiven because skipping prayers was not a deliberate act on my part. This was an eye-opener for those Muslim parents who were rather apprehensive about schools run by the Christian brothers.

Towards the middle of 1961, the Form Six entrance exam applications came out. It cost only RM5 to register, but I could not afford to. When my form teacher took a headcount, he was surprised that I was not planning to take the exam. Without hesitation, he pulled me aside, paid the money and requested that I sit for the exam. This was the second time the school authorities had gone out of their way to help me, even though I was a Muslim.

When the results were released, I was one of the lucky few who had passed. But my father insisted that I get a job. Upon hearing this, Bro Philip came to the rescue once again. He offered to support me financially, as I would be required to attend classes in Ipoh. But, again, my father stood his ground and turned down his offer, with apologies. I had no choice but to accede to his wish.

After Form Five, I became a schoolteacher. And because I emulated the good values taught in school, I became a headmaster while still very young – much to the envy of many.

All this recognition would not have been possible if I had not been exposed to the true La Sallian spirit. Kudos to the La Salle brothers for their selfless contributions to Malaysian education.

BRO. FERDINAND

Teacher in SGI 1950-65. "Lady Precious Stream". The Big Parade 1965. Bro. Cyprian and the "Lost Patrol". I wrote the songs and sang them. Bro. Thomas - the Scotsman. We made things happen. You'll never see our likes again!
                    
Gerry Fernandez

Old Georgian From 1959-1968 Currently living in Perth Australia Headmaster@ Primary SGI - the late Mr. Augustine (emigrated to Perth) HeadBrother @ Secondary: Bro Leo Love to know what Bro Christopher (pet teacher SGI High) is Doing Think i've met Bro Chan {who is out of the brotherhood) in Perth My old Taiping Address 36 Creagh Lane( if that still exist)

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