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Touching Lives - The PLUS of Lasallian Education Print E-mail

ImageWe wish to share with fellow La Sallians a blog article titled: The Dream of My Father written by Nik Nazmi. It was forwarded to me by a fellow La Sallian. In the article, Nik provides an insight into his father's early days, aspiration and belief. Born before WWII and hailed from a family of Muslim religious scholars, Nik's father was noted for his strong Malay (or even Kelantanese) views. Notwithstanding this, he sent all his children to Christian missionary schools for good reasons.

“When I was young, many of my friends were amazed how old my father was. I was the few Generation M who had both parents born before Merdeka (independence). In fact, both of my parents were born before the Second World War. I remember my parents telling me what it was like to sing God Save the King (and later Queen) at school, alongside Selamat Sultan. My mother in fact joined in the celebrations for Merdeka as her family was in Kuala Lumpur to send her elder brother to further his studies.

Like many post-NEP Malays, I was a first generation middle class city kid. My father - who was 52 when I was born came from a petit bourgeois family in Kota Bharu, belonging to a long line of religious scholars and small-scale farmers. Like many of his family members, he began his formal education in an Arab school, and was set to continue his studies in the Middle East like his father, grandfather and uncles. But his father's lack of means meant that he could not follow the same path, and upon the advice of his uncle, he switched to English stream at Sultan Ismail College. He was already 16 then, so they reported that his birth certificate was lost and registered
that he was only 13.

He remembered learning more about War of the Roses and Queen Elizabeth I rather than about the Malaccan Sultanate. Local history tends to be dated by the 'discovery' of Malaya by the West. In spite of that as well as the challenge of switching to English stream at a late age, my father worked hard and excelled. He was shortlisted to go to sixth form, which was not available in Kelantan at that time. He ended up in Victoria School, Singapore and stayed at the residence of Mansor Adabi's family, who was married and then separated from Natrah Maarof / Maria Hertogh in the huge controversy in the early 1950s. Later my father was among a small number of Malays who managed to get a place in the University of Malaya, Singapore to read history.

Upon graduation, like many of his peers, my father joined the civil service to shape a nascent nation. The civil service was the most popular job at that time, and my father began a three-decade career in bureaucracy.

..... My father personified the unique ideals of this generation when he – hailing from a family of Muslim religious scholars and noted for his strong Malay (or even Kelantanese) views - sent all his children to Christian missionary schools. Three of my eldest sisters went to BBGS; the fourth was educated in Assunta while I studied at La Salle PJ for my primary education. His reasoning was simple: he understood the strong esprit de corps fostered by missionary schools as well as their multiracial nature. "It's dangerous to have them grow up as Malaysians without knowing students from other races and religions." Earlier, as a roommate to Ramon Navaratnam (now Tan Sri) in UM, my father impressed him due to the fact that while he was a rare breed of Malays in university who faithfully observed his religious requirements, he wanted to do so without making his non-Muslim roommate uncomfortable, even if just a bit.”

Note and Acknowledgement with thanks:
1. Nik Nazmi works full time as a political aide, contributes occasionally to the Edge, the Sun and  Malaysiakini and remains a lifelong Liverpool fan.

2. Only relevant portions of the whole article is reproduced above.

3. Encik Nik Nazmi for the writings.

4. La Sallian Joseph Yeoh for forwarding it to us

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