Sunday, October 20, 2013

The Gathering of the Old Boys of St John's Institution of the years 1971 to 1977

Note that the next BIG Gathering is planned for Dec 8, 2018 in Kuala Lumpur
(For reference, click here)

This is the eve of the grand gathering of my school/Class mates of SJI, a school founded by the De La Salle Brothers.  A video memory and moments of St. John's Institution can be viewed here.

These SJI friends who have been close to my heart over the years of my life from adolescence to what the world calls retirement age which is the reason for this big bash at the Le Meridien in KL Sentral, as early as 5pm our the class that we have called LSD or Lima Sains Dua of 1975.  (For me it's crossing the threshold of getting the second wind to propel me even further to fulfill what I believe is the purpose of my life) The closeness of this relationship of friends to my family is reflected in the fact that the submenu leading to this group of 'Friends' is found at the bottom of the cover page of our family website www.familylane.info (For PC view only as done a long time ago when there were no smartphones! I later created www.familylane/photolinks)


1971 or Form 1 was when most of the old boys of our generation started secondary or middle school and in this old copy of the Garudamas which is the school yearbook, it is appropriate to quote from the message of Rev. Brother Director, Bro Joseph Yeoh who said this about the School Emblem, The GOLDEN EAGLE :

"This is a good occasion for all of us to reflect a little and see what significance the School Emblem has for us. The School, as we all know, is called after St.John referred to as the Divine because of the loftiness of his spirit. His character was so strong that he was called 'a son of thunder', his mind was so noble that the symbol used to represent him is the EAGLE - the noblest of birds. His spirit is depicted on the School Badge as a GOLDEN EAGLE - The Gold stands for everything that is pure and noble, the Eagle being sublime and lofty. The Badge also shows by means of the Three Bunga Raya on a white background the Peace and Unity that exists between the students of different races in the School.

May the School Badge and the GOLDEN EAGLE be a constant reminder to all Johannians to seek after the realities expressed by the symbols. In all that you do, always strive to be noble and pure in your aims and ideals, strong and persevering in your efforts to attain excellence in whatever you do and, above all, endeavor to be always united with one another in peace, charity and devoted service of your Community."


From that School Emblem of the GOLDEN EAGLE is how many of us who walked through the hallways of St John's Institution began to carry with us a spirit of excellence in whatever we did and always united with one another in peace, charity and devoted service of our Community. The same Bro Director above who served in St John's Institution from 1969-1978 wrote a very special message for the Book of Remembrance of our class of 5 Science 2 at the year-end of 1975 when we would break up as a class. Here is a transcript of his handwritten words :

My dear Form Five Science Two - 1975

I am indeed honored to be asked to write a few words in your class Remembrance Book by way of a message to you before you break-up as a class.

Though I may not be able to recall all your names individually, I do trust you all enough to say that you have always impressed me as a class of loyal and spirited Johannians who have accepted well the challenges of school life and turned them into so many opportunities of molding your individual  character as well as forging a tremendous class spirit seen at all times and everywhere.

The five years - 1971 to 1975 - that we have known one another have, I'm sure, benefited us mutually whether as principal or students. The many occasions I was hard on you, it was because I expected the very best from the cream. When I exploited your services - This I did quite often - it was because I could count on your loyalty, willingness and efficiency. To be fair, I must say that I could always sense that you could never be made to accept anything that you were not fully convinced about - a positive trait which you must continue to nurture in the years ahead.

Also I must that it's having students like you and seeing you develop and mature amid the humdrum routine, frustrations and exasperations of school life that makes the life of a teacher and still more, a principal bearable and consoling I may add. Do not blame me if you are responsible for having kept me going as Director of St Johns for the past seven years.

Well, that's about all I can put into this page. It remains for me to wish you all the very best of everything that is good and true in life. I shall always remember Form 4 Sc 2 of 1974 and Form 5 Sc 2 of 1975 and pray that you continue to live by the school motto of "right principles and hard work". God Bless you and keep you all.

Signed as Bro Joseph Yeoh
               Director


This is the Red Book or our Book of Remembrance of the "LSD" or Lima Science Dua class, a translation in Malay for 5 Science 2 class, of 1975.

It was noted in my personal journal of Wed 27 Jan 1982 that Sally Chan had invited a few Johannians for lunch at the Hotel Merlin on that day and it was then that Eng Tong shared with us the news that Brother Joseph Yeoh was in critical condition and not expected to survive that week while in a hospital in Singapore and that a guard of honor was being prepared in school. 

On the following day, a few "LSD" classmates and other schoolmates got together at the place where I was then staying as a voluntary missionary as noted in my journal page of that date above with photos of the group.

From OWL TO EAGLE experience

My memory of coming to St John's Institution in 1971 was the dawn of a new era for me in the pursuit of academic excellence. Prior to that, it was literally an experience of transformation from the emblem of the OWL to the EAGLE

My first primary school was Pasar Road English School (PRES) that has a Malay name below today and the translation of the English motto I've always shared with the children ie. "Work Hard and Play Hard". In later years, due to the strong influence of IT in our lives, I added another line ie, "Not just Work Hard but Work Smart!". Hmmm... seems like the kids these days spend more time Playing Smart too! haha


My primary years of Standard 1 to 3 under the OWL






From the rough and tough school of PRES, I was transferred to St John's Primary with the new school emblem of the EAGLE at standard or primary 4 level. Studies were more intense which is probably why I starting needing glasses in primary 5 level to be recognized by my signature spectacles the rest of my adult life evidenced by the continuing photos below:






I began to see sparks of improvement in my ability to excel in academic studies in my years in St John's primary from joining the school from primary 4 level or standard 4 to level 6, after which it was time to move to the secondary school next which was just down the road on Jalan Bukit Nanas.

From Primary to Secondary School :

Form 1/4  Mr. Stanley Van Dort

1973 outing with Mr. Stanley Van Dort to the Lake Gardens

2011 Reunion with Mr. Stanley Van Dort in Kuala Lumpur

17 Aug 2017
Celebrating the 77th Birthday with our Form 1/4 teacher


I picked up basketball at Secondary or Form 1 level:


1971 Junior basketball team with coach Brother Alban Ham identified with the arrow. I did join the training in the beginning to learn basic skills to later join my class team only and not play for the school. I spent a lot of time playing casually as there were two open courts at the school where anyone could use to play a game or just practice shooting the ball into the ring. 


2010 reunion with Mr. Alban Ham in Ipoh

I didn't want to confine myself to one sport and so through the school years, I played soccer, volleyball, rugby, ping pong, hockey, badminton and some tennis that made me an all-rounder at school. I even joined the cycling team and a race!  The advantage for me in my later adult life is I could play any sport with anyone, picking up squash on my own in public courts and golf in private country clubs.

I did focus on Karate training to acquire my rank to brown belt just one level before the black. I even took part in a regional competition in Singapore.


I couldn't continue further after I left Form 5 to do my matriculation at Taylor's college to enjoy free tertiary education in Australia.

I did come back to school to visit my former instructors and joined them in some training but having to raise 6 children, run multiple businesses and serve in volunteer callings in my Church, I couldn't find the time to continue training consistently.

Academically from Form 1 level onwards, I seemed to be increasing in my examination marks and class positions that I was promoted at the end of the 2nd year in secondary school from Form 2/4 to 2/2. 

Form 2/4 Bro. Augustine

Form 2/2 Mrs. Cherry Tong. 

I joined this class towards the year-end. So my gradual rise in academic performance since I started in St John's primary, with a promotion in primary level and another promotion at lower secondary level caused me to know a wider range of students progressively through time.

Form 3/2 Che'gu Sheik

We had the LCE Lower Certificate of Education at the end of Form 3 which was a government set examination to decide if a student could qualify to the science stream and if not the student would be put in the Arts stream. Here again, the separation of all students based on the science or arts stream where a further division occurs where there are top tree equally ranking classes of the science stream separated from the other equally lower ranking classes of the science stream. Similarly, the top 3 equal ranking classes of the arts stream would be separated from the other equally lower ranking classes of the arts stream. So once again I got another mix of students, some whom I might have known in previous years with others who will be new to me.

For the next two years, this group will be together in Form 4 and 5 where we would sit for another major government exam known at that time as MCE Malaysian Certificate of Education at the end of the second year. 

1974 Class of 4Sc2 Mr. Kirubakaran Rokk

2010 Feb reunion with Mr. Kirubakaran Rokk

1975 Class of 5Sc2 Mrs. Gonzales

I had momentarily lost my signature spectacles look due to the wearing of contact lenses that made sense for my active sporting life. In the annual photo above, I am seen sitting by the teacher to be chosen as Class Chairman while in the previous year, Leong Kwok Hung was the Chairman. 



The two years together by the end of the 2nd year was full of remarkable achievements not just academically but we felt that all of us grew more than we were capable of doing without being together. The comradeship and effective teamwork in our group of diverse individuals in terms of race, religion or culture had a great impact on each one of us for a long time to come. We created a Red Book seen above, which is a red colored hardcover diary where we all could write our "Feelings" to be kept as a remembrance for many years to come. I have been a keeper of the Red Book for many years as well as a Chronicler of my own life and the interactions with Johannians I've had in the continuing years since we left school.

This was the big party we held after all exams were over in Form 5. Some of us would leave the school with different plans for our further education.

Many small reunions have occurred over the years as recorded in this journal post as well as some bigger ones where old classmates or friends now spread out in the world would make an effort to come back to reunite and reignite those "Feelngs" we have etched in our memory as well as in our Red Book!

It must be noted that the "Feelings" is not exclusive to our class alone of two years. Overall our Alma Matter has left a strong footprint on a majority of its past students to have changed their lives forever from the foundation that all had received from the school with its dedicated teachers and leaders driven by the soaring Spirit of the Eagle.

Before the grand event of the old boys turning 55 years of age, a smaller reunion was held 5 years earlier in 2008 for turning 50 as recorded here.

THE GRAND EVENT

20 October 2013
So it was nothing but the best to hold our event at the Le Meridien for us qualifiers of the privileged group of the nation, as qualified retirees??? hahaha


Here is a group photo that includes most of the old boys and teachers present in the possibly largest reunion organized privately by any group of students!

Here you can see how all the students and teachers can reminisce how they each did it "My Way!" as they listened to an old boy singing the song passionately!

Here we can see Stanley Van Dort showing that he can still hold the attention of his students 42 years later!!!

It was nice to meet in small groups the various old boys who came from as far as UK, USA, Australia and nearby Singapore to attend the event.

The event was open to all 1971-77 year of old boys and many outside the LSD group came to enjoy the night too!

There was even a birthday celebration for all October babies with videos to be published soon on this post

Not forgetting great entertainment by the organizing committee led by the vivacious Rozzana!

And the rest of the crowd got to perform their own routines on the dance floor too

Playing Choo Choo Train!!!

With time for smaller groups to pose for more pics


It didn't matter anymore whether we were Science or Arts or LSD students as we were all good old Johannians tonite!

The more creative guys started showing off their legs

While the live of the party keeping everyone laughing and laughing!

What a fun beautiful night it turned out to be due to the spirit of camaraderie among students and teachers of the 1971-77 group that came from near and far!

Kudos to the organizing committee for making it all happen with post-event emails in circulation from many asking for more of such happy reunions to come!

Watch the video below to see how they could entertain the crowd and got everyone lively and even dancing!



Listen to the Cheer of the Johannians!


2010 was the year of several gatherings of Johannians where the school rally was also sung. One was during the Chinese New Year and the other was when the old boys and teachers went back to school. The Johannians that gathered in Singapore by the Formula One track, however, had a different song.

More photos from this event can be viewed in this facebook album

Post-event developments :

Full videos of the above event captured from DVDs only made available in Feb 2014 can be found in a later post found here.

Friendships continue even after the grand KL event in Singapore as early as 27 Oct 2013

Another small gathering over fine Japanese cuisine on 29 Oct 2013 in Singapore 

Compliments to the excellent service of Hashi restaurant with a pic of Kien Mun and I with the Manager

There can be other smaller gatherings in Kuala Lumpur to like the following :

Indian food at Jalan Gasing in Petaling Jaya with former Form 1/4 class boys with former teacher of St Johns Institution and principal of St Johns Primary, Bro Augustine on 5 Aug 2016 -



Chinese seafood Greenview restaurant in SS2 Petaling Jaya. The 3 Musketeers of ex-form 5 Science 2 class boys of 1975, taken on 13 Nov 2016 -

 With Auntie Lam, Dr. Lam's mother and Swee Joon, Benedict's wife both visiting from Seattle.

Benedict is holding the 'Red Book' of our 5Science2 or LSD (Lima Sains Dua) class autograph book.

I have been the keeper of this 'Red Book' from the beginning of time and would bring it out for viewing and reminiscing at most reunions like this one on 21 Dec 2008


Another Major Event

Another large gathering was organized on 11 April 2015 by the old boys of St.John's who came from a different group of Johannians compared to the one at Le Meridien. As I started secondary school in Form 1/4, where many students went to the Arts stream after Form 3, and I got promoted to 1/2 by year end where most of the students went to the Science stream including myself, I was privileged to know friends from both sides of the academic world! I guess it prepared me to go into the business world where I needed to use both my left and right brain representing the science and the arts according to my perception!

It probably explains why from a pure science stream after Form 5 Science 2, I went to Taylors College to do the Australian HSC choosing arts subjects like geography, accounting, economics with biology to enter Deakin University in Australia. Then strangely I got attracted to the field of computer science and did a dual major in Accounting and Computers at the University but graduated with a commerce degree. I came home looking to become a computer or software analyst for more experience as that seemed an exciting field to be in during the early 80s but no company would hire me saying I don't have a Computer Science degree but a Commerce degree! So I continued my work in the audit accounting field to qualify to become a Chartered Accountant.

But I left the audit accounting field to start my own business in computers, creating companies after companies of my own as an entrepreneur. The reason for so many companies is that I found myself into so many fields of business out there and had to call myself a Management Consultant in charge of a group of companies with a range of specialties such as computer hardware, software, management consulting and can you imagine I became President of a Church corporation as well but it was a non-profit entity!  Strangely I was invited to help turn around a failing direct selling company for a client or create a start-up for another that generated phenomenal sales that people in the industry thought I was a sales guru! I confess to all that I am just an ordinary man who found the way to acquire extraordinary skills and produce extraordinary results. I truly believe a lot of my learning capability of diverse interests came from my foundational experiences in St John's and I am grateful to the many teachers and fellow students who supported me in my molding years, not forgetting a strict but motivational Joseph Yeo as our CEO.

Today I am a writer and a socialpreneur with my new TALKLANE media that helps promote sustainable positive change needed in our tumultuous world today. The latest news of my life is best read or viewed in a multidimensional presentation by clicking here.

Finding my old friends of a different group in St John's Institution was a delight with photos shared below:

I happened to meet Chin Kin Onn who informed me of the gathering the next day which was on Saturday so I was free to join in.



Especially nice to catch up with my Karateka friend, Chong Tan Loh whom I've lost touch since I left KL for Australia in 1977. We are still in shape as you can see and another karateka too that I caught up with who is in KL is Lee Chee Seng working in Mid-Valley last. Our sensei was Mr Poon Boon Tek who had migrated to Sydney Australia with his family to teach school over there. (You can click on the names underlined to see pics of the persons named)

Those were the days when we were invincible!!!

More photos from the reunion event:





Wow, I often live up to my name "Fu" which means lucky as I won a lucky draw prize! It's a nice pair of shoes that are very useful as I walk, hike, bike and run a lot in my older years, wearing out a lot of my shoes, instead of doing Karate exercises where we are always barefooted!

Follow-up Meetings :

Lunch at Kelab Aman in Jalan Damai KL on 17 Nov 2016


Here was where I had the chance to catch up with some of the boys I started secondary school with in Form 1/4 who created a group named SJI 75 Alumni, name after the year where everyone would either leave school for private colleges elsewhere or continue on to lower and upper 6 in St John's Institution or simply join the workforce early by quitting school.


Reunions and Gatherings of the past. Click the links below to view :





















12 Feb 2017

The dinner hosted by Thim Liew that started the planning for the 60 BIG Reunion in Dec 2018:





9 Jan 2018

Lunch hosted by James Edison and a 100 people from this group was an estimated figure I heard will sure to come! Let's "Shake down the thunder from the Sky!"






30 Oct 2018
Birthday lunch to celebrate Nazli Shah's birthday who turned 60!




26 Nov 2018
Lunch at Royal Selangor Club in Dataran Merdeka celebrating Deepavali


Let's zoom in nearer:



8 Dec 2018
Looking forward to celebrating all of us turning 60 in this SJI reunion event!



Click here to confirm your participation in the Dec 8, 2018 SJI reunion event with the "Roaring 60s" theme and dress code. Closing date: 30 Nov 2018