Companion to eGroup

Passing of Mr. Gan Cheong Chiah

gan_s.jpgMr. James Lim informs that Mr. Gan passed away today after a short illness. He had been comatose towards the end.

I had the privilege of having Mr. Gan as my headmaster in Methodist Boys’ Primary School and remember him as a kind mentor, rare to have a temper with his charges and patient with his guidance.

He is the one who taught many of us the school song, replete with the timing “filled with courage fine …. (two, three, four)”.

We extend our sincere condolences to his family including his daughter, Mrs. Chin Kwee Sum who taught many of us geography.

This picture of Mr. Gan is taken from Mr. Mori’s album and would be in the late 1950s or early 1960s.

A wake will be held at his home at 5 Jalan Pimping, Off Jalan Ulu Klang, Ukay Heights today (Wednesday, 26th September 2007) at 8.30 p.m.

Another wake will be held on Thursday 27th September 2007 at 8.30 p.m. at the same place.

Do extend your condolences to the family by leaving a comment.

Location of Mr. Gan’s home. (click on thumbnail to enlarge)

A few of us met up on Thursday 27th September at the second wake to extend our condolences to the Gan family, meeting up with Mrs. Chin Sum Kwee and her sister.gan2.jpg
Jayanath, Commander Ku Yuen Mun, Dato’ Davy Woo, Eddie Chung, Liu Kwai Choong, Siew Teck Cheong.

Hanifah was there too but left early to meet up with Leonard Khong.

References to Mr. Gan on the MBSLoop

Datuk Lee Tak Lum (8th February 2007)
Sze Tin, you have good memory of headmasters of your time. I am sure you and many others would like to hear more about Cheong Chiah. I have found out that he is now 95 years old and is staying with his daughter Puan Chin Sum Kwee. I gather that he is living quietly and peacefully in bed most of the time and only response to basic living needs. He can hear and only response to his dear ones for things he needs. How about old boys who have had good / bad experiences with Cheong Chiah, to write some simple massages for old time sake and these will be tabulated into a few pages to be forwarded to Puan Sum Kwee to read to him when he is in the right attentive mood. Some will say something nice…..what a wonderful gesture. I will volunteer to be the messenger.

The headmaster when I was in MBPSKL was Mr Gan Chiah (I never knew why he preferred to be known by this name, dropping his middle name) and the principal of MBSSKL for most of the time I was there was Mr Mori. I can’t help but note that they were so similar. They were both so dedicated. We were all “scared” of them because we were taught to fear authority. (Teachers were to be obeyed without question and the naughty ones were sent to th headmaster’s/principal’s office.)

However, at the same time, their love for the children, the school, the country and their God just shone through. They were both multi- talented and both truly exude sportsmanship and more than encouraged us to be so, as well. We were threatened with punishment when we booed the opposing team at sports and we were encouraged to clap at the score of the opponent.

Lim Sze Tin (7th February 2007)
Mr. Gan was already the Headmaster when I got into Std 1. We used to fear (respect) our teachers and because the Headmaster was “bigger” (in the Chinese vernaculara) (read: more important) that the teacher, we feared him more. What a pleasant surprise, therefore, when I got to Std 6 and we had one subject, viz., Phonetics, taught by Mr. Gan I still remember what he taught (43 years ago, just for one term, I think) and, today, I can still check up pronunciations on my Daniel Jones’ dictionary of pronunciation. The pleasant surprise was that the “ogre” we feared was really a rather jovial person, who made the lesson really interesting. It was teachers like him who gave us an almost perfect grounding to study the English language. The other teacher who was very particular about pronunciation was Ariffin (sp?) (don’t call me Encik). It’s no wonder that MBS produced so many students so fluent in the English Language. This foundation was built on later by secondary school teachers like C Nadarajah, who drilled us in English, and literature teachers like Mrs Sally Ti and Miss Lim (Mrs Oh) Swee Imm. And I was from the Science stream. I’m sure the Arts students could say so much more about this.

One of my earliest memories of Mr Gan was the Monday assembly. Before the concrete platform was built near the badminton courts in the primary school, he used to carry his own stool, on which he will stand when he was addressing the school. We started the assembly with Negara- ku and Mr. Gan will get the right note to start us off. All this without any musical instrument to guide. Then came all the announcements, etc. and we would close with the school song and the refrain “Pleeeeaaaap, Pleeeeaaaap, Pleeeeaaaap,” all orchestrated by Mr. Gan When he was perched on his stool, finding the note for the songs, he would sway a little to and fro and we wondered whether one day he’ll fall off the stool. Of course, he didn’t and we got spared the suspense when the concrete platform finally got built. He really took pride in the unfurling of the nation’s and the school flags and that taught us to respect the flags.

He was probably a techie of his era because I saw him fiddling with the control of the PA system quite often. I didn’t understand those things enough in those days.

Of course, we all remember Mrs Chin, too. Well-known for her notes, which stood us in good stead, for the SC (I didn’t take Geography in HSC)… even for someone like me, whose natural habitat was more like the school field than the library. [Mrs Chin, if you’re trying to recall who I am, if that’s at all possible, think of one of the naughtier boys.]

That’s for starters because I’m at work now. I’ll write more, if my now ageing brain can recall anything else worthy of report.

A tiny trivia: Mr. Gan used to drive a black Morris Oxford in the late 50’s/early 60’s. That was in the days, when a Morris Minor was considered one of the better cars. Later on he “graduated” to a Volvo, deservedly, no doubt.

As I said, this is only trivia. I’m sure the car Mr. Gan drove meant nothing to him next to his students.

Phillip Tan (8th February 2007)
Agree Mr Mori, Mr Gan and Mr Yong are principals we are fortunate and proud to be associated with. Each of them impart principles in us that we still hold true today. My utmost respect to all these great teachers of men (oops!! my apologies) and women,

Lai Wing Fatt (10th February 2007)

Ode for Mr Gan Cheong Chiah

The real champion
is the one among us,
who perseveres
to build and develop
lesser mortals
in the own pursuit of
their true greatness;
learning from experience
of past masters
to help achieve set goals,
and thus become
True champions one and all.

Wan Heng Yuen (6th January 2007)
Co-curricular Senior Supervisor Mr. Chin Nam Keong, informs that the current boys just sing the song and omits the punch in air “play up, play up, play up” like the reformasi people.

Was that punch in air started by Mr. Gan Cheong Chiah ?




September 25, 2007 - Posted by | Teachers


  1. Lee Lee and I send our condolences to the family. Although he never took any of my classes, he did come in occasionally to relief some of the teachers. I remembered him distinctly perched on top of a chair to lead the school in singinge Negara Ku and the school song. With hands waving he strikes the notes and teh rest followed. He was a gentle and quiet person and was the principal of MBPS all the time when I was there. At 100 years, he had a very good inning. With him joining Mr. T. Mori, I have now lost the two principals that made a difference to my life.

    May God Bless his soul

    Comment by Kwok Chuen | September 26, 2007 | Reply

  2. “When a tiger dies, it leaves its skin,
    When a man dies, he leaves his name”
    Mr. Gan Chiah left a legacy of helping to plant the seeds of maturity to our young minds.
    Su Kheong

    Comment by Chin Su Kheong | September 26, 2007 | Reply

  3. Although I never had the privilege to be Mr.Gan’s student, I have heard so much from my peers in secondary school of his legendary contribution to our Alma Mater.

    Sincere condolences to Mrs.Chin and family.
    God Bless his soul.

    MBSian 1962-1968

    Comment by SAJ | September 26, 2007 | Reply

  4. Mr. Gan is very well remembered by all the MBS students in my year for his lead during the singing of the school song and his counting of cadence to make sure everyone got it just right. Never too fast and never too slow.He did not really teach me but his fair ways will always be remembered. The special parking bay for him and his Volvo – one of the few on the road is also very distinctive of him. Another great achievement by him is the children of his, the best one whom all of us know as Mrs Chin whom many generations of Arts students will remember well for her detailed explanations and her requests for the high standards.
    My sincere sympathies to the family especially to Mrs Chin.
    Yoke Meng

    Comment by Lee Yoke Meng | September 26, 2007 | Reply

  5. Deepest sympathies to Mrs Chin and family and other relatives of Mr Gan.

    There are so many things we can remember him for. I remember him more for the little things he did in love.

    For a start, he had such a kindly look about him. And for him, it wasn’t just a look. He WAS kind. Nothing was too little for him to attend to. I remember once when one boy couldn’t control his bowels and needed a change of pants, guess who appeared with a pair in his hands? Don’t ask me where he got it from.

    He not only taught us lessons. He also taught us values. He’s not a mere teacher. He was a true all-round educationist, motivator, role model, guardian, etc.

    Mr Gan, till we meet again on that beautiful shore.

    …”I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die….”
    (John 11:25-26 NIV)

    Lim Sze Tin

    Comment by Sze Tin | September 26, 2007 | Reply

  6. Mr. Gan Cheong Chiah was a meticulous person. He held himself straight and had an imposing personaliy. I came to know him when I was in Std 1 (now Std 3) when I joined the Wolf Cub Pack. He was our Cubmaster.He used to regale us with stories of child heroes and the Mowgli stories were his favourites (and ours, too). While he looked stern, he had a heart of gold. When I returned to MBSKL in 1956, the school was not seperated into Primary and Secondary yet. Mr Gan was then in charge of the Book Room. I had an occasion to assist him to arrange and stock books one evening. We worked late into the night During that period he told me about his school days in MBSKL. He was a contemporary of Mr. T. Mori.That evening I came to know more of Mr. Gan who revealed himsef to be a kindly gentleman, treating a young teacher who was a student of the school just like a colleague – no patronising, but just as a colleague.

    He was appointed the First Headmaster of Methodist Boys’ Primary School Kuala Lumpur when MBSKL split. His devotion and loyal service to the school is well known to all.

    He certainly had great faith in MBS. His son and daughter, Sum Lan were students of the school. When Sum Kwee graduated from University of Malaya, she joined MBSSKL and taught Geography until she retired.

    Mr. Gan’s passing away marks the end of an era when we had teachers like: Mr. Kok Ah Too, Mr. Tai Ah Loy, Mr. Kanagaretnam, Mr. T.K. Cheong, Mr. Ng Than Ken, Mr. Chin Chock Lim, Mr. Lloyd Jayatilaka, Mr. Phang Piang Fah, Mr. Wong Keow, Mr. Tan Teik Guan, Mr. Cheong Hoi Fah. These are some of the teachers who were old boys of the school and stayed on to serve the school. There are others, but I cannot recollect all their names.

    So to Mrs. Chin Kwee Sang and Dr. Gan Sum Lan (Mrs. Hui), please accept our sincere condolences and a sincere thank you for your father’s lifelong service and devotion to the school.

    Comment by Yong Chee Seng | September 28, 2007 | Reply

  7. He was a wonderful person although I did not see him before. At the age of 100, he sure has many wonderful stories to talk about his alma mater but sadly i am not lucky to see him…

    Comment by dhilip | October 8, 2007 | Reply

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: