Launch of T Mori Education Trust
The T Mori Education Trust was launched on 20th November 2010 at the Royal Selangor Golf Club. The class of 1960 had their 50 years reunion and took the opportunity to breath life into this trust.
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Professor Robert Chan (3rd from left) a 1960er came in from Auckland to meet his classmates and reports:
I am giving a personal account of the Dinner and Launch held on Saturday at the Royal Selangor Golf Club. I came back to Kuala Lumpur from Auckland with KC Foong and I believe that we travelled the longest distance for the occasion. For me it was nostalgic, meeting some classmates whom I’ve known for over 60 years for the first time since I left school. We were at a tour of the school on Friday morning. We behaved in a way excited children do when many class and school mates meet up after a long absence. Sadly, I was not able to remember many of them. However, some friends were able to jog my memory and we recalled events of the past. Now the present difficulty is in remembering their names. The photographers were present and KC even managed to capture an image of the MBS ghost.
The setting for the dinner was befitting the grand occasion this was, and the event went smoothly. I sensed that a great deal of effort went into the organization which was headed by classmate Lee Tak Suan and his able team. I was very happy to see among the 13 or so tables that so many MBSians of other years (mostly younger of course) were present. KC and I were particularly delighted to see the Loop represented by (in no particular order) Peter Yap, Wan Heng Yuen, Ng Pui Wan, Wayne Cheah, Wong Tuck Meng, Jeffrey Yue, Davy Woo, Lee Yoke Meng, Mah Teck Keong, James Lim, Ho Shu Nam, Albert Rajaratnam and others. Some like Low Min Chee would have come but was unable to. There was much mingling but insufficient time to see and talk to everyone present.
The official guests included the Mori family, principal Mr Wong Chee Kheon, former principals and former teachers of the school. I was particularly delighted to see Mr Yong Chee Seng, my form teacher in 1959, who only a few years ago brought me out of hibernation when he introduced me to KC and the Loop. Mr Yong gave the principal address and recounted the history of Mr Mori and his long association with the school interspersed with his usual style of humour. He managed to produce some of the canes that Mr Mori used – he was apparently very fair-minded, giving the students the choice of cane to be used on their backside. I was not one of the lucky ones who had that privilege. He had said to me, “Robert, you are too old now to be caned; I do not want to suspend you since you have been playing truant for too long; the only option left is for me to sack you”. Fortunately for me, he did not carry out his threat but he did put me on the school’s black book, one of the first I believe. Teachers had to write a brief report on the behaviour of those on the list. Any misbehaviour would result in sacking. The rest is history. I behaved and several years later went back to school to see Mr Mori to tell him that I graduated from university and was studying nuclear physics. I suspected that he was quietly proud that he had a role in saving me. There are many such similar stories around him. I hope those of you who remember incidents at school would recount and share your experiences.
All MBSians, without exception, who knew Mr Mori respected him and some owed him a big tribute. It is the school spirit he fostered that kept many past pupils proud to have belonged to a school that nourished and guided them and prepared them for life. For this I believe the Education Trust was named in his honour. Although Mr Mori is the name associated with this Trust it is the underlying reason for it which is important – to help students in need and these may well include many different types in need. An extreme example is someone who may even be a graduate and who has a particular talent but cannot afford to continue to a postgraduate course. This student may well qualify as much as someone who is just starting tertiary study at university or at a trade school. Alumni who do not know Mr Mori, nevertheless have their own headmasters and teachers to relate to. If you share the same school spirit that I do then it does not matter what era you belong to – the worthy cause is the same.
For me it is easy to have faith in the people who are behind the TMET. They are successful people I’ve known for a long time. Their private funding of scholarships for needy students is now no longer secret. Their desire to continue this scheme openly (long after they are gone) has resulted in the TMET. They are not ready to accept donations towards the Fund yet but they are anxious to get it started. There are still many hurdles to overcome and yes, there will be criticisms of the way it is being carried out. The key point is that the sooner the scheme is started the sooner some students can receive the benefit. If they waited until every i is dotted and every t crossed, the scheme may never get off the ground. The people involved are people of integrity; the governance and operation of the Fund will be water-tight. If you have ideas, criticisms or comments bring it out in the open. It is healthy to sieve from all this and retain the best. So I urge you to be positive, think about it and pledge your support in real terms. There is no limit – we pledge what we can afford and from our hearts.
GO FORWARD MBS.
Auckland, New Zealand
Dear Prof Robert,
I am telling a story which I have heard from either Mr Yong or someone more senior to me. Its about the late Judge of Singapore, Lai Kew Chai. Incidentally he died immediately after he retired ( So it may not be so good to retire after all). It seems that Mr T.Mori had given him guidance and got him to study the Arts and in the end he achieved the success and became a very prominent Judge in Singapore. Mr Mori had touched many people life including mine when he once chased all the primary school students off the field before the afternoon session started and cannot even sit on the concrete steps. I could not run in time during the confusion of events and got one lash from Mr Mori for sitting on the steps.
So Robert, I am one better than you as I had got one lash from Mr Mori-just for sitting down and not running fast enough due to day dreaming
But Mr Mori’s daughter had taught both myself in MBS and also my wife when she was teaching in Malacca.Talk about a small world
Great write-up, Robbie. Not only did you give a great account of the dinner, you also surreptitiously (in a nice way, of course) rooted for TMET. I fully concur with what you said and my hat off to the founders of the fund for their selflessness and foresight.
At the risk of throwing in some controversy, I wonder if we should nominate a permanent chairman for the fund. Permanent, of course until he/she vacates the post. Permanent in the sense that he/she doesn’t have to get voted in every year. What about giving sweeping powers to this person? The idea is to have someone who really has the vision of the fund, lest annual election of chairmen may not provide sufficient continuity and, worse, as the fund gathers steam, we may find some ill-intending smooth talker who may try to get in for selfish interest and control the sizeable funds there. Yes, it is a double-edged sword. You could also get a Permanent Chairman with ill-intent. So, this is by no means a request, much less a call for a PC. Just to open up a discussion point, if that is needed. If not, just tell me to shaddap and I’ll oblige.
I leave it to the silks to figure out how this can be enshrined in the constituion, how his/her powers will be espoused or contained, how he/she can be appointed (eg., veto powers given to Board of Governors of MBS or Methodist Education Foundation or Kobenpy or something like that) or removed, etc.
The TMET trust will be run by 4 trustees. The founding trustees Mr. Wong Chee Kooi and Mr. Lee Tak Suan have indicated that they will carry the ball for at least three years to ensure that the TMET gets a good start. The third trustee is from the T. Mori Family . The fourth trustee is Dato; Teo Chiang Quan who will receive the ball to carry it forward. TCQ represents a younger generation and when both Wong Chee Kooi and Lee Tak Suan retire, it is anticipated younger trustees will be appointed and they will be “trained” to take over when TCQ retires.
It is vision of the founders that younger generations will take this through to the future.
Mr. Chooi has envisaged protectors are appointed to ensure that the Trustees stay on course with the objectives of the TMET. The legalities are still being worked out. Until this is ready, teh TMET will not be taking any money from donors.
What you have pointed out is real and need to be addressed.
Thanks for your support and the pertinent suggestion. Dictatorships have been known to work well in some countries. Seriously, KC has responded to you and has made it clearer how things are working out.
One point that is perhaps worth considering is the establishment of clusters to promote and generate interest. At present we have a unit or cluster (or cell – careful of the CIA) in NZ who we hope will try to work closely together to get a pledge from the cluster as a whole for those who wish to be part of it. Of course, individuals could do so separately. What we envisage is that similar clusters form in Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, and in other overseas centres. Someone must take the initiative to get the thing going. In some large centres there are already groups of alumni forming social gatherings from time to time. The TMET could well provide a focus. So here is a challenge.
As for the largest centre – KL – there already exist many clusters. For example, Albert Rajaratnam has informed us that his class of 57 meets once every two months, and they have an annual dinner often in KL and sometimes in Singapore. He showed me a photo of the most recent meeting which included Cheong Choong Kong. Their activities are not confined to eating and socialising. They have several classmates in need and they are supported by the group. One group that meets regularly include the class of ’67. There are many others doing the same. These groupings could be the basis of the clusters in KL. Each will have their own set of interests and different headmasters or teachers they relate to. If they agree with the basic principles the TMET could well provide a focus for these clusters.
Excuse me for being so cheong hei.
I instituted this ‘system’ in 2006. Right from the word ‘Go’ I told myself that folks nearing the completion of their 7th decade on earth become increasingly forgetful. The notes allowed for focussing on the items in an objective manner. The participants wished some items would be swept under the carpet. The notes does not allow this to happen.
KC, you and I had a superb lunch this afternoon. Do enjoy your dinner with TM tonight.
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