I had an opportunity this year to visit Sibu's annual Borneo Cultural Festival which is always held in July.
There was a good photographic exhibition organised by the Sibu Photographic Society. However this year it was also held in conjunction with exhibitions by the local Chinese Calligraphic society and the Art Society.
This kind of exhibition would draw many like minded people and those with a curious mind. And after the opening ceremony I was delighted to meet up with an old Methodist School Colleague Mr. Hii Lik Kwong.
He has so many former students from Chung Cheng coming up to take photographs with him. Mr. Hii is a good Chinese scholar. And he also has a keen mind to learn about everything. Mr. Hii taught in the Methodist Secondary School until he retired not too long ago.
Although Mr. Ting Lik Hie did not teach me (He was a teacher in the Methodist Chinese Primary School ) I remember him as a man whose calligraphy is world famous. He and my uncles and aunts were good friends and colleagues. Here he stands next to his friend Mr. Hii.
Although Sibu is fairly large we can still cross paths with lots of former teachers and colleagues. It has been a great honour to meet up with them and chat with them about old times.
It is now more and more difficult to find classical scholars like these two who embraced Confucian way of learning and teaching. Both had come from the old Chinese system of learning in the early days of Sibu and had lived through the difficult days of the Japanese occupation when all education stopped and learning was just a few hours of Japanese language learning Japanese- run temporary schools. Besides holding calligraphy brushes and pens they also held rubber tapping knives and axes in their younger days.
Struggling Chinese scholars then went to Taiwan for an overseas education only to come back to the then Colonial Sarawak to earn a small pittance. Later they had to retrain in Sarawak Teacher's Training College in Sibu to be certified as "trained" teachers. Their starting salary was $180.00 with the then Teacher's Provident Fund. And yet they have been able to send their children for higher education overseas very much on their own effort. Today they have a small pension from the Federal Government.
We must seize this kind of opportunity to be gracious and warm towards them. Often people forget to show gratitude to these teachers who in their humble ways sacrifice their whole life for the love of teaching and especially in instilling good values and virtues amongst several generations of students.