Stop changing the name of mission schools in Malaysia
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A top mission school in Kuantan is on the verge of being reduced to just a mention in the history pages.
St.Thomas School in Kuantan, Pahang, is one of the premier schools in the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia. Some students even travelled from Terengganu and Kelantan to study at the school.
The school was established in 1950 by Rev. Father Louis Guittat under the order of the Marist Brothers. In 1960, it was taken over by the Brothers of St Gabriel.
Thousands of old boys including the Tengku Mahkota of Pahang Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah and his younger brother Tengku Muda of Pahang, Tengku Abdul Rahman Sultan Ahmad Shah studied at St. Thomas. The Sultan of Pahang Sultan Ahmad Shah attended the school’s silver jubilee celebrations in 1975.
Ex-students always make it a point to visit the former secondary school building which now houses an international college and also the primary school which has been temporarily abandoned, whenever there is a reunion.
Following a court tussle with the Catholic Church, the Education Ministry told the primary and secondary schools to vacate the land.
The schools, located about 200m from the Pahang state secretariat, were sitting on prime 2.4ha land in Jalan Gambut.
There is talk that the site would be near the Kuantan Municipal Council building in Tanah Puteh and that the new school would have a new name.
What's in a name? Everything.
Many of us in Malaysia spent our formative years in mission schools. There we recited the 5 principles outlined in the Rukun Negara. As a multiracial society, we were taught not to let race and religion divide us. Many of the life lessons we carry with us today were instilled in us at mission schools like St. Thomas School. We sang our school anthem with gusto at assembly and sports days.
The St. Thomas School song starts off with “Cheers for St Thomas, Raise your voices let them ring, Hurrah for St Thomas ...” but it is all gloom and doom for the old boys and former teachers.
I call on the past and present students of St. Thomas School, Kuantan, and anyone who thinks that this decision is wrong, to say 'No' to any proposal to change the name of St. Thomas School, Kuantan.
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