Life, Malaysia

The Last Of The La Salle Brothers

I was a La Sallian from Standard 1 till i finished school in form 5, that was 11 years of being a La Sallian! I take a lot of pride in being a part of this institution which is regarded as one of the best around the world. I remember while i was back in school at La Salle in PJ it was almost the end of the La Salle brotherhood before the local’s toke over the reigns in leading the school.

While the brother’s were in charge, the school was known for its high discipline and no nonsense approach which changed dramatically as every brother that lead the school came from one mind set and after them, it was constant struggle to keep up to the high standards the brothers set in.

Naturally when you don’t come from a single system, a change of leadership would result in a change of style and hence in my view the quality dropped to a certain extend.

The La Salle brothers not only had schools that went by the name of La Salle which i was from but also many others like St Johns & St Xavier’s who just had the last brother who was in the reign retiring. Its definitely going to be different now and its going to be truly missed.

Brother Paul Ho’s retirement will be a double milestone as he represents the last Brother principal in Malaysia.

Congratulations to the La Salle brothers for the superb job they have been doing all these years and there are many community leaders and prolific figures that this very system has churned out. I’m surely blessed and happy that i was part of this very system.

Read Brother Peter Ho’s parting words via the Star’s report

“I joined the brotherhood at the age of 20.

“It was just a feeling I had because all along I’d been taught by the Brothers in primary and secondary school in Kuala Lumpur and Ipoh.

“I just knew this was what I wanted to do,” says Brother Paul, 54.

He said when he attended St Joseph’s Novitiate in 1974 to receive his religious training, there were quite a number of men joining the Brotherhood, but the numbers have dwindled over the last 20 years.

After postings to schools in Klang and Malacca and two trips to England to obtain a Bachelor’s degree and Masters in English, Brother Paul was finally posted to SXI as headmaster in 1993.

“I suppose what makes the Brothers special is that we have no career ambitions.

“We are called to do our best for the kids and the teachers while following the principles of fairness and justice.

“Although everyone knows that SXI is a Christian school, there has been no such thing as evangelising the students. Race and religion are never brought up because this is a school,” he said.

“The legacy we have in SXI is one of pastoral care in which no child is left behind.

“We accept everyone, even those who cannot read or write. They all have a place here,” he adds.

In an effort to equip less academically gifted students, Brother Paul honed in on his personal skills and opened a bakery 10 years ago for Form 4 and 5 students who did poorly in the PMR examination.

“After the Ministry of Education changed its policy to make it compulsory for students to continue to Form 4 regardless of their results in PMR, many of our end classes started to come back,” said Brother Paul, himself a certified baker after enrolling in free Cordon Bleu courses while studying in Manchester.

Asked what he enjoyed about SXI, Brother Paul, known for his friendliness and brisk walk, said he would remember the noise of the students and the school’s working spirit.

For those who are used to seeing the presence of a figure in a white cassock walking the corridors, the end of the La Salle order in the school has been met with a sense of foreboding.

“I think there is always apprehension among Old Boys and parents because they are so used to the way it has been for the last 156 years,” Brother Paul said.

On his retirement, Brother Paul said he planned to live with his family in Australia and take up cross stitching.

“I am going to give myself a lot of time to think about what I’d like to do.

“I never knew I would be the last (of the Lasallian principals) and I think that reality will hit me next year,” he said.