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KOTA KINABALU – The Alumni of La Salle and Sacred Heart paid tribute to several La Salle Brothers at their 55th annual dinner on 20 August 2016 at the Hakka Association Port View Palace Hall here with the theme Always a Lasallian.
The tribute came in the form of an In Memoriam ad on the inside front cover of the souvenir magazine, three new awards for deserving students, and the presence of the only remaining former Irish teacher Brother Lawrence Blake who flew in from Hong Kong for the event.
The In Memoriam ad was for Brother Charles O’Leary who died on Christmas Eve last year.
As John Gomez, president of the Alumni, wrote in the magazine: This year all of us can feel the absence of our late patron, Datuk Brother Charles Michael O’Leary. All of us Lasallians have been touched in one way or another by Datuk Br Charles in our school days, school activities and Alumni activities. Datuk Br Charles have put strong presence of La Salle in Sabah and Lasallians are highly looked upon and respected in Sabah. We are all proud to be a Lasallian. We really miss Datuk Br Charles.
This sentiment was echoed by some of the students of Class 1982 in their remembrance of the late Irish Brother in the magazine.
The new awards were announced by the Guest of Honour, Tan Sri Richard Malanjum, currently the Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak, in his address at the dinner. He said,
…I want to announce the launch of three awards to be given under Yayasan Osimal: The Brother Brendan Dunn Outstanding Student Leadership Award; the Brother Lawrence Blake Best Academic Student Award; and the Brother Peter Phelan Outstanding Student in Sports Award.
Malanjum also urged those present to contribute to the purchase of the four-storey, 12-room Sri Murni apartment building opposite SM La Salle for which a RM500,000 downpayment was made in 2008, with only RM1.2m to go. It would be so that the Alumni could have its own building.
Earlier, the guest of honour also took the opportunity to welcome Br Lawrence Blake, 86, who had taught in La Salle for some years in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He joined the De La Salle Brothers in 1943. After his formation, he was sent to Hong Kong in 1958 and taught in La Salle College until 1963 when he went back to Ireland for further studies. Later he was sent to Malaysia and Singapore to teach. In 1975 he returned to Hong Kong and taught in St Joseph’s College. In 1979 he replaced Br Brendan as principal of Chong Gene Hang College. In 1990 he was assigned as principal to Chan Sui Ki (La Salle) College until his retirement in 1995. He remained as superviser of the school until 2010. He is now retired and lives in La Salle College Kowloon. However, he still continues as school manager in both Chong Gene Hang College and Chan Sui Ki College. Recently, he has a minor stoke and has difficulty in walking. He goes regularly for physiotherapy treatment.
The night also saw the introduction of Penang-hailed Br Peter Foo as the Alumni’s new patron to replace Br Charles. Born in Foongshun Kwangtung China in 1944, he migrated with his family to Penang in 1948. He studied at St Francis Xavier Institution and joined De La Salle Brothers in 1961. He took his first vows in 1963 and made his final profession in 1971. He became the principal of Sacred Heart Primary School Sibu before taking up courses at East Asia Pastoral Institute Manila. Later he became the Director of International Novitiate in Sri Lanka for four years before pursuing a Masters in Education at De La Salle University Manila.
However, the Alumni Association was no stranger to Br Foo as he had been invited to attend its meetings and dinners when he was the Brother Visitor of the Penang District in years past.
The highlight of the night was the clinching of all three awards — The Most Improved Class Turnout created to award classes who made the effort to increase the number of attendance as compared to previous year’s dinner; The Highest Percentage Class Turnout, designed to give opportunity to the older classes to win an award, rationale being that there were only two or three classes per batch in the 1950s to early 1970s compared to the four or five Form Five classes in the late 1970s onwards; and The Largest Class Turnout, created in 2001 to encourage Lasallians to make an effort to bring their classmates to the annual dinner, by Class 1979 with 12 tables at 11 per table.