Tuesday, 10 February 2009

Poetry: The Passing of a Teacher and a Friend

Poetry: The Passing of a Teacher and a Friend Mr James Foh was my woodwork teacher in Tanjong Lobang School, Miri, Sarawak from 1962 to 1967. He himself was one of the earliest students of TLS, when the school was set up in 1957. I met Mr James Foh once in Kuching in 1973. I was then serving in the Army and was doing operational duties in Serian District. Towards the end of the year, I contracted Malaria and was admitted to Sarawak General Hospital for about 3/4 days. That was when I met Mr James Foh. He was visiting his mother in the same hospital. He saw me and we chatted for a while. The next day he came again and brought me a hot flask of ginger juice. It was a kind gesture I always remembered. Thank you James Foh. Then on January 22, 2009, I heard the sad news that he had passed away in the same hospital, after being admitted to the ICU for a month. He was 73 years old. I wrote a poem, an eulogy, for him and it was passed to his children. They were grateful and thanked me for it. Here's the poem: The Passing of a Friend It seemed yesterday we were talking and laughing. The echoes in my ears are still ringing. The tears and glint in your eyes said it all. Tanjong Lobang imprisoned us all Tanjong Lobang is a bygone era. The memories, however, are still crystal clear. What magic? What power has Tanjong over us? Even after an eternity, we still have the crush? Today we received the sad news of James Foh’s passing. Seemingly, a page from our book is torn and missing. He was a teacher and a friend. Sad, it is a loss we could never regain. Dear friends all. Let’s wish him a happy journey. May he find the eternal peace and happiness, That we find so elusive on this Earth. For the rest of us all, Life must continue to roll. A given path we must follow, To complete and fill the hollow.


  1. Thank you for sharing the story with us.

    I was a temporary teacher in his school during my first year Uni long holidays. He was a very practical man with good administrative skills.

    Very hands-on and firm. But a man with a good heart.

  2. I found this blog while doing a search on my father, attempting to find out more about the earlier parts of his life, as a student, teacher, headmaster.

    He told us bits and pieces of stories from those old days, but I regret not having amassed a more coherent collection of his memories. I am sorry for not knowing those old friends he was so obviously fond of.

    He passed away on the 22nd Jan, 2009, after spending close to 2 months in ICU. He gave his all to fight the diseases that afflicted him. He had Sweet's syndrome, Dengue, myelodysplasia, a mixture of improbable, bizarre ailments with conflicting treatments, resulting in complications that brought on multiple organ failures.

    He had plans for more days in this world, with my mom, with his grand children. He kept working, and actually expected to recover and resume working. He only reluctantly accepted a less involved consultancy role with a private firm at the insistence of his family about a year ago.

    Anyway, thank you all for your thoughts of my father, and this space for me to vent a little of what I cannot say to my father anymore.

    With best regards,

  3. Dear Chris,

    Thank you for visiting. We, all his students, are saddened at his demise. Some of us had the opportunity to see and talked to him on 8 August 2008, when we had a mini reunion in Miri. I couldn't make it.

    We ( the old students of Tanjong Lobang School of the 60s and 70s) have formed a cyber forum since 2007. I'm sure many of them were taught by your father. If you want, I can give you their email addresses for you to contact each individual. And with your permission, I would like to pass on your comment and email address in our forum. After all, your father was a part of our past.

  4. Dear Mr Abdullah,

    Thank you for your kind words, it means a lot to me. If you would, please forward me the information, and please do forward my contact and comments to my father's old friends.


    Warmest regards,