By Wong Sai Wan KGV 1978 | THE MALAY MAIL | MALAYSIA |
PETALING JAYA, Oct 23 — He was a teacher for more than 50 years of his life and had become an inspiration to thousands of his students that passed through the gates of King George V (KGV) secondary school in Seremban since 1966 till the day he retired in 1993.
Surjit Bakan Singh (Mr Surjit to all of his students) passed away at home and his close-knit family were with him.
He and his wife Pritam Kaur have two sons – Ravinder and Sanjivpal – and a daughter Shashider. Surjit was 81 years old.
He was one of the Malaysians who graduated from Malayan Teachers’ Training College in Kirkby, Liverpool in Britain in 1960.
A passionate educator, Surjit was looked upon by all his students as a mentor even before that term became a buzzword.
Surjit’s passion for being a teacher did not stop at the end of school hours, he was the original 24/7 master for all his students as we could call him anytime of the day if we needed advice or help.
His telephone number was known to all of his students and colleagues while his house was always open to all of them.
Pritam, also a teacher, once told of how their home seem like a shelter to every one of Surjit’s students.
“Anyone of them who had a problem were free to approach him. Some of them were not even his students but they still turned to him,” she said.
In his 27 years at KGV, Surjit was the scout master of the 1st Seremban troop which was the school’s biggest co-curriculum activity.
The scouts loved him because he took them camping at least once a year in Port Dickson and also field trips to places as far as Singapore and Penang.
He was also the teacher-in-charge of the Cinema Club – another popular school activity as movies were screened at the school hall every Friday and Saturday.
He gathered a lot of fans and admirers from these two clubs and many of those members have gone on to be his close friends.
Surjit passion for KGV and students was deep because KGV was his alma mater.
For the record, he taught English and Science to the lower secondary students but it was his openness and generosity with his time that was the real education tool he used.
A former student, Datuk Mohamed Fadzil Abdul Rashid, remembered that when he was the Old Georgian Association president, Surjit was the secretary and getting old boys to sign up as members.
“His popularity with ex-Georgians made membership recruitment easy.”
Fadzil’s classmate Adli Hafidz Mohd Yusof described himself as Surjit’s eldest son and credited his love for the English language to his teacher.
Adli is now a translator of English and Bahasa Malaysia.
“‘Yours is not to question why, yours is to do and die’ was his favourite retort to our repeated question of why but that introduced me to the world of Lord Alfred Tennyson and The Charge of the Light Brigade. That’s a big thing for a young son of a pair of Bahasa Malaysia teachers,” he said.
Another former student Teng Seng Fatt described Surjit sir as “a steady fixture and presence in our lives for more than 50 years for quite a number of us who studied at KGV primary and secondary school in Seremban.”
“He has been there since we were cub scouts, King scouts and adults. Surjit was the magnet that held many of his former students and scouts together all these decades despite many of us journeying far and wide to study, work and live .
“He was always available for a chat personally over a meal or via WhatsApp. During these times of polarising politics and racial intolerance, Surjit through his simple yet special kind heartedness, non overbearing advice, and a ready sense of humor gave us lucky bunch of kids turned adults a sense of what truly Malaysians is and can be. For that we truly cherish and thank Surjit Singh.”
The cortege will leave his home at 254, Jalan Limau Emas 1, Taman Limau Emas, Seremban at 11am on Thursday for the Jalan Templer Hindu Crematorium at 11am.
The story, Thank you and farewell, Mr Surjit (Malay Mail, 23 Oct 2019), first appeared here.
Mr Surjit, favourite teacher for 50 years (Asia Samachar, 12 Aug 2015)