Former students of Dato’ Seri Selvamany (Tokoh Guru Kebangsaan 1996) from Anderson School Arts 66/67 gathered on Sunday, January 20 to celebrate their Economics teacher’s 93rd birthday at the Old Andersonian Club and Cafeteria.
While some came in a chartered bus from Kuala Lumpur others drove down from other states to join in the lunch hosted by the birthday boy himself. Present was his wife, Poovayee, a former teacher from Ipoh Convent School who is 92 years old. A few of her former students were among those present that day.
The event was graced by some very senior Andersonians, Selvamany’s former students themselves, such as Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, Tan Sri Nuraizah Hamid, Dr Selvaratnam and prominent Ipoh lawyer, Ng Yook Woon.
In his speech, Tengku Razaleigh mentioned how the couple had endeared themselves to their former students. They are welcome to drop in on them whenever they are in Ipoh. He reiterated that Selvamany is more than a teacher, which was the title of a book “Selvamany, More Than A Teacher” written by one of his students a few years ago.
In his emotional reply, Selvamany expressed how blessed he was to have attained 93 years of age. It has enabled him to see his students’ progress long after they had left school. The ex-teacher always expounded the beauty of a multiracial and a multicultural Malaysia during his teaching days as is evidenced during the gathering.
As he had insisted on a “no-present and no-flowers policy” for his birthday, his students presented him with an “angpow” which he could donate to his chosen charities. He duly responded by naming four charities where the money could be distributed – a mosque, a church, a Buddhist temple and a children’s home.
The ceremony ended with a photo session followed by a tearful send-off for a revered teacher. His 70-something students looked on with some trepidation, as their 93-year-old teacher drove his family home in his 38-year-old Volvo. “The car, if it could speak, would tell many tales,” Selvamany enjoined.
The sentiment of the crowd is best summed by this excerpt from a birthday card sent to him. It reads, “You’re my Econs teacher, my hockey coach and advisor to the Students’ Benefit Society in ASI (1966/67). I’ll always remember you as a very caring mentor with great wisdom and tireless effort, who always inspired his wards to strive for their utmost best. Most of all I’ll always cherish memories of your undying compassion for the poor and the needy”.