A Tribute to Brother Lucian Ng

Brother Lucian Ng, who taught and inspired many generations of pupils in St Michael’s and made an impact on them by his example of selfless service and dedication to duty, has died on 22nd June 2024.

A product of St Xavier’s, he took his first vows as a Religious on 11 January 1962 and his Perpetual vows on 17.12.1967. He completed his studies in St Joseph’s Training College in Pulau Tikus where innumerable of his cohorts and lay persons trained to be teachers in La Salle schools.

He spent his last years in the tranquil and spacious grounds of the La Salle Provincialate in Petaling Jaya and could be seen relaxing in the cool veranda or sitting underneath the fruit trees.

When he was more active before dementia and deafness took its toll on him, he would be gardening, playing with his terriers or trimming the trees.

Like all Lasallian Brothers, he was vastly gifted and full of zest in his vocation. Vowed to devote his life to young people, his life of service saw him not just teaching in the classroom but active outdoors. He is remembered for rearing chickens in the school compound, keeping tropical fish in the aquarium and helping the agriculture science classes plant four angled beans and watermelons.

He could in his younger teaching days be seen playing a good game of badminton whether with fellow teachers or pupils. His brother in law was Teh Kew San who captained Malaysia’s Thomas Cup team when they swept to victory in 1967. Brother Lucian must have been specially proud of the two Michaelians in the team, Tan Yee Khan and Ng Boon Bee.

As a Brother, he was committed to helping not just the last, the least and the lost but also honing the talents and shaping the character of everyone including the high achievers.

In the late 1960s until the 1980s, Brother was in his prime together with Brothers Paul, Vincent, Casimir and Michael Wong where they lived as a community in the Brothers Quarters on the 2nd floor of St Michael’s. Although comprising only a handful, the Brothers played a leading role in the life of the school both in the classroom and in the field.

Four great Brothers!
Left to right: Bro Lucian, Bro Vincent, Bro Paul, Bro Casimir

From its inception in 1912, St Michael’s attracted both rich and poor parents of all races to send their children there. When Brother Lucian was teaching there, the school had almost reached the zenith of excellence. St Michael’s was potentially capable to contribute towards the nation’s goal to produce well educated Malaysians.

However, Brother’s comfortable niche in the spirit of the Michaelian family was shaken when fellow teachers whose lives were deeply woven into the school were suddenly transferred out of St Michael’s!

With the implementation of the Aziz Report around 1972, almost all teachers opted to join the federal education service. The full impact or implications of becoming civil servants was never fully explained to or understood by the teachers. As a result the coming and going of teachers changed the character of St Michael’s and other similar schools also suffered the same fate.

Two years earlier in 1970, St Joseph’s Training College was reluctantly forced to shut down when the Ministry limited the intake to religious only. Founded in 1917, the College produced both lay and religious teachers fully committed to producing excellent academic results and maintaining the ethos and character of the Lasallian schools. Forty-six at the last count.

At about the same period, Brother Lucian’s career also saw the “mass failure“ crisis in 1972 when St Michael’s only managed a 17.4 per cent pass rate in the MCE! It was the biggest fiasco faced by the school since its founding.

Shocked but undaunted, the whole school under Brother Director Vincent’s leadership decided to raise the standard of BM so that the school would not meet such a disaster again!

It was no surprise that the high failure rate of BM in 1972 shook everyone, especially Brother Vincent the Director, the parents and the students and not forgetting the teachers! Many of the boys, the brightest and the best were not able to continue their education in the Sixth Form because of their failure in one subject despite scoring distinctions in all others.

Brother Lucian commiserated with the boys and their families. Not a few teachers were in tears. Left with no choice, these boys left for overseas to places far and wide to continue their education. The shock was not limited to one school only but across the country!

In 1974 when the Education Ministry was looking to send boys from rural areas to study in an urban environment, St Michael’s offered to provide both classroom and hostel facilities. It was then that Brother Lucian was in his element being entrusted to the care of the Asrama. Here he found great joy and fulfilment playing the role of a father figure to the Asrama boys.

It was a heart-warming sight to see Brother Lucian leading the Muslim boys to mosque every Friday for prayers. He also considered it his duty to remind them of the importance of fasting during Ramadhan. The years have gone by but as one old Michaelian recalled, Brother could still remember his name long after leaving school.

Similarly, so will Aziz and Ramli from the Asrama and many others whose lives he touched. Of significance was his emphasis on the building of character and service to others. The Brothers made it a point not only to know each boy but also their parents.

Brother Lucian spent the longest time in St Michael’s. He was Brother Director in La Salle Sentul Secondary School. He was also Brother Director of La Salle Primary School, Ipoh Garden. It was during his watch that the Education Department decided abruptly that La Salle Ipoh Garden cease to be a feeder school to St Michael’s. Parents were dismayed and many took their children out of the school. Understandably, it suffered a drop in morale and the enrolment took a dive.

La Salle Ipoh Garden since its inception was intrinsically a part of St Michael’s and all the boys expected to be absorbed into the Michaelian fraternity. Traditionally, the boys from La Salle primary and St Michael’s primary who studied from Standard One to Form Six would be presented a silver spoon upon leaving the school. This is part of the rich tradition of being a Michaelian.

Besides education, Brother Lucian’s great passion was to be amongst the poor. It was said that he will go anywhere where there was poverty or where his services were most required. Shortly after retirement from teaching, he helped look after an old folks’ home in Simpang Pulai, near Ipoh.

Thus could he also be found overseas in Papua New Guinea Catholic High School where he asked for donations to buy footballs and basketballs and whilst in Don Bosco High School in Pakistan he helped set up a shelter for the homeless.

According to his sister Yoke Ling who lives in Sydney, he was good at soliciting donations for good causes! Nearer home he was part of a team organising a soup kitchen near St John’s, Bukit Bintang, Kuala Lumpur. He threw in his lot with the Orang Asli for whom he had great affection. In particular, he was moved by their plight and helpless predicament.

Perhaps no words can better describe the recurring theme of Brother Lucian’s life than in his own poem published in 2004:

“However broken one may be
We can still serve a purpose
The little piece left in us
Can be useful
In another position, in another way
Low-lying, humbled and chipped
Like the old broken piece of pot
We can serve and support
And bring forth life to another.”

At the funeral Mass in St Ignatius Church on Monday 24 June, Father Alvin Ng acknowledged the La Salle Brothers as one of the great charitable organisations of the world. The motto of the Brothers was prayer and labour; Brother Lucian always preferred to serve than to be served!

At the end of the Mass, Brother Andrew thanked the family present for the gift of Brother Lucian to the La Salle Brothers to accomplish God’s work on earth.

May his soul rest in peace.

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