The Leong Soo Nyean Fund

WHEN A PAIR OF SPECTACLES TURNS A LIFE AROUND

Several years ago, an alumnus decided to endow a rather unusual gift to the Ipoh ACS.  It was meant for any of its students in dire need of a pair of spectacles but whose parents were unable to afford one.  As a gesture, it was made in deepest gratitude to a class teacher (Form 1B in 1962) who had lifted him from a life of possible misery with a pair of simple spectacles.  Clarity of vision was soon restored with this golden gift.  What he could hardly see on the blackboard then, now he could without strain.  This helped to sustain his academic progress through school.

The grateful student never once forgot this wonderful deed.  Now that he has made good in life – Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) degree from the University of Malaya, retired an engineer, with successful children (two of whom are engineers and another an accountant) – his thoughts often stray to the present students in Ipoh ACS who may suffer from the same predicament as he did in those dark years.  He felt determined not to let them go through the same ill fate.  But neither did he forget the teacher who did him that good turn.  That kindly gentleman who rode him on a Triumph Tiger motor-bike all the way to Brewster Road, to the United Optical Shop, to have his limited vision corrected.

So this was how “The Leong Soo Nyean Spectacles Fund” came about, almost fifty years to date.  Though inspired in part by a stream of alumni donations made to the Association lately, it was mostly made as a lasting tribute to his former class teacher whose name appears in the fund.

Alex Leong, the teacher, and grateful student, who had modestly requested anonymity, had not met since leaving school.  It was thought timely to re-connect them and, sometime in mid-December 2011, Dato Lean Meng Seong arranged to have the two meet at a luncheon he hosted in Kuala Lumpur.  It was to be a happy re-union.

A moved Alex Leong explained the spontaneity of his act.  For someone like him, who had personally experienced the hardships and deprivations the Japanese occupation had caused, he deeply understood the significance of the helping hand. When the need arose, he met it. The cost of that pair of spectacles was not inconsequential relative to his teacher’s salary.  Today, Alex continues to cheerfully donate to charitable causes.

The original endowment for a sum of RM 10,000 was spontaneously increased to RM 20,000, the donor pledging to provide five instalments of RM 2,000 per year for the next five years to reach this increased donation.  As there had been no disbursement for the purchase of spectacles, it is now agreed that bursaries would be created instead.  One bursary would be initially awarded to a poor student from a lower secondary class to be funded from interest earned each year from the first RM 10,000.  When the endowment in time reaches the second RM 10,000, a second award would be given out.

Such is the quintessence of the ACS spirit.

Chew Beng Hian

(Cohort: 1965 Form 6 Upper Arts A)

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