Friday, March 30, 2012

The Bowling Mag (LATEST) - March-April Issue

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Premier School St John Institution in deplorable condition

It is much sadness to walk into my former school St John Institution last Saturday for the late Master Vincent Fernandez's memorial gathering and to seek the condition of the school.
First to catch my eyes was the plants growing out of the school established by the La Salle Brothers on Jan 18, 1904.
Plants and lalang growing out of the school building

Then another shocker awaited me as I walked into the school to see the pride of the school - the field - like a desert. Seriously it was deplorable and to find a blade of green would have been hitting the jackpot!
This is the same school which produced hundreds of national athletes for almost all sports in the country.
THE FIELD...Once the pride of St John Institution
The the school's scoreboard displaying all the "houses" (Claude,Stephen, Gilbert, Cornelious D'Joseph) and the scores during the Inter-House Games and run-up to the school's athletics meet, on the hill opposite the school field had dissapeared - hidden by a jungle in front of it!
The scoreboad hidden by the jungle
Never mind all that.
This is the same school that was recognised as a national heritage building when Deputy Information Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Joseph Salang, who visited the school in 2010 May,and had said that the school building and other sites in Bukit Nanas would be preserved and protected by the Heritage Act.
The school is as famed for its distinctive Grecian-Spanish architecture with its red-and-white arches as it is for its academic excellence.
It has produced outstanding Malaysians such as Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, cabinet ministers and corporate personalities.
It was chosen as one of the cluster schools of excellence by the Ministry of Education in 2007.
What are we talking about 1 student 1 sport, when a school does not even have a proper playing field.
Maybe, it is about time to address the issues at the grassroots - like proper playing fields - are not even in place.
Two years ago, the  science laboratories were closed for more than six months for safety  reasons - because the ceilings had developed cracks and pieces had started to fall. It was finally  repaired after it was highlighted in the newspapers.

Indeed it is sad to see a Premier School like St John Institution falling apart.
I can bet my last ringgit there are schools in the outskirts which are better kept and maintained.


It was event which will be remembered by many Johannians for a long time to come.It was last Saturday at the St John Institution Hall, an event organised by the SJAA to remember Master Vincent Fernandez who had passed away March 11, 2012.
Master Vincent was a true and true son of St John having studied in the school from 1949 to 1957 and returned to the school to start his teaching career in 1963 and retired in 1997. Even after retirement he was still helping out the school hockey team, form the SJAA and very much part of the school all the time.

Saturday saw about 200 people - his students, fellow teachers, friends and his family members - present for this nostalgic event.
Teaching is a noble profession and students always remember their teachers no matter, what was indeed displayed on Saturday.
But Master Vincent was just more than a teacher to the many who turned up on Saturday. Yes he was a teacher, but a teacher of life. He was a coach, a mentor, a father, a friend, a soul mate and the list can go on.
That almost everyone who attended the event, walked out of the Hall with tears welling from their eyes, the many who wept shamelessly when his favourite song - My Way - was sung by all present, was testimony of what this man meant to all present.
It was indeed a gathering of sorts where many Johannians who had not met their class or school mates met for ages, were reunited. It was an extraordinaire reunion!
That a scholarship fund under Master Vincent's name to honour him and a book is going to be written about him, speaks volumes of how many hundreds of thousands of students whom he had touched as they passed the corridors of SJI.
The speeches on that day were full of praises for Master Vincent and how he has left a vacuum in the lives of many and the school.
Master Vincent was indeed a rare breed of teachers.
Teachers these days rather give tuition and earn extra money or spend time with their family than be under the sun with no monetary rewards.
But sports teachers like Master Vincent will tell you that the experience they gained and special moments on the field are priceless.
And one such teacher is definitely Master Vincent who is close to the hearts of hundreds of thousands of Johannians, Besides being a Physical Education teacher and the sports secretary of the school, he also coached the St. John's Institution hockey and athletics team.
Master Vincent is a true 'Green' Johannian, having studied in the school from 1949 to 1957 and returned to the school to start his teaching career in 1963 and retired in 1997.
Master Vincent also has been doing sports commentary with Radio 4 (now Traxx FM) since 1963. He started with four minutes of sports roundup between 9.25pm and 9.30pm daily, before a longer time slot was dedicated to sports through Arena Sukan.
He was also one of the founding members of the Sunday Sports Talk on Traxx FM.
The 63-year-old Master Vincent, married to Puan Hajjah Zabedah, a St. John's teacher too (who taught me Bahasa Malaysia when I was in Form Three ), and has three sons and a daughter.
Two of the more famous siblings are JJ -- (HITZ FM DJ) and Zabrina (winner of Amazing Race Asia). His two other sons are Mohd Joshua and Nor Zacky.

It is without that everyone who attended the special function in Memory of Master Vincent, will have this day etched in their hearts and will forever remember him.
The Memorial ended with a lone bag-piper walking into the hall playing the tune Auld Lang Syne, followed by the entire congregation singing the school rally.
Goodbye a true Johannian Master Vincent.
Gold Bless him and his family for having touched our lives.

Below are some pictures courtesy of Markus Lim and Cigku Ruby of the event and please also look at the St John Institution blog :

File pix

Master Vincent's family

Mr David Fernandez

Tuesday, March 20, 2012


Dear Johannians, SJAA is organising "REMEMBERING MASTER VINCENT" on Saturday, 24th March, 2012 at 4.00pmSJI, please be there. Please pass the word around. in the SJI School Hall, Bukit Nenas. All Johannians and know Master Vincent and want to pay tribute to a great teacher, friend and one who had thousands and thousands who have passed the corridors of  SJI

Sunday, March 11, 2012

In Memory of Master Vincent Fernandez (Zahari Abdullah)

With deep regret I have to inform the passing of Master Vincent Fernandez (Zahari Abdullah) earlier this evening about 6pm. His body will be at 32, Jalan Limau Perut, Bangsar Park. Funeral will be held before 1pm tomorrow (Monday). May his soul rest in peace.

 Deepest condolences to his wife Hajjah Zabedah (my Bahasa Malaysia teacher), children JJ (Hitz FM DJ), Zabrina (winner of Amazing Race ASIA), Mohd Joshua and Nor Zacky and family members.

We have indeed lost a decidated teacher who moulded thousands of students who passed the corridors of St John Institution and a friend.
Teachers like Master Vincent are a rare breed (read here:

Below is a piece I posted on my blog in 2009 when I attended a reunion organised by the hockey boys of 1974/1975.

Indeed, we are going to miss Master Vincent dearly.
I last met up with him when we, the Class of 1975 Five Arts 3, organised a reunion at Mist Club on Nov 11, 2011 where our Form Teacher, Mr James Gonzales and Mr Kirubakaran were present too.

I have been in touch with Mr Vincent constantly after school and it has always been a pleasure to be in his company each time.
The Class of Five Arts 3 (75') had earlier in June also had a small reunion at Lake Club and Master Vincent was also present.

On Sept 16 (Malaysia Day) - I had invited Master Vincent to team up with Radha Krishnan to form the Ever Green radio Station as part of the dinner programme for the 1st Malaysia Day Ex-International Soccer Veterans dinner at the Olympic Council of Malaysia Arena. I wanted to get the rest of the team of Sports Talk on Sunday like Ronnie Attickson, Chris Syers and Jessie van Riesen, but they could not make it because if prior engagements.
But Master Vincent and Radha were hit among the ex-internationals and officials from soccer, hockey and athletics as they held the show for 45 minutes before dinner with interviews, reminicing good old times and talking about sports as it.

Master Vincent has touched thousands of people and everyone will only have great things to speak about him because he was a great man.

We are indeed going to miss him. May God Bless his soul and he will definitely be remembered forever.