A thank you note from a Muslim to the Infant Jesus Sisters

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Thanks for a memorable education experience, Convent Light Street - Photograph: Facebook

Noor Asmaliza Romlee is grateful to the convent for the wholesome quality education she received.

“Simple dans ma vertu, forte dans mon devoir” (Simple in virtue, steadfast in duty). This was my school motto which still lingers in my heart.

My best friend who was from a boarding school once told me, “I don’t get this strong emotional attachment of convent girls with their schools. It’s like there is this ghost umbilical cord between you guys.”

Okay, that sounds like an eerie Malay ghost story. But on a serious note, my friend’s statement made me think hard about why former convent girls like me love and take pride in our missionary schools so much.

Here’s why.

During primary school, I vividly remember my friends and I paying our respects to Sister Fedelis, a kind nun and caring English teacher.

We attended an elaborate Christian funeral and carried candles. Our non-Christian friends and teachers (including our ustaz and ustazah) joined in the prayers for her in an old chapel with mesmerising neo-gothic architectural influence.

Many conventional Muslim parents, including mine, waited patiently for us outside the chapel until we finished the ceremony. Our parents respected the teachers and trusted that the Christian ceremony would not cause their daughters to deviate from their faith. That trust was built upon the professionalism, competency and transparency of the nuns and the other teachers.

The chapel is within the school compound but there were no extremists who requested that it be separated from the school, not even our Islamic teachers.

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I felt that the school belonged to all races and faiths – a place where religious tolerance and moderate Muslims existed in harmony. As a Muslim, I think the convent school shaped me and my other Muslim friends into independent thinkers and profound believers in Allah who are not easily offended by the activities of other religions.

Convent Light Street (CLS) is the oldest school in South East Asia, with a history dating back 167 years. That is how long the school has had a positive impact on our education system.

I still remember our history lessons conducted in an old wooden classroom in an Anglo-Indian building known as Government House. Captain Francis Light, the founder of Penang, and Stamford Raffles, who founded Singapore, worked briefly at Government House, which is part of the CLS premises.

My history teacher once told us that where we sat in the classroom was the “sweet spot” for Light to watch his ships with his binoculars out of the wooden window.

My point here is not about the English captain, but about my dedicated former Malaysian teachers who were passionate about their work. I had teachers who were willing to spend their leisure time after official school hours conducting extra classes to prepare us for our exams.

Lastly, this school was where I met great friends from all walks of life and from different races, faiths and socio-economic backgrounds. My friends and I received a wholesome, quality, secular English-medium education at affordable fees.

The school was also where I found my first love that has no boundaries of race, religion or even gender. There was no need to label that love, and I thank the Sisters of the Infant Jesus for providing many Malaysians, including a Muslim student like me, with a memorable education experience.

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Noor Asmaliza Romlee, an Aliran member, is a trained science communicator from the National University of Singapore and the Australian National University. She has worked in a national think tank in science, technology and innovation as well as in the NGO and private sectors.

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SNaidu, (Dr.)cindy hoongBenedict LopezChristina Anne KarlKK Aw Recent comment authors
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SNaidu, (Dr.)
SNaidu, (Dr.)

Tks Noor.We need more Msns like you to speak up and ‘educate’ the young and society.I pray stories like yours can be used by the public media and publicised regularly for OUR common ‘reeducation’ today.We have gone into ‘safe’ silos. The agama/religious teachers hv to be reeducated. I worked with them.There is unnecessary fear and ‘competition’. We grew up in kampungs. There was so much SHARING. Like your experiences. Taxes are spent wrongly to ‘tailor’ religious principles. Relgn is of the heart, like you exemplify, my good friends too. We hv to look out for the unscrupulous vigilantly, for OUR nation going forward, All as MALAYSIANS, not Islamists,Hindus, Christians, Buddhists, Animists..Just as God’s Children-Human Beings.Please.

cindy hoong
cindy hoong

I went to the only Chinese school in Taiping, but that did not make us any different from Christian schools. In those days way back in the 60s, early 70s … Perhaps even further back, all races in Malaya/Malaysia just live in harmony. We respected each other’s religions, race, languages. I wonder how we let politicians destroyed us all.
In our school we had a few Indians, a few Malays but they were all our classmates!!! We would go to the Hindu temple to have free meals during festive times. Neighbors bring New year’s goodies for each other. We respect the Faith’s of others and offer them the food they can enjoy. The toxic-brain-washing from some politicians poison the nation. We have to fight to get back the Malaysia we all love.

Benedict Lopez

Hope your story would be an eye opener for our students of today. They can learn a lot from your gratitude to your alma mater.

Christina Anne Karl

Noor Asmaliza Romlee…thank you for this heart warming story. I was from Convent Balik Pulau. The nuns and teachers were all so dedicated. A big thank you to all my teachers.

KK Aw

`Every post from aliran is the latest. How ah?

P.W. Wong

❤️

Teh Ooi Wah

Yes. It is this kind of letter of gratitude and nostalgia that warms the cockles of our hearts. More convent school alma mater should share the wholesome camaraderie with friends from every race and creed in the missionary schools.

Even Najib, Hishamuddin and a host of their old fraternity of St John’s Institution did not change their faith in Islam. Yet they allow race, religion and royalty to divide us.

Ross Chow

They didn’t just allow but perpetuated the division & finance those efforts to hold their iron grip in power. Once their race is in, they robbed this country’s coffers. The more they stole, the stronger the support they received.

Teh Ooi Wah

Ross Chow Yet to the credit of some within their fold are those with conscience and courage to stop and change the frenzy of idiocy.

Justin Dinsin

I love your story.

Tc Koh

Kudos