Friday, October 16, 2009

People - Sarikei Ambrose Wong Ik Loi - First principal of St. Anthony's School

On 15 July 2002, the late Mr Ambrose Wong Ik Loi 黃聿蕊 paid his last visit to St. Anthony's School. He was amazed with the fast physical development of the school. Though he left St. Anthony's School many years ago, his heart was full of fond memories of the school.

How did it all begin for St. Anthony's School?


Sarikei Ambrose Wong Ik Loi, 2002 (seated; right)


In 1931, he was requested by Bishop John Baus from Sibu to start a school in Sarikei. Upon arriving in Sarikei, he opened a class using a corner of the wooden St Anthony's Church at 1/2 km Repok Road. There were 8 students in 1932 and 24 students in 1933 and he was the only teacher cum principal and did just about everything by himself.

He still had a good memory. He recalled that his first batch of 24 students consisted of 9 Malays, 14 Chinese and 1 Indian. He was paid $24 a month while the fee per student was 50 cents.



After two years in Sarikei, the church raised enough fund to build a four-classroom building at the present site of the school when the number of the students increased. The late Bishop John Baus named the school after St. Anthony Padua. Mr Ambrose become the first headmaster of St. Anthony's School from 1932 to 1935. The number of students increased from 24 to 45. Among his earlier students were the late Tun Abang Haji Openg (former Sarawak Governor) and the late Datuk Haji Bolhassan. (Does anyone have info on this personality?)



Mr Ambrose left his job as headmaster in 1935 and become a hospital assistant. His first posting was in Matu in Sarawak. After World War II, he served at Sarikei Clinic from 1947 to 1950. Later he was transferred to Kuching as the chief hospital assistant. In 1954, he left for Brunei to work for Shell. He later opened Borneo Hotel in Kuching.

He passed away in August 2002 soon after his July trip to Sarikei. His contribution to the school will always be remembered.


Sources:
Anthonian magazine 1979
Anthonian magazine 2002
St. Anthony's school website - History article

9 comments:

Greenspot said...

Hi Daniel,

That's is an informative and historically important posting. I believe the Bishop you mentioned was John Vos of Sacred heart School and not John Vaus.

greenspot

Daniel Yiek said...

Greenspot,
You may have caught a typo from the Anthonian history. I searched for all bishops and can not find John Baus but can find Jan (John) Vos.

http://www.catholic-hierarchy.org/country/my.html

Thanks

Kanga said...

Execellent information and now I know the origin of the name "St Anthony's School".

sarikeikia said...

Hospital assistant in those days were like doctors to small town folks. Wong Ik Loi would attend to sick patients, diagnose, give injection and prescribe drugs. If anything beyond his scope the patient would be issued a referral letter to seek a doctor in Sibu hospital. He worked at the 1st hospital beside Neylong river and later a Dr Wong joined the hospital whose brother was the then district council chairman.

Wong Ik Loi was involved in cinema business in Sibu, gangster triad was giving him a lot of trouble and he eventually sold the business off.

William said...

Nice history! I wouldn't know all this if you didn't post it here even though I studied in the school.

Daniel Yiek said...

I asked the Anthonian teacher who manages the Anthonian website to check the spelling of the Bishop from the school. Apparently it was written as John Baus, not John Vos but I requested him to double check.

All,
There's an St. Anthony's School facebook group. All links are at the Sarikeian group site. You can watch the video of St Anthony Padua there.

suituapui said...

Was he principal of St Anthony's? I didn't no that! Interesting... He was my uncle, my grandpa's cousin or something...and in fact, he was my godfather when I was baptised. Didn't know much of his past other than he was running the Borneo Hotel in Kuching.

suituapui said...

Oops! Sorry! I mean...I didn't know that!

Sarawakiana@2 said...

Daniel
Excellent research!

I would really like to know if there was a Baus indeed.

The late Mr. Wong was quite a figure.

Thanks.

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