Jaffarians celebrate former principal's birthday

The Class of 1978 of Sekolah Datuk Jaffar (SDJ) threw a surprise 80th birthday party for former principal, B. Harbhajan Singh, at their recent class reunion in Johor Baru.

Students from SDJ Class of 1978 singing the birthday song
to former principal, B Harbhajan Singh
Organising committee chairman and former head prefect, Mohamad Taib Abbas, said they wanted to honour the former principal for changing the negative image of the school and turning out students who were now high achievers in various fields, locally and abroad.

Taib, a senior assistant manager with Public Bank Berhad, Kuala Lumpur, was at the event with 90 of his former schoolmates and 18 teachers came from various parts of the country including East Malaysia, and Brunei and New Zealand.

Former SDJ principal at his surprise birthday party!
He said Harbhajan was their school principal for 18 years, from 1973 to 1991, making him the secondary school headmaster who served the second longest term in the history of Johor education.

Harbhajan, a Kirkby College trained educationist, hails from Kuala Kangsar.  He was formerly with Segamat High School before he was posted to SDJ, where he remained until his retirement.

“We would not be here today if not for Mr Harbhajan and our teachers,” said Taib, voicing a sentiment shared by his former schoolmates, who proudly call themselves the Jaffarians.

Harbhajan spoke with wit and humour
They fondly recalled how Harbhajan firmly believed in not sparing the rod and spoiling the child, the way he would hide a cane up his sleeve and how he would wield it to discipline wayward boys!

“My father was a strict disciplinarian, firm in his principles and who seldom gave in to compromise,” said Kuldip Singh, Harbhajan’s son who was also of the Class of ’78.

Kuldip enjoyed no favoritism as a student.  In fact, if he received three strokes of the cane in school, he could count on receiving twice the number of strokes when he got home!

When he was invited to say a few words, Harbhajan addressed the audience with wit and humour and had to stop himself from being long-winded because he felt as comfortable as when he was speaking at a school assembly.

"School principals need the support of parents because the elders’ good values will set an example to children and teachers would not have to struggle with the problem of instilling discipline,” said Harbhajan.

Old school annual magazines, named Sri Pelangi,
were bound into a hardcover volume in a
precious collection belonging to Harbhajan
Harbhajan remembered some of their notorious students and recalled how he and the discipline master, Encik Yunus, met the families of these students and how, through counselling and guidance, the students went on to excel in not only their studies but also in sports.

During his tenure as principal, the school turned out a number of sports personalities including national cricket players, Mohd Sham Jalil and Idris Abdul Rahman, and national footballers Muhidin Hussein and Amran Hassan.

The school scored an 84% pass in the 1978 SPM examinations.  The Best Student, Pow Chun Wei, went on to qualify as a doctor and now runs a private practice in aesthetic medicine in Singapore.

Other Jaffarians of repute from the Class of 1978, are Datuk Mahfar Ali, Group Editor of Berita Harian newspaper and Aznor Mahat who is with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and was involved with handling the MH17 tragedy while he was a diplomat based in Ukraine.

tCelebrated with a sumptuous high tea and birthday cake for Harbhajan, the event ended with gift and memento presentations to the former principal and teachers.

A version of this was published in The Malaysian Insider on 6 March 2016

No comments:

Post a Comment