A Ruby-Raya open house to remember ex-teachers
Published on: Sunday, August 11, 2019
By: Kan Yaw Chong

Bro Justin cutting the Ruby Anniversary cake while other former teachers look on. Also in pic are Philip Tan, Jennifer Liau, Ms Ramday, Peggy Chan, Datin Hiew, Kathryn Rivai and Mrs Yong.
NINETEEN-seventy-nine is 40 years ago. Usually, it is a long forgotten bygone. But nine long-retired La Salle teachers – Brother Justiin Mobilik, Peggy Chan, Dain Hiew, Jennifer Liau, Philip Tan, Mrs Yong, Ms Ramday, Kathryn Rivai and a writer received a tinkle from Rashid Awang Damit. 

To cut the story short, they had a whale of a spirited Hari Raya open house at Hooqana Café, Aeropod, near the Kota Kinabalu International Airport on July 2.

This is a good story about students who remember their long lost gurus of yesteryears and did everything to track them down to be there. But it was the magic Number 40 that sparked a thought for their teachers.   

1979 to 2019 – the ruby anniversary 

Rashid said: “2019 is the Ruby anniversary for our Class 1979, the occasion was the 25th day of Hari Raya (July 2) for the month of Syawal, which lasts for a month.” 

The ex-student who thought about hunting down ex-teachers for a treat was Datuk Faisal Diego.     

“The idea started after we had a grand reunion at the Kinabalu Yacht Club Tanjung Aru where everybody came – a full group of Class 1979 totalling more than 100 turned up, on June 22.”    

“That meant we had only a one week to plan the July 2 open house,” he added. 

A hint of Sabah’s well-known traditional tolerance and openness in diversity shows up here.   


 Rashid Damit (centre), Awang Arifin (left) and Mary Gomez.

A shining good story from the Malay Muslim group

“Since July 2 was still a Hari Raya month, we (the Malay Muslim group) said, why don’t we have an open house? We invite them, we invite all the Chinese, we have a separate function and we were thinking of inviting the ex-teachers also. That’s how it came about.

“Everything was on very short notice. We had a very small committee, only six us. We planned it and it turned out to be very successful, very good because everything was not like grand reunion where we collected RM100 each.

“All the people who came for the Hari Raya open house need not come up with even one sen. The six of us decided that we would do it. We cooked and split the jobs. It turned out okay,” Rashid recalled.

A nice crowd of 10 teachers among 50 students gave a sense of importance to the specially invited teachers who were smiling the whole night long. 

A night of positive mood 

The mood between former students and teachers had generally been positive and comfortable, mainly because the late Principal Datuk Bro Charles set the tone the last five decades of going down to their level as friends.       

The food was also excellent. So, who thought about this unique invite to the teachers for a Raya open house? 


 ‘Maths master’ Philip Tan (right) with former physics teacher Mrs Yong and husband.

The Malay group Ruby Anniversary Raya organiser

The Malay group who organised the event comprised of Faisal, AK Alliyuddin, Awang Arifin, Mansor Abdullah and Rashid Awang Damit himself who formed the main organisers for the 79ers Ruby Anniversary Hari Raya Open House 

“We decided it at a meeting when Datuk Faisal Diego said: Why don’t we invite our ex-teachers? I was given the task to look for the teachers but where would I find them? 

“So, I called up the school and others like Awang Arifin and Awang K Aliyuddin who managed to get Ms Ramday who left La Salle when we were still in Form 4,” Rashid recalled.   

“Awang Ariffin managed to get Mr and Mrs Rivai, Philip Tan and Mrs Yong. I managed to get Peggy Chan, who managed to get Datin Hiew and Jennifer Liau for me.”  

Ten ex-teachers tracked down 

“That’s why it worked and even with such a short notice, we managed to get 10 teachers and then Datuk Faisal called up Bro Justin who was our guest of honour who cut our Ruby Anniversary cake.”  

But according to Rashid, something bigger was planned. 

“Because the June 22 grand reunion was so successful, at the end of this year Ram Singh decided we are going to have a grand one, big 40th anniversary between Christmas and closing of 2019 in December,” Rashid said. 

“The date has not been decided yet, but Kinabalu Yacht Club is a likely venue because of its bigger space and, historically, our 1979 group have always had our own reunion at the Yacht Club almost every year.” 


 Ex-teachers Datin Hiew, Jennifer Liau, Ms Ramday, Peggy Chan with ex- student Mohtar giving the thumbs up.

Very well organised: Ex-students chief 

Herman Yee, President of the Association of Ex-students of La Salle and Sacred Heart, was also at the Raya open house.

What was his impression?

“Very good, always very good to have that. I always encourage ex-students to have their own reunion because it is always good to get together – networking between your classmates and once you go to the annual dinner that’s where you have the overall networking. Then, of course, you support the alumni, the school and school board. That’s the whole issue,” Yee said.

“It was very well organised. They brought in the ex-teachers so they were happy because long after they had left the school, they were still appreciated.”

 From left: Awang Arifin, AK Alliyuddin, Datuk Faisal Diego and Eric Yee. 

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