Contribution shows state govt’s commitment to education
By:Tania Lam
Date:
3-KCH-au millhill-0211-tl (p)

KUCHING: The state government’s substantial contribution of RM4 million towards SMK St Joseph’s Mill Hill Block restoration project speaks volumes of the state government’s care for and commitment to education.

SMK St Joseph’s board chairman, Father Felix Au, said this donation also indicated the state government’s recognition of St Joseph’s School’s role in the shaping of Sarawakian society.

Expressing gratitude to the Sarawak government under the leadership of Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg, he said the donation was about 70 percent of the project’s cost.

He expressed his gratitude to all other donors as well, including the Malaysian government, corporate sponsors, individual donors, former student class years, and other alumni, pointing out that without this generous support, the restoration project would not have been completed.

“We must express gratitude for the hard work of the team of fundraisers spearheaded by the Old Josephians’ Association (OJA) led by Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian (Local Government and Housing Minister and OJA president),” he said at the launching ceremony of the Mill Hill Block of SMK St Joseph here on Tuesday (Nov 2).

He also thanked the technical team, volunteers, members of the school’s Board of Management, and teachers and staff members.

“Over the years, the Mill Hill Block, as well as its two wings which were added in the early 20th century, suffered physical deterioration,” he said.

Au said that the gazetting of the Mill Hill Block as a Heritage Building in 2010 by the state government under the Sarawak Cultural Heritage Ordinance 1993 was emblematic of the renewal of St Joseph’s School’s core values.

“Restoration works entailed the removal of what is extraneous and carefully integrating the new to meet contemporary needs without compromising the character and identity of the old building. This is a metaphor of our efforts to revive the Josephian spirit,” he said.

He said at its core, this spirit sought excellence in holistic education and did not discriminate against persons based on their ethnicity, religion, or social standing. He said it was a spirit that strived to unlock the potential of all students and instil in them a sense of civic responsibility.

“The Josephian spirit which embraces students of different backgrounds importantly contributes towards national unity. This may require the shedding off of things extraneous that have obscured these values,” he explained.

He urged everyone to continue to work together to advance education for the young people of Sarawak.

“As we have contributed to the restoration of the Mill Hill Block to remain an icon in this land, may we also courageously take up our collective responsibility to restore the values of our country to build a brighter future for our nation,” said Au.

Efforts to restore the Mill Hill Block started in 2019 by various parties and numerous activities had been carried out by the ‘Old Boys’ and also the school community itself.

The overall total of funds raised for the project was RM5,762,848.52, comprising RM4 million from the Sarawak government, RM350,000 from the Malaysian government, and RM1,412,848.52 through fundraising from the ‘Old Boys’ and other parties. The restoration cost amounted to RM5.7 million.

The Mill Hill Block was first built in 1886 as a two-storey wooden building and then it was rebuilt as a three-story brick building in 1895. At the time, it was said to be the ‘biggest building in Sarawak’. In 1927, two new wings were added to the main block, as can be seen, today.

Also present at the launching ceremony were Dr Sim, who was also representing Abang Johari in officiating at the ceremony; Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Datuk Amar Michael Manyin Jawong; Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah; Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kuching, Most Reverend Simon Poh; and other representatives.

New Sarawak Tribune e-Paper

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