School founder to return exam certificates to former students

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Lau hopes to give these certificates to former students of Miri Secondary School.

MIRI (Jan 1): Founder of the now defunct Miri Secondary School, Datuk Lau Siu Wai apologises to some 700 former students who did not get their public examination certificates for failure to clear outstanding school fees.

Speaking at a press conference yesterday, the executive chairman of Miri Housing Group revealed that recently he finally took the time to clear some documents given to him but left untouched for many years.

“From the documents, I found this pile of unclaimed certificates kept by the school including O Levels and SPM certificates for failure to clear outstanding school fees dating back to 1970s.

“Until recently, I was unaware of the matter and plan to contact these students or their next of kin to come and claim these certificates, probably next week,” said Lau.

The 92-year-old entrepreneur and educationist founded the private school in 1964 with nine other shareholders contributing RM5,000 each to offer affordable education to everyone.

With a bank loan of RM50,000, the school started with 230 students and eight classrooms which had increased to over 1,600 students and 32 classrooms.

Between 1964 and 1969, about 800 poor students were allowed to pay school fees at a discount each year depending on their parents’ financial situation.

His mission of offering affordable education was cut short after he was relieved of his position as second principal and shareholder of the school in 1969. The school finally shuttered in late 1980s.

“Until today, I am filled with regret that I wasn’t able to protect these students. Looking looking through these certificates held by the school for not being able to pay full amount of school fees breaks my heart,” said Lau.

The pioneer private housing developer in Miri who was born in Chaozhou province, China in 1931 arrived here July 2, 1953. In 1941, he studied Chinese classical literature at a private tutorial school before pursuing English at St Joseph’s College in 1947 in Hong Kong.

While working with Sarawak Shell Oil Field Limited in Miri, he self-studied in the evenings to obtain Cambridge Higher School Certificate in 1957.

He obtained PhD in Project Management from Inter-American University, New York in 2010 and received an honorary professorship (English award) from Hanshang Normal University in Chaozhou, China.

His passion for education had seen him going great lengths to help students facing financial difficulties even though it affected his business.

“No amount of housing estates or commercial estates that I have built could measure up to the satisfaction I get from establishing schools. I know how important education is and how affordable education could help change the lives of poor students,” said Lau.