Poignant tributes and farewells at TKPS

Poignant tributes and farewells at TKPS
TOUCHING: Condolence cards with heartfelt messages at the Tribute Corner at Tanjong Katong Primary School

A rainbow - that was all the seven-year-old boy drew on his card.

Hanzah Faizal then made his way to the condolence boards at the Tribute Corner at Tanjong Katong Primary School (TKPS) and pinned up his card.

The rainbow he drew was a symbol of his hope for families of the quake victims to find strength and comfort.

In the past four days, nearly a thousand people have visited the Tribute Corner, which was set up to remember the school's pupils and teachers who died in last Friday's Sabah earthquake.

Singaporeans from all walks of life have come forward to pen their heartfelt messages and condolences, and their stirring thoughts are manifested at the Tribute Corner.

Flowers dedicated to the victims lay on the tables, filling the air with a sweetness that contrasted with the grim mood.

Silent tears were a common sight. Among the condolence cards was one from Xing Yi, a pupil with Lorna Whiston Pre-School.

"TKPS Braveheart, you were very brave," she wrote, referring to teachers who had acted as human shields for their charges.

"Thank you for being superteachers."

Another card, by Joanna, is dedicated to the "little angels and selfless teachers" of TKPS.

She wrote: "You will be deeply missed. Take care in the other world."

There were also personal tributes to pupils and teachers who lost their lives.

Sabrina, a netballer from TKPS, said she will always remember fellow player Rachel Ho Yann Shiuan.


Sabrina described Rachel as full of life and bubbly.

She said: "You (Rachel) have touched my heart."

Another TKPS pupil, Safiyyah, described Mr Mohammad Ghazi Mohamed as a great teacher.

The Primary 5 pupil wrote: "You were the most fun PE teacher, liveliest English teacher and funniest form teacher ever."

Two former TKPS pupils, Maria Zahid and Rachel Toh, both 15, said they were shocked when they heard the tragic news.

"I was shocked to know that the pupils and teachers are no longer around," said Rachel.

They also said Mr Ghazi had an infectious personality.

"He was always happy," Maria recounted.

"He also had a very big smile, which we would remember forever."

On their cards, they wrote: "Dear Mr Ghazi, you are an amazing and kind hearted teacher."

Madam Siti Arnie, 36, a teacher from another secondary school, went to pay respects because the accident struck a chord with her - she had just returned from a school trip to Vietnam.

She said the TKPS teachers who died in the Sabah quake were great role models that educators should follow.

In her condolence card, she wrote: "The teachers did an awesome job, and as educators, we should follow after them.

"In this period of mourning, let us unite and support the families who have been affected by the quake."

'Students will always come first'

Team Singapore canoeist Annabelle Ng (above) was among the well-wishers who visited the TKPS Tribute Corner yesterday.

As an ex-teacher, the deaths of the TKPS pupils and teachers came as a shock to Miss Ng, who won a gold and a silver at the SEA Games this week.

The team had dedicated the medals to the victims of the quake.

She said that if she had been there when the quake happened, she would have been devastated.

Miss Ng, 32, was a teacher with Serangoon Junior College before she left to focus on her training.

Recalling her teaching experience, she said that she, too, had taken her pupils for expeditions.

She added that the pupils' safety is always the top priority of a teacher.

"As a teacher, the students will always come first," Miss Ng said.


Miss Ng said she can understand why the teachers had shielded the children from the falling boulders because if she had been in that position, she would rather have taken the place of the little children who had lost their lives.

Mr Ahmad Faisal, 41, an engineer, also visited the Tribute Corner yesterday with his family, which includes five children.

His middle child, Ammar Muhd, is a Primary 6 pupil at the school and a classmate of one of the victims, Ameer Ryyan Mohd Adeed Sanjay.

They were part of the school's football team.

Ammar, who is a defender in the team, said he broke down when he heard about Ameer's death.

He said he would miss Ameer dearly.

"It was very fun to be around him," Ammar said.

"He would always tell us jokes and make us all laugh."

Ammar also said that Ameer was the driving force in the school football team, adding: "He motivated us to push on and fight when we were all tired.


This article was first published on June 11, 2015.
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