16 get awards for Sabah quake efforts

Two months after the ill-fated Tanjong Katong Primary School (TKPS) trip to Mount Kinabalu, 16 people have been awarded Commendation Medals for their efforts to guide pupils to safety when a quake hit the Sabah mountain.

The recipients of the medals given out as part of the National Day Awards include two TKPS teachers, a guide as well as two Malaysian trainers who died.

The recipients commended posthumously for "Devotion to duty and exemplary conduct during the Sabah earthquake" are teachers Mohammad Ghazi Mohamed and Terrence Sebastian Loo, guide Muhammad Daanish Amran as well as the two Malaysians Ricky Masirin and Valerian Joannes.

The others are TKPS teachers Mohamed Faizal, Joshua Tan, Nur Uzaimah Fadzali, Lee Hui Jun, Carolyn De Souza, Roushan Amir Hussain; Singaporean Camp Challenge instructors Mohamad Amin Mohamad Nor and Norashikin Mohamad Isnin as well as Malaysian Mountain Torq trainers Hajiris Sulomin, Hilary Hendry Augustinus and James Maikol.

Mr Mohamed Faizal, who teaches English and physical education, appreciated the award but said: "We weren't doing anything extra. We were doing what is required of us as teachers, which is taking care of the kids under our charge."

Mr Faizal, 28, said the past two months have been tough for him and the school, but that the support they have received "has been amazing, and it allows us to heal".

Mr Mohamad Amin, 29, of Camp Challenge, which ran the school trip to Mount Kinabalu, said he did not think he would be able to forget the 10 Singaporean lives lost on the mountain on June 5. "My thoughts do return to that day, but somehow things have to go on."

Ms Quek I-Gek, 42, marketing director of Mountain Torq, which operates the Via Ferreta trek, said the trainers were "honoured but surprised" by the award, as they were just doing their job. They are anxious to resume their operations on Mount Kinabalu, she added.

"We can't wait for the mountain to open again, so we can go back up and do what we do best," she said.

This article was first published on August 10, 2015.
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