Some essays, some thoughts

A Gift from Father

By the time I was born in the year of the horse in 1954 in Kuching, my father was 40 years old and has become a businessman. My family migrated from Sibu a year earlier. Mother and Father worked from dawn to dusk to support a big and young family - my eldest brother was also born in the year of the horse twelve years earlier and between him and me, we have 1 sister and 4 brothers. Financially we were not well to do but were able to scrape along. My childhood was spared of the hard life of a rubber-tapper, which my parents had experienced, nevertheless I remember helping Mother feeding pigs, chicken, ducks and pigeons at our backyard.

Father is now over 80 years old, throughout the years he has given me numerous gifts, gifts that will ensure a healthy and a happy life. One of the most valuable gifts my parents bestow on me is education. When I was young, Father would gather me and my younger sisters around him and read story books to us, teaching us the words and explaining the meaning of the stories, most important of all, he instilled the love of reading in us. St. Paul's Primary School was situated at Green Road, very far from our home at Foochow Road No. 1, but despite the distance I was enrolled at St. Paul's because Father wanted me to study Chinese and because it was a R.C. mission school. The switch from a Chinese primary school to an English secondary school was not an easy metamorphosis, instead of going straight to Form One, I had to spend one extra year in Transition; and many more years to grasp the difference and appreciate the beauty of the two great languages. My secondary and pre-university education was completed at St. Patrick's School and St. Joseph's School, both schools belonged to the Church and were run by the religious Brothers, where discipline and highest standard expectation were the rule of the day. When I graduated from Auckland University with a Bachelor Degree in Civil Engineering (Honours) in 1978 and a Master Degree in 1979, on both occasions, Mother and Father came all the way from Sarawak to New Zealand to attend the capping ceremony, and I was proud to introduce them to my Kiwi friends.

Education at tertiary level is a luxury to us, our parents have to work very hard to be able to send us overseas to some good university to acquire knowledge. While in New Zealand I knew my purpose and my mission, I knew that if I failed, there won't be a second chance, so my 5-year stay in NZ was focused with only one intention - to study, to acquire knowledge and to be successful. I must thank my parents for giving me the opportunity of going overseas to be educated, for having the wisdom of sending me to a Chinese primary school, followed by English secondary and tertiary education. Now whenever I encounter a problem and try to solve it analytically and systematically, like an engineer, or whenever I read and enjoy Shakespeare, Chinese classics or poems from the Tang Dynasty, I am conscious of the greatest gift of all - EDUCATION. My parents have given me a tool to acquire knowledge, to communicate and to learn from whatever good source which I have access on.

Education is the most precious gift from my parents, a gift for me to keep for life, nobody can take it away from me. Thank you Father!

- Ir Michael Hii. February 7,1997 Kuching.


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