In Memoriam: Mr. Lee Hah Ing (1914 - 2009)

Former ACS Principal Mr. Lee Hah Ing passed away on 4 September 2009 at the ripe age of 95. He left behind a family that stretched three generations to mourn his passing.

Mr. Lee was born on 3 August 1914 in Ping Hai, Fujian Province in China. When he was five years old, he accompanied his parents to settle in Kampong Koh, Sitiawan, a small town near Ipoh, where his father the Rev. Lee Ko Ding was assigned as pastor of the Pioneer Methodist Church.

After completing his primary education in ACS Sitiawan, Mr. Lee went on to ACS Ipoh where he obtained his Cambridge School certificate in 1930. He was admitted to Raffles College, Singapore in 1931 and after graduating with a Diploma in Arts in 1934, embarked on a teaching career that spanned 34 years with the Methodist schools: ACS Teluk Anson (now renamed Teluk Intan), (1934-1947), MBS Kuala Lumpur (1948-1951) and ACS Singapore (1952-1969) where he served with distinction as Principal from 1961 to 1969.

A keen sportsman, Mr. Lee built up the ACS Singapore Hockey XI into a successful team displaying high morale and sportsmanship and was well-thought of as a teacher. As Principal, he is best remembered for integrating the morning and afternoon sessions into one school, and expanding the Pre-University Classes. He instituted the School Prefects, re-introduced the daily devotions, and provided new teaching and sporting facilities. Of these, the Nagle Library, the Art Room, the Audio-Visual Room, and the Sports Complex which boasted the first school Olympic-sized swimming pool in Singapore. Closely related with his sporting interest, he forged closer ties between ACS Singapore and the Methodist Schools in Malaysia by organising and participating in several Festivals of Sports”.

According to Mr. Earnest Lau, former ACS Principal and currently the Archivist of The Methodist Church in Singapore, “To help fund the projects, Mr. Lee instituted a series of fun fairs, aptly named Fun-O-Ramas that were memorable in rallying the students into working together for the School and generating a special School spirit, always reminding us that “The Best is Yet to Be”. In these and other activities, he quietly set an example by giving of his best to the School. For his services to education, he was awarded the Public Service Star (BBM) in 1969”.

Delivering the eulogy at Mr. Lee’s funeral, former ACS Board of Governors Chairman Mr. Tan Wah Thong described Mr. Lee, who was his Senior Cambridge (now ‘O’ level) class master in 1956, as a model teacher who possessed the exemplary art of treating and counselling his wayward students. “I was one of them and lesser mortals would have given up on me”, Mr. Tan confessed. “However, the patient Mr. Lee took upon himself the onerous task to discipline and counsel me. He persevered and kept his faith in me and I must admit he had succeeded in touching and changing my life”.

After he retired in 1969, Mr. Lee joined OCBC from 1970 to 1986 and was the Advisor to The Tan Chin Tuan Foundation until 2006. Dr Tan Sri Tan Chin Tuan’s generosity to the ACS family of schools is legendary, and we can thank Mr. Lee for playing an unsung role. Even in retirement, he took great interest in the affairs of the ACS family of schools. He was indeed a pillar of strength and a great supporter of the ACS Board of Governors, and also the Methodist Church in Singapore.

Mr Lee will be missed by many ACSians, young and old. He was a great teacher, counsellor, motivator and friend all rolled into one. Perhaps these moving words expressed by his former students from the Class of 67/69 sums up what most of his former students regarded him: “You were our principal. But you were always more than just the head of the school we attended. To some, you were the father they didn’t have. Or the father they would have wished for”.

Rest well, Mr. Lee. We shall meet again on that beautiful shore.

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