Farewell Mr Tan Gim Hoe, Rest in Peace

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THANK YOU, SIR TAN GIM HOE!

Today I am devastated with a rather vague MCOBA Batch Reps WAG message that goes “Good morning everybody, Mr Tan Gim Hoe just passed away this morning. Condolences to his family.” It was reposted from the WAG of former teachers of MCKK. Fearing it was fake news, series of verifications were made around and upon confirmation from Mr Liew Yong Choon, the MCKK McCagers Basketball Coach who lives nearby to Mr. Tan Gim Hoe. It is with deepest regret that my Modern Maths teacher and my first form MCKK teacher has indeed passed away at 3.30am on 21st May 2020. Mr Liew told the widow of late Mr. Tan Gim Hoe that he was sent by MCKK old boys to send their deep condolences!

Mr Tan had remained in contact with me since his retirement and also as social friend on Facebook which he goes under the pseudonym “Gim Hoe Tan”. Whenever I posted anything about things on MCKK and his times at the school, he would respond with delightful GIFs.

Mr Tan was also conferred the Honorary Membership of MCOBA based on his 33 years 10 months in MCKK from 1972 to 2005, the same school from entry to retirement and has the distinction of having taught Fathers and Sons.

Thank you for always believing I could figure out whatever equation or formula I could put my mind to, even though I never thought I could and usually didn’t. I always tried my hardest and did the best I could, but I always struggled, despite scoring an A in Modern Mathematics in LCE and a C3 for Additional Maths in MCE. But thank you for giving me the motivation to always try my best and believe in myself.

Thank you for always trying to teach me new and confusing ideas. Math is a tough subject, and I know only a few students enjoy it. There are so many formulas, and it seems like the numbers just never end. There are so many ways to figure out the answer to so many problems. So, thank you for letting me use that in life; the idea that there is more than one way to solve a problem.

Thank you for your help. I know a lot of people think it is just your job to help, but I can tell that you actually care about the students and whether they understand what you are teaching. I know that many of us had trouble understanding, but you never gave up on trying to teach us and making sure that we got it. I struggled in your class, but I was too stubborn to admit it. Thank you for seeing that I was having difficulty in your class and helping me, even when I didn’t ask. Thank you for showing me that it is okay to ask for help if it is needed. After all, a person can’t do everything alone.

Thank you for giving me the perseverance to never give up on my studies, no matter how difficult they were. Math was my weakest point in school, and you made me never give up no matter how difficult it got. I think that comes with being a math teacher; you know how difficult the subject is, so you have to make the students not just want to quit. You gave me the ability to believe that if I kept trying, I would eventually succeed. Since you kept trying to teach, I kept trying to learn. Now I realise we were both successful in our adventure, you continue on teaching Maths by-passing promotions to be in the same school till you retire and I continue with my destiny with the principle of 1+1=2, unless it is binary number. Thank you for showing me that it is never acceptable to give up without giving your all first.

Thank you for becoming a parent to kids who had to part from home to be in a boarding school. A teacher who became role model, a savior, and a friend. A teacher that compel a student to have a lifetime hunger for knowledge. A teacher that inspire values for compassion, philanthropy, empathy, hard-work, bravery, integrity, and commitment. A teacher that can do and be anything, and often you are.

Thank you for everything that you have done. You have helped me so much, morally and academically. You have taught me so much that I can use in life. No, I cannot use y=mx+b in my life, but I can use the life lessons you taught me. You have taught me to never give up. You taught me that there is more than one way to solve everything; it just depends on perspective. You taught me that it is okay to ask for help, even if it is scary to think that I need help. You taught me to always believe in myself, even when everything looks bleak. So, thank you again. Thank you for everything. You are simply the best Maths teacher around.

Thank you. Thank you for always reading my FB posts as I’ve always tagged you on my FB postings. Sadly, you won’t be able to read this particular tribute posting anymore. However, deep down I know the feeling of that warm glowing restoration in your chest because you know you made a difference in this world. Thank you for moulding young minds. Thank you for overcoming the daily struggles of a complicated education system, and still dedicating yourselves to achieving as much as possible for your students. Thank you for your patience. Thank you for the kindness you showed to us as little ones. Thank you for the guidance you gave us as we were learning to grow. Thank you for swallowing every negative generalisation people may make about Maths teachers, and knowing in your heart that what you accomplish in THE only school you taught is worth it all and then that is something worth the promotions you had bypassed. Thank you for giving young adults the confidence and courage to follow our dreams. Thank you for giving your old students reasons for living. Even on the difficult days, remember that you are never forgotten.

Your students who read this posting will always think of you. They will always think of you all the time. We shall talk about the stories of our teachers that we adored for decades. We will laugh, cry and appreciate. Your quirky statements of “what happened to you” still reverberates till this day. To this day whenever we are in the dumps, we use that that immortal words to ponder on what had happened to us. Of course, your optimistic “matematik tu kacang” (trans: Maths is simple / a bag of beans) made as see through difficult things in life as simple as a bag of beans.

Mr Tan is a very simple nice man, humble, unassuming and never ever scolded anybody. A gentleman with few words but his dedication, never give up attitude and commitment to educating the Malay Boys of MCKK throughout 33 years 10 months of Education Service in his one and only School is exemplary. He spent almost his entire working life teaching at the Malay College Kuala Kangsar (MCKK), building a devotion that was hard to surpass.

We carry what you taught us in our minds, and also in our hearts, for the rest of our lives. So, the condolences, accolades and personal quips that you received from your former students all over the social media are testaments of fondness, respect and adoration that even Maths did not teach. Mr. Tan was just a simple man but with a big significance. It was just about a simple formula Teaching + Dedication = Gratitude. QED. We owe you a lot! You will always be missed.

Thank you very much sir for teaching and educating us to be what we are pot-bellied with fraying hairlines or bald notwithstanding. Your mission was to teach, your vision was to educate and that makes you one of the great teachers of the only school you can call your own. It’s true that mathematically putting 2 and 2 must always equal to 4. Putting a great teacher into a great school makes for a blessing for those who were taught by Sifu Tan Gim Hoe. His legendary quote of “Add Math senang saja….” still resonates to this day. Simple, confident and yet very powerful! – just like the Man himself. Rest in peace. I shall miss your delightful GIFs. Your candle might have burned out but Your legend never will.!

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