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Phoong Tet Ching, First Headmaster Of Sam Tet Primary School

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Subject :Phoong Tet Ching, First Headmaster of Sam Tet Primary School
Published By : None 
Location : 114, Bellfield Street, Ipoh
Estimated Year : 1970
Media Type : Photograph
Source : Perak Ka Yin Association, Ipoh
Remark :

Phoong Tet Ching was born in Jiao Liang, Guangdong, China in 1906, the second son of Phoong Ze Nam, and local girl, Lim Ching Lian who lived with Ze Nam's adoptive parents. However before he was born his elder brother had passed away and his father had sought out an agent for migrant labourers and signed on for a passage to Indonesia to work as a “Piglet” in the mines. Not long after he ran away in desperation from his contracted employer and escaped to Singapore. From there he found work as a tin mine coolie in Papan, Perak.

Eventually after a long separation Phoong Ze Nam managed to raise enough money to bring his wife to Malaya, leaving young Tet Ching with his grandmother. Phoong Ze Nam was living in a small wooden house in a coconut plantation between Papan and Pusing and with his wife safely installed in Malaya, he turned his back on the Papan mines and over the next 16 years or so they reared pigs in a pen alongside the house, made Taufu for sale in the market and tended the coconut plantation. They also had another 7 children.

During this period, back in Jiao Liang, Tet Ching had been brought up by his grandmother, completed his traditional Chinese schooling and had married Yoong Choon Moy, ‘the little daughter-in-law’ chosen for him almost two years before he was born and who had been brought up as his little sister.

Eventually, by the time Tet Ching reached 20 years old (1926) it had been agreed that he would travel to Papan to join the remainder of the family and once he was established in Malaya both his wife and grandmother would follow. The journey started by boat downriver to Swatow then he took another boat to Xiamen (Fujian Province) and a ship bound for Singapore. From there took the train to Ipoh where his uncle took him to Pusing and the family home, an old and scruffy atap house where more than 20 people lived in the house at any one time. Before long, Tet Ching’s wife, Choon Moy and grandmother Chan, arrived from China and joined the already bulging household.

This rural life did not suit the educated Phoong Tet Ching and in 1930 he started at the St Michael’s, the Catolic Church in Ipoh, teaching catechism. Two years later he suggested that the church should start a Chinese school and Sam Tet Primary School was born with him as the headmaster. The secondary school started in 1952, by which time the Missionary brothers had taken over the management and Tet Ching had stayed on as the Mandarin language teacher. He retired from the school in 1966 after 35 years of teaching there, truly one of the Pioneers of Ipoh’s education. His final role was as Secretary to the Perak Ka Yin Association, Ipoh.

Never failing to remember his roots and the people of Jiao Liang he returned there in 1987, was taken ill and passed away. He is buried on the hillside of the Jiao Liang Catholic cemetery and his wife’s family still maintain his grave.

Phoong Tet Ching and Yoong Choon Moy had 4 children, 3 of which still live in Ipoh. More information about Phoong Tet Ching and his family can be found in this archive.

To read more about Phoong Ze Nam, click here.

To read more about Lim Ching Lian, click here.

To read more about Sam Tet School, click here.

To read more about St Michael’s Catholic Church, Ipoh, click here.

To read more about Sam Tet School, Ipoh, click here.

Filename : 20080126-017