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董事各尽所能推动学校发展 — 专访华侨中学董事长李喜隆
Hwa Chong Institution — Keeping the Hwa Chong Spirit Alive
By Elizabeth Lie
Photos courtesy of Hwa Chong Institution
Published: EduNation, Issue 5, September-October 2013
With a long history of 94 years, Hwa Chong has much to be proud of Known to be one of the top schools in Singapore that attracts outstanding students, Hwa Chong Institution has produced numerous scholars. To date, 53 Hwa Chong students have been awarded the President’s Scholarship, which is the most prestigious scholarship in Singapore.

In the last decade, some significant changes have been made to the Hwa Chong landscape. The most notable of these are the merger of the long established Chinese High School and Hwa Chong Junior College and the creation of Hwa Chong International School, both of which took place in 2005. The merger came about as a result of the introduction in 2004 of the Integrated Programme that allows academically strong students to bypass the traditional O level examination. Today, both Hwa Chong Institution and Hwa Chong International School share the huge 70-acre campus at Bukit Timah Road. As an alumnus himself, Mr Jonathan Lee Hee Long has proudly witnessed this transformation in his role as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Hwa Chong Institution.

“We do what we can because Hwa Chong is important to us,” said Mr Lee, on the willingness of the alumni to give back to the school. “It could be because we have an excellent tradition of giving back to our alma mater. Be it donating money or setting aside time for our school, we do it. That’s how we keep the Hwa Chong spirit alive. We live out the Hwa Chong spirit and come together as a family in times of difficulty by supporting each other. And as Chairman of the Board, it is part of my responsibility to keep this family together. Giving back to our alma mater is a tradition that we are proud of and we intend to keep it that way.”

Taking into account that the Hwa Chong family of schools is made up of different institutions, Mr Lee says it is noteworthy that the Board of Directors, together with the schools and alumni, work hand-in-hand to go forward together.

Role of the Board of Directors

“Altogether, there are about 5,000 students and 500 teachers in the Hwa Chong schools so the Hwa Chong family resembles a huge organisation. As such, like a Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of any organisation, being a principal can be quite a stressful job as both face immense pressure to do well. But that’s where the similarity ends as these two roles have distinctively different focuses. For example, a principal oversees not just the development but also the educational and cultural aspects of the school while a CEO simply focuses on the management, operation and profitability of the organisation,” said Mr Lee.

“Therefore, here at Hwa Chong, the Board of Directors does its best to assist the principal. We share that responsibility with the principal. Of course, without the Board, the principal is more than capable of running the school on his own, but we do help in whatever manner we can so that the principal can tend to more important matters. Most of our Board members come from a business background and their professional experience in finance, business and management comes in handy when the Board is called upon to help with construction and development projects, and the management of the school’s reserve funds. However, in the long run, it would be more ideal to have a full-time CEO working directly under the principal to manage the day-to-day operation of the school, the procurement processes and the finance and administrative work so that the principal can be more focused on his primary responsibility — education.”

Even though it has only been a short four years since he assumed his role as Chairman, Mr Lee has brought about changes that have transformed his beloved alma mater. He started with making a major change to the Board.

To ensure that board members are truly invested in the development of Hwa Chong, Mr Lee made it mandatory that 70 per cent of them must be former pupils of the School. Citing top American universities which have a high percentage of alumni in their schools’ management committees, Mr Lee strongly believes that having alumni serve in this capacity can make a world of difference.

“As a former student of the School, you would know what’s best for it. Sometimes, an alumnus might know better what the School needs than a principal who is not only new to Hwa Chong but is also a non-alumnus. Many of us spent our formative years in Hwa Chong so, naturally, we care for the School and would selflessly devote our time and effort to its development,” explained Mr Lee, who graduated from the Chinese High School in 1969.

As there are a number of alumni who are also board members, it naturally allows the Board to have a closer partnership with the Hwa Chong Alumni. After all, one of the main responsibilities of the Board of Directors is to foster a stronger bond between members of the Hwa Chong family — which comprises Hwa Chong Institution, Hwa Chong International School, the Board of Directors, the Board of Governors, Hwa Chong Senior Club, the Hwa Chong Alumni Association and the Hwa Chong Junior College Alumni.

“We get together and catch up with one another at the many school events. For this year’s Hwa Chong Family Chinese New Year Celebrations, we did things differently. In the past, we would just try to get as many alumni to attend the event. This year, however, we asked both Hwa Chong Institution and Hwa Chong International School to send 150 student leaders to attend the celebration too. By doing so, not only did these students get to interact with the alumni, but they also saw how loved the School is and were hopefully inspired to do the same. It is important for students to love and care about the School, and to give back to the School in their own way in future.

“If you look at the School’s history, there was a period of internal strife among members of the Hwa Chong family. That episode has only emphasised the need for us to work harmoniously together. And having an open communication allows that to happen. If there is a conflict in opinions, we work it out peacefully. We often meet over lunch to discuss school matters. We are, after all, a family. There are many opportunities that allow all of us to come together to work as one. All these things bring us closer together,” said Mr Lee.

The International School “Risk”

One of the most challenging projects Hwa Chong had to grapple with was when it started its International School in 2005.

A concern was that Hwa Chong had a rich history and heritage, and was synonymous with academic excellence. Many worried that if the students of the international school did not perform well then the morale of the whole Hwa Chong community would be affected. Starting Hwa Chong International School therefore took a great leap of faith.

Mr Lee recalled the lack of funding, “Back then, we could have taken the easy way out and not built the Hwa Chong International School. But we didn’t. The Economic Development Board gave us $6 million to start the school and even though it wasn’t much, we made do with it. We persevered.”

The first few years were challenging ones. “We channelled most of our energy and time into making sure that the International School is of a certain standard,” said Mr Lee. “We had to provide a strong foundation to ensure its success. There cannot be too great a difference in terms of academic quality between the International School and Hwa Chong Institution. Of course, it was tough in the beginning as unlike Hwa Chong Institution, which is a reputable institution, the International School had only just been established. Despite being part of the Hwa Chong family of schools, it still had to prove that it was as good as people expected it to be. If we wanted top students to apply to the International School, we needed it to be good. When we started to offer the International Baccalaureate Diploma Programme (IBDP) in 2009, it was a challenge to get well-qualified teachers who were experienced in teaching the IBDP, especially when we were a new school.

“Thankfully, back then, Hwa Chong Institution stepped in to help by sharing its facilities with the International School, albeit at a cost. We are also blessed that the School sits on such a large campus that there was enough land for the International School. If we had no land, there would most definitely be no International School. Ultimately, I feel that if it weren’t for then-principal, Mr Tooh Fee San, I don’t think the International School would be as successful as it is today. He was extremely patient and optimistic. ‘Give it time, we can make it,’ he used to say.”

Slowly but surely, Hwa Chong International School started to gain a reputation for excellence. In 2011, one in four students scored at least 38 points in the International Baccalaureate diploma examination — the maximum score is 45 points. After these results, the International School started to attract top students and now more than 20 applicants sit for its admissions tests every month.

“We are a local international school,” added Mr Lee. “Local Singaporean students make up half of our student population. Therefore, there is still a strong focus on the Chinese language in Hwa Chong International School, which can sometimes be the deciding factor for parents when they are choosing an international school for their children.”

Mr Lee has seen how the IBDP has changed lives and his great-niece is one example. She achieved a relatively low score of 180 points for the Primary School Leaving Examination and was only eligible for the Normal Academic stream in a local secondary school. After sitting for the O level examination, she joined Hwa Chong International School and graduated with a respectable score of 37 points in the International Baccalaureate diploma examination — a score that will get her into renowned universities.

“The IBDP did not just help to improve her results. It changed her from a girl who did not even dare to ask the price of food items in the market to a confident individual who opened a small store in a shopping mall while waiting to enter university. Recently, she even went to Thailand with her sister to buy clothes for her small venture. The IBDP teaches students to be confident and major changes are seen in them. It really is something. I am glad that Hwa Chong offers such an amazing programme to students,” remarked Mr Lee.

From a school that started with just 85 students in borrowed classrooms, Hwa Chong International School now has its very own building and even an outdoor sports complex. As part of its commitment to share its resources with the Hwa Chong family, the International School has consistently set aside a sum of money to donate to Hwa Chong Institution. It recently pledged $300,000 to Hwa Chong Institution for the building of the Hwa Chong Holistic Education Centre.

Infrastructural Expansion

Mr Lee also gave a glimpse into what the Board of Directors has been busy with, and what lies on the horizon for the Hwa Chong schools.

He thinks that it is the responsibility of the Board to enhance the learning environment for the students. As a result, over the last two years, the Board has been working closely with the Hwa Chong Alumni Association and Hwa Chong International School, to plan for further physical expansion of the school.

Mr Lee first made the announcement during Hwa Chong Institution’s 94th anniversary dinner in March — the current swimming complex is to be expanded and a four-storey building built next to the complex.

He said, “Without the cooperation of every member of the Hwa Chong family, these building plans would not have materialised. This project required all of us to work closely together as it involves so much effort — such as the planning, construction, coordination and fundraising — that it would be unfair for the principal to undertake such a huge and difficult project on his own.”

Coincidentally, the current swimming complex is in need of refurbishment. Therefore, the enhancements are timely. There are also plans to create a student hub and to add new classrooms and music rooms, which will mainly be used by Hwa Chong International School.

As for the new building, it will have a large auditorium that can accommodate about 700 people, an indoor sport-cum-multipurpose hall, a basement carpark and an exhibition hall. The offices of both the Board of Directors and the Hwa Chong Alumni Association will be located in the new building. Once completed, the entire Hwa Chong family of close to 100,000 alumni and students will benefit from the improvements.

“It’s a win-win situation for all members of the Hwa Chong community, especially if we look at the benefits we will reap in the long run,” added Mr Lee.

This project will cost about $30 million and is expected to be completed in the next two years. About $20 million has already been secured by dipping into the School’s reserve funds and borrowing from the bank. The Board of Directors and Hwa Chong Alumni Association will continue to organise fundraising activities to raise the remaining $10 million so that construction work can begin in September as planned.

“When we organise these fundraising activities, it’s not just purely for the sake of raising money. We use these activities as an opportunity for us to work together and to show others what the Hwa Chong spirit is all about,” explained Mr Lee.

Raising the Standard of Mandarin in Hwa Chong

Even though he graduated 44 years ago, Mr Lee still remembers his Chinese teachers. They frequently spoke at length about the history of China and lessons were so interesting that Mr Lee still remembers them today. He fell in love with Chinese culture and language because of these inspiring teachers.

“These teachers taught the lessons in their own way. They didn’t teach in such a structured manner, with the goal of preparing us for the examinations. They taught us to love what they were teaching. They taught us to love learning. In fact, some of my classmates even asked these teachers not to teach using the textbooks but to just tell them more about world history,” said Mr Lee.

“We do have a considerably higher standard of Mandarin here in Hwa Chong but it is not enough,” he maintained. “Our students have to score at least a B in the Chinese language in their Secondary 4 final year examination. If not, they have to repeat the subject at the pre-university level. And many of them do score an A but have they learnt to truly appreciate the Chinese culture?

“Some of them might not even have read any of the Four Great Classical Novels of Chinese literature such as Romance of the Three Kingdoms. It is worrying. Perhaps teachers should go beyond the textbook and try to interest their students in Chinese culture by teaching them about the various historical movements in China. More importantly, there needs to be a greater awareness of the essence of Chinese literature and its significance.”

Hwa Chong Arts Festival

Together with the Board of Directors, Mr Lee is also concerned about the type of student that Hwa Chong is producing. Hwa Chong consistently produces top scorers in the national and international examinations and even has an excellent humanities programme but he nevertheless feels that there can still be a greater emphasis on the arts.

“Hwa Chong students are encouraged to take an active interest in the arts and many of them do eventually pursue their love for the arts in world-class universities, but I think we can do better to cultivate a greater love for the arts,” said Mr Lee.

To this end, there are plans to hold a week-long arts festival in the near future. Currently, Hwa Chong puts on many plays and concerts but Mr Lee thinks that more can be done. He has already spoken to the principals about his plans. Not only will the arts festival be an opportunity for everyone in the Hwa Chong community to come together, it will also be a way of nurturing a love for the arts among the students.

“Performances and concerts will be held, and students and teachers will transform the campus to reflect the liveliness and vibrancy of an arts festival. Students will be able to take the week off studying and just soak up the atmosphere and appreciate the arts. I hope that the festival will be a memorable one that students will talk about even after they have graduated, because sometimes, it’s not just about getting good grades. There are other things that matter more,” explained Mr Lee.

Character Development

In the same vein, Hwa Chong places character development above academic excellence.

Mr Lee said, “We have done well academically. That’s something to be proud of but it’s not always about getting an A. In time to come, people may forget your academic accomplishments, but not how you treat others. Cultivating a positive mindset is important as it can be exceptionally useful in trying situations. Your character, your self-discipline, your morals and your values are far more important than your grades. And it is the duty of the school to transmit the right set of values to the students because what one is taught in school affects how one behaves in the future. I think that the success of a nation is dependent on the type and quality of its schools. As such, if schools are well managed, the country will certainly prosper and can be guaranteed a brighter future.”

It is apparent that the idea of loyalty to one’s family, school and country is one which Mr Lee holds dear. “In today’s globalised world, it has become even more critical for students to be taught that values take precedence over everything else — they need to know what to do and what not to do. There’s a greater need for students to be grateful and loyal to their country in this highly globalised world. Some see Singapore as a company, a company that provides great economic opportunities and once these opportunities run out, they leave for another country. A country is a country. A country needs its people to stick by its side through thick and thin. If our country is in need and if we simply abandon it for greener pastures abroad, I think that is a failure of our education system.” said Mr Lee.

Therefore, Hwa Chong students are taught to honour and love their school, their family and their country — a philosophy that the late Mr Tan Kah Kee, founder of the Chinese High School, subscribed to himself. This will not only put them in good stead for future challenges, but also perpetuate the Hwa Chong spirit of giving back to one’s alma mater and by extension, to one’s country, a spirit aptly demonstrated by Mr Lee himself.

Guided by their motto — Ceaseless Quest for Excellence — the Hwa Chong family of schools is set to go from strength to strength in the years to come.


 


封面故事 > 董事各尽所能推动学校发展 — 专访华侨中学董事长李喜隆
董事各尽所能推动学校发展 — 专访华侨中学董事长李喜隆
文:丘珞君
图:华侨中学提供
刊载:《新学》, 第5期,2013年9月-10月
自强不息”是新加坡华侨中学(简称华中)的校训。自1919年建校至今,学生踏入华中校门那一刻起,“自强不息”,就进驻他们的心中,像种子一般,发芽生根,吸收着华岗的养分,茁壮成长。

《新学》新加坡教育双语双月刊访问华中董事长李喜隆,谈董事们如何发挥自己的专长,推动学校的日常运作,帮助学校不断发展。他说:“我们华中的校训是自强不息,不单是学校要自强不息,华中大家庭的每个成员都要自强不息,有所作为。”

他指的华中大家庭有七个单位:华侨中学、华中国际学校、华中董事会、华中管委会、颐年俱乐部、华中校友会和华初校友会。

李喜隆说:“董事长的责任是把华中大家庭精神在日常工作中贯彻并延续下去,实行大家庭式的互助互惠。在处理事情,尤其是面对危机的时候,互相扶持,共荣共辱。”

董事会全力辅助校长

华侨中学和华中国际学校,两校有将近5000名学生,500位教师。校长要管理这么大的学校,跟管理一个大企业没有两样。设施维修、教师管理、课程设计、学生培育、设备采购等工作,和企业总裁的工作一样沉重。但李喜隆认为,校长是教育家,不是总裁。校长不等于总裁,总裁也不可能成为校长,两者是不同范畴的。

他说:“总裁是把东西管好,监督日常运作及财务管理;校长应该是专注教育方面,为校园注入人文气息,负责文化方面的熏陶。如果校长终日要为繁琐的行政操心,就没有时间致力教育的管理工作。”

为了辅佐校长,减轻学校管理的负担,华中董事会在学校建设和管理方面,起了举足轻重的作用。李喜隆说:“董事会和管委会委员大多是企业界人士,于财务管理、经商和经营方面有专业知识,可以担负起部分的总裁工作,例如帮助学校管理一些重大的工程建设。我们也花很多心思协助学校善用资金,妥善投资增加收入。

“长远来看,一些条件好的学校还是要请一位全职高薪的总裁来打理繁重的行政工作,以便让校长更专心负责教育方面的工作。”

扶助国际学校稳固根基

2005年创办的华中国际学校,历史远不如今年已有94年历史的华侨中学。建校94年,华中早已成为新加坡教育的品牌,学生的素质可说是“品质保证”。这些都给初成立的华中国际学校无形的压力。

李喜隆说:“当时的董事长张拔勤支持政府的建议,开办国际学校,是冒着很大风险的。第一、我们的经费有限,国际学校建校舍、日常开销要全靠自己,教育部一分钱都不给,怎样生存?实在不简单。第二,新的学校,很难收到素质高的学生,学生流动性太大。第三个挑战是,各方面素质和华侨中学有距离。第四、受过IB课程训练的教师不容易找,即使请得到,能否留得住,也是困难。”

因此,2009年,当李喜隆接任华中董事长,第一项要务就是推动华中国际学校发展。他说:“华中国际学校办了没几年,根基还不稳。我跟董事们说,不能让华中母校和华中国际学校的反差太大,我们要致力把国际学校的根基打好,稳健发展。否则它可能成为董事会,甚至整个华中大家庭的负担。为了缩小差距,我们董事会过去几年的精力都集中在扶助国际学校,很庆幸的是,我们都看到它在进步。”

领导华中国际学校,稳住这辆刚上路的马车,是担任华中国际学校总裁多年的华中前校长杜辉生。李喜隆感慨道:“华中国际学校当初如果不是因为有杜辉生校长,肯定办得更辛苦,可能还要面对更多意想不到的困难。杜校长不愠不火,像一匹老马,慢慢走。他很有耐心、不急躁,也不急功近利,不要求在短时间内看到成绩。有多少学生就收多少,慢慢经营。杜校长很有经验,以他特有的管理方式,稳定人心,留住教师,在最艰难的时刻起到关键性的作用。

“当年投下去国际学校的资金不少,办不下去的话,董事会要负很大的责任。我跟拔勤(华中前董事长张拔勤)说,这是你最惊险的一步,但这步走得好!这几年,国际学校虽然问题多多,幸好董事部有一群不屈不挠的中坚分子,把国际学校的定位和目标都看得很清楚。而且最幸运的是我们有一片广阔的校园,没有这片土地,什么都免谈。这实在是我们的福气。我的责任就是善用这片老祖宗留下来的校地,制造更多财富来让学校办得更好。钱虽然不是万能,没有钱却万万不能。”

在华中国际学校,李喜隆看到IB课程改变学生的过程。他姐姐的孙女,小六会考仅得180多分,被派读N水准课程,幸好后来进了华中国际学校。四年下来,进步到IB考试取得37分的优异成绩,能进许多著名大学。李喜隆说:“改变的不是这孩子的成绩,而是建立起她对自己的信心。从前叫她去菜市场买东西,她连问价钱都不敢。来了华中国际学校,毕业后还会利用等待大学入学的七个月空档,和妹妹到泰国买衣服回来卖。IB课程帮助她增强信心和胆量,人变得落落大方。当初如果进主流学校,相信不会有这样的进步,可见IB是有点不一样。”

校友会和国际学校共建大楼

大力扶助国际学校,先从添置硬体设施做起。“我觉得华中国际学校前面缺少一个广场,一所学校缺乏一个宽广的前庭,看起来总是觉得不舒服。学生需要一个活动场地,这是我们的工作。于是我们即刻行动,在最短的时间内把广场建起来,整个校景随之焕然一新。”

这个要让华中国际学校学生有更多活动空间的念头,一直推动着他想尽办法。

今年3月,李喜隆又在华中建校94周年暨校友会成立90周年会庆晚宴上,宣布华中将于今年底兴建两栋大楼,供董事会、校友会和华中国际学校共用。一栋大楼在现有的游泳池和校友会会所扩建,另一栋则在隔邻网球场的地点动土,网球场将迁往校园另一处。一个计划,两栋大楼,三方得益,李喜隆促成了这项一举三得的美事。

李喜隆说:“这个斥资3000万元的建设计划,一方面提升校园设施,另一方面也解决国际学校校舍不足的窘境。整个建筑设计和筹划都由董事会统筹,三方面群策群力,预期在2015年竣工。”

新大楼建筑费目前通过内部集资与银行贷款,已筹得近2000万元。李喜隆表示,接下来将进行一系列的筹款活动,筹集其余1000万元经费。他说:“我们的筹款活动不单为钱,也为了发扬华中精神、增强凝聚力,让大家看到华中大家庭的力量。”

齐集众人之力,非一朝一夕可以达成。他说,董事会为这项计划足足酝酿了两年,至今才着手实行。“校友会想扩充设施,但资源薄,单靠校友会本身,要提升会所不容易。董事会因此联合大家,共同拟订发展计划,把现有土地让给国际学校发展,同时提升校友会的现有设施,一举两得。华中母校也可以使用新大楼的设施。

“我们要帮助大家把眼光放远,看到计划能使大家庭得益,努力是有意义的。这是一个‘全赢’的局面。”

修改章程:董事会成员必须有70%是校友

过去12年,李喜隆看到一些董事是通过朋友介绍加入董事会,犹如空降部队,对华中并不了解,认同感不强,难以为华中发挥作用。2009年他出任董事长,不愿再看到这种情形,于是着手修改章程,规定董事部必须有至少70%的成员是校友,并且规定董事在入会一年后才有投票权及被选权。

李喜隆说:“新规定要求董事会大部分由校友组成,是为了未雨绸缪。因为校友最理解学校的需要,最能无私地把心思放在处理学校的事务上。这不是排外,这是个客观存在的事实。”

他举例说,美国最出名的常春藤大学校董会里,校友的参与率非常高。哈佛大学和耶鲁大学的董事会几乎都是校友。“有时校友甚至比校长还理解学校的状况与需要。校长可能是外来的,但校友是从年轻就在这所学校成长,比一般人更了解母校的传统与文化,更愿意为母校付出时间和精神。”

身为董事长,李喜隆就如华中大家庭的“大家长”,领着众董事,在不同的场合上和华中大家庭中各成员建立联系,增进彼此的感情。无论大小活动,他都会要求董事和理事们尽量出席。他说:“我们和校董、校友经常见面。每两三个月有一次正式会议,另外还在很多非正式的场合见面。华中各种庆典,我们都会聚在一起。

“我认为交流很重要。有课题要讨论,我们会约个地方吃饭,交换意见。董事会最重要的任务之一是营造一个和谐的环境。回顾校史,曾有一段时期内部纷纷扰扰,这让我们益发了解和谐的环境是非常重要。”

除了维系校董、学校和校友的关系,李喜隆今年也邀请在籍的华中学弟们参加一年一度的新春团拜。“我们每年的新春团拜从前主要是校友参加,今年我们通知母校和国际学校,各派150名学生理事和领袖同来欢庆。透过这个活动,让他们接触校友爱校的情怀,感受华中大家庭的温馨。”

倡议设立华中艺术节

华中学生离校后,最怀念的是在母校接受的中华文化熏陶,为他们建立了深厚的文化底蕴。学校里每年大大小小的文化演出不断,李喜隆认为可以集中起来,举办常年艺术节。“华中每年都有戏剧表演、音乐会、演唱会等。我认为不如每年空出一个星期不上课,让学生专心在校内搞艺术展览和演出。我已向校方献议,相信他们已经在酝酿这项活动,希望很快可以落实。”

艺术节不单是学校对外展示学生的艺术和文化教育成果,更可以成为学生学习生涯中珍贵的回忆。李喜隆说:“华中学生毕业后,成绩好不好,过两年就忘了,长留的是其他回忆。全校师生总动员的艺术节必能让他们日后久久不能忘怀。”

人文校园培养好公民

遥想当年,李喜隆称自己的童年时代是“穷但不苦”的年代,生活上很快乐,精神上很丰盛。“当年我们看似没有选择,事实上选择比较多;现在的学生表面上很多选择,实际上却没有选择。面前的路都铺好了。”

华中学生的成绩之卓越,有目共睹。李喜隆最挂心的,是华中能否成为人文气息浓厚,保留中华文化优良传统,培养学生成为社会中流砥柱的学府。

他说:“学术成绩固然重要,但人文方面的熏陶更须加强。华中毕业生不单要有自信,更重要是懂得反思。有的华中子弟毕业后走偏了,比如三年前留学英国的教育部奖学金得主黄伟强被控拥有淫片和性侵等,为华中的心智教育敲响警钟。华中要紧记教育学生不单功课要好,品德也要好。”

李喜隆自小成绩优秀,但他从不以好学生自居,他和同学毫无隔阂。对他来说,成绩并不是最重要的。“毕业后,我们很快会忘记自己的成绩,别人也会忘记,如何处世待人更重要。能够把复杂的问题简单化,才可以成为领导,才能让属下信服。如何化繁为简,需要良好的个人修养,和广博的知识。

“心态走歪,人的想法就狭隘。所以我觉得心智品格的培养很重要。好的品格使人可以在紧要关头把持自己,懂得自律。”

培养一个人的心智和品格,对新加坡这个城市国家来说,至关重要。李喜隆认为:“一个人能够在紧要关头把持得住,不行差踏错是最重要。全球化的速度太快,现在的人说走就走。未来,新加坡可能面对国民大量移民,流失人才的情况。到那时候,新加坡人会作怎样的选择很重要。

“公司以利润为导向,有利即用,无利即丢。但是,国家不是公司,人民不能“被裁”或“辞职”。公司能卖,国家不能卖,无论好坏,国民都得扛起来。我们要帮助国家培养能和国家共荣辱的国民。所以,凝聚力和文化传承很重要,我们要考虑国家的将来。”

华中一向强调“饮水思源”。李喜隆说:“要培养爱国心,先培养爱校情操。所以华中特别强调饮水思源,我们大批的校友经常回来母校帮忙。

“‘华中之父’陈嘉庚非常注重道德修养。他创办华中的理念就是:爱校、爱家,才能爱国,这是很简单的道理。如果学生懂得把受益于母校和老师的恩典化为力量,作出回馈和贡献力量的决心,自会延伸到报效祖国。

“从一所学校的文化,就能看出这所学校的将来和前途。而教育是国家的根基,学校办得好,国家自然前途无量。”

华中必须加大力量提高华文水平

李喜隆于1969年华侨中学高二毕业。直到现在,他对华中早期的历史和华文教师念念不忘。“令我印象深刻的老师有伍世波、郑克铭,还有训育主任李绍渊。他们都是满腹经纶,倾尽力量把学生教好,却并不太在意怎么应付会考。

“伍世波老师当年教鲁迅的散文《秋夜》,鲁迅从他家后园的两棵枣树开始,描写后园景色。当时伍老师说,这篇文章是鲁迅对当时黑暗时代的讥讽和反抗,寓意太复杂,我们不需要懂。他只花一节课讲课文,接着用了三节课,将近三小时,把五四运动从头讲到尾。

“他讲得非常好,使我印象很深,从此激发我们爱上华文,喜欢它的精华、精神。李绍渊老师在教理解写作时也是这样,课文虽短,但他花很多时间讲历史,把课文的历史背景讲得很清楚。学生会经常建议他不要讲解课文,直接‘讲古’。”

历史的教训,透过教师的传授,启发李喜隆,让他在求学时就有远大抱负。“记得当时我有一个很古怪的想法,就是想从事农业相关的职业,思考怎么增加粮产,解决闹粮荒国家的问题。”

教师的身教和言教,赋予单调的语文课启发性,培养了李喜隆有大时代的心胸,和宽阔的视角,看到世界大局。对比今天的华文教育,李喜隆不胜唏嘘:“如今,华文课程只注重应用,缺乏文学修养。全国都面临华文水平低落的问题。很多中小学生在会考时报考高级华文,成绩很好,水平却很低。”

李喜隆认为,华中作为一所特选中学,不可随波逐流,华文该保有自己的高水平。“我跟校长讨论说,华中学生的华文程度,应该有自己认可的水平。目前华中要求中四生华文至少要达到B,否则到高中必须重修。我认为这个坚持是对的。”

华中大家庭,人人自强不息

华中的校训“自强不息”,激发了华中子弟奋发图强,不屈不挠的精神。“我总是在会议上讲,我们华中的校训‘自强不息’,不单是学校自强不息,董事部也要自强不息,校友会也要自强不息,都要有所作为,否则会很快被边缘化。”

李喜隆如今步入第三个任期的第一年,他企盼在任期内为华中带来更多进步,贯彻自强不息的华中精神,并激励更多的华中校友饮水思源,回馈母校。

李喜隆/Jonathan Lee Hee Long
1969年毕业于华侨中学,是新加坡大学土木工程系学士与英国特许工程师。在公共工程局服务八年后加入私人企业,从事各类建筑与大型土木工程。1980年获总统颁发公共行政功绩奖章。1993年只身远赴泰国创业,与友人合作,自购重型盾构机,从事大型地下隧道工程,是本地从事此类工程的先驱。

1998年亚洲金融风暴后回国,2000年转行从事石油与天然气相关行业至今。

曾任华中校友会副会长,2009年出任华中董事会主席至今。

Mr Jonathan Lee Hee Long graduated from the Singapore Chinese High School in 1969. He graduated from the National University of Singapore with a degree in Civil Engineering and is a registered chartered engineer with the Engineering Council in the United Kingdom.

After working in the Singapore Public Works Department (PWD) for eight years, he joined the private sector and worked on various building projects. In 1980, he was awarded The Public Administration Medal. In 1993, he started a business with his friends in Thailand, and engaged in tunnelling projects using tunnel boring machines. He was one of the local pioneers in this industry. Ever since his return to Singapore after the economic crisis in 1998, he has been working in oil and gas related industries.

Mr Lee was the Vice President of the Hwa Chong Alumni Association. In 2009, he was elected to be the Chairman of Hwa Chong Institution Board of Directors.


 

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