A Tribute to Cikgu Othman

This year, Cikgu Othman bin Haji Mohd. Ali was promoted to the headmastership of a primary school. Congratulations, Cikgu, and all the best of luck and happiness in your new posting. But in the joy of his happy occasion, we should not forget a few lines of tribute.

Cikgu Othman first set foot in the school as a student in the early fifties. He matured into a well-mannered, capable and responsible pupil. In his final year at VI, he was a member of the Prefects Board, the House Captain of Hepponstall House and the Company Quartermaster Sergeant of the VI Cadet Corps.

Cikgu felt that teaching was the only way in which he could really serve his country. After his School Certificate examination he was selected and sent to the Malayan Teachers College in Kirkby, England. After two years training he returned to Malaya as a teacher. However, his hopes of serving at his old school were dashed when he was posted to the M.B.S. Sentul instead. Hiding his disappointment Cikgu doggedly performed his duties well. All the while, he kept trying to get himself posted to his alma mater. In 1961, his prayers were answered and Cikgu Othman finally returned to the Victoria Institution.

He now launched himself fully into the service of the School. His deep sense of responsibility and service brought him important posts in the school. He became the Assistant Cadet Master, having received a commission as a Second Lieutenant in the Army Cadet Corps. Cikgu Othman was also the School Football Master for many years. The present high standard of VI football is due to his hard work and perseverance more than that of anyone else. His ability to coax boys to their utmost limits with ease was manifested in his coaching of the School Rugby and Hockey teams. As Hostel Master, he was a guardian to the boys, developing deep personal relationships with many of them. Cikgu also served on the School Disciplinary Board. Just before he left the VI, he was the Chairman of the School Staff. He carried out all his obligations in a fair and just manner and to the best of his abilities.

In the classroom, he was a very strict teacher. He moulded the younger students into mature pupils with a deep sense of Victorian pride and spirit. He exhorted them to greater heights through his own personal example and by imbuing in them the feeling that they could achieve the impossible. He was just in his dealings with everybody. Such was the respect and confidence the boys had in him that Cikgu seldom had to resort to physical punishment.

He always pointed out the folly of one-sided education. Games, studies and extra-curricular activities should all be finely balanced to build a healthy individual. To this end, Cikgu believed that games and extra-curricular activities should not be neglected in respect to studies.

Parting is, no doubt, a great sorrow in life. But it is inevitable. In the Victoria Institution, teachers come and teachers go, but only a handful of them are true Victorians in every sense of the word. Such a man is Cikgu Othman bin Haji Mohd. Ali.

The Victorian (1973)

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Cikgu Othman passed away on October 5, 2010.

Tributes from some of his old pupils:

Very sorry to hear he was in poor health and has passed away. He was a wonderful man, a very fine teacher and a person I liked very much.
Wong Mun Fui

Cikgu Othman taught me Bahasa Malaysia as well as being the football coach for the first two years that I was on the school football team. What a gentleman he was but behind that passive exterior, you could tell that he meant business if you cross swords with him. Nonetheless, he was a good teacher and the boys all liked him a lot.
Dennis Kwok

Sad. He was our Malay teacher for a year. Nice even tempered and a wry sense of humour.
Koh Tong Chui

* * * * * Ode to Cikgu Othman * * * * *

Cikgu Othman, you were one of the best
The arduous hard tasks you put us to test
Victorian in spirit through and through
You helped forged our noble character true
Impressing on us to be without fear or favour
Be fair to all others, religion creed or colour
We grieve though you are asleep at perpetual rest
Yet happy at heart that we have been your guest
At classes, at sports, at hostel and your largess
Memories of your sternness and your “humour”
Trigger childhood fears as well as soft laughter
Who can forget your giant figure striding out?
Keeping law and order when you are about?
Years may go by but your teachings will remain
In our hearts, in our minds, in ever sweet refrain
May the joy and bliss you brought to us Victorian
Have Allah Almighty bless you in Eternal Heaven
Peaceful in your quiet sleep and perpetual rest
Cikgu, we stand corrected, you were the best!

Vince Cheok

It is indeed very sad. He was also the hostel master and during May 13 incident he had some clever ideas like electrifying a metal bed and placing it across the hostel staircase to protect the hostel boys. His famous words were "I will eat your flesh and drink your blood!"
Giritharan Rajaratnam

Othman was a diabetic for a long time. I can recollect his daily ride back on his Lamberatta to his home to have his daily dose of insulin administered by his wife. I spoke to him a week before his passing and am very sad that I did not see him before his passing. A truly great man has passed away and I am truly blessed to have spent many hours during school and after school with him and his family even right up till his passing.
Tan Kim Chuan

VI The V.I. Web Page

Created: October 18, 2010.
Last update: October 18, 2010.

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