Z Measias John – school activity, author is 2nd from left
by Z Measias John
I am considered very fortunate to have grown up in a small Malay ‘kampung’ in Melaka that constitutes some other ethnic groups, too, especially the Chinese and Indians. I grew up there from the 60s to the early 90s.
The ‘kampung’ folks were living in a peaceful environment respecting each other, thus, creating a beautiful and meaningful fabric of the society. The children from this ‘kampung’ would be going to schools located nearly five kilometres away in a town. The bus driver was an Indian man and the children comprising all three ethnic groups would behave very well in his bus. There were four sundry shops – two owned by Chinese while two by Indians – for the folks to buy their groceries.
The secondary school I went to had nearly a thousand students and no less than forty teachers. It was a co-ed school with students of multi-ethnic backgrounds . When I was in Form 5, the teaching staff elected me as the Head Prefect of the school. I was pleasantly surprised and humbled that the teachers were oblivious to my ethnic and religious background in making their decision. This boosted my confidence and trust in our country, Malaysia, and her people. This memorable moment also made me very optimistic that my religion and ethnic background will not hinder my opportunities to progress and prosper in our beloved nation.
Truly, when I finished my Sijil Persekolahan Malaysia (SPM), I qualified to enter a reputed local university to further my studies in Mathematics and Computer Science. I obtained a scholarship from the Ministry of Education to complete my five years’ tertiary studies. The university offer and scholarship further bolstered my love and belief in our beloved nation that my religion and ethnic background will never cause her to mistreat me in any way. My faith in our country and Rukun Negara did not waver when I received an appointment letter to work in Kelantan, a state where I have never been before in my life.
Stepping into the principal’s office with my letter of appointment and a fearful heart, bewildered mind and crippling thoughts, I was soon made to feel at home by the empathetic principal, a Muslim Malay. He was compassionate towards me, having understood my predicament, and so, he allowed me to stay with the warden in the hostel for nearly three months until I got to know more people after attending Church services near the school. In the process, I also managed to find a comfortable rented place to live in.
One of the factors that helped me to mingle freely at ease even in a faraway Malay community is the value that I learnt when I was small – to respect others as I was growing up in my small Malay ‘kampung’. And of course, many other values from the Sacred Scripture continue to shape me to be a good Malaysian.
About the Author – Z Measias John describes himself as a Malaysian Catholic who knows 3 languages, though not all of them with the same competence: Bahasa Malaysia, English, and Tamil. His early education started in a Tamil school and followed by secondary studies in Sekolah Menengah Datuk Bendahara, Jasin, Melaka. A scholarship from the Ministry of Education after completing his Form 5 studies enabled him to pursue a 5-year degree programme in Mathematics and Computer Science at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur. His first appointment was to teach in a secondary school in Pengkalan Chepa, Kelantan. Thereafter, he taught in several schools in Selangor and Penang. Being a firm believer in life-long education, he did a Masters in Mathematics Education at Universiti Malaya, Kuala Lumpur in the late 1990s. In the year 2000, he successfully secured the Commonwealth scholarship for a doctoral study in Mathematics Education in England. He is currently retired and pursue his own leisurely interests with his family.