By Philip John Siow, class of 1948, (Founder Committee Member)
Tan Sri Dato' Chan Choong Tak:
A Paulian Knight
“God has chosen you to make him known to others.”
(Med 146.2 - on St Anne, mother of the Most Blessed Virgin)
These words of Jean Baptiste De Lasalle, above reflect the life, journey and beliefs of the great Paulian, Chan Choong Tak. His life and deeds have always been about God and the doing of good in God’s name. Chan Choong Tak’s life is testimony of how individuals can beat the odds overcoming a very challenging life to achieve great successes, personally and professionally.
Chan Choong Tak was born on 2nd May 1933 in Seremban, Negeri Sembilan. He received all of his formative education in St. Paul’s Institution Seremban. He completed his education in 1951 even though it was interrupted by the Second World War and the Japanese occupation of Malaya. He went on to earn a diploma in teacher education in the UK through a government funded programme. Upon his return he served as a probationary teacher from 1952-1955. From 1955 to 1968 he served as a teacher in several schools, Primary English School, Simpang Durian, Negeri Sembilan, Primary English School, Tanjong Ipoh, Negeri Sembilan, Lower Secondary School, Sekolah Menengah Za’aba, Kuala Pilah, Negeri Sembilan and later as headmaster of Lower Secondary School, Tanjong Ipoh, Negeri Sembilan, and Sekolah Menengah Dato’ Mohd Said, Nilai, Negeri Sembilan. As an educator, he embodied the philosophy of De Lasalle - “Young people need good teachers, like visible angels.” (MTR 5.1 [Med 197.1]). He tutored many children to achieve great success in their own lives.
While still teaching he studied law and became Advocate & Solicitor in 1970. He held an LLB (Hons) degree from the University of London, a certificate of Barrister-at-Law, Lincoln’s Inn and a Masters degree in Business Administration (MBA) from Ohio University, USA. This also marked the beginning of an illustrious career in law, business and politics. He assumed positions as the secretary general of Party Gerakan Rakyat Malaysia and ended his political career in 1992 in the esteemed position of president of Dewan Negara or the Senate.
He was a man of great talent and leadership. As a result he held positions such as Director of Tenaga National Berhad, Chairman of HeveaBoard Berhad, a listed company and its subsidiary HeveaPac Sdn. Bhd. and a director of a few other companies. He was also appointed to Advisory Board of the Ministry of Education’s Cluster Schools Committee. He was also president of the Junior Chamber of Commerce of Negeri Sembilan besides being the president of the Rotary Club of Seremban.
Chan Choong Tak was also an avid mountaineer. He is entered in the Malaysian Book of Records as the oldest man to conquer two peaks – Mount Kilimanjaro’s Uruhu peak (19,340ft) and Mount Kinabalu’s King George peak (13,400ft).
Chan Choong Tak was the epitome of a true green-blooded son of St. Paul’s Institution. Throughout his life, he has always found ways to contribute to the primary and secondary schools in various capacities. These included serving in the Board of Governors and Board of Managers as well as heading several building and fund-raising committees for SPI secondary. He continued to be a member of the Board up to the point of his passing.
Chan Choong Tak, was also the longest serving president of the Old Paulians’ Association from 1979 to 2007. On retiring as President of the OPA he contributed to support the organization in the capacity of an advisor. It was during his tenure as president that OPA purchased its 4 storey club house in Jalan Yam Tuan (Paul Street), Seremban in 2001. He was also a past president of the Federation of La Salle Associations of Malaysia. He held this office on two separate occasions. He was also Chairman, Advisory Committee De La Salle Institute, Malaysia and a member of the Catholic Education Council, Malaysia.
In 2015, Tan Sri Dato’ Chan Choong Tak was honoured with the award Paulian Knight by St. Paul’s Institution primary for his services to the school as Chairman of the Board of Managers. The SPI primary school library was also named the Tan Sri Dato’ Chan Choong Tak Learning Centre to recognize his contributions. A year later the Old Paulians’ Association honoured Tan Sri Dato’ Chan with the Outstanding Paulian Award for his services to St. Paul’s Institution and the OPA.
Tan Sri Dato’ Chan Choong Tak’s legacy to SPI and the OPA is tremendous and is unlikely to be surpassed.
Dear Tan Sri, “Your faith should be a shining light for those whom you taught, lead and helped.” Thank you.
Mount Kilimanjaro's Uruhu peak (19,340 ft)
Mount Kinabalu's King Geroge peak (13,400 ft)
Malaysian Book of Records
The oldest man to conquer two peaks
Tan Sri Dato'Chan Choong Tak was honoured with the award Paulian Knight by SPI Primary