In Rememberance of Prof Dr. S. Ganakumaran
It is almost a month since we received the dreadful news regarding the demise of our fellow comrade, Prof. Dr. Ganakumaran. With the passage of time, the grief and sorrow may be slowly diminishing. However, it has taken me this long to grapple and come to terms with the sadness and emotions on the sudden loss, to pen down my thoughts. On the fateful day, I received a call from OPA Treasurer, Dato’ Lai See Ming who asked me in a sombre tone if I heard the sad news about Prof. Dr. Gana? My heart dropped with a feeling something was amiss and not quite right. The news was equally devastating.
Prof. Dr. Ganakumaran, the Chairman of the Board of Managers for SPI Primary school passed away on the 18th February 2021, at the Kuala Lumpur IJN Hospital due to a sudden heart attack. An educationist, Prof. Dr. Gana has contributed significantly to education in Malaysia. He is a well-known and respected personality in the English language teaching fraternity. With news of his demise, social media like Facebook & WhatsApp were out pouring with messages of sadness and condolences. Many students, former students, teachers, colleagues and friends expressed grief, shock and disbelief over the sudden and untimely loss. The Paulian & Lasallian Fraternity has lost one of her illustrious sons, an outstanding Paulian/Lasallian and a notable pillar of his alma mater, St Paul’s Institution.
Professor Dr. Ganakumaran is from the Class of 1975. He has made vast contributions to St. Paul’s Institution (Primary and Secondary School) as well as to the Old Paulians’ Association. He is a good example of a true Paulian/Lassallian and has always demonstrated it with utmost commitment and dedication. He was the Board Chairman of SPI Primary, and also a Board member of SPI Secondary. He was also the Vice President of the Old Paulians’ Association in 2011 and consecutively for 4 terms.
Prof. Dr. Gana has always been active and supportive in OPA. He is part of the Management Committee organising the OPA Annual Dinner and other OPA related events. Prior to OPA Annual Dinner every year, he often worked tirelessly with Dato’ Lai on the “OPA Annuals” (OPA Magazine) to ensure that it is given a yearly new look and to ensuring the contents are well covered. He believes in changes and improvements and was very clear to the point that OPA must move beyond instead of remaining stagnant in order that the concept of Annual OPA event become a better and wholesome one with new look and feel. I vividly remember having a chat with him after one of our OPA Management Committee meetings when he said “since we are volunteers and have put ourselves forward, we must commit by giving our best to OPA. We cannot afford complacency if we are committed to serve”. I fully agree and carry these values very far. Indeed, this message should be the ethos of all serving management committee members. Prof. Dr Gana has always been an asset to OPA and even though he was no longer with the committee in 2019, he was ever ready to lend a helping hand whenever OPA needed his assistance.
Prof. Gana was instrumental in initiating “The Outstanding Paulian Award” in 2015. The significance of this award is in recognition and appreciation to true and outstanding Paulians who have made great contribution to our alma mater as well as in society. Rev. Bro Felix Donahue was the first recipient of this award. Subsequent recipients were Archbishop Julian Leow, Dato Lai See Ming and Immediate Past President Dato David Wee Toh Kiong. Although it may no longer be confidential now, I must say that Prof. Dr Gana, in my mind was the recommended candidate as the next recipient for the award in 2020. Unfortunately, the OPA Annual event has to be cancelled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Prof. Dr. Gana also represented the Old Paulians’ Association as the Organising Chairman of 7th Malaysian Lasallian Educators Conference (MaLEC 7) in 2018. Under his leadership and in collaboration with both the Primary and Secondary schools, he successfully organized the event which was held from 18th – 21st March in Palm Hotel, Seremban, Negeri Sembilan. The 3 days’ events were graced by the then Deputy Education Minister, Dato’ Chong Sin Woon with a total participation of 152 delegates from Lasallian schools, school boards, alumni associations, parent-teacher associations from Peninsula Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak. Incidentally last year, Prof Gana was supposed to deliver his keynote address for MaLEC 8 to be organised by St George Institution in Taiping. However, it did not materialize with the cancellation of the event due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
There is undoubtedly much more that this illustrious son of St. Paul’s could have done and contributed for his alma mater and society. A true Paulian, a true Lasallian who is always proud to be an alumnus of St Paul’s Institution, living true to the motto of “Once a Paulian, Always a Paulian in Heart, Mind and Soul”. His untimely demise is a big loss to the Paulian and Lasallian Fraternity and has left a vacuum that will remain unfilled for a very long time.
Prof. Dr. Gana will forever be missed by all of us and his good work and contributions will be remembered for a very long time. Let us not grief further about the loss but rather how he so brilliantly shined and lived. May God reserve a place for him in Heaven and comfort the family and friends he left behind.
Steven Chan W.C.
16th March 2021