By Philip John Siow, class of 1948, (Founder Committee Member)
The forebear of the Old Paulians’ Association (OPA), the St. Paul’s Athletic Association (SPAA), was founded in 1922. Even in those infancy days, the Association portrayed a strong sense of Lasallian brotherhood including its members both Paulians and Lasallians. In 1926, the Association was formally registered and called the St Paul’s Old Boys’ Association (SPOBA). At this stage the aims of the Association were expanded not only to encourage its members to participate in games and athletics, but also to cater for their social and cultural activities. During the Second World War the Association fell dormant. It was revived in 1948 through the efforts of Mr J R Santa Maria, Mr C A Pinto, and Mr Thong Ah Chong. The then District Officer for Seremban, Encik Bahaman bin Shamsuddin, became the association’s first President.
Paulian House at No 324-1 (Lot 3029), Taman Bukit Kaya, Seremban
In 1949 the Association hosted a Reunion Dinner and Dance for the first time with the aim of bringing together members and friends who had lost touch with each other during the war. This tradition has become the glue that hold old Paulians’ together with recent events witnessing over a thousand old Paulians coming together from all over the world.
In 1952, SPOBA collaborated with the St Francis Association (Malacca) to form the La Sallian Association. The La Sallian Soccer Competition was introduced as way of keeping the camaraderie of Lasallians strong. The SPOBA was the proud champion for six consecutive years.
This competition also brought the Old Boys of Christian Brothers (Singapore) and St John’s (Kuala Lumpur) together yearly. These events became the catalyst for the formation of the Christian Brothers Old Boys’ Association (CBOBA) by the late Mr P C M G Mahidas of Malacca. In 1983, the Federation of La Sallian Associations was formed with OPA as a founding member with the objective of bringing all ex-students of La Salle Institutions under one umbrella.
First Club Premises at
No 2 Market Lane, Seremban
Rented Club Premises at
No 96 Birch Road, Seremban
Wisma OPA at
No 24, Jalan Yam Tuan, Seremban
In 1970, the SPOBA Management Committee undertook the task of acquiring a club building for the Association. Due to a lack of funds the committee set up the first club premises in a rented first floor of a shop house at No. 2, Market Lane, Seremban. Later, the club house was moved to No. 96, Jalan Birch, now known as Jalan Dato’ Bandar Tunggal, Seremban. At the 1972 AGM, the Association’s name was changed from SPOBA to the Old Paulians’ Association to welcome the inclusion of female students in St. Paul’s Institution Secondary as members. The Association’s vision to own its very own building was finally realised in 1978 when OPA bought two adjoining double-storey terrace houses at Taman Labu Utama with the intention of converting them into one building for the club house. The Committee however decided to treat the buildings as investments and rented them out while waiting for the approval of the renovation plans.
The Association then sold these buildings to purchase a 4.842-acre piece of land in the Mukim of Rasah just outside the Seremban Municipality for more than RM200,000 with the intention of building its own country club house. Due to the economic recession, this plan did not materialise. In 1995 the land was sold and the money was used to purchase a shop lot at No. 24, Jalan Yam Tuan, Seremban at a cost of RM300,000. Later, the building was demolished and in its place a three-storey building called Wisma OPA was constructed at a cost of RM345,000. In 2016, OPA bought over the "Brothers' Bungalow" situated next to the St. Paul’s Institution Primary school field at a cost of RM500,000 and converted it into its club house. Wisma OPA along Jalan Yam Tuan was later sold at RM800,000.
During the last decade, OPA has grown from strength to strength. More Paulians have enrolled as members and the relationship between the Alma Mater and the Association has, as always, been strongly bonded by the Paulian spirit. Today, OPA is a vibrant and dynamic organisation that is extremely active in sports and games as reflected in the OPA Games Development program, the OPA sports carnival and the OPA Golf tournament. OPA also provides scholastic support through the Bro Felix Donohue Welfare Fund, the OPA Scholastic awards, the Tan Sri Chan Choong Tak Award, and various fund raising projects for the development of SPI primary and secondary. The Old Paulians’ Association can proudly be considered as one of the most progressive old boys’ associations in the country.