A lasting gift of love


IT was exactly 100 years ago that a woman named Emma Ferris Shellabear started the first all girls' school in Malacca. 

A Methodist missionary who was interested in doing something for girls' education, Shellabear walked the streets of Malacca, knocking on every door to ask for help in realising her dream but to no avail.  

It was not until she reached house number 122 on Heeren Street (now Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock), the home of Tan Keong Keng who had five daughters and shared an interest in providing girls with an education, that she found herself finally offered the chance to do what she wanted. She went on to establish the Methodist Girls' Secondary School in Malacca (MGSS).  

Tan offered to start the school at his home, and the first students were mainly the Tans and their relatives.  

Hin Hoe (left) points to a picture of his great grandfather, while brother Hin Kwee (centre) and cousin Hin Seng look on.

Four generations after Tan's generous gesture, his great grandson Tan Hin Toe, patron of the school's centennial celebrations held last month, continued his family's legacy of supporting the school by donating RM50,000 towards the restoration of the school's Shellabear Block built in 1953. 

As executive director of CT Tan Sdn Bhd, the 64-year-old Tan pledged his continued support to the school. 

“My family will continue to contribute financially and give moral support to the school,” he said in an interview earlier this week at the Methodist Education Centre in Petaling Jaya. MGSS principal Nga Johnson expressed her gratitude to the Tan family. 

“Mission schools do not receive money from the government to pay for maintenance,” she said, adding that the school belonged to the church and that the block was in very poor condition. 

During the celebrations, the school presented Tan with the MGSS Centennial Award and announced the MGSS Maintenance Fund.  

Old Girls of the school, Pauline Goh Mui Ling and Li Ying Goh, also donated RM50,000 in memory of their late father Goh Keng How.  

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