Farewell to a beloved HM

Sunday Star, Star Education, November 9, 2004
Story by Joanne Lim

RETIRING SMK Assunta principal Lim Sew Kwe has always been known as a caring and understanding person who would go out of her way to ensure the welfare of her staff and students.

When school counsellor Yong Gan Chok’s father passed away in May, Lim called her in Alor Star to personally offer her condolences and words of comfort.

“I will always be grateful for her kind gesture which showed that she cared, especially during my saddest moments,” said Yong.

Senior assistant (co-curriculum) Khairiah Bahari recalled how Lim made an effort to visit and cheer up a student who was diagnosed with tumour at a hospital in Subang, Selangor.

“She’s always concerned when she hears that someone in the school or their family member is not feeling well,” said Khairiah.

Indeed, Lim would truly be missed – especially by the many whose lives she has touched – when she retires as headmistress of Assunta next month.

“I remember how she would stay back in school until 4.30pm almost everyday and often even forget to have breakfast. I salute her because of the way she devotes her time to the school. She’s one in a million,” said Yong.

“A principal, a teacher, and most importantly, a friend”, is how teacher Muhammad Mustafa Abdul Salam describes Lim.

Another teacher, Mani Athanari, said Lim was “very dynamic and gets things done.”

“She has been the backbone of the school, as she believes in herself and in all of us. Although it seemed impossible to raise RM1.5mil in less than two years for our new building, she made it happen. Now we have something we can be proud of, thanks to her.”

In a special tribute to their dedicated school head, staff and students of Assunta came together on Oct 29 to bid her farewell with songs, dances, and skits.

“I am truly grateful for all the support you have shown me. I have learnt so much throughout the four years I’ve been here,” Lim said in her farewell address, adding that she was looking forward to the next stage of her life. Her plans include embarking on a self-study programme and learning Chinese.

She added: “I don’t feel old and am actually looking forward to travelling with my husband. There are so many exciting things for me to do. I thank God for my family and for granting me good health.”

Lim, who received the Ahli Mangku Negara earlier this year, was born in Alor Gajah, Malacca. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Monash in Melbourne under a Colombo Plan scholarship.

Lim began her teaching career 31 years ago at Malacca High School . She taught at Assunta from 1980 till 1989, when she joined SMK Katholic as the afternoon supervisor. In December 1999 she returned to Assunta as the principal.

Assunta’s board of govenors chairman Sister Enda Ryan thanked Lim for helping the school reach greater heights.

In a show of appreciation, students showered Lim with presents, flowers, cards and gifts, including a large, framed portrait of her.

Said head prefect Leong Lin Jing: “She’s a very sporting principal; one that is full of charisma. I will miss her presence as it just lights up the school.”

For Alina Hua Xiu Min, 16, Lim was “like a mother to us all”.

Summing it up, Siti Khadija Jaafar, 13, said: “The Assunta Spirit is Sr Enda and Mrs Lim”.

Lim’s contribution to the school and community will not end after her retirement, as she will be made a member of the school’s board of governors.

Her parting words to students: “He who stops being better, stops being good. To stay ahead we have to continually improve ourselves.”

Pix: FAREWELL SPEECH: Lim thanking Assuntarians for their support over the past four years.

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