Dear Paprika: You Come From a Lineage of Great Teachers

Dear Paprika,

Today is Teachers Day. It is celebrated on May 16 every year.

Your great grandfather, Lim Chien Chye, was a well respected teacher. He is Lim Teik Leong’s (your Ah Kong) father. I have never met him for he passed away in 1970, just after I was born. If he was still alive, you would have referred to him as Ah Chor.

Lim Chien Chye left such an impression on his students that even after many years, they still remember him! At the age of 55, Tan Sri Khir Johari (former Minister of Education) remembers him and affectionately called him Pak Chye.

“Regardless of race, we affectionately added the honorific “Pak” to their names. Thus Mr Lim Chien Chye became Pak Chye, Mr Veraamuthu, Pak Muthu and so on.” The Star, 20 Nov 2006

Marina Mahathir (she tweets @netraKL) also remembers Ah Chor teaching her father Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad (4th Prime Minister of Malaysia).

Your Ah Kong and Ah Ma are also teachers. In fact, of the 23 uncles and aunties I have, 11 are teachers! Your Ah Ma has taught hundreds, if not thousands of children including Marina Mahathir’s children and Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s children. Anwar remembers Ah Ma and his wife sent her regards to her last year. They remember her as “Mrs Lim from Damansara tuition”. Last year, I met a mother who was a student of Ah Ma; she wanted Ah Ma to teach her son! Your Ah Ma has many students who come back many years later to send their own children to her for tutoring.

Being the children of teachers taught us the importance of education and discipline. Your Ah Kong used to read many books instead of watching TV. There is small library of books in his house; a legacy for the next generation. Last year Jee Chik bought Ah Kong a Kindle. The first book he read was “Harry Potter and The Philosopher’s Stone”. And here is an interesting thing about reading: you can read any book you like. Just read! As you read, new ideas and vistas will open up for you. I remember reading the Children’s Encyclopaedia in my mid twenties. You can laugh but, hey, at least I have read an entire encyclopaedia!

Dear Paprika, as you go through life, you will meet many teachers. Some will teach you in school while others will teach you in life. Each one will have something to contribute to your life. Listen to them, understand what they are teaching and learn to discern what is useful and what is not. Ah Kong used to tell me this story: John F. Kennedy’s tutor told him, “You will need many more teachers than just me alone.” Then the tutor pointed to the many books in the Kennedy’s family library and told him, “Here are your teachers!”

You come from a long line of great teachers. You and your brother are children of teachers. I hope you will always be respectful of your teachers, honour them as every student should and remember their legacy for it is they who build nations.

Your loving father,


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Pepper is the father of two adorable children named Paprika Lim and Saffron Lim. "Dear Paprika" is a series of letters written for posterity. When Paprika is 20 years old, he will be 61. He prefers to use logic and evidence when presented with seemingly miraculous events. He supports LGBT rights and believes a person’s sexuality is no concern of others. In his spare time, he authored "The Troublesome Prince Lucky Mole"; a best-seller children’s story book. His family lives in beautiful Malaysia, a country rich in natural resources and unlimited potential. He moves with UndiMsia and APOSL. He has plans to make his family proud.

Posted on 17 May 2012. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0.

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