January 3 – IN MALAYSIA
On 3 January 1955, Brothers arriving from Singapore, a town very close, took charge of St Joseph’s School in Johore Bahru at the request of the priests running “it. This was their first Institution in what was then called the Malaysian Federation (under the British Crown) and which was to become Malaysia two years later. Then the foundations were going to multiply at an overwhelming speed:
1957: Boys’ Home in Serendah; 1958: a primary school in Muar;
1959: a house for the vice-Provincial at Muar and the Boys’ Town in Batu Tiga;
1960: a primary school in Batu Pahat and a secondary school in Kuantan;
1961: a school in Segamat, a novitiate in Port Dikson, a scholasticate in George Town;
1966: transfer of a section of the school from Johore Bahru to Larkin because of overcrowding (3000 pupils).
But this expansion was short-lived. First of all there were political pressures. The Muslim government started by taking away the Boys’ Town of Serendah from the Brothers because it was afraid of a Christian influence on the Muslim pupils. Then they demanded that the teaching of the Catholic religion should be done before or after the class hours, an unfavourable condition, especially for schools that provide two sessions, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon. The State also practised a protectionist policy. It gave preference to indigenous teachers and extolled the national language. Foreigners (the majority of the Brothers being Canadians) could get a visa only for one year, though renewable. For the Singaporean novices, the visa was no longer to be given after 1971. Only those who had grades 1 and 2 from Cambridge were admitted to the scholasticate. The number of Brothers declined and gradually the schools were handed over to lay people though remaining under the control of the.
Brother Provincial. But this was just for a time. Only the Boys’ Town of Batu Tiga (See 23 April) would finally remain. Then on 6 August 1998, two Brothers would start a work for the youth at Kota Kinabalu, in the State of Sabah.