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Innovative teacher picked as hero
26 Jun 2001  

By GOH EE KOON ( taken from Star Metro, 26 June, 2001) Every once in a while, Reader’s Digest magazine looks towards the community for the specific purpose of searching for one of its members who qualifies as a hero. This is defined as an individual who performs extraordinary acts of selflessness and kindness. The sixth one to come from Malaysia this time was announced at an informal ceremony on June 21. Teacher Tiong Ting Ming, 49, has been named as the Everyday Hero by the magazine for his efforts in turning his school, SMJK Dindings, a secondary school in the village of Pundut, near Lumut, Perak, into a high-tech learning centre. Tiong’s story appeared in the April issue of the magazine. Nine years ago, when Tiong was made principal of the school, the drop-out rate was high. With 320 students, he had an uphill task of convincing students not to drop out or transfer schools. To instill the quality of taking pride in one’s education and to break out of their rural poverty, Tiong introduced computer software, hardware, programming, networking and Internet courses. The beginning, he admitted, was difficult with a lot of teachers and students resisting change. Eventually, though, he won out. Tiong found friends in technology firms and lobbied them to donate second-hand equipment, which he and his students repaired during their spare time. Tiong also managed to raise RM470,000 through various contributions and the school now has a new building wired with the latest high-speed Internet connections. Every student at SMJK Dindings also has access to a computer. Its enrolment too grew, to its present 900. “I raised money talking with supporters and old boy of the school, and helped raise funds for a RM1 mil new building for the school in 1993. “Then, I was lucky enough to be able to sell the idea of a smart school concept to technology companies and received spare computer parts, cables and the like, which we installed ourselves,” he said in his speech. Tiong also paid tribute to his 16-year-old son, Tiong Hsien Qing, who is a student at the school and the assistant network administer of its computer system. “We invest in the future, not knowing what we will get. But what is important is that we give the best opportunities we can to the next generation.” In recognition of Tiong’s efforts, Reader’s Digest regional corporate communications director Rosemarie Yau presented RM2,000 worth of Reader’s Digest books to the school library. Enquiries about the school can be made to Tiong at 05-6812118 or e-mail

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