Speech - Rev. Msgr. Stephen Liew Khoay Siong


刘开祥 副主教

Board of Governors, SMJK Sam Tet

Music, in its essence, is an eloquent language that transcends the boundaries of culture, language, and time. It possesses the remarkable ability to unite disparate souls in a harmonious symphony of emotions. I stand before you today, not only as the Head of the chairman of the Board of Governors, but also as a passionate advocate for the profound transformative power of music. Our annual Band Concert is an occasion of great significance, but due to the pandemic, it was halted for a few years, the last one being the ‘Artelites Rhapsody’ in 2019. However, the wait is over tonight with Sam Tet Brass Band celebrating its Golden Jubilee by bringing us a show full of delight. It's a pleasure to see so many familiar faces and new friends gathered here to celebrate the extraordinary musical talents of our students. Tonight's concert is a testament to the power of music education. It showcases the remarkable progress our students have made and the incredible range of musical genres they have explored. From classical symphonies to contemporary jazz, from soulful ballads to energetic rock, they can do it all.

The Sam Tet Marching Band & Wind Orchestra, also known as Sam Tet Brass Band, goes way back to the 1970s. They were established on the 28th of February 1973, by Mr. Joseph Wong Ming Fah who held the battalion as the first head teacher advisor, with the support of Brother John Moh, the longest serving Principal of SMJK Sam Tet, consisting of only 39 members from Form 1 and Form 2 students at its founding. The band was originally known as the ‘brass band’ because most of the musical instruments in the band consisted of brass instruments, such as trumpets, tubas, euphoniums, and so on. With the addition of musical instruments over time, the band began to have woodwind instruments such as flutes, clarinets, saxophones, and others. Nevertheless, in order to maintain the name "Brass Band" since its inception and to avoid confusion, the band decided to retain the name "Sam Tet Brass Band" to this day. And so, now under the guidance and leadership of our school Principal, Mr. Chan Kok Wai, the head teacher advisor, Mr. Tham Hong Peng and Band Director, Mr. Lam Chee Choong, the band stands at over 140 members, growing just over 350 percent over the past 5 decades.

Ladies and gentlemen, as we gather here today on this momentous occasion, we not only commemorate the band’s Golden Jubilee, but we also celebrate 50 years of musical excellence and dedication. This band has been the heart and soul of our school, filling the corridors and auditoriums with the enchanting sounds of music. This jubilee is a testimony to the enduring spirit of creativity and teamwork that has fuelled the band's success over the decades. It's a moment to honour the many music directors, teacher advisors, and students who have poured their passion and energy into this musical journey, shaping it into the institution it is today. As we raise our voices and instruments in unison to mark this milestone, we not only pay homage to the band's glorious past but also anticipate a future filled with harmonious melodies and new heights of musical achievement.

In the past 5 decades, Sam Tet Brass Band has excelled in both Marching Band and Wind Orchestra categories, garnering a remarkable array of awards and recognitions over recent years. Even in the hardest and most dire of times such as during the pandemic, the band managed to display the trust they had for each other – the trust they had for the school, the trust they had for their teachers, the trust they had for their band director, and most importantly the trust that they would make it together as a team. This eventually led to them coming out of the pandemic even stronger, where they participated in the Asia Music Games and Malaysia International Virtual Band Championships 2021, in which they were awarded Gold Awards.

My most vivid memory with the band would be during the 34th Shanghai Spring International Music Festival, with the boys achieving yet another milestone by representing Malaysia in this musical festival placing among the best internationally and taking home the gold. Even in the past month, our boys have been actively participating in the Pertandingan Perbarisan Hari Kebangsaan Peringkat Negeri Perak 2023, emerging as the runners-up in our beloved state, as well as the Malaysia International Wind Festival 2023 recently hosted in KL early this September, achieving an astounding 5 gold awards, 3 silver awards and 5 bronze awards.

It is unbelievable to think that the band has achieved so much despite starting with so little. Have you ever heard of the saying ‘in with the new and out with the old’? Every year the band experiences a big turn over - a transition phase where a new batch of members come in to replace the Form 5 and Form 6 members, and yet it is so amazing to see that even with the seniors graduating, the band never seems to lose its manpower but instead always seem to come up a step above. This is something that is so admirable not only to us, but also to the public in the global market. having had an array of exchange programmes on an international level with some of the world’s most renowned bands including the Nakamura Gakuen Girls’ School Band from Japan in 2014, the Dervent Valley Concert Band (DVCB) from Australia in 2018, and one as recent as last year with Suranaree Girls Wind Symphony and Satit PIM Winds Symphony in Thailand. If there is something we can all take away from this, it is the enthusiasm and never give up attitude of our boys.


As I stand here today, I want to extend my heartfelt gratitude to all the parties who played a major role in getting our boys where they are today. First, I would like to thank the Board of Governors for always giving your unwavering support in whatever our boys do. I would also like to thank Mr Chan Kok Wai and his team of Senior Assistants, Mr. Oh Eng Hwa, Mr. Lee Yuen Keong, Mr. Poon Kwai Heng, Miss Kong Yee Leng, Pn Chong Suet Fun and also to Mr Tham Hong Peng and his team of teacher advisors, Pn Hwong Wai Fong, Pn Fatimah, Pn Wan Nor Fadillah, Pn Ng Ai Liang, En. Chiang Choon Sern, En Hussairy, En Nordin, En Zuraimi and Pn Nurul Sadah for your wisdom, passion, and ceaseless devotion to nurture our students. Thank you for being the compass guiding our students on this melodious odyssey. Furthermore, I also want to extend my heartfelt appreciation to the parents and families of band members who have supported our budding musicians every step of the way. Your encouragement and unwavering belief in their potential have played a vital role in their development. You are entitled to be proud parents because of what your boys are doing. My sincerest of gratitude to the donors as well who have been crucial in the band’s development. Your generosity and continuous contributions have always helped us out of difficult times and enabled our boys to continue pursuing what they love. Next up, to the beloved members and alumni of Sam Tet Brass Band, thank you for dedicating countless hours to practice, honing your skills, and pushing your boundaries. Being able to see graduated seniors come all the way back to mentor your juniors, giving them advice and encouragement to strive for the best. The support system you have for each other touches the heart of every soul in this hall.

Lastly, I want to thank Mr Lam Chee Choong, who is the backbone of the band. Under the tutelage of Mr Lam, the band has undergone a series of transformation to get where it is today. He has forged our students, shaping them into not only accomplished musicians but also principled individuals who understand the value of perseverance and the importance of teamwork, implementing the motto ‘One Band One Sound’ to remind his students to always hold this virtue no matter where they go.

Before I end my speech, I would like to once again wish Sam Tet Brass Band a Happy 50th Anniversary. As we reflect on this remarkable journey, we honour not only the melodies that have enchanted us but also the enduring spirit of dedication that has fuelled our band's longevity. Here's to fifty years of harmonious melodies and may the next fifty be filled with even more musical brilliance and comradery.