A Cozy Celebration of Mr Lam's life

On the morning of 25 March 2017, we celebrated the life of Mr Lam Nam Soon with a special tribute event. A beloved Mathematics teacher, a dedicated Judoka and fierce but caring Judo teacher-in-charge, a father to many scholars, and an inspiring colleague who always gave due advice, it was extremely heartening to witness the extent of his influence on so many individuals at the event.

Greeting the guests as they went up the short flight of steps past the Bust of Stamford Raffles in the Yusof Ishak Block of the Raffles Institution (Year 1-4) Campus were some of the late Mr Lam Nam Soon’s favourite songs, particularly mandarin songs from the early 90s. A booth was also set up near the atrium for guests to write their best memory on the tribute pages. The pages will be combined into a book and presented to Mr Lam’s family members.

Penning down a tribute

The tribute event started proper at just after 10.00am, once our guests of honour, Mr Lam’s family members, were seated and comfortable. His mother, close family friends, siblings, nephews and nieces were in attendance.

Almerick So (RI’02), the Master of Ceremony for the event, began the tribute proper by recalling the various roles that Mr Lam was known for and his particular way of answering his phone. He then went on to call Tan Kwang Cheak (RI’89, RJC’92) on stage to share his most sentimental memories.

Almerick opening

Kwang Cheak shared that when he entered the school at age 13, he had no prior friends from his primary school and being an introvert, he took some time getting used to the school and making friends. Judo was not his first choice but after the trial session, he decided to stay on. Under Mr Lam’s leadership, filled with intense training, sage advice and love, he blossomed into a confident and purpose-driven man.

Kwang Cheak

‘Mr Lam,’ Kwang Cheak reminisced, ‘taught me to believe, love, and know my purpose.’

He ended his spoken tribute by reading out a letter filled with lifelong advice written to him by Mr Lam in 1990 when he entered RJC. At the end of his tribute, it would have been safe to assume that there were few dry eyes in the lecture theatre.

A letter from Mr Lam

Liu Haohang (RI’12) then took the floor to share how Mr Lam had impacted his life. As a guardian to all scholars in RI for more than a decade, Mr Lam was the father-in-lieu to many. Haohang and many other scholars would attest to how he took his role very seriously and went beyond the scope of a guardian to ensure the scholars felt loved despite being away from their family. It was thus extremely befitting that the scholars called him Papa Lam. On weekends, Mr Lam would often organise movie marathons of the latest movies available in DVDs in his home at the Boarding complex within RI. Knowing that catching the movies in the cinema would incur additional costs to the scholars, he made sure his television console was state of the art and that he stocked up his DVD collection regularly with his own funds to let the scholars enjoy their time in RI as much as possible.

One advice that Haohang holds dear to his heart was doled out to him in a personal conversation about his own future with Papa Lam.

‘You need not a title to be a leader. The real leadership comes within yourself.’

Liu Haohang

A video of tributes shared by scholars was then screened. The respect and love they have for their late guardian was evident throughout each 30-second video they submitted. When the video ended, there was a short but sombre silence that hung in the air.

Almerick then invited a current teacher and long time colleague of Mr Lam on stage. Mrs Tan Mui Hong had worked with Mr Lam in RI since 1988 but knew of him since 1982 where she was teaching in RJC.

Mrs Tan began by excusing herself should her emotions get the better of her, before recounting all the fun times she shared with Mr Lam. As a Mathematics teacher herself, they both appreciated the satisfaction of solving complex Mathematics questions. She recalled how they would often challenge each other to solve the questions from a Mathematics magazine he subscribed to. Once, she shared, there was a particular question that kept her up all night, and in the wee hours of the morning when she finally had her eureka moment, she hurried to school to share her answer with Mr Lam before morning assembly!

Mrs Tan Mui Hong

‘There was also the challenge of timetabling – a complex matrix that we had to figure out without the help of any software, including Excel, back in the day. He was singlehandedly able to apply various formulae to produce a timetable to suit the whole school, while a few teachers and myself, and I’m sure a few scholars, wrote down his configurations on large mahjong papers.’

Laughing at Mrs Tan jokes

To round up the spoken tributes, Ng Pui Chun (RI’90, RJC’92), Mr Lam’s nephew, shared how it was growing up with such a loving and dedicated uncle who always saw the positive in life.

‘We mourn his passing but today we celebrate his achievements, including being a supportive family member, a beloved uncle, and a filial son,’ he shared with the audience with a slight bow to the direction of his grandmother and other family members.

He fondly recalled Mr Lam’s affinity for kungfu movies, often practicing what he watched on television on the little ones like himself. While it was terrifying to be the victim in his re-enactments, they never got tired of playing with their uncle. As he grew up, although he was never thought by Mr Lam when in RI, he regularly heard great things about his uncle through his peers.

Mr S Magendiran, Senior Deputy Principal of Student Development and good friend of Mr Lam then took the stage. After acknowledging Mr Lam’s family members for gracing the event, he went on to share about how Mr Lam helped shape his perspective in conducting his duties as an education officer. As Mr Lam became weaker and could no longer live in the Boarding complex within the school grounds, a place that he held dear to his heart, he opened up his home to Mr Lam to stay in. A private person in nature - a huge contrast to Mr Lam who loved to surround himself with family and friends – they came to a mutual understanding that as long as Mr Mag’s room was not disturbed, he could invite whomever he wanted over.

He then went on to launch the Lam Nam Soon Scholarship and shared a little more about the financial assistance in RI and how the financial-based Raffles Scholarships helps current students-in-need.

The Lam Nam Soon Scholarship of $2,000 each will aid two current students receiving 100% Independent School Bursary (ISB) every year to supplement their learning and development. ISB is the Financial Assistance term used by independent schools. RI follows the MOE guidelines on Financial Assistance strictly, of which a personal capital income of $625 (total gross monthly household income / number of family members living in same household) allows the student to receive 100% ISB.

Next, another video, this time featuring Mr Lam sharing his own memories of his school days and of his experience as a teacher, guardian, and Judo teacher-in-charge was screened. The video was originally curated for Raffles Homecoming in 2013, a large scale event to connect with alumni from all cohorts.

The tribute event ended with the singing of the school anthem. Almerick invited Eng Han Seng, a fellow Judoka from the same cohort as Kwang Cheak and current Dean of Co-Curricular Activities and Physical Education, and all who gave spoken tributes back on stage to join Mr Lam (a video recording of him singing the school anthem was recorded in 2013) in singing the school song.

Singing the anthem

Many alumni then took the opportunity to interact with Mr Lam’s family, before proceeding to the atrium for light refreshments.

Thank you to all who graced 这是Lam大哥 A Tribute to Mr Lam Nam Soon. We hope you enjoyed celebrating Mr Lam’s life with us.


Tagged Topics

#Alumni #lam nam soon #Raffles Remembers #school happenings #Teachers & Staff

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