Everyday Heroes: Tech Teacher

By Anita Devasahayam

Tiong Ting Ming was waiting to catch a bus in Kuala Lumpur in February 2000 when a young man sat next to him and asked for money. When Tiong said he had none to offer, the man produced a knife. Even though the would-be thief looked desperate for cash, Tiong never felt in serious danger, so he decided to reason with him.

He explained that he was a school principal who had just travelled to Singapore to buy parts for the computers at his school. For 20 minutes, he talked about why it was important for young people to get an education. When it was clear that the young man wasn’t going to get any money, he shook his head and left.

Tiong Ting Ming
High-tech dreams - Tiong Ting Ming transformed his school. Photo: © Julian Matthews.

Tiong wasn’t going to let a thief stand in the way of his dream of turning SMJK Dindings, a secondary school in the village of Pundut, 100 kilometers west of lpoh, into a high-tech learning centre. He had come too far and achieved too much. When he became principal in 1992, the school was a ramshackle set of wooden buildings. There were 320 students, and the number was falling. “They were dropping out to help with their families’ businesses,” he recalls. “School was not a priority.”
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