Make Convent Bukit Nanas a heritage school and national treasure — former students

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APRIL 20 — We, the undersigned and a collective of friends whose friendship began in Convent Bukit Nanas Primary and Secondary schools strongly object to the intended non-renewal of its land lease which is due to expire on Sept 6 this year.

We are encouraged by the leave granted by the High Court here to mount a challenge against the non-renewal of its land lease as mentioned earlier.

We owe our career and personal successes to the school itself. Convent Bukit Nanas, like all the mission schools in Malaysia, promoted discipline, tenacity and resilience, and even more importantly, multiculturalism.

All-girls school Convent Bukit Nanas, which is widely known as CBN, was established in 1899 and is among one of the oldest schools in Malaysia. — Google Maps screengrab
All-girls school Convent Bukit Nanas, which is widely known as CBN, was established in 1899 and is among one of the oldest schools in Malaysia. — Google Maps screengrab

The school itself is a symbol of Malaysia and her various ethnic races and faiths. We learned and abided by the rules of acceptance of different religious and cultural traditions, and our friendships extend beyond the colour of our skin and whether we were veiled or not.

We respect our sisters’ spiritual ideals in good faith and have carried all these lessons not just to work, but also to the families we bear now.

Convent Bukit Nanas is an academically rigorous school that also opened all our eyes to income gaps and inequity in our country, for which all of us are working hard to eradicate. The sharing among our classmates of good times and bad taught us to be more empathetic and inclusive. How many schools in Malaysia can boast of this as well as multiculturalism?

We would like to share our sentiments here:

Sandra Jean Corray: “I started my time in CBN as a little girl of 7 and left as a young woman of almost 20. Beyond the stellar education I obtained from this great school, I learned so many more important values.....resilience, loyalty, respect, tolerance, mutual understanding....values that see beyond the difference of colour or creed, values that have stood the test of time. These values are a testament of friendships forged in the hallways of CBN but have flourished well beyond.”

“I add my voice to my fellow CBNers, protesting against the decision not to extend the lease.

The building must continue to stand and be a legacy of all that it has taught and stood for, so that the strong values that we CBNers have been imbibed with, can be imparted to our children and passed down to the generations to come.”

Kristina Rai Scott: “Convent Bukit Nanas, in my mind, was inclusive and girls from all backgrounds came together and it was the opportunity to learn, aspire and achieve. The ethos instilled in all of us was one of respect for diversity, working together with girls from a multitude of backgrounds. This has enriched all our lives.

The values instilled in us did not fall away when we left the majestic embrace of our school. We carried it and passed it on to others. Successive generations have contributed to society in speaking truth to power and championing change. Others devoted their resourcefulness into small or large businesses or industries in the backbones of our economy. As mothers or mentors we instilled the cherished ethos that CBN stands proudly for, simple in virtue and steadfast in duty, to our own children or ‘families’ at work.”

Datin Dr Sakina Ali: “Convent Bukit Nanas is a prestigious educational faculty that should be preserved and developed further. As a student I was impressed and inspired by the school I attended churned out many notable people, accomplished in their own fields. I wanted to be like them, and studied hard to be where I am today. CBN also fostered multiculturalism then and now, and this to me is what makes Malaysia. Also, CBN is housed in a heritage building, which should be gazetted. It is historic and the heritage needs to be restored for future generations much like Georgetown and Melaka which are UNESCO World Heritage sites - if we allow development to happen, what history do we have left for future generations of Malaysians? We are already losing our heritage and greens by the day. It must be preserved. It is non-negotiable.”

“Convent Bukit Nanas was always the home I returned to Dina Zaman whenever my family and I came back to Kuala Lumpur. My siblings and I attended many schools and lived in places that were not in Malaysia, but we always came back to CBN. I owe my career and life to CBN - my book Holy Men Holy Women would not have transpired if not for my school experience talking to the nuns and sisters of the school? My adventures in the book reflect my education.

Today, I am one of the founders of IMAN Research (www.imanresearch.com) and our key pillars are society, beliefs and perception. The organisational make-up is diverse as well, and we work with a diverse group of and organisations who want peace in the region. Terima kasih, CBN. I as well as my CBN sisters, owe you many.”

Now is the time to pay forward and ensure CBN is made a heritage school and national treasure.

*This statement is submitted by Sandra Jean Corray, Kristina Rai Scott, Sakina Ali and Dina Zaman.

** This is the personal opinion of the writers and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

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