The news reached me at about 11 o'clock on Sunday morning. I was sitting beneath the canopies at the Esplanade while waiting for the lucky draws of the FMM Penang heritage trail event to complete. Felt terribly hot, bored and tired. So to while away the time, I whipped out my mobile and got myself connected to facebook. I scrolled down and read the usual stuff but suddenly, I came across a posting that gave me a jolt.
Turning to my team leader, I told him: "Here, read this." And he did, but the news didn't solicit much reaction from him. "You don't know him, do you?" I inquired. No, he shook his head, he did not know who Lim Chang Moh was.
But I did. Lim Chang Moh was our fellow Old Free who had contributed to FIDELIS, the commemorative book of The Old Frees' Association. For the book, he had undertaken an interview of Tan Boon Lin who was the Penang Free School's first Asian headmaster.
Chang Moh and I had exchanged several emails prior to the production of the book. We were discussing his article. For example, at first, I had asked him whether it was possible to keep the article down to a page, and then two. Will be very difficult, he replied. In that case, I had told him, let me have what you have and I'll do what I've got to do. I was getting rather generous, you see, because by then I realised that Headmaster would turn out to be a mine of information. True enough, the article filled out four pages eventually.
It was not until 31 Mar 2012 when FIDELIS was launched by the Raja of Perlis at the E&O Hotel that I met up with Chang Moh. Unknown to me, he very much had wanted to attend the function. He sought me out in the hall and we warmed to each other. We exchanged autographs in our own respective copies of FIDELIS.
We agreed then that maybe, there can be a project that we could work together in the future. We also agreed to keep in touch and subsequently linked up as friends on facebook. I congratulated him when he received a state award from the Sultan of Selangor. When I learnt that he had undergone gall bladder surgery in June, I wrote to wish him well. That was the last time we ever exchanged messages.
On Sunday, through facebook, I learnt that Chang Moh had passed away. We were acquaintances for only a few months but got to know each other better from April. Weeks after his operation, he succumbed to some complications. He fought a brave fight but unfortunately, the illness got the better of him. My thoughts are with his family.