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RI students, alumni mourn beloved teacher

FAREWELL, MR LAM: RI students visiting Mr Lam at his home last year, after his health deteriorated from cancer. The 56-year-old mathematics and judo teacher died on Friday and was cremated yesterday.


    Oct 05, 2015

    RI students, alumni mourn beloved teacher

    A TEACHER who taught in Raffles Institution (RI) for 30 years died on Friday, mourned by many current RI students and alumni who see him as a shining role model in his profession.

    Lam Nam Soon, 56, who was single, had two-thirds of his colon removed in 2008 after being diagnosed with cancer, reported Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao yesterday.

    But about a year later, part of his liver was also cut off as the disease had spread, his sister Doris Nam, 62, told My Paper yesterday.

    Mr Lam taught mathematics and judo, and was in charge of matters concerning foreign students including running RI's boarding house. Last year, he began to find eating and drinking difficult, and lost 30kg in a month.

    He died at the house he had rented since the end of last year, after he quit all his duties at RI as he went on no-pay leave to nurse his deteriorating health, said Ms Nam.

    Mr Lam had lived for most of his life in RI's boarding house, so that he could take care of the student residents.

    Many of his former and current students whom Wanbao saw at his wake on Saturday were red-eyed from weeping.

    "He was very concerned about us, just like a father would," Yang Gan, a 17-year-old student, told Wanbao. His instructor was Mr Lam when he took part in the 2012 RI Mathematics Olympiad contest.

    Another contestant - Liu Yijia, 17 - also recalled Mr Lam's good qualities as a teacher.

    Businessman Chong Peng - a schoolmate of Mr Lam when they attended RI in the 1970s - remembered him as a "formidable" opponent in judo, but added that he took good care of his juniors and often practised the sport with them.

    Mr Lam saw many of his students go on to become professionals in his decades of teaching, including two who played key roles in his 2008 operation.

    "I felt really nice and at home because I seemed to know everybody," he wrote in his blog.

    "Dr Quah (Hak Mien) was from the 1987 batch. The assistant anaesthetist was Dr Tay Yoong Chuan (who was still a tutor at RI Boarding). Even the nurse came to me to introduce herself as the girlfriend of Francis Wong, one of my favourite former students, who was a doctor at SGH (Singapore General Hospital) already," he added.

    "Although I am a nobody in society, their care for me makes me feel happy."

    He also described how he was always surrounded by students before an operation, who would stay on to wait for the outcome and during the recuperation period.

    Ms Nam told Wanbao: "I got to see my brother only a few hours a year during Chinese New Year as he would always hurry back to the RI hostel to be with the foreign students who were not able to go home."

    She also revealed that Mr Lam loved RI so much that the ringtone of his handphone was the school's anthem.

    Mr Lam was cremated yesterday.