Friday, November 25, 2005

The Story of a "Tiger" (Brother Lau Hor)

---------- Original Message ----------------------------------
From: Ng Soon Hong <>
Date:  Sun, 20 Nov 2005 15:33:59 +0800

            The attached old article published in June, 2003 tells of the human side
            of Brother Michael Paulin Blaise aka Lau Hor.

            The contributions were from Robert Augustin (Class of 47) and the late
            Mr. Khor Cheang Kee.

            Happy reading.

            Ng Soon Hong



Vignettes on "Brother Lau Hor" by two renowned Xaverians, as dug up and highlighted to us by Ng Soon Hong, the former President of Xaverian Club Kuala Lumpur:



 A  supplement  of   THE  XAVERIAN  FAMILY  e-NEWSLETTER




A man who was .....  is ..... and

always will be everything Xaverian




Comments, views,  recollections  of  school  days  received  from  fellow-Xaverians  are  posted  here for the reading of  the members.  If you wish to respond to them or share your  happier times,  or  unpleasant ones for that matter, of  your  school  days  at SXI,  SXBS  and  associated  schools,  please  email your  anecdotes to It is our  intention to compile all recollections and bind them into a book for the School’s Archives



The older Xaverians, who had had the fortune or misfortune of meeting up with him would remember him well. The above statement which appeared in the1971 issue of the school magazine aptly describes the man himself, Brother Michael Paulin Blais.


Response from Robert Augustin (Class of 48)


Dear Soon Hong,

In response to your request,  I have written something about Bro. Michael. I hope it passes muster. It gives another side of him.

Brother Michael was for some time our Form Teacher and Principal of St Xavier's Branch School. Pulau Tikus when my brothers, Herbert and Patrick (James) and I joined St. Xavier's. It was 1947 -1948.

I remember the first RK class we had. He regaled us with his experiences as a prisoner of war. He did this over three periods. I enjoyed this bit in particular: the news that war was over spread like fire in the concentration camp; there was unbounded rejoicing; our good brother was caught up by the waves of exhilaration sweeping through the Camp; he was so overjoyed that he gave vent to his emotions and even rolled on the floor, something unexpected of a Christian Brother, so much so that a fellow prisoner remarked sorrowfully:  "Poor Michael, to think that he should go mad just when freedom has at last come!"

I did not find him that fierce as some have made him out to be. Perhaps in later years when he had to take on the unenviable task of being discipline master he had to wear a very strict mien. He had a dry sense of humour. On April Fool's Day he sent a student to the sports master to ask for a length of rope with which to tie round a coconut tree. On another occasion, again at RK class, when we were learning about Baptism and what we should do in case of necessity if there was no water to be had, he posed several questions. Can we baptise with aerated water? Beer?  etc .... Then he asked: Can you baptise with soup? He gave his own answer. "With the soup Brother P. serves us we can." (Times were hard for the Brothers those days - just after the war). Another day it was about visions and he told us about a nun who was seemingly blessed with having visions. Brother demonstrated this with a trance-like look with deep breath and all. She told the Reverend Mother and Mother told the Parish Priest. On being questioned by the Parish Priest: 

            "Sister, when do you get  these visions?" 

            "After Holy Communion, Father." 

            "Exactly at what moment?" 

            "After  mass. As sacristan, I have to put away everything. Before I wash the cruets, I find there is wine remaining.  I should not  pour it back into the bottle and  instead of pouring it down the sink, I gulped it down". Q.E.D.!

One inspiring lesson he tried to drive home: "I want each one of you to be a leader when you go out into world". The first time our football team won, he asked each of the players to say a few words before the school assembly. He was proud of the school and wanted to instil a sense of pride in all the students. One day when listening to a local radio broadcast, we heard "Kronchong" music being played. He enjoyed it and expressed his desire to get a record or two. He loved music.

With best wishes for your efforts,

Robert Augustin





A Tribute By The Late Mr. Khor Cheang Kee - an illustrious son of SXI


They called him Lau Ho, which means tiger in the local dialect ; they stood in awe of him but they revered him. To several generations of Xaverians throughout Malaysia, Brother Michael Paulin Blais was more than a teacher; he was their friend, guide, philosopher, also their music maestro extraordinaire.


Many stories have been told of the remarkable French-Canadian missionary with a love for children and music - and all things beautiful. My favourite one is about him as a disciplinarian.


When St. Xavier's rose from its bombed ruins after the war, Bro. Michael as the school supervisor, had to handle a  new breed of pupils who had had no proper education during the four years of Japanese occupation. Many of them were beyond the school-going age. They were tough, resentful, even unmanageable. Among them was the school bully, a 21 year-old terror who had openly boasted that no teacher would dare discipline him.


When he was eventually hauled before Bro. Michael for brutally beating up a smaller boy, the Old Tiger was ready for him.


"You seem to be very good at hitting others who cannot defend themselves," he  told  the bully. "Why don't you try it  on someone more of your size?" He threw a pair of boxing gloves at the still defiant youth, took him to the school courtyard and asked him to go into the ring with him.


There, cheered on by the whole school, Br. Lau Hor gave the bully a boxing lesson which he was to remember for the rest of his life. His pride hurt more than his body, the boy emerged a reformed character. After the fight, teacher and pupil shook hands and became good friends.


This, then, was the mettle of a man for all seasons - Brother, teacher, disciplinarian and musician.


St. Xavier's Orchestra under his inspiring leadership soon gained the reputation of being the finest in Penang of that era. So, it was hardly surprising that in 1970, Bro. Michael was asked to stage the spectacular pageant: UNESCO IN THE WORLD TODAY, a combined effort by no less than 64 schools


After a lifetime dedicated to the service of the young in Malaysia, Bro. Michael returned to his homeland in 1983 to seek medical treatment. He had intended to come back to the country of his adoption but fate decided otherwise. In December the same year, he died, mourned by a host of former pupils throughout Malaysia.



Dated 28 June, 2003


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