IPOH: It was a tearful afternoon for family members, friends and former students of retired schoolteacher Lee Siew San, all of whom had gathered for her funeral service at the Catholic Church of Our Mother of Perpetual Help at Taman Canning, here.
More than 100 people, most with teary eyes, followed the hearse carrying her remains to the Church, where Lee’s nearest and dearest shared their thoughts and fond memories of her.
Malaysia's beloved cartoonist, Datuk Mohd Nor Khalid, famously known as Lat, revealed that it was Lee who encouraged him to draw, as she had spotted his talent – even though she taught English.
"I loved how she sparked the interest for us to learn English by incorporating poems, singing and dancing in the class," he said when contacted.
Lee played such a pivotal role in his academic development that Lat saw fit to immortalise her as one of his most iconic characters – Mrs Hew (Lee’s married name), with her towering beehive hairdo and cats-eye glasses, in Kampung Boy.
Baharuddin Hashim, 65, said his best memories of Lee was when she would ask him what he wanted as a present at the end of the school term in 1962 and 1963.
"I received a steam ship and an aeroplane, which were delivered by Mr Hew," he said wistfully.
Baharuddin was among several of Lee’s former students who came to pay his last respects today.
Former Malaysian National News Agency chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Anuar Zaini, 66, said he was among the 40 students from Sekolah Kebangsaan Pasir Putih, Ipoh, who went to the National Type (English) Primary School, Jalan Pasir Putih.
He said when he first began, his English vocabulary was very limited.
''Datuk Lat and Baharuddin were my classmates and we were together in the Special Malay Class taught by Lee.
''She was a great and outstanding teacher, who never gave up on teaching us,'' he said when met at the church.
Lee’s cortege will proceed to the Kek Look Seah Crematorium in Bercham for cremation later today.
She died in her sleep, due to old age, at 1.30am on March 8, in her home at Jalan Bunga Telor, Taman Canning in Ipoh.
She is survived by her husband, Hew Chai Kee, 87, daughter, Belinda Hew, 52, two sons, Alvin Hew, 53 and Cyril Hew, 49, and four grandchildren.