Sabah quake: SEA Games men's hockey team pay respect to teacher Ghazi Mohamed

SINGAPORE - The SEA Games men's hockey team paid their respect on Thursday to Tanjong Katong Primary School (TKPS) teacher, Mr Mohammad Ghazi Mohamed, at the school's tribute centre.

The group of nearly 20 observed a minute of silence for Mr Ghazi, who was confirmed on Wednesday to be one of those who died after an earthquake struck near Mount Kinabalu in Sabah, where he and others from the school had gone on an expedition.

The team manager, Mr Salim Mohamed Nasir, 54, said he remembered Mr Ghazi as a national hockey player himself, in the early 2000s, before he became a teacher.

"We are all very saddened, words cannot express our sadness," he said.

"We couldn't come yesterday because we had a game last night. But today is the last day, so we had to come."

Likewise, many other well wishers dropped in at the tribute centre on Thursday.

The tribute centre, which was set up on Sunday, has been run mainly by volunteers, including ex-staff and parents.

Among them was Mr Teo Kok Khiang, 46, who has been assisting with directing traffic, despite the hot weather. A former school bus driver at TKPS, Mr Teo left shortly after Mr Ghazi joined the school in 2005.

Even though he only had a fleeting impression of Mr Ghazi, he said he felt that Mr Ghazi was a good man.

Mr Teo, who is now a taxi driver, decided to forgo the income he would have had plying his taxi to show his support for the school.

"The kind of feelings that we had towards the school, there are no words needed. Just look at how many former teachers and even principals have come back," he said in Mandarin.

"Everyone here, the children, the staff, felt like one of our own."

rkurohi@sph.com.sg