Our heartful thanks to our Right Honourable, Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Haji Openg for supporting the Mill Hill Block restoration project at SMK St Joseph which received a much-needed boost in the form of a RM2.5 million grant from Sarawak's government.
The grant was handed over by Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari who himself is an ‘old boy’ of St Joseph’s School during a courtesy call by St Joseph’s School Board of Management at his office in Wisma Bapa Malaysia on February 3.
I was also with the visiting delegation led by the acting chairman of the board and also the project’s acting chairman, Christopher Chua who briefed the chief minister on the development and progress of the restoration project.
The project will see nine classrooms restored, the school office and staff rooms for staff and teachers upgraded, and addition of a new exhibition hall and lecture room to hold events as part of the school learning experience.
Government grants and donations from former students and well-wishers ensured there were enough funds to start the initial phases of the restoration work.
The Mill Hill Block which housed the De La Salle Brothers is iconic not only to St Joseph’s School but also to the history of Sarawak as it was gazetted as a Heritage Building in 2010 by the state government under Sarawak Cultural Heritage Ordinance 1993. The three-storey block comprises the main building in the centre with two wings.
The main building was declared open in 1894 by Rajah Charles Brooke, the Second White Rajah of Sarawak. The two three-storey wings were added in 1927. The restoration of the Mill Hill Block which began in August last year is estimated to cost RM5.5 million.
The century-old main building which has withstood the test of time needs repairs while the two wings, which have significantly deteriorated, have been certified as unsafe for occupation by the Public Works Department.
Present at the meeting wth our Chief Minister were Local Government and Housing Minister Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian who is Old Josephians Association chairman, the school board patron Archbishop Simon Poh and board members Dato Sri JC Fong and Gerald Lee.