Yong Ban Fatt

My friendship with Ban dated back to 1977 when we started our lower secondary education in SM Jalan Cochrane, Kuala Lumpur. We then lived in the same village, ie Salak South New Village. Ban’s house was located at mid hill whereas mine was at the lower plain. Then life was truly worry-free. On our way to school together in the school bus, we would do all the mischievous things a 13-year-old would do like singing along the music played from the cassette player. Wild Cherry’s “Play That Funky Music” and Eagle’s “Hotel California” were Ban’s favourite. But the most memorable one was our attempts to impress a girl, of course the most popular and pretty one, who lived in the same village and also our bus mate. Well, the girl, of course, was more mature than us and looking back, we were really happy fools. Another memorable one was our misadventure in tailing a sweet looking girl from the school nearby to find out where she stayed. The end result was that we missed our school bus and then attempted to walk back from Jalan Cochrane to Salak South New Village because we had spent all our pocket money for the day. We only managed to walk a quarter of the way. One of our friends forked out ten sen to make a call to the bus driver and pleaded with him to fetch us. We all got our fair share of scolding from the bus driver and for me, a generous caning from my father. I did not tell Ban of the beating and neither did Ban mention anything about his parents’ “reward”.

Ban left SM Jalan Cochrane after finishing SRP and continues his upper secondary in Shah Alam. Thereafter, we had not contacted each other until 1984 when out of the blue Ban appeared one evening in front of my house and invited me for a drink and commenced our adulthood phrase of misadventure. Together with a few new comrades, Ban was the de facto leader and the rest followed obediently because we know that Ban would swim and sink with us, the hallmark of Ban’s character. And by now, Ban had acquired his superior driving skill and zooming us every highway available then, with Madonna and Duran Duran’s music blasted out from his imported turbo-charged Mazda 323. In the wee hours of the morning, Ban would dispatch us home and make sure that we locked our gates before he went off.

By 1990, we began to mature and started to think of our future. By then also Ban was my family’s close friend, acquainted well with not only my immediate family but most of my relatives. One day, I told Ban that I wanted to pursue further studies in law. By then Ban’s sister, Lai Ling, was already an advocate & solicitor and another sister, Siat Ling, was about to finish her law degree. Ban challenged me, “If you could show me your discipline and result, I shall consider too.” True enough, by the time I completed my second year, Ban rang me up one day and told me that he would follow suite. Both of us re-invented ourselves and laboured through a good part of the nineties. After Ban was called to the Bar, we had a dinner together in Subang Jaya wherein we congratulated each other and thankful that we both have made it.

And I would cherish all these, a substantial part of Ban and my sojourn in this physical plain and wish that my comrade, Ban is progressing well in the astral world.

Yap Pow Soo


A Good Man
In memory of Yong Ban Fatt

You were a friend for everybody
as you were nice to everybody,
I mean, everybody
Everybody who knew you liked you
and we all became your friends
as we all need a friend like you
You were never fussy about picking and choosing
with whom you wanted to be a friend
You were just always there, availing yourself as a friend
with a smile and a pair of willing and able hands,
I knew only one occasion that you distanced yourself away
from being further exploited

You were also a man of independence and solitude
You could play cards on your own for hours
You were a man of thoughts
You spoke only after thinking
You acted as you had said
Your word was your bond
A man of honour indeed

You were a generous man
to all your friends and on all occasions of charity
with your wallet and with your time
where a man’s heart is
And you lived a simple life
with no indulgence or extravagance

You were a man of humour
You were a happy man
Your smile was a permanent feature in my memory of you
You were happy by nature, I guess
Tolerant certainly by character

You were a learned man
Years of reading of law
You were on your path of excellence
Being a honourable member of the legal profession
as you were in Tasmanian Law School

You knew the legal principles, the cases and the statutes
You had the meticulous laws notes
You would take time to search answers for others
even one day before examination
while leaving your own confusion unclarified
You would always contribute more in your study group
Semester by semester, year by year
You knew the law
and you could have done better in the examinations
or our examiners could have marked with more care

You were a good sportsman and a very strong man
in the fields of squash and badminton
You were a good table tennis player too
a better President of the University TT Club (1997) indeed
You were always the first to set up the tables for the members

You loved life
You enjoyed cooking with others
the best non-restaurant cook I know
You said you learned your tricks by watching your mother
She has certainly cultivated a good taste in your life
Yon loved the abalones
Abalone soup and stir-fry of abalone with celery
the magic from the above

You enjoyed good company of friends
You enjoyed late nights, studying or just being with friends
only having to struggle to be awake the morning after
You were no gambler or clubber
We went to Wrest Point to see others losing it
and had a few drinks but always in moderation
You might have gifted away more Chivas Regal than you cheered
You liked Hey Hey Saturday
that was one thing you would prefer not to miss at 6:30
You smoked, quit and smoked again, but to no excess
But you consumed coffee by the largest containers available
You liked motor cars, Mercedes Benz and Toyota were good
and you could drive cars, a damn good driver
You enjoyed the winding turns in Tasmania
You knew Melbourne like a cab driver

You were a polite man, a man of manners
Truly a gentleman and scholar you were
You were respected by all who knew you
as you treated others with due respect and courtesy

You were the youngest to all your siblings
under an umbrella of love, support and obligation
You held uttermost respect for your mother
You were a dutiful son, brother and an uncle
Gratefully you received
Gracefully you lived to exceed all expectations

You were a tall dark and handsome young man
and the girls in the university all liked you
Australian, Chinese, Indian, Greek, Malays, Pacific Islanders….
You were a popular guy to say the least
You had your own criteria
and your own discipline
You never took advantage of others

In June 2000
Your smile was wider
Your steps were quicker
Your mind was more alert
You were more confident and happier
as you fell in love with a good girl
after years of waiting and abstaining
Patience has always been a rare commodity in this world
And you were excited this time
You were eager to work and earn a living
You were ready to settle down

A brave man you were A man of courage
In the darkness of night
In face of unspeakable horror
In middle of unendurable suffering
In the pain of hope and hopelessness

Ban, you always had a smile on your face
Ban, you never complained, not once
Ban, you were everybody’ s friend without exaggeration by any means
Ban, you were a good man
In your prime

you left us
with our own memories of you
and a legacy about life
To live is to live an honourable life
You lived quietly without boasting about it

See you in heaven, Ban
And I have to do my best

One of your many friends
Zhou Ming

Written By,
Yap Pow Soo, Zhou Ming