An earnest man, a humble man, a man of integrity


I HAVE LOST A GOOD AND TRUSTED FRIEND. A friend I could depend on whenever I needed his help. A friend who would give of his best to the task at hand. A friend who always had the interest of Methodist Message at heart. He was earnest in all his undertakings; his name suited him to a T. Indeed, e Methodist Church in Singapore (MCS) has lost a good and faithful friend.

“Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:21) aptly describes Mr Earnest Lau who passed away peacefully in his sleep on March 5, 2011.

He was having his regular afternoon nap when he returned home to his Lord and Master. He had a pacemaker implant on March 1 and was recuperating at home after his discharge from hospital.

Fondly remembered by many, including those who feared him and didn’t like his sharp tongue, Mr Lau made his mark as a teacher, principal, historian, mentor, church leader, archivist and writer. In his characteristic unassuming and quiet manner (though he had a booming voice), he had served his alma mater, Anglo-Chinese School (ACS), and the MCS with distinction. In all of this, he had never lost sight of the poor and the needy, giving generously to them through the church or on his own accord – a facet of his life which many, not even close friends and church members, were aware of – until now. us, he had also served the community well without any fanfare. He lived a simple life; he never splurged on himself, but he gave so willingly his money, time and service.

I first got to know Mr Lau in August 1997, almost 14 years ago, when Bishop Wong Kiam au approached me and a few others to “revive” Methodist Message (MM). Until his death, Mr Lau was the only member from this Editorial Board. Knowing that he was a historian and a long-time church leader, I asked him to launch the column, “A Page From the Past”. It became one of the favourite columns of readers. In February 1998, he was appointed Associate Editor, a position he had held since.

In all his writings he had never used pompous language, just as he was never pompous in life. He wrote simply but clearly, just as he lived simply. His language was impeccable, his style arresting, and his knowledge wide. He was never satisfied with his articles until he had revised them again and again before submitting them. He kept to his deadlines. He was an editor’s dream.

From my initial dealings with him, Mr Lau struck me as a gentleman, a man of integrity, character and humility. And indeed he was. His word was his honour, and his honour his word. He was stern with a disciplined mind, but underneath that sternness was a compassionate heart of gold. Little wonder then that his life had touched so many – students, colleagues, friends, relatives, the less fortunate in society … Goodbye, Mr Lau. anks for the memories.