The former students of ex-People’s Action Party (PAP) MP Zainal Sapari have thanked him for making a difference in their lives, on Teachers’ Day (4 Sept).
Mr Zainal was a teacher, who subsequently became a school principal and then a superintendent with the Ministry of Education, overseeing a cluster of 12 schools in the east area. Mr Zainal was fielded as a PAP candidate in the 2011 General Election as one of the five team members of the PAP team for Pasir Ris-Punngol GRC led by Minister Teo Chee Hean.
The first-time candidate was elected to Parliament in the 2011 election. He was re-elected for a second term at Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC in the 2015 General Election but chose to step down from electoral politics ahead of the most recent election in July 2020.
While Mr Zainal retired, a student of his was elected into Parliament for the first time in the 2020 general election. Wan Rizal, who is also an educator, was fielded as a new candidate at Jalan Besar GRC and was elected into Parliament in July.
Interestingly, Mr Zainal had also served as Mr Rizal’s political mentor aside from being his secondary school form teacher. Mr Zainal involved Mr Rizal in his Meet-the-People sessions for a year in 2017 – Mr Rizal joined the PAP the next year, in 2018.
Mr Rizal sat down with Mr Zainal for a party video that was released today to mark Teachers’ Day. In the video, the first-term MP recalled that Mr Zainal gave him lots of advice when he was his student but he didn’t take in much of his teacher’s words at the time.
But one piece of advice that Mr Rizal took to heart was Mr Zainal’s call for him to become a teacher. Mr Rizal said that this was the best decision that he has made in his life and it was what made him realise the value of Mr Zainal’s words. Later on, Mr Rizal took on Mr Zainal’s call to help him in the community – a call that eventually led him to join politics himself.
Mr Rizal added that Mr Zainal’s persona has not changed from what it was when he was a teacher. He revealed that Mr Zainal’s way of interacting with people is something he replicated in his interactions with his own residents.
In the video, Mr Zainal goes through his former student’s old report card before Mr Rizal presents him with a handwritten thank you card. The card said, “Dear Mr Zainal, thank you for your guidance, trust and belief in me. Happy Teachers’ Day!”
Wan Rizal regrets not taking the advice of his form teacher, Mr Zainal bin Sapari.Happy Teachers' Day to all teachers out there! Look out for more stories of how teachers can impact their students for life.#TeachersWhoChangedOurLives #PAP4SG
Posted by People's Action Party on Tuesday, 1 September 2020
Some netizens who responded to the video revealed that they, too, were Mr Zainal’s ex-students. Facebook user Khairul Haziq, who revealed that Mr Zainal was his Principal in Mayflower Primary School, wished the ex-MP a happy teachers’ day while Facebook user Our Lurve, a former Tampines Secondary School student said:
“Happy Teacher’s Day Mr Zainal Bin Sapari. I will never forget how garang you was in the past at TPSS. Still I salute u sir!”
Perhaps the most heartwarming message came from Facebook user Md Hair. Revealing that Mr Zainal made an invaluable difference in his son’s life, Md Hair wrote: “Mr Zainal inspired my son from dropping out of Junior college in 2011. Without his inspiration and advice, my son will never be in what he is today. Thank you Mr Zainal!”