ADELAIDE, July 12 (Bernama) -- Datuk Hassan Salleh has more than 200
children from all over the world and he wants to add even more to his brood.
His property management business, Adelaide International Village in South
Australia, manages student accommodation for around 250 international secondary
and university students at Bradford Lodge and Highgate Lodge.
The former Johorian, affectionately known as Hass, has had an enduring
career of nearly 50 years in Adelaide, but if it had not been for chance, he may
never have found his way to Australia.
During the Malayan Emergency (1948-1960), Hassan’s father was the Chief
Medical Officer of the General Hospital in Johor Baharu.
“My father, Datuk Dr Mohd Salleh, got a call one night to come into the
hospital; a British military officer had a very ill daughter,” he said.
HASSAN-AUSTRALIA 2 ADELAIDE
“After being treated by my father, she recovered and the officer always said
it was my father who had saved her life.”
After migrating to Adelaide, the officer became bursar of King’s College for
boys (now Pembroke School) and, as a sign of his gratitude, offered five of the
Salleh children scholarships – Hassan was number five in the family.
“We were excited to come to Australia but there was no such thing as flying
back then, so we took a ship that stopped at a small coastal town called
Carnarvon on the way to Perth,” Hassan said.
“A group of us went on a long walk into the township and the first live
Australian I came across was on a post – a big black crow; it was February and
the weather was so hot and I said, `If this is Australia, I want to go back
Little did Hassan know that this story would become a part of Australian
migration history and is now displayed in Sydney on a plaque near the Migration
Museum, at Pyrmont Wharf.
HASSAN-AUSTRALIA 3 ADELAIDE
Although his first impressions of Australia were discouraging, Hassan said
he found it easy to settle in once he landed in Adelaide.
“After my schooling days, I got married to an Australian. I made up my mind
where I wanted to live and settled in very early,” he said.
“Even after leaving school, the Malaysian students at King’s College who
came after me would keep in touch because they were lonely and a Malaysian
restaurant was unheard of.”
Hassan took it upon himself to become a social coordinator for the students,
organising Malaysian cook-ups at his home.
Every weekend, he and his wife would host around 20 to 30 students, with
their house becoming something of a social centre. In 1968, the role of Liaison
Officer was formalised by the Malaysian High Commissioner.
HASSAN-AUSTRALIA 4 (LAST) ADELAIDE
Hassan’s commitment to the Malaysian people was further recognised with his
appointment as Honorary Consul for Malaysia in South Australia in 1978, and the
award of a "datukship" in 2011 from the Yang di-Pertuan Agong.
While Datuk Hassan manages Bradford Lodge, his son Adam manages and keeps an
eye on the students at Highgate Lodge.
“It’s kind of a one-stop shop for students. We help them with everything
here and the service and support we give is my pride and joy.
“I teach the students how to do their washing, their cooking, what phone
services they should subscribe to. I help to guide them, but also let them
experience for themselves so they can become independent.
"I believe in letting the students achieve full maturity as their growing up
years take place in Adelaide; our service is supportive, but not intrusive.”
By providing support and watching over thousands of Malaysian students over
the years, Hass has certainly earned his "datukship" from the King.
NDC KHY MGN