Tribute to Athi Nahappan and Janaki

(Media Conference Statement welcoming Ishwar Nahappan as the latest member for DAP in Penang on Sunday 10.2.08)

Let me introduce Ishwar Nahappan, who has taken the momentous step to join the DAP.

But let me say a few words about his parents, TAN SRI and PUAN SRI ATHI NAHAPPAN who were instrumental in the formation of the MIC and who independently contributed much to our country.

Athi Nahappan has an honoured and unblemished name in the annals of Malaysian history, and among his most famous contributions to Malaysia is the report bearing his name, the Athi Nahappan Report on Local Government where he called for restoration of local government elections.

In 1974 , Athi Nahappan , who was then the deputy president of MIC , was appointed deputy minister for law by TUN Abdul Razak (the father of Dato Najib Razak). In March 1976 TUN Hussein Onn (the father of DATO Hisamuddin ) appointed Dato Nahappan as the second cabinet minister representing the MIC – Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department in charge of law and justice portfolios.

Tragically , just two months after his appointment as full minister , DATO Athi Nahappan died of a sudden heart attack while he was personally addressing a dinner gathering held in his honor by over a 1000 MIC members and other leading Malaysian Indians from all over the country.

Athi Nahappan was a totally self made man who came to Penang at the age of 9, alone with his father, not knowing a word of English or Malay.

He studied at the Bukit Mertajam High School where he was an outstanding scholar . With the advent of the war he worked as a Tamil Journalist for various publications and in 1947 at the age of 22 , he became the youngest ever editor of the Tamil Nesan , a newspaper which was purchased by DATIN Indrani Samyvellu some years ago ( and now functions as the unofficial organ of the MIC ).

In addition to his exactly 30 years of close association with the MIC, Tan Sri Nahappan had a very successful, legal and an illustrious governmental and political career . It was a different era when there was some level of meritocracy in this country and the best were selected to get the job done.

• He was Malaysia’s observer and representative to the UN’s Cobbold mission enquiry on admitting Sabah as part of Malaysia.

• He represented Malaysia with Tun Ismail to the United Nations.

• He was Chairman of the Rent control tribunal of Malaya . This tribunal was very important to the early development of KL and our cities as many properties were rent controlled .

• He was a Member of the Federal Capital advisory board .

• He was Chairman of Pemadam.

• He was largely responsible for driving through various pieces of law reform legislation, including the non muslim law reform (marriage and divorce Act 1976 ).

• He was Chairman of the Royal Commission of enquiry into the workings of local government in Malaysia . This report which became eponymously known as the “ Athi Nahappan Report “ was a 2 feet high 4 voulme report and is regarded as one of the most comprehensive and erudite reports ever published by the Govt of Malaysia. It sits in the Harvard library as a basis for how local governments should function.

It is a tragedy that this report has not been accepted by the leadership of this country for fear that the adoption of the recommendation would mean that fundamental democratic rights would be returned to the people .

Athi Nahappan was a gracious and honest politician with great integrity. It was a tremendous loss for the Indian Community that he was only able to serve for two and half years as deputy president of the MIC and minister of this country . The history of the MIC and the deep rooted problems that the Indian Community are now facing would have been undoubtedly different .

Now let me turn to Puan Sri Janaky Athi Nahappan .

Puan Sri Nahappan who was born in Malaysia has had a most colourful and interesting life . At the age of 17 she joined the Indian National Army and rose to the rank of Captain and Second in Command of the Rhani of Jhansi Regiment , the only woman’s regiment in the INA. She fought the British on the Burma India border. In 1945 while retreating by foot from Mandalay to Bangkok the INA including the Rhani regiment was heavily bombed by the American Air Force.

After the war , she together with other INA veterans, became founder members of MIC under the leadership of Mr John Thivy . The MIC which was formed in 1946 is the second oldest political party in Malaysia .

Puan Sri has served in various capacities in the MIC . She was Chairperson of the MIC Batu branch , a CWC member and Chairperson of the Wanita MIC . She was also appointed a Senator in the Malaysian parliament representing the MIC.

Apart from her political career , Puan Sri Nahappan was also very active in various social organizations including the Girlguide Association where she was the State Commissioner for Selangor , National Council of Women’s Organizations and other Social Welfare Associations.

She has received numerous awards and recognition both nationally and internationally from the King and the former Prime Minister of Malayisa and Lady Baden Powell .

She is the first woman of Indian Origin outside India to be awarded one of India’s highest title ie Padma Shri by the President of India for her social welfare services and to the Indian National Army .

We would now like to welcome the son of these two great Malaysian Indians as a member of the DAP . A few words about Ishwar Nahappan.

Ishwar, like his father , is also a lawyer by profession. After qualifying as a lawyer Ishwar worked as an investment banker in London for some years before being transferred back to Malaysia a few months before his
father died. He continued to worked in KL as a banker with Standard Chartered Merchant bank and the Bank of America.

In 1980 he was called to the Malaysian Bar and successfully built up a practice specializing in Corporate, financial and banking work . In 1985 with the help of financial institutions Ishwar acquired control of a company listed on the London Stock Exchange and became Executive Chairman of the Company. This company had operations in UK , Malaysia , India , Singapore , Hongkong and Australia . In 1995 Mr. Nahappan sold his interests in the company. He was Chairman of 2 other public companies , in India and Singapore.

Since then he has been managing a Private Investment company based in Singapore . Ishwar is married with 4 children . His interests include Asean and Indian History, Malaysian Politics and Contemporary Asian Art .

  1. #1 by raven77 on Sunday, 10 February 2008 - 3:25 pm

    ATHI NAHAPPAN was a giant in the management of local government. His role in the RENT CONTROL ACT had many social implications…his contribution to the poor and downtrodden in this country cannot be forgotten. Sadly this country is far poorer without a man of his stature…perhaps the son can take up from where the father left off…..

  2. #2 by Michael Sun on Sunday, 10 February 2008 - 3:26 pm

    Wow! Congrats to Kit Siang

    Once again, Ishwar’s admission to DAP confirms it is a pary for all. DAP has steadfastly stood for democracy, justice and good governance.

    With Ishwar’s networking, DAP should get him to be the Chairman of the Election Fund Raising Commitee.

    Hopefully, DAP can bring in some good Malays to join. Perhaps, one day, DAP and PKR can merge and the problem of seat sharing for the general elections will be sorted out easier.

  3. #3 by Libra2 on Sunday, 10 February 2008 - 4:19 pm

    I am elated beyond words. Welcome Iswar and hope you will do more than your father did for this country before UMNO destroys it.

  4. #4 by sungaisiput on Sunday, 10 February 2008 - 9:00 pm

    We need good calibre indians to tackle the complex problems of the indians.We must not depend on the govt alone.We must set up funds to help these hardcore poor indians.There are 2 million indians and if each can contribute just 10 ringgit a month through some legally set up funds.We can proivide immediate help to these needy ppl.Help them with education and set up small business for them.The fund must be transparent and professionally managed.We need ppl with proven record of high interigty and passion for the well being of the indians.We must extend it to other poor malaysians too.The time is now We must look into the legal aspect and implment it.

  5. #5 by Jonny on Sunday, 10 February 2008 - 10:50 pm

    yes, we need the CHANGE badly.

    Good work. Malaysians for Malaysia.

  6. #6 by Jonny on Sunday, 10 February 2008 - 10:50 pm

    We need more caring leaders who ACTUALLY LISTENS and ACTS.

    Not just cheap talks, cheap sloganings, all talk no action.

    And bribering the rakyat only when election is near

  7. #7 by anak sungeisiput on Sunday, 10 February 2008 - 11:22 pm

    Will Ishwar irrevicably reaffirm HINDRAF’s 18 point demand of the the BN government and publically call for the release of the H5 immediately?

  8. #8 by undergrad2 on Monday, 11 February 2008 - 4:32 am

    That is quite a catch! No doubt it is a slap in the face of the MIC leadership.

  9. #9 by Jimm on Monday, 11 February 2008 - 8:56 am

    More will come as changes have to start now.
    Let the show begins…
    People from the past and children from them will continue with the game to put Malaysia back to the right course at all price now.
    Please, let me have the chance to withness all these during my time as being part of this historical movement of changes will add values to my existence.

  10. #10 by Thegame on Monday, 11 February 2008 - 11:40 am

    The indians must help the Indians.The govt cannot be depended on anymore.Others can only help so much.The real help must come from within the indian community.Ishwar must set up a fund collected from fellow indians to help those who are in need.Yes 10 ringgit a month from 2 million indians is not much to ask.When added it becomes a lot.we can use the money to finance education,small business and help fellow malaysians too.There is a dire need for someone of good sound character,intergrity and passion to undertake this mission.I hope Ishwar will look into it…..cheers

  11. #11 by Itshowtime on Monday, 11 February 2008 - 1:44 pm

    Can we the indian cmmunity count on you sir.PPl like yourself are a like a breath of fresh air ….always welcome

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