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
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
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
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 .