Monday, November 10, 2008

A great Pioneer of Malaya!

An Early Nation Builder Re-Examined for his Great Contribution

to Malaysian Society!

K. Thamboosamy Pillay

K. Thamboosamy Pillay was a prominent Malaysian of Tamil origin during the pre-independence years. He was considered the leader of the Tamil community. He was a wealthy businessman, tin miner, money lender and government contractor.Thamboosamy was one of the founders and one of the original Trustees of Victoria Institution as well as the founder of the Sri Mahamariamman Temple, Kuala Lumpur and the Batu Caves Murugan Temple. A Sivan Temple in Klang is also said to have been built on land which was owned by his family but later donated to the temple committee.

Born in Singapore in 1850, K. Thamboosamy Pillay received his early education at Raffles Institution. He sailed to Klang in 1875 with James Guthrie Davidson, when the latter was appointed Malaya's first British Resident. Prior to that, he had been a clerk in the legal firm in which Davidson was a partner.

He was later transferred to the Treasury where he eventually became chief clerk and acted as State Treasurer on a few occasions. He was sent to India by the Malayan Government to bring over the first batch of Indian immigrants for the Railway and Public Works. Thamboosamy resigned from Government service in the 1880s and, going into partnership with Towkay Loke Yew, managed the New Tin Mining Company in Rawang. They were the first to use electric pumps for mining in Malaya.

A Justice of Peace and member of the prestigious KL Sanitary Board, Thamboosamy was the acknowledged leader of the Tamil community in Malaya, especially in Kuala Lumpur.His other business interests included coffee planting, real estate and construction. He was a member of both the Selangor Club and the Turf Club and owned several horses. Thamboosamy was one of the founders and one of the original Trustees of Victoria Institution. One of the sports houses in VI is named after him. His son, K. T. Ganapathy Pillay, was a Victorian and served as the second President of the VIOBA.

The Sri Mahamariamman Temple, Kuala Lumpur was founded by Thamboosamy in 1873 and was initially used as a private shrine by the Pillai family. The family threw open the temple doors to the public in the late 1920s and eventually handed the management of the temple over to a board of trustees. This is the oldest functioning Hindu temple in Malaysia. It is also reputed to be the richest in the country. The Temple was originally sited somewhere near the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station. It shifted to its present location along Jalan Tun H.S. Lee (next to KL's Chinatown) in 1885.

He was also said to have discovered Batu Caves, with its vel-shaped entrance, and was inspired to start a Hindu temple in devotion to Lord Muruga in 1888. The first Thaipoosam festival in Malaysia was also started by Thamboosamy Pillay in 1891.

So great was Thamboosamy's philanthropic spirit, that he donated money to whoever needed it, regardless of race or religion. He contributed a sizeable amount of money to the building fund of St. Mary's Cathedral, Kuala Lumpur in 1893, despite being a Hindu.

Thamboosamy died in 1902 in Singapore, where he had gone to attend a meeting at the Singapore Turf Club.

A street
in the Chow Kit district and a Tamil primary school in Sentul are also named in his memory.

Besides The Victoria Institution Web Page, Wikipedia and Bernama, all information on K Thamboosamy Pillai that I have posted have been verified/obtained first hand from one of his great grandsons who has inherited and collected a vast treasure of historical documents on his great great grand father’s legacy. Having said that, I am pleased to say that he is an important forefather of our nation who helped lay the foundation for a better future. Needless to say,he should always be remembered for his service to the Indian Community and Pre-Independence Malaya. However,the above mentioned is only a small portion of his undeniable contribution as one of the earliest leaders of the Indian Tamil Community to a young Nation in the making.


vasantarao appalasamy said...

good informatic article....
Now only i know about such a influential person....
keep it up bro..

Puravin said...

Thanks buddy :) All the best to u too :)

balan moses said...

Hi Puravin.
My name is balan Moses of the new straits times kl. i am trying to locate the descendents of mr thamboosamy pillai for an article that i intend to write.
Kindly contact me at bmoses with details of the great grandson of Mr thamboosamy pillai. i would like to contact them.
thanks and regards,

Balan Moses