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Media Conference Statement by Lim Kit Siang when welcoming Ishwar Nahappan as the latest member for DAP in Penang on Sunday 10.2.08 at 10.30 am:


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.


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 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 . 


* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman


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