In summing up my father's life, I keep coming back to one thought. Never will you meet a man who so faithfully lived by his values and was strong in body, in spirit and in commitment.
My father was a teacher of all things. He taught by example. At any age, when faced with any problem, I find myself coming back to one simple question. What would Dad do? His character is the foundation of my courage, conscience and strength.
He was always understanding (in spite of the generation gap) and dependable. My father never overlooked or missed a single important event in either mum’s life or mine, even when it meant travelling back and forth to Singapore or London. He never forgot to buy flowers for every single birthday and wedding anniversary (even when he was so ill in these last years).
He loved his family with the biggest heart and everything he did was with his family in mind. He even named our family home located at the 4 kilometre stretch of the Coast Road in Port Dickson “RAMBETHEM” as an icon of our unity.
My father fulfilled every obligation he ever undertook. His word was his bond, and everyone knew it.
MY FATHER WAS A SELF-MADE MAN and here is his story:-
Dato’ Dr. Ramachandra, fondly known as Rama, was born on the 6th of January 1932 at Bukit Mertajam, Province Wellesley. He was the youngest in a family of five. His siblings were two elder sisters and two elder brothers. When the family moved to Kuala Lumpur before the war they lived in a plank house on T.O.L. land at the two-and-a-half mile Cheras Road, Kuala Lumpur. When war broke out on the 8th December 1941 this humble abode had already become their permanent home.
Rama’s father passed on in 1944 and has been sorely missed ever since.
Rama's primary schooling was interrupted by the outbreak of hostilities and the Japanese invasion.
When civil administration resumed under Japanese Occupation in mid-1942, Rama found himself in Standard One at the Tek Sin Gakko primary school. Here the pupils were made to look east and bow to the Japanese Emperor, Tenno Heika, every morning before a round of exercises on the playing field. These were followed by lessons in Kata Kana, and later Hira Gana, and the singing of a host of Japanese patriotic songs.
By 1943 food had become so scarce that if you did not work you did not eat. The only motorised transport into town those days was the morning train from Ampang to Sultan Street. There were two intermediate stops (at the third mile Cheras and at Pudu). No seats. Standing room only.
Rama's first job was carrying his mother's home made curry puffs stuffed with tapioca, and goreng pisang. He was very diminutive those days, standing about four feet six and weighing about seventy pounds. The basket he carried was half his size. With nothing else to hold on to, falling down inside the train was a regular occurrence and his plaintive shouts of "Tolong, Tolong” for help to stand up made him a favourite because there was so little to laugh at those days.
As his fluency in Japanese improved Rama got a job as an Interpreter for a Japanese establishment. His pay was in bags of rice, coconut oil, some sugar and cigarettes.
When the Japanese surrendered in August 1945 there was an interregnum period when the MCP ruled before the British Army arrived.
Rama witnessed many atrocities when traitors and running dogs were literally boiled alive in the vacant land opposite the incinerator on the other side of the road.
Anarchy was the order of the day until the imposition of the British Military Administration in 1946. That year was a free period until school resumed in late 1946. Rama rejoined the Pasar Road English School in Standard Three and went on to the Victoria Institution Kuala Lumpur in 1948 for his secondary education. His extracurricular activities included a prominent role in the Literary and Debating Society of which he was a committee member.
He completed his Cambridge School Certificate in the V.I. in 1953.
He had planned to go to Loyola College in Madras with the help of grandma, his brothers, and Uncle Gopal in Singapore. Dad came from a very poor family but somehow the family scraped together enough money and he was able to leave for India.
I was told by Santha Aka, my first cousin (my father’s oldest brother’s daughter) that he was extremely determined to finish his studies as a doctor in spite of all the difficulties.
I believe Jayathi Aka’s father (my Periapa, my father’s second oldest brother) gave dad a Rolex watch which he later sold for food, college fees and transportation by ship from India to Malaysia. Dad also worked ad hoc while studying as money was very scarce.
Later he went to Madura Medical College at the University of Madras from 1955 to 1961.
My father graduated with a M.B.B.S (Degree of Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery), Second Class on the 9th of June 1961.
He was also registered as a doctor in England and Wales by the General Medical Council (Overseas Registration Division). At that time, there was a reciprocity between India and United Kingdom and the M.B.B.S awarded to students of Madura Medical College by Madras University was recognised for full registration in the U.K.
He was posted to the surgical unit at the General Hospital Seremban as a House Officer from 1st August 1961 to 31st January 1962. On finishing his housemanship he was attached to Professor M. Balasegaran (Senior Consultancy Surgeon, Ministry of Health Malaysia and Head of Surgery) as a Surgical Registrar and Medical Officer (M.O.) until 29th February 1963.
Professor Bala was the first Malaysian to be awarded the Hunterian Gold Medal for distinguished services to surgery and I have no doubt that my father made his contribution to that work by facilitating the environment in which Professor Bala blossomed to international recognition.
Professor Bala regarded my father as his protégé and they remained good friends until Professor Bala’s death on the 5 May 2014.
My father transferred to Port Dickson in 1963 and was the M.O. in charge of District Hospital Port Dickson and also Medical Officer of the National Service Training Siginting Camp, P.D.
My father met my mother, Betty Liau Yuk Sim, at the Seremban Hospital (the old hospital) in 1961 and their relationship blossomed. My mother was a registered state nurse and mid–wife and was also registered to practise in England and Wales. The perfect team!
They were married on the 1st of September 1965. Throughout their lives together they were a devoted couple. My father always acknowledged that he was indebted to her for her unfailing support for everything he did.
And Rama Klinik was born on 20th September 1965, the second clinic to be opened in Port Dickson. This was Dad's first step into private practice. He had decided to leave the government and go into private practice as a result of overwhelming support from patients and tradesmen, both groups belonging to the Chinese community whom he had been treating at the District Hospital in Port Dickson.
The Chinese community had found the building for my father, found the contractor to convert the building into a clinic, introduced drug firms to him and provided their daughters to help mum in the clinic. We are all very grateful and some who are still alive are not only old friends but continue to be patients of the clinic.
I am sure that some of my father’s strong Chinese support stemmed from the fact he married my mother, who is Chinese too.
Rama Klinik continues to exist and celebrated its 50th birthday in 2015.
Their only child, a daughter, Hemalatha Ramachandra, was born on the 25th of November 1966. She has been living in London since she was 16 and is a practising solicitor in England and Wales. In 2011, she was admitted into the Malaysian Bar.
Dad was awarded an additional medical qualification on the 8th of August 1989 known as MCGP (Malaysia) by the College of Medical Practitioners of Malaysia. He also has a Diploma in Occupational Medicine.
Below are the various titles he held over his life span excluding his Lodge Ranks:-
1. Political Positions:Vice Chairman Malaysian Indian Congress (M.I.C.) Port Dickson branch – 1965-1980.
2. Public Services Positions Held:Member of the Port Dickson Town Board- 1970-1980.
Town Councillor 1980-1985.
Member, Negeri Sembilan State Pardons Board- 1972-1997.
Member, Liquor Licensing Board 1970-1988.
3. Voluntary Bodies:Member, Rotary Club of Port Dickson in 1965. Classification: Senior Active and Paul Harris Fellow 1997.
Joined St John’s Ambulance of Port Dickson in 1965. Awarded the Order of St. John’s on 30 October 1987 by Her Majesty the Queen of England and Wales. Classification: Chairman and Area Commander.
4. Public Clubs:President of the Royal Port Dickson Club 1976-1978.
5. School BodiesPresident of the Parent – Teacher Association 1973-1978.
Chairman of the Board of Governors of the Si-Rusa High School Port Dickson 1972-1982.
Deputy Chairman of the Board of Governors High School Port Dickson 1970-1994.
6. Royal Awards By Yang di-Pertuan Besar Negeri SembilanP.J.K. 1970
Justice of Peace 1974
D.N.S. 1990 (second highest state award)
D.S.N.S. 1991 (highest state award which carries the title of Dato’ Setia Negeri Sembilan)
Last update September 12, 2017.
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