MALAYSIA Tanah Tumpah Darahku


Saturday, August 31, 2019

Immigrant landowner friend of Tunku gave away acres to celebrate Merdeka

NTS Rengasamy Pillai hosting government leaders in the 1950s. Rengasamy was a philanthropist who gave away nearly all of his Teluk Intan land to charity.
GEORGE TOWN: Philanthropists like to do what they can for the good of their country and its people.
Naturally, some have more to give than others.
Real estate tycoon NTS Rengasamy Pillai had, in addition to his self-made wealth, a considerable resource – land.
He also had a burning desire to help his fellow Malaysians, no matter what race.
His son, R Ratnam Pillai, remembers how every Merdeka Day is special for his family, as they remember and celebrate 1957 when his father gifted an acre of land each to 30 Malay and Indian labourers in Bukit Mertajam, to mark the country gaining independence. Ratnam estimates that land is worth RM2 million per acre now.
“Merdeka was very special for my father. He owed his prosperity to Malaya and loved the country,” Ratnam, 59, told FMT recently.
“He used to tell us, ‘It is my bounden duty to give away part of my wealth for the good of this country.’”
Rengasamy was from Tiruppattur, India. He came to Penang in 1952 and started off as an accountant in Bukit Mertajam.
He then went into wholesale goods and expanded that into a successful real estate business. He and his brother, NTS Arumugam Pillai, quickly became the largest landowners in northern Malaya. Soon they controlled estates in Kedah, Penang, and Perak.
By 1956, Rengasamy owned close to 2,000 acres of rubber estate.
Ratnam recalled that besides the land gift in Bukit Mertajam, his father gave away many more acres all over the north to labourers of various races and for causes dear to his heart, including the construction of several Malay, Chinese and Tamil schools.
“He always told me that unity is strength and he wanted to give back to all the communities in the country.”
Rengasamy was not perturbed by the May 13 1969 race riots, which he saw as a temporary setback. He was more concerned over the communist threat.
R Ratnam Pillai is following in his father’s footsteps in supporting charities.
“He thought the communists were committing economic sabotage, especially to the estates around the country.
“But he had trust in the leaders back then.”
He was close to Tunku Abdul Rahman and often helped him with government functions.
“Whenever he hosted Tunku for lunch or dinner, the same food served to Tunku would be given to everybody no matter what their status was.”
“We always had people of all races coming to our house, my father got along well with everyone.
Rengasamy died in 1986 at the age of 69. His 10 children were never resentful about him giving away so much of the family’s land, according to Ratnam. There was plenty to go around.
Today, the son is not only following in his father’s commercial footsteps in the real estate business, but also in his philanthropic footsteps, by working with schools and education.
“The example he set still inspires me as a true-blue Malaysian. I want to continue giving back to our society.”
“I help poor families, especially those who can’t afford to send their children to school.”

The legacy of Rengasamy, patriot and philanthropist inspired by Merdeka lives on. - FMT

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