Ipohworld's World

Saving Yesterday For Tomorrow

Andrew Lin, a new supporter of ipohWorld recently submitted an article for inclusion on the blog. However it is really too long to put here and so we have entered on the main database and have only included the following as an introduction. If you would care to read all the article and comment here after you have read it, please click on D R Seenivasagam here.  Incidentally we desperately need a better photograph of DR if anyone has one we could use.

I N   M E M O R I A M


The Man Who Fought For Justice

Last Monday, 15th March 2010 was the forty first anniversary of the passing of D.R.Seenivasagam, or DR as he was affectionately known, a great and illustrious son of Ipoh.  Sadly, the day passed by without any mention of the event in the obituary pages of our local newspapers.

To old-timers of Ipoh, Darma Raja Seenivasagam needs no introduction at all.    He was the President of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), one of the earliest political parties formed in pre-independent Malaya.   Under his leadership, the PPP captured control of the Ipoh Town Council, the forerunner to the Ipoh Municipal Council and later the Ipoh City Council, in 1958 and provided efficient local government for the people of Ipoh.   DR’s charisma and extraordinary ability to articulate the aspirations of the masses endeared him to all who came in contact with him – from the “towkay” to the coolie.    It is a well known fact that his most loyal supporters were the downtrodden of society namely the  hawkers, petty traders, trishaw peddlers, labourers  and others of the working class like the now-forgotten dulang washers.  These people remained faithful to DR to the end.

Unfortunately, those born after 1969 had grown up with little or no knowledge of the man who as the opposition Member of Parliament for Ipoh was a constant thorn in the side of the then ruling Alliance government.   DR was also an outstanding criminal lawyer in the country.     On several occasions, his brilliance and skill in the legal profession spared many on the wrong side of the law from the gallows.

As a mark of remembrance for this towering personality, I, a humble retired senior citizen from Kuala Lumpur and a one-time resident here, invite you, good readers, to join me in a trip down memory lane and together reminisce our impressions and thoughts of DR – the man who fought for justice.   Please share your insights with me so that the memory of this beloved leader who had done so much for Ipoh and its citizens will be perpetuated for our future generations.  This commentary is my own personal recollections and may contain inaccuracies of fact due to the passage of time, for which I sincerely apologize.   Feel free to correct any discrepancies, where necessary.   Some of the road names mentioned have since been changed and may be unfamiliar to some of us.

The article continues here

  1. antiquelad says:

    great man , heard tht once he challenged the ” Tungku ” that if he stood as a BN candidate in Ipoh , DR wud make sure the ” Tungku ” lost with zero votes..

  2. Ken Chan says:

    Thanks for the very insightful piece on DR. It was very factual and well-written, and reading it brought back a plethora of vivid memories about the heydays of the Peoples Progressive Party. Everything you have noted about his personality is true, from his brilliant oratory skills to his gregarious personality, and his selfless dedication to help the downtrodden. It is difficult to compare such a towering personality to any other politicians from Ipoh in our lifetime. In fact, whenever I see those firebrand American politicians delivering their scorching speeches on C-SPAN, it always bring back fond memories of the political rallies I watch in the Children’s Playground when I was very young. His funeral was indeed one of the darkest days in Ipoh and as his empty red Cadillac drove by, the average man on the street wept openly. Another fact that I would like to add to your piece is that his office at No.7 Hale Street was also a haven for underprivileged kids. Some of my classmates would go there for school supplies, school fees and even soccer balls and their requests would never go unanswered. Thanks again for the memories!

  3. felicia says:

    Hi Antiquelad. Did he really challenge Tunku? Wow!

    Thank you for the little extra bit, Ken.
    DR was indeed a great person (pity, he was before my time!), and yes…..I doubt we could find another politician like him around in Ipoh!

    From what my family tells me, Ipoh (under the PPP then) was the cleanest city!

  4. ganesh says:

    msian monarchy, ministers whoever passed away never had largest crowd. DR.Seeni was crowded the entore Ipoh street with chinese mainly. DR.SEENI is my human inspiration

    today my great day – i see DR. Seeni here. Day by day new photos coming in. DR Seeni, the only man in msian history had the largest crowd for funeral. Second was a teacher in buntong.

  5. ganesh says:

    THANK YOU Andrew Lin for this article.

    Take note . owner of this blog

    many yrs, perhaps 5 yrs ago an article in thestar paper shows
    a shop house …2nd storey which only one descendant still staying there – his sister … very old and keeping all the family photos with her. I think in Hugh Low street .

    Must find the 2nd floor shop house and see if she is still alive…i suppose she must be over 95 yrs old

    tip off: PPP members should know. Perhaps contacting the HQ of PPP may help.

    Other then that, which house was his in Tiger Lane ?

    Museum don’t have anything on him since he is government enemy.

    My ex- chinese contractor boss said , he reminds of Dr.Seeni cause any chinese needy poor people go to his house front gate…Dr.Seeni will come out, greet and help with cash.

  6. felicia says:

    Hi Ganesh. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about DR. Indeed, he was a man who always put the needs of others ahead of his!

  7. Andrew Lin says:

    A big ‘thank you’ to all who responded to my article.Honestly, I cannot remember the challenge purportedly made by DR to the Tunku to contest against him in Ipoh, if at all there was one. Both these gentlemen, I must stress, “confronted” each other in Parliamentin the true spirit of democracy.There was no malice or ill will between them. Outside Parliament, both were the best of friends at all times and had mutual respect and admirationfor each other.

    Ken’s reminiscence of the empty Cadillac during DR’s funeral brought tears to my eyes. I was among the thousands who watched the processionfrom a vantage point along Hugh Low Street. Not only soccer balls, Ken but also a complete set of soccer jerseys too to a Division Three team in the local league after he retained the Ipoh seat in the 1964 General Elections.

    It is absolutelytrue that under the PPP, Ipoh was the cleanest town in the country. Sadly, it is no longer so.

    The 2-storey shop house mentioned by Ganesh is actually No. 7, Hale Street. DR’s unmarried sister used to stay upstairs. I believe No. 7 Hale Street is now occupied by a coffee shop.

    The Tiger Lane bungalow was the official residence of the President of the Ipoh Municipal Council. DR’s elder brother, Dato Sri S P Seenivasagam held that position until his death in 1975. I have no knowledge whether the house is still there today.

    The Seenivasagam brothers were well known for their generosityto the poor and needy of all races. They truly loved the poor and the poor loved them.

    May attempt a write-up on SP too in the near future. Interested?

    Thank you.

  8. Ken Chan says:

    Andrew, you should go ahead with your next piece on SP. With your infinite knowledge on the Seenivasagam bothers, I am sure you will acquit yourself well and do a good job. SP is very different from DR in many ways and invariably, he is always compared to his more vocal and outspoken sibling.I thought that was rather unfair because human beings are all born different, and are not mass-produced from the cookie mold. I personally consider him to be quietly efficient, and he did a very decent job running the Ipoh Municipality. If I am not mistaken, Khong Kok Yat took over the helm in PPP after SP’s death but my recollection of those days were very hazy because I left Ipoh for good in the early 80’s.

  9. antiquelad says:

    believe his cadillac was left to rot at the SRI MAJU bus station , till Ika contacted Datuk Yeoh to engage PPP to restore it wonder happenend to it now…??

  10. ika says:

    What actually happened was that I approached Dato Yeoh who conferred with representatives of PPP as they had the moral right to the vehicle. They agreed we could have the car if we could raise funds to restore it for exhibition (not on the road). I also arranged that our sponsor would provide space to exhibit it. However after just a few weeks and before we really had time to do anything (other than identify a restorer) Dato called me and said that PPP wanted it back and that they would restore it. I surrendered, as after all they have a lot more money than us.

    Since then I have tried to get PPP members to find out the progress and whereabouts of the vehicle for me, without success.

  11. kenny toong says:

    DR was a role model. I first met him at the Ipoh General Hospital where he was recovering from an accident. He was thr first person to drive a Ford Thunderbird in Ipoh.
    I remembered him very well when he challenged the Minister of Health then Rahman Talib for corrupt practices. Tunku sent him to Cairo after he was disgraced.
    Imagine a Ceylonese who championed the rights of the common folks. Chinaman are the biggest cowards in Malaysia and they needed an Indian Ceylonese to fight for them. The man is DR.ay his memory lives forever.

    • Colin Wong says:

      Kenny Toong, “Chinaman are the biggest cowards”? Talking about yourself? The effort put in by Chinese Malaysian in our national history is well known. So, please check your facts. During his time, the legal profession was dominated by Malaysian Indians and as such, a symbiosis developed. Do you have a problem with that? I think you are unfortunately caught in the cesspool of racial mindset.

    • CP Yeap says:

      Hi Mr. Kenny Toong

      I am writing book about Dr. Seenivasagam. Is there any chances for me to get your assistance from your goodself.

      C P Yeap

  12. ika says:

    Hi Kenny, thanks for visiting our world – ipohWorld. We do not normally allow derogatory comments posted on this site, but as you are clearly Chinese and are writing about the Chinese we are allowing it this time.

    I shall be interested how your fellow Chinese respond.

    • Colin Wong says:

      Ika, my reply above is probably a bit late but better than never. I was born and raised in Ipoh. Our family was the only one with 2 Ceylonese Indian couples gracing the reunion dinners. The Nadarajah brothers were good friends of my dad who was a car mechanic. Those were the days when my late dad will talk so fondly about Tunku and the Seenivasagam “hing dai” (brothers, in Cantonese). My dad respected his friends for who they were, what they were. Their race was secondary. I remember how Uncle Appu would invite us to his house in Tiger Lane and his brother to his house in Greentown. It was an Ipoh that will never return. Ipoh today is not the same anymore.

      • Gordon Choo says:

        Good on you Colin. Kenny Toong stereotyping of a particular race is unwarranted and unjust. It should not be allowed to go unchallenged.

  13. S.Y. Lee says:

    DR used to handle criminal cases and his brother SP would handle civil cases. However, SP also handled criminal cases. It was my privilege to start my legal career in 1969 and to fight SP Seenivasagam. He was a real gentleman.

  14. S.Sundralingam says:

    I have fond memories of the late D.R., I use to address him uncle as I was a little boy then. He used to participate in the Ceylonese Association activities along with another famous PPP lawyer Mr.
    R.C.M. Rayen. This man fought for any without noticing their creed.
    He was actually colour blind, that’s why during his funeral there were more Chinese, a number of Indians and Malays. His famous red Cadillac was an attraction for many who patronize the Ceylonese Association when he in the Association (at present Rayan’s Hall).There was another brave man like him in KL, that was Dr.Tan Chee Khoon, Batu Road MP.

  15. PEGGY LI says:

    I clearly remembered the funeral day of the Late DR SP SEENIVASAGAM. It was the most memorable of all funerals for the famous. All those attended were from all walks of life but mostly, the hawkers, petty traders, labourers,etc. and all of
    them crying in loud sobs as if their own kin had died. These
    people just forego the day’s earnings to wave goodbye to this great man as if he was their papa and todate none of this scene
    was every repeated in Ipoh and YES, he was the most lovable,
    adorable and kind and generous person the heaven sent to Ipoh at that time.

  16. UV@Valiant Knight says:

    Kenny you spoilt the good name of the Seenivasagam brothers! They fought for the rights of MALAYSIANS and not for a particular race! PPP under them (sad to say I don’t really see it as such NOW) was a real multi-racial party with multi-racial members, fighting on multi-racial issues and given support by all races!

    I used to cycle all the way to Menglembu even from my house in Silibin/Maxwell road area to listen to his speeches during elections! They were both dynamic speakers!

  17. S.Y. Lee says:

    UV. Did you cycle to hear the election speech of DR or to hear “Mak Fay Hoong”, the Indian medicine man who spoke Chinese. Those days election rallies started off with a black and white film (cartoon or news) before the speakers come on and make comical insulting remarks about their opponents

  18. andrew lin, sydney says:

    It is heartening to note three more comments to this piece on D R Seenivasagam. Last Monday, 15th March 2011, we commemorated the 42th anniversary of his passing. Was there any mention in the Malaysian papers? I strongly urge you all, especially the senior citizens of Ipoh to help keep the memory of this legendary figure alive in whatever way you can. That’s the purpose of this article. We must not allow D R Seenivasagam – what he was, what he stood for and what he had accomplished – die with him. Thank you.

  19. S.Sundralingam says:

    In our country we have many unsung heroes like DR, Tan Chee Khoon, P.Patto, Ahmad Nor, Fan Yew Ting, who did things without considering one’s colour or creed, they were true MALAYSIANS.

  20. FoongWT says:

    Dear Andrew
    Thanks for the good old memories..i was a kid when DR was the champion of Ipoh hawkers and poor people we small kids loved to see DR/SP in action
    Whenever a rally was to be held,,most of the street hawkers /trishawmen folks in Ipoh of chinese/indians would stop their bisiness and helped to set up the stage and voluntarily helped out in the rally.
    DR was called the Champion of Ipoh Hawkers..ipoh was the cleanest Town in Malaya those days in 50-60’s

    One day before chinese new year appaorched Dr/SP/and others PPP Members will come to children playground near Brewster Road and gave away ballons to the children like us..we were all overjoyed.and chanted PPP/DR/SP Seenivasagam…evnthough we knew nothing of politics.

    Even my aged grand-ma from Menglembu who hardly spoke a word of English wanted to hug Dr.Seenivasagam brothers when they visited them in the village,,,
    its really a profound experience to see DR/SP in actions.
    DR and SP will be legendary figures in history of Ipoh…forever!


  21. felicia says:

    Hi FoongWT. thanks for sharing that with us, especially with those of us who never had the opportunity to meet the Brothers 🙂

  22. UV@Valiant Knight says:

    Heroes too have their dark side of life! We do not want to harp on that, do we? However, it is most unbecoming and unfortunate that today people dig up, even create dark sides to heroes’ character to politically assassinate them! That’s the difference of politics in the 50’s and 60s and today!

    During the brothers’ time, we look at the good deeds they did to the people and ignore their dark sides! Today we look only at the dark side of some politicians and ignore their good deeds!

    Maybe the evil that men do today over-rides the good!

  23. Manmathan says:

    It was stated that DR funeral procession was the grandest and most touching ever seen by the people of Ipoh. Do Ipoh World have the newspaper article or photograph of the procession? Do you have the photo of his car? I’m sure the readers would like to see it here.

  24. ika says:

    H Manmathan, unfortunately we do not have a photograph of either. For some reason DR photos of any sort are very hard to find. The one above for example was enlarged from a very small, damaged photo of him in Ipoh airport. It is one of only 3 we have. None of them are high quality.

    The car was removed by members of PPP. Any PPP members out there who can find out what happened to it?

  25. Karu says:

    The Taman D.R.Seenivasagam was named on behalf of his popularity during his days. Then the government came up with the name Taman D.R. The name Seenivasagam was not mentioned. Later heard rumors that they plan it as Taman D.R. @ Taman Darul Ridzuan. Don’t know how much is true. But the fact is that they are trying to erase the name Seenivasagam. Such a horrible act by the government but to all of us D.R.Seenivasagam is still alive in our hearts.

  26. GenX says:

    I accidentally found this blog and have been going through the articles for the past few days. I am so glad that all of you are sharing so much about Ipoh of the past which my late grandma or even parents have not spoken much about. Do keep up the great work and I am inspired to know more about those whho built the foundation of Ipoh city…thank you.

  27. andrew lin, sydney says:

    Greetings from Australia. I have some “priceless” newspaper cuttings of D R and the PPP in my Kuala Lumpur home. Owing to the interest shown lately, I shall make the relevant ones available to readers when I next go back. Meanwhile, readers may like to know that there is a write-up on the other half of the Seenivasagam brothers, S P Seenivasagam. Please make a google search under “SP: The Much Misunderstood Politician”. It is my fondest wish that my fellow senior citizens both in Malaysia and abroad would help keep the memories of these legendary brothers alive by sharing whatever information they may have with the present generation of Malaysians. Terima kasih.

  28. ika says:

    Welcome back, Andrew, We will be delighted to receive good scans of your cuttings on DR and PPP. As I told you before photographs of DR are very hard to find.

    I was expecting you to write about SP for us, but have looked at your work on the web now. I think it would be good if we can have your permission to reproduce the article on SP on our database.

    I look forward to hearing from you and the cuttings etc next time you are here.

  29. andrew lin, sydney says:

    I have no objection whatsoever to your proposal to reproduce the write-up on S P Seenivasagam. After all, the sole purpose is to perpetuate the memory of this selfless politician, the likes of which we may never see again in our life time. For the record, I had offered to write this piece for your book, IPOH MY HOME TOWN (please refer to our email correspondence dated 22/6/2010) but was politely declined. Aliran, which reproduced my earlier article on D R (with proper acknowledgement)in their August issue, took up my offer and published it together with nine photographs in their November issue. As a matter of courtesy, please get their clearance before you proceed. Thank you.

  30. ika says:

    Hello again Andrew. You are quite right that I declined your offer of the SP article for Ipoh My Home Town as, in the form of an essay in similar vein to the one on DR, it really did not fit the concept that I had for the book. I also declined several others.

    That is why I replied to you “A piece on S P would be great if it is written as a ‘memories’ piece, rather than an essay on his life and works. I am sure you know what I mean. A revision on DR would also be appropriate on the basis “I remember when ………”.

    Look forward to seeing more.”

    I really thought you would respond with the two stories for the book.

    But never mind, the most important thing is that the piece has been published and your link will allow our readers to share it.

    Incidentally, I accept that Aliran did acknowledge where the DR article came from, but they never actually asked for clearance from us, quite a common problem here.

    Having just revisited their site I note that apart from yourself they have only had two comments on the DR article whereas we have had many more – around 20 individuals in all. That gives me a good measure of our readership.

    We shall be pleased to receive the scans of the newspaper cuttings, photographs and any new articles in future. Thank you for your support.

  31. Ken Chan says:

    Hi Andrew,

    Thank you for sharing your well researched piece on SP, the other half of the equation in the saga of the Seenivasagam brothers. You articulated your insight into the life and times of SP with much thought and for that, you deserved to be complimented for a job well done. Bingo! You are spot on to conclude that the personality of DR and SP is diametrically different, like yin and yang. DR was the lightning rod that scorched the political arena with his fiery oratory skill, while SP was the shrewd tactician that strategize and plan behind the scene. Working in tandem, they bestowed many good years to people from all walks of life. Those of us who grew up in Ipoh in the 50’s and 60’s could still vividly recall the mammoth political rallies that drew overflowing crowds in venues like the Children’s Playground on Brewster Road. People just flock to these rallies because the brothers gave voice to the average man on the street. They were the mouthpiece that gave vent to our pent-up frustration with the system. Your well-written accounts on the Seenivasagam brothers will serve to perpetuate their memory among younger generation of Malaysians, especially those with roots that originate from Ipoh.

    SP eschewed publicity and unlike DR, he preferred to maintain a low profile at all times. Because of that, he was often misconstrued as the less outstanding politician compared to DR. His abandoning of the opposition movement to join the ruling coalition was the straw that broke the camel’s back. Bombarded with harsh criticism, he was severely chastised for becoming a turncoat that betrayed the hopes and dreams of the people of Ipoh. At that time, most of us were unaware that this was a calculated move that was made with good intentions; that is to keep the Ipoh Municipality under the control of PPP. As you have alluded, SP was indeed the most misunderstood politician of his time.

    In my opinion, the more reticent SP definitely had his own strengths, and with a loving wife, I would think he lived a more fulfilled life than DR. Also, he should not be blamed for the gradual eclipse of the PPP from the political landscape. It was a known fact that not everyone within the party was selflessly dedicated to serving the people like the Seenivasagam brothers. There were complaints that some members who belong to the upper echelons of the PPP hierarchy were shamelessly furthering their own self-interest. With the death of SP, the demise of the party seemed inevitable and while the sun was setting on the PPP, it turn out to be the sunrise for the DAP, which ascended to become the dominant party in Ipoh till this day.

  32. Rama says:

    The first time I saw D.R.Seenivasagam was in 1963 when I was 12 years old. He came to Grik, Perak to speak for the general elections. He came with his entourage in his red caddilac guaded by two policeman. One of the speakers was a malay man whose speech was stopped by the then OCPD. I remember D.R. going up the stage and confronting the OCPD who then left abruptly. D.R. then sat next to the speaker till he finished his speech. My late father told me that night when D.R. wanted to return to Ipoh his caddilace’s lights failed. My late father, an ex JKR Foreman, was asked to help and he fixed a big torch light to the car. 50 years ago you cant evn get a spare part for a morris minor car in Grik leave alone a caddilac.
    Any way, coming back to the main story DR was a fighter for justice. He fought for multi lingualism and was often seen as fiery speaker in Parliament. After his car accident near Sg Siput that severly damaged his spine it was a pathetic sight to see him walking up the stairs of parliament to fulfill his duties as an elected MP.
    He often fought a gentlemen’s fight with the then Tengku. DR once called Tengku a buffalo in parliament, adding, what do you get from a buffalo, only dirt and lies. The Tengku retorted by calling DR a snake always waiting to strike. That week-end both of them were having tea at DR’s official residence in Tiger Lane (appropriately named) in Ipoh.
    D.R. first came to prominance during the Emergency era when he defended a chinese woman charge with helping the communists, an offence which carried very severe punishment. DR managed to get her off the gallows or prison term (my memory fails here) but she was banished to China. She requested DR a farewell gift of a sewing machine. DR bought her the sewing machine and wide publicity was given to this case and Ipoh saw the begining of mass chinese support for D.R. Seenivasagam and he became a legend.
    Will continue……….

  33. Ken Chan says:

    That woman communist sympathizer that DR saved from the jaws of death was Lee Meng. Though DR did not win this protracted court battle, the outcome of this case was the defining moment that propelled him into national prominence and burnished his image as a savvy legal eagle.

  34. LMS136 says:


    Thank you for filling us in. A good piece. There were very few politicians who won the hearts of the electorates and even those who were too young to vote. The Seenivasagam brothers were truly public servants which they amply demonstrated by their service to their constituents.

  35. AP@IpohBornKid says:

    Hi Andrew Lin, thanks for reminding us on DR Seenivasagam. In my childhood, I remembered DR for two events. Firstly, DR was engaged by one of my family member as a defendant’s legal counsel on a minor charge. DR won the case hands down. In 1956, as a young kid, I strode into into DR’s office in Ipoh with my relative and there I met DR face to face. His resonant voice still rings in my mind. I had no idea what is politics then.
    The second event was the DR election campaign. In 1957, I remembered attending many election rallies held at the Menglembu Padang (opposite the Assembly Hall). When it got dark, they would start screening Disneyland cartoons, Bugs Bunny and gang. After the first show, Mak Fei Hoong, an Indian Chinese Medicine man would play his harmonica and then give an rousing introductory speech to welcome DR to the stage. DR’s speech was interpreted by Mak. Yes, he was the idol of the people. Sometimes, the silver screen would fall down. It did not fall by itself and I know that certain people had been paid to do it. The old “dirty trick” department came out with this disruption.
    During election day, the Alliance and PPP would have rounded all pirate taxis and their job was to go around the villages and pick up voters to the polling booth and handled out how to vote cards. I sat in one of the taxis despite I was not eligible to vote as a kid. This free car trips continued until the polling booth was closed. Mind you, the voters already decided who to vote and a free ride did not change their minds.
    Two of my relatives were candidates for the Ipoh Town Council, one PAP and one Alliance, both of them were successfully elected. I was too young to understand their politics in the 1950s, hence no comments here.
    Yes, I have heard of DR’s Cadillac and the “golden” key.
    I was no longer in Ipoh when DR passed away and I am proud to have met the man in his office and shook his hands as a little boy.
    This type of people only comes once in a hundred years. Saint or no saint, he was a people’s man and a champion of the underdog.
    Lest we forget.
    Andrew, I also live in Sydney. Any chance of meeting up?

  36. felicia says:

    Welcome to the blog, Rama. oh, DO tell us MORE about the late DR Seenivasagam! i wonder if any of his relatives are still around…

  37. LARRY N says:

    Rama, if I remember rightly, DR called the Tengku a buffalo only after the Tengku called him a babi.

    Ipohbornkid: I always thought Mak Fei Hoong was a Malay. Once he said that Malaya might not have a Wong Fei Hoong, but it does have a Mak Fei Hoong. That brought a roar of approval from the crowd.

    Like most Ipoh people, my elder brother was a PPP man, but later left the party when DAP arrived on the scene with Lim Cho Hock and other founders of the Perak branch (Lim’s brothers were all named after big birds, I think).

  38. Rama says:

    LARRY N, You could be right, I am not sure who started the name calling.
    D.R. also kept a huge bear in a cage at his Hale Street law office. It was his pet like. Later the bear was transfered to Taman D.R. after the passing of both D.R. and S.P. On a couple of occasions I have seen D.R.’s sister coming to feed it. You can see the joy on the face of the bear when she comes.

  39. S.Y. Lee says:

    I remember a story where a MCA member said that Mak Fei Hoong had a criminal record. At the next rally, Mak Fei Hoong said the MCA member was rich and he (Mak) was poor so had to steal chickens and fruits as a child. Mak asked the audience as to who has not stolen fruits before and everyone said they had. Indeed, who, when young has not stolen fruits from the trees before?

    The downfall of the PPP was when it joined the Barisan. Many did not “forgive” SP for allowing this. DR was not longer alive then

  40. Michael Tan says:

    S.Y.Lee, have you read Andrew Lin’s other article on S.P.Seenivasagam? (see above comments 33 to 37). It’s a well written article and should be of special interest to the senior citizens of Ipoh.
    ika, will you be reproducing it in IpohWorld for the benefit of your readers?

  41. ika says:

    Hello Michael,

    I guess it is my Scots stubborness coming out but the fact that Aliran did not ask our permission to copy the DR article (although we were credited) and yet I have top ask their permission to copy the SP article kind of stuck in my throat. Hence I did not publish the article here. However to make it easier for you all here is the link http://aliran.com/3740.html.

  42. Michael Tan says:

    Thanks, ika. Pardon me if I may sound rude. Can we just forget about getting permission from Aliran and proceed to do a copy of this excellent article on S P just as they did to IpohWorld with the D R one? An acknowledgement of the source should suffice. After all, the author himself has given you the go-ahead. It’s really a waste that such a well-researched article on a past distinguished leader of Ipoh be only given limited access via a link in your esteemed blog which is essentially an Ipoh-centric blog. Frankly, such original articles don’t come by easily nowadays. Can we have the views of readers too? Finally, is it too much to ask you to let go of some of your “Scottish-ness” and to be more “Malaysian-ish” now that Ipoh is your home?

  43. ika says:

    OK Michael, point taken, but I just get very p….d off with Malaysians attitude to copyright. But I shall do something about it and put it up for all to see before too long.

  44. AP@IpohBornKid says:

    Hi ika: I went to read the article kindly referred by you and I choose to make my remarks here and not there. Despite the genuine and sincere move by SP to join BN, he made a fundamental error in misjudging the mode of his electorate. Most leaders in Western democracy suffered the same fate when they misread their constituents. SP may be a visionary where he could see the benefits to the people of Ipoh and Menglembu, unfortunately, his constituents did not see far enough. In reading the article, I sensed SP’s great pain and disappointment in losing the election which drove him into despair. The stress and trauma that followed consumed him. The man has passed away and the only judgement we can put on him was that he was a man for Ipoh. His action may not be politically correct but his motives were honourable. Let us remember him for all the good things he has done for Ipoh and Menglembu.

  45. Rama says:

    Once upon a time the then Sabah Chief Minister Stephen Kalong Ningkam was dismissed, a move generally believed to be motivated by The Alliance. Ningkam engaged D.R. S.P. and David Marshall to fight his what he deemed as unconstituitional removal from office. All these three lawyers were promptly banned from entering Sabah. Imagine three heavy weights going there. Would welcome any factual corrections on this.

  46. felicia says:

    wow Rama! that is one bit of history that never made the history books we used in school……
    if anyone who knows MORE about this, do let us know……especially since it involves DR and SP Seenivasagam

  47. S.Y. Lee says:

    Michael Tan, thanks for pointing out the rather long article. I remember SP having met him in a court case. One other fact which a lot of people did not realise was that he financed most of the cost of running the party out of his own personal finances.

  48. Rama says:

    You are correct. The Seenivasagam brothers practically sold all their properties to finance the party and to serve the people esp the down trodden. The sister had one last piece of property, the house she was last staying some where in Ipoh Old Town.. Wonder what happened to that. For the Seenivasagam family,esp D.R. people came first.That was their style. A politician and a lawyer for the people first. I can bet again and again that Malaysia will never see the likes of the Seenivasagam brothers ever again. God bless their souls.

  49. Rama says:

    In his autobiography Chin Peng mentions of meeting up with Madam Lee Meng in China. This is the woman D.R. once saved from the “gallows” that saw the begining of “Stardom” for him.

  50. Gary Lim Ah Too says:

    Could this last piece of property be No.7, Jalan Tun Sambanthan (formerly Hale Street)? This was the address of the Seenivasagan brothers’ legal firm. It was later occupied by a coffee shop. I remember my late father once mentioned that an unmarried sister lived upstairs. This frail-looking lady in her advanced years was often seen taking a ride in a rickshaw in the good old days always with a pet in her arms. My Chinese-educated uncle told me that the Seenivasagam family had a small piece of land along Brewster Road next to the old Fire Brigade that was leased to a certain Wong Ying Choy florist. Probably this property was sold when Yik Foong Complex was developed. Can S.Y.Lee help to throw some light on this?

  51. Rama says:

    Gary & Ika, You are right about the Hale Street legal office and the sister’s residence up stairs. Another of D.R.’s associate and either fellow MP or Perak State Assemblyman, R.C.M. Rayan’s family in Ipoh could provide more info. Folks who are Ipoh residents can approach the Ipoh Ceylonise Association in Connaly Road, where most of Ipoh’s Ceylon Tamils gather for social functions. Thirty five years ago I met Rayan there by chance and he mentioned of the sister staying there in Hale Street.
    When D.R. was alive he received massive support from the chinese in Ipoh, from the tin mining towkays to the hawkers, petty traders, trisha pullers etc. As a Malaysian Tamil I am really proud to know even after his passing, there are so many chinese in this web site still remembering and paying tribute to D.R. I am deeply touched and sincerely appreciate your thoughts on D.R. and his family.

  52. Rama says:

    One of Perak’s most wanted man rang up D.R.’s office and told DR he wanted to surrender and DR accompanied him to the Ipoh police station. That was the type of trust even criminals had on DR. This was reported in the Straits Times and I believe the editor in chief was a “white guy” before it became The New Straits Times.

  53. S.Y. Lee says:

    As far as I remember, the Seenivasam family owned a small strip of land which separated the land on which Yik Foong is built from Brewster Road and the Developers Yik Foong Sdn. Bhd. had to purchase this piece of land before they could construct the Yik Foong complex which arguably is the first shopping complex to be built in Ipoh. The Yik Foong complex may also be the first shopping complex to have strata titles. The land next to the Fire Brigate belongs, I think, to the Han Kong Association and as far as I know still belongs to them and is used as a car park. The Wong Ying Choy florist rented a portion of the land on which Yik Foong Complex was built. There was also a Lok Lam Club on the land. This was (is?) a club for the millionaires. Perhaps someone should do a story on the Lok Lam Club.

  54. ika says:

    Never having heard of the Lok Lam Club I looked it up and found the following:

    Lok Lam Club. No. 99, Jln Gopeng, 30250, Ipoh, Perak. Tel. No: 05-2545227. Category: Country Clubs.

    Can anyone tell us more please?

  55. Rama says:

    I left St.Micheals Inst. Ipoh in 1968. I can fondly remember some of the world class teachers I had. Notably Bro.U.Paul, Kew Tet (1966) Nair (1966) Kin Seng(1968) Kee far, BM teacher John Lee whose brother Insp. Robert Lee was killed in a communist ambush near Baling or Perak / Kedah border. My late father once took me to the spot of the ambush. It was hills on both sides of the winding road. I am unable to recall my form teacher in form four in 1967 but recall this gentlemen’s wife was the Head misteress in Tarcician Covent in Lim Gardens/Aden Park. Any SMI folks here who can provide more info on our beloved SMI teachers.Can you get these kind of teachers any more. Oh those were the days. I never came across a single racist teacher.

  56. Peter Ng says:

    In 1967, the following were the form teachers:-

    4S1 – Miss Martine Lim
    4S2 – Bro. Lucian ng
    4A1 – Mr. Yuen Sze Tuen
    4A2 – Mr. Chan Hon Yew
    4A3 – Mr. Chan Yat Tong
    4A4 – Mr. Louis Liau

    There was a Ramachandran & Ramamoorthy in 4A1.
    I was in Form 3 then.

  57. Rama says:

    Peter Ng, spot on. I am Ramamoorthy and Ramachandran was in the same class in 4A1. Your memory is beyond words. Really sorry, but I am still trying to figure you out.
    Many thanks for bringing out the teachers names. Wondering the whereabouts of Mr.Kew Tet and Mr.Yuen. Any news on them pls fill me in.Tq.

  58. LARRY N says:

    October 8th, 2011 at 8:15 pm

    >the Straits Times and I believe the editor in chief was a “white guy” before it became The New Straits Times.<

    Could it be Leslie Hoffman? The paper retained its name in Singapore, but got a name change to The New Straits Times in Malaysia. Hoffman fled Singapore because Lee Kuan Yew purportedly threatened to jail him under the ISA.

  59. Rama says:

    Larry N. Not sure of the editor’s name. I am not surprised LKY wanted to jail him. Even in Malaysia he was quite a vocal force living up to the ideals of proffesional journalism. One must appreciate the fact the Tengku was far more moderate and liberal compared to LKY.Even in recent times Malaysian leaders are more compassionate with the opposition compared to LKY. One wonders about LKY when thinking of former Singapore President C.V.Devan Nair and Opposition leader J.B. Jebaretnam. There was another chinese man who served so many years in detention in Singapore, the longest jail bird. I still say comparatively, even with all their faults, Malaysian leaders never jailed any one for so long nor banished any politicians. I am not saying they are angels either.

  60. LARRY N says:

    >One must appreciate the fact the Tengku was far more moderate and liberal compared to LKY]

    Rama, you’re so right. The latter made his name partly because he complied with Western goals for Asians – turning all of us “white inside and colored outside” (much like Macaulay tried to do with the Indians some centuries ago). However, when it comes to democracy, he’d talk about “Asian values,” meaning no real Opposition in Singapore allowed. An overrated individual, in my opinion.

  61. andrew lin, sydney says:

    I N M E M O R I A M

    Today, we commemorate the 43rd anniversary of his passing. Gone but still lovingly remembered by all Malaysians who cherish justice, freedom and peace.

    Eternal rest grant unto D R , dear Lord
    And let perpetual light shine upon him
    May he rest in peace

  62. Rama says:

    Didnt visit this D.R. web site for quite some time due to a personal tragedy. Wonder any one in Ipoh carried out any remembrance service for the most Hon’ble D.R.Seenivasagam. He deserved to be remembered for decades to come.

  63. kalai vanar says:

    I read all the comment above about DR &SP i was born in ipoh 1964, but remember that my dad always mentioned about the two brothers,i m interested in doing a documentary short film about the two legends.i m no more in ipoh,but i love my town as u all do,since i can hear ur feeling from ur write up.so pls help me to get some more information about wat n wat happen time to time wen they wer actice in politics n social life.tq dear brothets n sisters.

  64. ika says:

    Hikalai vanar, welcome to ipohWorld. That is an interesting project you are planning and I hope that our readers can help you. For me, as an expatriate, I cannot do much more than what we have already put up on this site blog and our readers comments. It seems information and photographs of the brothers is quite sparse. The only other thing we have is a 1934 scghool class photo which includes DR. The thumbnail can be seen at http://www.ipohworld.org/search8/result.asp?strid=3492.

  65. kalai vanar says:

    Tq ika,i very much appreciate the efford u took in this page,we will keep in touch n mu hp number is 019-3603199,pls to inform u n ur frends that they can contact me about the documentary,tq

  66. james curry says:

    I can remember as a child visiting mr. Seenivasegam’s office when he dealt with the sad affair of my parent’s separation.i recall seeing an orang utan in a cage to the left on the way up to his office which i’ve always assumed was serving as a guard and being told to keep clear of it although it always seemed to me a most mild mannered creature.

  67. raja says:

    Guys, y’all should write a book on these legendary brothees of Malaysia. Those who knew these men should get together maybe by creating a Facebook group/page and publish a book about them so that their memories live on for the future generation to know about. At least, that’s the least we could do for all their sacrifices for the people of Malaysia.

  68. william tan says:

    I agree too. The older generation should do something about this before it’s too late. Mr Andrew, you can contact people like Areca Books or other publishers to publish it. I am pretty sure Malaysians of my generation would like to know more about these two brothers. With the political scenario in the country now and the awakening of political interest amongst the younger generation, I bet a book on the Seenivasagam brothers would be a hot seller.

  69. Manoharan says:

    Just stumbled into this beautiful blog. Born and raised in Ipoh since 1954.Left Ipoh in 1979 only to be spoilt in JB till now.
    If today’s generation cried for Karpal’s untimely demise, we, the Ipoh people did the same (if not more ) when DR died and the funeral procession was something that I have yet to witness again till to date.
    DR was a fiery guy in Parliament. He was fearless.He was articulate.He guarded our constitution very very jealously.Not many wanted to cross swords with him.TDM, Ghazali Shafie, Tun Dr Ismail, Khir Johari ,Tan Siew Sin, Sambanthan were all cut down to pieces by DR in Parliament debates.He made them appear like mice.That was DR.
    I used to go his his office in Hale Street to write the polling cards. Used to get $1 Malaysian Dollar for 500 cards.Did these after school hours.At 5pm hopped over to Ipoh Padang to play football barefooted.
    Always used to see DR coming and going out of the office with his trademark cigarettes and most times he would be dressed all white.
    One day while I was writing the cards, a football coach came over to the office to pull me away for a game of football at Ipoh Padang.I told the coach, I had no shoes to play and and would not want to play with the big boyz who had boots on.DR came over and heard my pleas.He took 3.00 Malaysian Dollars from his pocket and gave it to the coach and told him to get me Fung Keong rubber shoes with studs and allow me to play the game that evening.That was DR.
    When SP got married……the celebrations in Ipoh was carnival like.It went on for a few days.On one of those celebration days, The Ipoh Municipality’s lorries were used to load the Chinese Lion Dance group, The Indian traditional drum and nathaswaram troupe as well as a Malay band with 3 guitarists and a singer (gen set in tow) and all three lorries went all over Ipoh to serenade the huge crowds that lined up the streets.All in all there were almost 20 lorries and a few buses and free drinks (Red Lion and F&N) were also distributed to most of the crowd. I was fortunate enough to sneak and hopped into one of the lorries and had a great joyride all over Ipoh for a good 4 hours or so and that too pissed drunk on many bottles of Red Lion Orange drink.

    Malaysia can never ever dream of seeing another DR or SP resurfacing on its soil again.
    Khong Kok Yat, RCM Rayan and Paramjit Singh were not of the same mould of DR and SP and could not keep the PPP fire burning. Moreover, Barisan’s cunning and conniving intentions within the alliance was another nail that was driven into PPP’s coffin.

  70. felicia says:

    Hi Manoharan. Thank you for sharing this with us. Yes, sadly it’s true that Ipoh has yet to meet another DR or SP Seenivasagam………
    By the way, do you remember which blog it was from?

    • Manoharan says:

      Hi Felicia,

      No, not from any blogs. None of my write about SP and DR comes from any blogs. It is all my personal experience. As mentioned, I am from Ipoh and remained there till 1977.Since then, been residing in JB.

      What I meant was…….I stumbled into this blog of yours and read your write about DR and SP. I felt it would be good to share my personal experience with DR and SP for the benefit of others.

      • felicia says:

        Hi Manoharan. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us! It’s nice to hear from someone who had a personal encounter with these famous brothers. Those from my generation aren’t that lucky….we only got to know about such dedicated politicians after their demise.

  71. Ipoh Remembered says:


    Once upon a time the then Sabah Chief Minister Stephen Kalong Ningkam was dismissed, a move generally believed to be motivated by The Alliance. Ningkam engaged D.R. S.P. and David Marshall to fight his what he deemed as unconstituitional removal from office. All these three lawyers were promptly banned from entering Sabah. Imagine three heavy weights going there. Would welcome any factual corrections on this.

    Not Ningkam but Ningkan; not Sabah but Sarawak; and “once upon a time” was 1966.

    Ningkan was of Iban and Chinese ancestry and believed strongly in a multi-racial government. He was also a fervent anti-Communist. (“We shall seek out and destroy our enemy where we find him and we will mete out to those few disloyal people in our community the punishment they deserve,” he had said, after an assassination attempt aimed at him had killed his brother instead.)

    Yes, his dismissal as Chief Minister was “generally believed to be motivated by the Alliance” because (1) the Alliance openly took credit for firing him; (2) the Alliance claimed it had a right to fire him because, according to the Alliance, a majority on Sarawak’s Council of State had lost confidence in him; and (3) the Alliance openly chose and named a replacement.

    Ningkan gamely fought back and even won in court but, in response, the Alliance declared a state of emergency in Sarawak — as usual blaming “Communists,” of course — and that was the end of that. (A previously declared state of emergency was already in effect in Sarawak but apparently this was deemed insufficient by the experts.)

    Some saw it as ironic that Ningkan had been a supporter of Sarawak’s entry into Malaysia.


    wow Rama! that is one bit of history that never made the history books we used in school……if anyone who knows MORE about this, do let us know……especially since it involves DR and SP Seenivasagam

    felicia, did you ever get a response to this request?

    • Ngai C O says:

      Hi Ipoh Remembered,

      Donald Stephens of Sabah suffered a worse fate in a plane crash.

      Till today, there are so many question marks.

      • Ipoh Remembered says:

        Dear Ngai C O … I agree, the plane crash (in 1976) was significant – but I think we can leave it at that, unless someone comes up with a stronger Ipoh connection. Whereas the Ningkan episode (in 1966) took place while the Seenivasagam brothers were still alive.

        Rama said above that Ningkan engaged the brothers (and David Marshall) to fight on his behalf and that, as a result, they were prevented from entering [Sarawak]. Without commenting on that, I can relate that as events occurred, D. R. did speak out in Parliament to defend democratic rule in Sarawak. In response, Ningkan’s hand-picked Alliance replacement warned D. R. to limit his comments to Ipoh matters only. In response to that, S. P. spoke up and told the Alliance man that, in fact, no one was asking for his permission to speak. This sort of thing happened all the time — and still does, I suppose.

        Anyway, I want to thank Andrew Lin for his excellent articles on the brothers; and also ika and company for negotiating the various aspects of copyright thus enabling the wider sharing of Andrew’s work. Kudos to all.

        • Ngai C O says:


          The Seenivasagam brothers not only championed people’s rights and were very generous, the party they led and the municipal council they hemmed made tremendous improvements to the welfare of the people.

          Sanitation was modernised, drainage was improved, affordable housing was built like Waller Court, the high rise in Silibin, road repairs and the town cleanliness were maintained.

          I think the fountain at the junction Kampar Road,
          Tambun Road, Hugh Low Street and Brewster Road was their initiative as well as part of their improvement plans.

          Although gangsterism was rife from the 50s right up to the 70s, Ipoh was very peaceful, with very little restrictions and thriving. There was always an air of fairness and equality and people were confident that two brothers in particular would go out of the way to protect their rights. The population was very proud of the council’s achievements.

          The flats became an eyesore and were not really fit for purpose.

    • felicia says:

      Hi Ipoh Remembered. We never really had any confirmation on Rama’s statement. Still hoping someone could tell us more.
      From what yourself, Ngai and all the others have said so far…yes, it does seem a little suspicious….

  72. Ipoh Remembered says:

    S.Y. Lee wrote:

    There was also a Lok Lam Club on the land. This was (is?) a club for the millionaires.

    Yes, and the club still exists.


    Never having heard of the Lok Lam Club I looked it up and found the following: Lok Lam Club. No. 99, Jln Gopeng, 30250, Ipoh, Perak. Tel. No: 05-2545227. Category: Country Clubs. Can anyone tell us more please?

    ika, the address you found is Lok Lum’s present-day club-house, a nondescript building hidden behind a nondescript wall.

    The original club-house was, well, descript.

    Founded in 1915[*1], the Lok Lum Club originally occupied a beautiful mansion at the intersection of Laxamana Road and Brewster Road, at the northern edge of Kampong Laxamana. In those days Laxamana Road did not extend north of Brewster Road; the club-house sat on the western side of the T-junction, not far from (what was then) the new Brewster Road fire station.

    The Club was the pet project of miner Lim Seng Chew, who served multiple terms as president.[*2] Where other miners had their Chamber of Mines and their Chamber of Commerce, Seng Chew had his Club.

    Among the more frequent patrons were the families of Leong Sin Nam and the late Leong Fee (the latter was Seng Chew’s employer but he died a few years before the Club was founded).

    In operation the Lok Lum Club was something like a Chinese version of the Ipoh Club. A social and business venue, it had rules about who could be a member and who could be a guest, and certain exceptions were made. (One difference: the Ipoh Club was subsidized by the state whereas Lok Lum was not — but that’s another story.)

    As for furnishings and decor in the club-house, they were just what you’d expect: traditional Chinese luxury. By the late ’20s, however, two additional features made the club an even more inviting place to go. First was a large and powerful electric refrigerator imported from Michigan; and second was an installation of flush toilets. I won’t dwell on these advantages except to say that, not counting several in private homes, as late as 1930 the only other “water-borne sanitary facilities” in Ipoh were installed for guests at the Station Hotel, for members at the Ipoh Club, and, for the general public, on Market Terrace outside the new market in New Town.

    During the Japanese Occupation, the Lok Lum Club was taken over and used for the entertainment of the Japanese.

    And yet it survived.[*3]



    *1: Not quite as old as Han Chin Pet Soo, therefore.

    *2: Lim Seng Chew co-managed Leong Fee’s Tambun Mines with Harry Nutter and the Pearse brothers: he was responsible for the Chinese (i. e., non-Indian) portion of the work-force. He was also a miner and entrepreneur in his own right and enjoyed the good life, touring the world de luxe in the company of other Ipoh towkays.

    Almost the only enterprise he joined that did not work out well was the ill-fated Bank of Malaya — but then again, as you know, other astute people failed in that venture, too.

    One of Seng Chew’s sons was a lawyer. A son-in-law was a UK-trained architect among whose projects in Ipoh was the Cheng Bok Building (designed with Charles Boutcher, both of them on staff at Stark & McNeill at the time); and this son-in-law’s father had been one of Ipoh’s leading developers.

    It’s a good thing Seng Chew did not live to see the desecration of his beloved Club during the Occupation. He died in 1937.

    *3. Today, the President of the Club is William Teoh, a miner (cf. Perak Chinese Mining Association), planter (e. g., oil palm), developer (e. g., the Octagon), and community leader (e. g., in Chinese education generally and in Teochew matters in particular). In fact, if William is not yet acquainted with ipohWorld, I suggest this oversight might be remedied to mutual advantage. (You already have a telephone number.)

  73. Ipoh Remembered says:

    Sorry, I need to make a correction in the following:

    A son-in-law was a UK-trained architect among whose projects in Ipoh was the Cheng Bok Building (designed with Charles Boutcher, both of them on staff at Stark & McNeill at the time)

    The staff architect in Stark & McNeill’s Ipoh office who led the design of the Cheng Bok Building was Thomas Steele, who, a few years earlier, had designed the Ipoh Cenotaph. Boutcher was not on staff; he was a senior partner in the firm and Steele’s boss.

    That’s the correction. For now I’ll skip the usual digressions even though they would lead us back to the Seenivasagams …

  74. Ipoh Remembered says:

    About those digressions that lead us back to the Seenivasagams, here’s one …

    There used to be a road in Ipoh named after towkay Lim Seng Chew. Is it still there? It ran between the Ave Maria Convent and Hugh Low Street.

    On that road named after towkay Lim Seng Chew, towkay Foo Yet Kai had a home. In fact, he was murdered in it, and when the case went to court and the family wanted someone to keep a close eye on the proceedings, they asked … D. R.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes:

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>