As for the Armed Forces, Uthayakumar recalled that the first Malaysian navy chief was an Indian, rear admiral K Tanabalasingam.
This is surprising news for me, so I rang up one of my uncles (a sweetie once remarked I have many uncles wakakaka) who once served in the Armed Forces, to confirm Uthayakumar’s assertion.
Unc agreed with Uthayakumar, both in that fact that Tanabalasingam was the first Malaysian to be the nation’s naval chief, and Uthayakumar’s cry that "No Indian Malaysian however capable will ever get to this position ever again."
Unc also asserted that neither would ever a Chinese Malaysian.
Unc said that relatively the Indians had done far better than the Chinese in the Armed Forces, despite there being 4 times more Chinese Malaysians than Indian ones.
He remembered that during his time there were more Indian than Chinese generals in the army and navy. The first non-Malay air force general was also an Indian.
He can’t be sure but he reckoned the Indians also had more 2-star generals than the Chinese.
Despite the population ratio, the Indians had fared far far better than the Chinese in the senior ranks. My Unc’s personal opinion is that in the armed forces the Indians were more trusted or liked than the Chinese.
The exception in the ‘trust’ category for the Chinese was the Police (in his days), where the top SB man would be a Chinese. The rationale, inherited from the British, was to use a Chinese (SB policeman) to catch a Chinese (communist).
Incidentally the two men who virtually crippled the MCP and silently won the war for Malaysia against the insurgency were two police officers, Paul Kiong and Sia Boon Chee. Both were awarded Malaysia’s highest bravery award, the Seri Pahlawan Gagah Perkasa in 1983, but they weren’t generals. Kiong eventually reached the rank SP (roughly equivalent to the military Colonel) whilst Sia retired as a DSP (= Lt Colonel).
So, all in all, in the 52 years of Malayan/Malaysian independence, the Indians had performed remarkably well in the senior ranks of the armed forces when compared to the Chinese. At least they enjoyed having an Indian become a Service Chief.
I believe that was the case too in the senior positions of the Civil Service.
On Tanabalasingam, a Tamil whose family were of Sri Lanka extract, Unc added a bit of juicy gossip, that by the time he became Navy boss and a
Besides, according to Unc, the (most eligible) bachelor
I wonder whether he was eventually married. Just imagine the convoy of trucks (or ships) carrying his dowry wakakaka!