Pioneer armed forces doctor dies at 92
KUALA LUMPUR: Colonel (Rtd) Dr Natarajan Iyaswamy Pillai, a pioneer Armed Forces medical officer, died on Tuesday at 92, leaving a legacy of service in his illustrious 66-year-long career.
Dr Natarajan, who survived an operation where he and troops were caught in a deadly line of fire in Sabah waters 53 years ago, died at his home in Bukit Damansara.
His eldest son, Michael Ravi, said his father, a sitar player, had been ill of late and was pushing to finish his research paper on upper limb injuries suffered by musicians playing string instruments.
His second son, Cyril, said his father often advised him to be methodical, disciplined and punctual.
“He was a religious man who loved Indian classical music and always dressed well.”
Dr Natarajan, whose wife, Rita, died six years ago, is survived by United Kingdom-based anaesthetist Michael, 61, urologist Cyril, 56, and daughter Jacinta, 59, as well as four grandsons and two granddaughters.
He has four siblings, including Lieutenant-Colonel I. Sundram, 97, who retired from the Indian Army Ordnance Corps.
The Malaysian Armed Forces Veteran Medical and Dental Corps Officers Association president Lt-Colonel (Rtd) Dr Jaswant Singh described Dr Natarajan as an ever-willing volunteer to assist those in need.
“He was a dedicated and loyal member of the association and provided valuable advice on healthcare. We owe him a debt of love and will miss him dearly.”
Dr Jaswant said one of Dr Natarajan’s most striking quotes was when he referred to the country as a “land of milk and honey” due to its abundant opportunities and prosperity.
Dr Natarajan had recounted to the New Straits Times recently of his ordeal off Tawau.
“Our boat suffered engine failure and we had drifted into Indonesian waters. It was the most harrowing moment of my life. I thought I would die that day.
“But, praise the Lord, my life, as well as that of my comrades, was spared, as we eventually found our way back to Sabah waters.”
Dr Natarajan was born in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India, on Jan 4, 1925, and graduated from Stanley Medical College in Chennai in 1947.
In 1964, he answered a call to serve with the army and was posted in Singapore and then to Taiping, Perak.
He retired as the Armed Forces medical services director in 1980.
His funeral will be held today at the Cheras DBKL Crematorium in Jalan Kuari here. By Adrian David
Colonel (Rtd) Dr Natarajan Iyaswamy Pillai checking a patient.