Pi­o­neer armed forces doc­tor dies at 92

New Straits Times - - News -

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.

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