A Malaysian Milestone

By MAHESHWARI DORAI RAJAH

From humble beginnings to political high spots. This is one Malaysian Indian’s success story.

An impoverished background acted as a catalyst to success for Tan Sri Vadiveloo Govindasamy who went on to become a name to reckon with in Malaysia’s political and legal landscape.

Wanting to be a “master of his own destiny”, Vadiveloo grabbed the proverbial bull by the horns and created opportunities for himself, instead of beckoning them to come knocking.

Born in Kuala Lumpur on Jan 1, 1932 to Indian immigrants Govindasamy Veerapan and G. Thanabackiam, Vadiveloo had a hard-scrabble childhood. His father eked out a living as a fitter at the Sentul Railwayworks in Kuala Lumpur while his mother had her hands full taking care of 11 children.
But he strove for academic excellence and after passing his School certificate exam in flying colours in December 1950, he was hired as a temporary English teacher by his alma mater Methodist Boys School.

Vadiveloo made quite an impression with his teaching skills and soon he was offered a chance to hone them at the Malayan Teachers’ Training College in Kirkby (or better known as Kirkby College), located 9.5km from Liverpool.

A measure of how good Vadiveloo was as a teacher can be attested to by his selection into a group of 150 picked to attend a one-year teachers’ trainers course, also at the Kirkby College, in January 1961. Upon completion, he returned to Banting where he served a three-year term as headmaster of the Sultan Abdul Samad School there.

During this time, he tied the knot with Puan Sri M. Manonmaney, also a teacher, in an arranged marriage in 1963. In October 1965, he resigned to take up his real calling as a legal eagle by proceeding to London to complete his Bar finals. Vadiveloo completed the course in just 19 months, which otherwise takes three-four years. He was simultaneously doing his LLB course at the London University.

He was admitted to the Malaysian Bar as an advocate/solicitor in May 1968, and a month later, graduated. Immediately he got a job as a legal assistant at Xavier and Thambiah law firm and was made a partner upon the latter’s death in1971, with the company’s name changed to Xavier & Vadiveloo.



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