Many witness momentous events in their lives, but few participate, much less leave their mark. Dr M.K. Rajakumar, on the contrary, left an indelible mark at every phase of his eventful life. As a medical student at the University of Malaya in Singapore, he co-founded the University Socialist Club and later landed himself in court on a sedition for an editorial that condemned Western imperialism and aggression in Asia. The victory of the eight students responsible for the club’s organ, Fajar, in the trial propelled them to fame, drawing them further into Singapore politics. Rajakumar was invited by Lee Kuan Yew to join in the preparations for founding the People’s Action Party (PAP). Even after his return to Malaya to practise medicine, he was associated with politicians, trade unionists and activists detained without trial in various mass arrests, notably Operation Cold Store, and was involved in the Malaya-Singapore merger debate, the establishment of the Barisan Sosialis, etc.
His quest for social justice and political freedom led him to join the Labour Party of Malaya to become one of its key leaders. It was a time of struggle over the nature and future of Malaysia itself. The Socialist Front – a coalition of the Labour Party, Partai Rakyat Malaya and National Convention Party – had emerged as the biggest opposition bloc in the country, until official repression decimated it. For championing his beliefs, Rajakumar was incarcerated without trial under the Internal Security Act (ISA) like so many of his compatriots before and after him. But the two years of detention (1965 -1967) did not deter him and he continued to lead the Labour Party after his release until it was deregistered in 1972.
Rajakumar then immersed himself fully in the medical profession and the advancement of science in the country with the same zeal and commitment. His core concerns were equitable and affordable universal health care and holistic medicine as embodied by family practice. The report on The Future of Health Services in Malaysia, mainly conceived by him and completed in 1980 during his term as the President of the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA), remains a landmark study. Rajakumar also devoted three decades to founding and naturing the Academy of Family Physicians of Malaysia (AFPM). He elevated his crusade for primary health care and family medicine to the international level through the World Organisation of Family Doctors (WONCA). Posthumously, the global movement for mentoring young family doctors, The Rajakumar Movement, was named after him.
Through historical investigations, personal recollections and tributes from colleagues, friends and family – including Tan Kai Hee, Syed Husin Ali, Poh Soo Kai, Said Zahari, Lim Hock Siew, Jomo K.S., Wang Gungwu, Ronald McCoy, Jeyakumar Devaraj, Lee Ban Chen, Abu Bakar Suleiman, Zuraina Majid, Sunita Rajakumar, Sukumari Sekhar, Ong Kik Hong and Shantha Nayar – this book constructs the portrait of a remarkable man who inspired many by the power of his intellect and the force of his conviction.
10th Anniversary Celebration of the Life of M.K.Rajakumar
16th December 2018
Dr M K Rajakumar, 76 years on 22nd November 2008, is a legend in the medical fraternity. He has influenced the thinking for creating ideas to farther the discipline of family medicine in Malaysia. He has affected many doctors in such a way that he has set himself to be a model physician.
In his memory, the Malaysian Medical Association has named a room after him. In this room, many meetings are held to discuss and promote healthcare matters, especially the Private Healthcare and Facilities Services Act. Currently, the MMA is trying to influence the Ministry of Health to gazette the Primary Care Fee schedule for which he was always championing that the general practitioners were grossly underpaid and the many health management organisations were ruining the fate of general practitioners. A new program “Sihat Peduli” is also being discussed.
The Academy of Family Physicians has continued to promote the seeds sown by him in family medicine in local conferences, the Asean Primary Care Conferences, his primordial work in China. Above all, by his leadership role in driving the Ministry of Health Malaysia to recognise the AFPM courses, examinations and qualifications and to establish the AFPM training course as a parallel pathway to the Public University’s Master’s program, to specialisation, which has been a great achievement. The AFPM examinations and qualifications are recognised as specialist qualifications on par with other specialist degrees.
The Academy has also continued to host the annual Rajakumar Oration in his memory during the Annual Convocation Ceremony inviting many distinguished friends of M K Rajakumar to reminisce their sojourn about M K Rajakumar.
The Academy has continued to offer Research prizes, annually in memory of M. K. Rajakumar to the best research during the year for primary care. The AFPM continues to train young medical officers in research methodology to carry out research in their workplace. This activity has promoted many articles being written and published in our own journals which has become recognised as indexed journals. M K Rajakumar vision has subtly influenced the journal editorial committee to reach out to such recognition for the AFPM.
Further, the AFPM has promoted The Rajakumar Movement(TRM) internationally at WONCA to form the young doctors in Eastern Hemispheres to join hands with the Vasco da Gama groups of the Americas and the African and European young doctors groups. The current chairman of the TRM is from Indonesia, Dr Erfen Gustiawan Suwango and secretary is Dr Mel Antony E Acuavera from the Philippines. Dr Erfen succeeds Dr Yoshida who took over from Dr Naomi Harris who started the TRM. These movements inspire young doctors to achieve the heights of famous family physicians.
Over the last 10 years, the name MK Rajakumar has lived on very strongly among the medical profession. His influence has been a lighthouse to guide and teach young doctors to become responsible doctors and human beings and is continuing to do so. Let this celebration be one to show the world that his name lives on.
Prof Datuk Dr D M Thuraiappah
16th December 2018