Tunku Abdul Rahman’s Tailor

I have always been curious of who is the guy that makes the clothes for the Prime Minister, Royalties, Celebrities and other VVIPs.

Not only that but I also wonder who cook for them, who cut’s their hair, who is their gardener, photographer, IT adviser and what its like to be their driver or pilot (I once came acquainted with one of the pilots who led the crew for our previous PM, Tun Dr Mahathir) for these VVIPs.

Please do not get me wrong as I’m not here to discuss politics but more of the personal refined character of these VVIPs and their interests. For example it is a well known fact that Tun Dr Mahathir is very careful about what he eats, thus resulting in an above average bill of health for his age. But many people might not know that he likes to eat chocolates, in small quantities of course.

I have also come into acquaintance with the tailor of the late Tun Dr Ismail, our previous Deputy PM and I learned that he was a very passionate golfer.

Wednesday August 29, 2007

Sewing for the prime minister


FOR the past 50 years, Douglas Ratnapala, a retired teacher had been closely following every Merdeka celebration and this year it is extra special for him and the other members of his family

The nation is celebrating its 50th anniversary and Douglas, 62, doesn’t want to trade this moment for anything else.

A proud moment: Douglas holding a black and white photograph of his father with Tunku and Datuk Gian Singh’s son, Balwant Singh.

Douglas was 12-years-old when he watched the nation’s first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman proclaim the country’s independence with the shouts of Merdeka. It was a proud moment for him, his siblings and his parents because the suits the country’s first prime minister and several other dignitaries wore on that day were designed and tailored by his late father G. K. Sediris Appuhamy.

“My father was 60-years-old when he made the suit for Tunku. Those days they were better known as cutters and my dad was working for Gian Singh and Co, which was one of the few tailoring shops then. It was situated at the former Robinsons building along Mountbatten Road, now known as Jalan Tun Perak,’’ said Douglas.

Recounting a period during one of his visits to the shop to see his father at work, he was told that the Tunku would be dropping by to make a suit but changed his plans at the last moment because of his busy schedule in preparation for the country’s .

“The Tunku had visited the shop earlier and this was an opportunity for me to see the Tunku up close but I was disappointed when my dad was summoned to his residence instead to have his measurements taken. As the main cutter at Gian Singh and Co, my dad was also given the task of designing his suit,’’ said Douglas.

Douglas missed out on a meeting with the Tunku. However, he and the other members of the family cannot but feel proud to be part of this big celebration come August 31.

“My father’s memories are brought back to life each time the footages of the Tunku are shown over television,’’ Douglas said as he showed a black and white framed photograph of his father standing with the Tunku and his boss’ son Balwant Singh taken at the Tunku’s residence.

Although none of his brothers and sisters had followed their father footsteps in tailoring, one thing was certain; the sounds of Merdeka will forever ring in their minds.

Gian Singh and Co became a household name in the tailoring industry following Tunku’s only visit there.

Douglas said that his father was even busier after the country achieved Merdeka as many VIPs wanted their suits tailored by him.

The master cutter continued with his dexterous job at cutting until he retired in 1965, eight years after he made that famous suit for the man called Bapa Malaysia.

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