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IPOH, June 5 ― As a young boy growing up in an estate at Kampung Bintang, Sitiawan, M. Kulasegaran had his first taste of discrimination in 1969 following the racial riots.
“I was selling nasi lemak made by my mum to earn extra income for the family. Suddenly a policeman came to me asking me why am I outside as a curfew was being enforced.”
“The next thing I knew I was carted in a truck to the police station. After finding out where I stayed, they sent me home but before that, they took the nasi lemak that I was supposed to sell without paying.”
Speaking to Malay Mail when met at his Taman Idris service centre here, Kulasegaran said that year, he received his identity card but it was red coloured.
“Luckily for me, my father, who is a MIC division chairman, managed to get it changed to blue colour years later.”
Growing up with no electricity and water, the second youngest of nine children to rubber tapper parents said he was a no-hoper in studies.
“All my public examinations I scored minimal grades that allow me to move on to the next level. I did not score a string of As.”
Looking back, Kulasegaran said he has his parents to thank for his upbringing.
“My mom rears goats, cows and pigs to earn extra income. I need to gather food to feed the animals and among the places I go is hospitals. After the food are brought back, I need to put my hands into the collection to check for sharp items before it is fed to the animals. Mind you there were no gloves then.”
“As a result, all my siblings including myself know how to rear animals.”
When he wanted to go to England for his legal studies in 1978, Kulasegaran said his mother sold pigs to fund his air ticket.
“I graduated with a Second Upper degree in 1982.”
After completing his BA (Hons) Barrister at Law from Lincoln’s Inn, London, he established Kula & Associates, which started operating on May 1, 1985.
He was called to the English Bar in July 1982 by the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn, thereafter he was admitted and enrolled as an advocate and solicitor of the High Court in Malaya in 1983.
Kulasegaran joined DAP in 1983 after being introduced by the DAP stalwart P. Patto.
When he became MP after winning the Teluk Intan by-election in 1997, the DAP vice-chairman said he never thought he would become a minister.
“It was unthinkable for a DAP representative to become a minister.”
He pledged to use his position as human resource minister to help more people.
“There will be outreach programmes. After Hari Raya, officers will be going to the ground to meet the people as I told them the poor do not have the time to come to our office during office hours.”
“They must have a new mindset...to work on Saturdays and Sundays or even public holidays.”