A scholarship fund has been established in memory of Dato Sir Ernest Emmanuel Clough Thuraisingham (28 August 1898 – 30 March 1979). Dato Thuraisingham was the first local Member (Minister) for Education in the Communities Liaison Committee formed to build communal fraternity in British-ruled Malaya, from 1951–1955. He was of Sri Lankan Tamil origin.
Dato Sir Ernest Emmanuel Clough Thuraisingham graduated in 1922 with a BA degree in Law & Political Economy at Cambridge University, following which he practised law and was admitted as a Barrister-at-Law in 1924. With encouragement from his father, Kasinathar Clough, he set up a legal practice in Singapore, before returning to Malaya in 1925.
With the imminent Japanese occupation of Singapore, Thuraisingham then moved to Kuala Lumpur in 1942, which he made his home. During this time, the politics of race was complicating the vision and hope of an independent multiracial Malaya. Thuraisingham managed to juggle the commitments of his large family with the many demands of his political endeavours and legal career.
Thuraisingham ran a very successful law practise which enabled him to provide pro-bono legal services to those who were unable to afford it.
Thuraisingham, and several others, became the vanguard of the multiracial Malayan independence movement. In response to this movement, and the spectre of the UN anti-colonial stance, the British instituted self-government. Thuraisingham was appointed Member (Minister) of Education.
As the first Member of Education in the Federation of Malaya, Thuraisingham established a comprehensive system of education, beginning in 1951 to provide free education for all children between six and twelve years of age.
Thuraisingham was also one of the prime movers of the Social Welfare Lotteries System, which financed the provision of welfare services to the poor of all races in Malaya.
Thuraisingham and his friend, Onn Jaafar, were firm believers of multiracialism in politics. Together, they laid the groundwork for an independence movement to devolve power from the British. However, their egalitarian multiracial movement began losing ground to racial-based politics in the early 1950s. Disappointed with the racial slant in Malayan politics, Thuraisingham resigned as Member for Education in 1955.
Thuraisingham career in politics did not end then, he went on to become the first leader of the Ceylon Federation of Malaya, a political party representing the small Tamil community from Sri Lanka, was appointed a senator in 1957, retiring in 1974.
In a life filled with service to his country, people and family, Thuraisingham received many awards:
- in 1948, he received a CBE from King George VI;
- in 1950, the Sultan Ibrahim of Johore bestowed the title of Dato Paduka Makota Johore (DPMJ) upon him;
- in 1953, he received the Doctor of Laws (Honoris Causa) from the National University of Singapore;
- on 10 July 1955, he was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II for his services to the country and Malayan education and bestowed the title of Knight Bachelor.
The Dato Sir Ernest Emmanuel Clough Thuraisingham Scholarship is the first endowed scholarship facilitated by Olive Kids, and we are proud to honour Thuraisingham for his lifetime of tireless leadership and service.