Datuk K. John Kuruvilla



Mention the name Datuk K. John Kuruvilla, chances are not many people outside the Malayalee community will know him; but mention the man with one Rupee, one may indeed be fascinated with the story of how this man has made it in life with only one Rupee in his pocket, when he landed in Malaya.

If it had been another rag-to-riches story, it would end up having a same story line as many other Malaysian tycoons, but for this retired pharmacist, a self-made man from Sungai Petani, the wealth he has accumulated is in the form of a rich legacy, which he now desires to pass on to his children and his grandchildren. We are talking of one man whose vast experience in political, business and spiritual matters has many lessons and inspirations that we can draw from nine decades of his life.

            In the political arena, he was a big supporter of the late Tunku Abdul Rahman who later became the first Prime Minister of Malaysia. He was and is still a good friend of Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, albeit one who had never benefited politically from the latter’s 22 years of premiership. Yet, he has always remained a faithful supporter and political ally. The relationship with Dr. Mahathir went back to the early 1960s when John Kuruvilla owned a pharmacy in Sungai Petani, while the former prime minister was operating a clinic in Alor Star. He was the leader of the Indian Association in Sungai Petani and later became a founding member of MIC Kedah, while Dr. Mahathir was the leader of UMNO branch in Kubang Pasu.

            In the business arena, John Kuruvilla went through the years of prosperity during the time when the British expatriates had the money to maintain hospitals in large estates. His pharmacy was doing well. When the country became independent, and these estates were subdivided and sold to local entrepreneurs, it became too costly to maintain the estate hospitals. His pharmacy business was badly affected, and it is interesting to learn how this man, who came to Malaya in the late 30’s with only one Rupee, never failed to look upwards to the Almighty for his daily providence. Today, all his sons and daughters are well-educated and successful people in society.

            One other area of his life that cannot be forgotten is John Kuruvilla’s journey in life with his God. Over and over again, he has witnessed God’s providence in his life. God blessed his one Rupee and multiplied it many times more, because of his faithfulness.

Datuk K. John Kuruvilla, PJN, BMS, AMK, PPM, JP, MMPS, R.Ph, has a legacy that will be treasured by even his fellow Malaysians, especially people from the Malayalee community. It is also a wonderful account about life in the then Malaya, which foreigners could do well reading to gain a glimpse into the life in the early years of the newly-formed nation.

I am happy to be involved at every stage of the writing process to bring this book together. This book would not have been possible without the input by the K.J. Family.


Stephen E. J. Ng








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