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OLD FIGHTER: Ragu was vocal and never one to shy away from a fair fight
THE old fighter in A. Ragunathan, ex-trade unionist, is still a man with much fire in his belly. He keeps close tabs of what's happening around him and writes notes for himself, probably to write a book later.
Ragu was no ordinary trade unionist. He was feared by some and respected by many in the 1980s and 1990s.
He was the head of the Malayan Technical Services Union and a key member of Cuepacs, the umbrella organisation for public and civil service unions.
Ragu's favourite word those days was paku or nail.
He would emerge from a meeting with the Public Services Department and whisper to journalists waiting to get his comments.
Saya sudah paku sama dia orang (I've nailed them), he would say, with conviction in his voice and this inevitably led to many stories. There were many trade unionists in those days, some more vocal and militant than others.
Ragu was vocal but composed and never one to shy away from a fair fight. Ragu, closer to 80 than 70, always has a high respect for good and fair leaders.
His memory of Tun Razak Hussein is that of a leader who cares for his people, one who listens and started a major transformation that helped change the country's landscape.
He would argue with then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in meetings and via letters. He believes in proper intellectual discourse, backing his arguments with solid case studies and precedents.
Together with many others, Ragu in some ways, aided the transformation of the Malaysian industrial relations system that has helped lay the foundation of a considerably enduring industrial harmony. I caught up with him a few days ago.
He said some of the trends in today's society worry him. "Some sections of our society seemed to like creating disharmony by having street demonstrations.
No one will benefit from this," he said in between his tea.
He has high regard for former DAP vice-chairman Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim who spoke out against the DAP leadership and later quit the party.
Ragu was not a card-carrying member of any political party but his political belief has always been founded on nation building and meaningful engagement.
He worked well with the late V. David, a DAP strongman, who was also president of the Transport Workers Union and the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC). "But we don't condone violent street demos, we speak up at the appropriate forums, we paku (nail) when we need to, and we give credit where credit is due," he said as we parted company.
Ragu celebrated his 40th wedding anniversary with his wife, Thavamani, last Wednesday. Ragu and Thava: May you have a long and happy life!