A J Paul

At the Sri Arulmigu Velmurugan Gnanamuneeswarar Temple located in the calm quiet neighbourhood of Sengkang, one cannot miss Mr A J Paul as he is there everyday to go about his duties quietly as the chairman of the temple. This unique temple, which features two main deities, as a result of the combination of three different temples, draws in many visitors, both local and foreign.

Moving to Singapore in 1953 at thirteen in hopes of further education or career opportunities, Mr Paul unfortunately found that jobs were fairly scarce. Feeling that he had too much free time on his hands and seeing how other races lived together in communities and had formed groups to look after their needs, Mr Paul and several youths like him were motivated to join, the Singapore Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam. Though similar to the political party in India, the SDMK focused on the welfare of the Tamil people of Singapore providing community and social service.


They were even able to arrange for C N Annadurai, a famous politician and orator, to briefly stop at Singapore on his way to Tokyo and deliver a speech to over 12,000 Tamils at the Jalan Besar Stadium. Mr Paul feels that being part of SDMK was truly special and not only were there many volunteers, everyone tried to contribute in some way, even if it was just a small service rendered.

“People will contribute whatever they could afford or lend a hand.”

Shortly afterwards however, SDMK was disbanded and reformed as the Singapuur Thamizhar Iyakam (Singapore Tamils Movement – STM), hence disassociating themselves from DMK in India. It was shortly after this that the tension between Indonesia and Singapore began and with the recent bomb blasts, many small voluntary neighbourhood watch groups were formed to watch over areas with high human traffic such as at temples or hospitals. Seeing this as a good opportunity, Mr Paul switched over to volunteering for the Jalan Kayu watch group.

In the late 1960s when the watch groups were winding down and with the civil defence service being set up by the government, Mr Paul joined that part time instead, undergoing 6 months of intensive training under both the Israeli and British Armies. Though tough, the training came in very useful when he became a trainer responsible for training new recruits when Singapore first began national service for male citizens. However, through it all, Mr Paul never forgot his passion for volunteering and always found time to fit in working at the temple into his schedule.

“Our only thought was how to fully utilise our time for good deeds.”

Given his age, 77 and the fact that he should be comfortably retired and enjoying life, Mr Paul claims that he is indeed enjoying life and loves that he gets to continue helping people. Moving from a trustee position to chairing the temple board, Mr Paul remains humble and yet is fully integrated with the temple.

He lives a simple life, making his way everyday to the temple from his home in Ang Mo Kio, going through the grounds to take note of works to be done, doing some simple maintenance works, tending to the garden in the compound before settling any admin issues. He is usually here till the temple closes, doing one thing or another but enjoying every moment of it.

This spirit of helping others has always been innate in him and carries over to his daily life and work as well. In fact, he even sold his house and donated the proceedings towards the temple construction fund and not just a small sum either. What could have ensured a very luxurious retiree’s lifestyle or inheritance for his children or grandchildren was instead donated willingly by him. Mr Paul thanks his wonderful family and says all this was possible only due to their support. In fact, he mentions that his children are simply happy that he remains active rather than sit at home and watch television all day.


“The only legacy I can leave behind is God.”

In the end, Mr Paul credits all he has achieved to God and mentions that it is through his grace that he is still here, able to do what he loves despite having had health problems. Believing that God is always here to help those who come with their problems, Mr Paul strongly encourages everyone to seek support from God.

Filled with plans to continue improving the temple and introduce more activities, Mr Paul shows no signs of stopping and we here at 50 Faces would like to wish him the best with all his ventures and should any readers be looking for a good opportunity to start volunteering, Mr Paul is glad to welcome any help.


“It is the service to God that I find most valuable. I have never felt more peaceful”


A dedication to the pioneers in the Indian community.

50Faces brings your stories of ordinary Singaporeans who have contributed to our community and nation building.