Ma Govindarasu

When you visit his FACEBOOK page, it is splattered with links to old Tamil songs and articles in Tamil. This is Ma Govindasamy or Ma Go Mgr as he calls himself online - a man who has immense love for the Tamil Language.

At the tender age of 7, Ma Govindarasu arrived from India with his family in Singapore. His Tamil education started in prominent Tamil language schools i.e. Vivekanander School and Umar Pulavar Tamil Language Centre. He was ushered into the spotlight as a drama performer because of a classmate who got ill during a performance. His passion for the Tamil language and for the performing arts continued in his formative years as he entered his secondary school education.


“I am very fortunate because my base education was in Tamil. I had interest for Tamil, learnt Tamil and studied in Tamil.”

Not many can claim to have been the classmate of our current Prime Minister Mr. Lee Hsien Loong but Ma Govindarasu is one of the lucky few who studied with him at National Junior College. Perhaps growing up with the likes of PM Lee Hsien Loong could have instilled the strong sense of service for the community and nation in the young Ma Govindarasu. In the 1960’s he joined Pek Kio CC and was instrumental in starting the Indian Activity Group with the aim of uniting the Indians.

“This collaboration lead to the formation of the Indian Narpani group (known then as Indian Cultural group).”

The resounding support from various communities heralded the formation of “Narpani Peravai” in 1988; an umbrella group that promotes educational, cultural, welfare and social activities for the Indian community. It also provided a platform for the representation of Indians and their views to the government. Upon the request from the authorities, Ma Govindarasu took up the challenge to ‘captain’ “Narpani Peravai” on its maiden journey. His biggest challenge came when Singapore turned 25yrs old in 1990. Narpani Peravai was tasked to lead the celebration showcasing the Indian community. This created such a buzz that it has raised the bar for the 50th year celebration as well.


“Every Indian then felt very proud to be an Indian because of the newfound self- confidence.”

The Internet age was one that Ma Govindarasu actively embraced and he and others would have almost introduced the first Tamil words ever to appear in Windows if not for unfortunate circumstances that derailed the project. He continued engaging the Indian Community through a Yahoo group forum that he started for Indians. This forum discussed various government policies and provided valuable feedback to the government. Ma Govindarasu was intrigued by the exhibitions about computers in the early 1980s and was an early adopter when it came to technology. He was always looking for ideas to infuse and bring new life to the Tamil language using the latest technology. He managed to introduce animation and keyboard assignments for Tamil language entry. He also leveraged on email platform to publish newsletters. The newsletters provided opportunity for the Indian community to come together to voice their needs and concerns.

“Through the Internet, it was easy to form a group and group members can access it anytime even at 1am at night.”

Ma Govindarasu laments about the waning influence of Tamil in the community today. He feels the need for the next generation to step up to preserve our culture, language and traditions.

Not one to look for recognition or admiration, he recounts fondly memories of gratitude expressed by 2 successful Indian boys who have become a doctor and a captain today. Ma Govindarasu says he will continue his efforts in showcasing Tamil language and connecting Indian Community not for recognition sake but solely because of his love and interest for Tamil and the Community. He vows to continue serving the community with the same burning desire even as he turns 65 in the year 2015.


“I am not a lone soldier. If I had done this much - it is all because of my friends and the people behind me.”

With Singapore’s 50th year celebration around the corner, Govindarasu has independently embarked on initiatives to mark this important occasion. He is busy interviewing Indian pioneers, compiling 50 compositions by students for publication and getting 50000 Indians to say video greetings for the birthday celebration. Impossible some may say, but this is not going to stop the Captain (as he is still known by some) from forging on.


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.