He Made His Parents Cry

Dr DG Suresh Kumar

Dr DG Suresh Kumar

He Made His Parents Cry

Social worker, playwright and management consultant Professor Dr G. Suresh Kumar is essentially a tropical medicine and parasitology professor from Universiti Malaya, with 11 awards to his name, writes SONIA RAMACHANDRAN.

He just won the Malaysian Toray Science and Technology Award last month for his 17 years of pioneering work in the field of Blastocystis.

Blastocystis is a protozoan parasite known to cause diarrhoea, stomach bloating and other gastro-intestinal symptoms.

He has also won numerous awards, including the Geneva International Innovation Gold Medal, for developing a diagnostic test for Blastocystis.

This is Professor Dr G. Suresh Kumar, a scientist, social worker, playwright and management consultant.

But in 1980, things did not look good for Suresh, who was studying at Victoria Institution in Kuala Lumpur.

He had failed his Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia examination, with very poor results in Mathematics and Chemistry. He sat for the examinations again, and failed.

“My career guidance counsellor told me never to take up science as my results were so poor. He said to try law, accountancy; any other course except science. Everyone else discouraged me. Some asked me to work and others said I was a total write-off.”

The turning point in his life came when he returned home one day and opened the door to his father P. Govind’s room.

“I saw him crying. I was the eldest in the family and he had always wanted me to be a doctor. I closed the door silently. I went out and did some soul- searching. I decided then that I would make sure that my father would have the opportunity to call me ‘doctor’.”

He joined Tunku Abdul Rahman College, did his diploma and bachelor’s in science, and joined the Institute for Medical Research.

“I was assigned as research assistant to Dr Mak Joon Wah. He was my parasitology teacher. He was the one who taught me about parasites. He was an inspiring figure and I became interested in the field.”

Dr Mak sent Suresh to do his postgraduate diploma in applied parasitology and entomology.

“The top student would receive a scholarship to do his master’s. I studied hard, landed the scholarship and did my master’s at Universiti Malaya. After that, I received another scholarship to do my PhD at the National University of Singapore.”

In Singapaore, Suresh did not just bury his nose in his books.

“I was involved in social work in the evenings. I taught in teen youth classes and conducted drama workshops. I begun to realise that the more I got involved in service work, the better I became in my field. Only when you serve and help others do your brains get activated.”

Then came the greatest moment of Suresh’s life: his parents came to attend his convocation.

“I think any child can do anything he wants, but to fulfil the ambition of your parents is the greatest satisfaction. That was a moment in eternity when my parents were sitting there in the convocation hall and I went to receive my scroll. I took my own sweet time to get the doctorate scroll because I wanted my parents to savour every moment. When I placed the scroll at their feet, they were in tears.”

Suresh, who is the deputy president of the Sathya Sai Baba Central Council of Malaysia, has written more than 70 sketches and plays which reflect values, unity and integration as well as the promotion of culture and tradition.

Why did he get involved in this?

“It gives you purpose and meaning. It gives much more depth to what life is all about. I have more than 180 publications and papers, and not one can I take with me when I die. No one really bothers what you believe in. What really matters is what are the consequences of that belief. No one up there will question where you came from but what will be asked is what have you done during your time on earth. What are your contributions?”

Suresh said his group was also working with the Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Ministry to organise an inter-religious youth camp next month.

How did he start writing plays?

“There was a drama competition and a group was staging this play. I saw that play and thought it could be improved. So I went home, took a paper and pen, and toyed with an idea. But I did not have the confidence to give it to the director, so I kept it in my pocket and went on to act in somebody else’s play. Somewhere along the way, the paper fell out of my pocket. The director picked it up, read it and said it was fantastic. They changed their script for mine.”

Suresh has also authored four management books.

So what is Suresh’s message?

“Nobody in this world is stupid or silly. No one in this world needs to feel that they are the underprivileged or marginalised. If a hapless individual like myself could pick himself up and do it, anybody can. Just believe in yourself. There are three simple formulas to follow: love and serve your parents, use every talent and skill to serve society and love all without differentiating between them.”

NST Reference