A Letchumanan was one of six PSM activists who were detained without trial for over a month before being released. The six face charges in court in October. Fatimah Joseph tells us more about him.
Many people will recognise Letchu. He has always been in the frontline of Parti Sosialis Malaysia’s protests and demonstrations, leading the chanting with a loud and spirited voice. He is one of the pillars of the Sungai Siput branch – a committed and reliable comrade who could be counted on in good times and bad.
Since the start of his activism (during his teens) until now (in his 40s), he has remained committed to the struggle despite the many challenges that have come his way. Balancing his time between his small business, family and activism is a major demand, but Letchu has somehow managed to cope well.
The son of a rubber tapper, Letchu, who is the fifth of eight brothers and sisters, has always been readily available to help those in need – it’s been second nature to him since his younger days. After completing his secondary education, Letchu proactively organised evening classes for neighbourhood children in the Heawood plantation.
Steadfast in charitable work
Ever since 1986, Letchu began involving himself in the ‘Kalvi Kuzhu’ (educational programme for poor children) spearheaded by community activists such as Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj, M Sarasvathy (both also detained under the Emergency Ordinance and later released only to face charges), Nehru and Mohanarani Rasiah in Sungai Siput. Letchu was steadfast in his charitable work as a tuition teacher and community organiser with his ‘Kalvikuzhu’ team. In 1992, Letchu joined Alaigal (a grassroots organisation serving the needs of the poor and marginalised) and later become a member of Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) in 1998.
Letchu has been always vocal in raising matters of the rakyat especially those involving rubber tappers, factory workers and farmers. He played a significant role in the struggle of the Heawood plantation workers, where they are now moving towards a solution.
Letchu is well-known for his cheerful disposition, come rain or shine. He never complains and carries out his work diligently. He has a subtle sense of humour, and could take any amount of teasing, but he always ends up having the last laugh with his witty remarks.
He has also served as head of the Parents-Teachers Association at Sekolah Menengah Haji Abdul Wahab, from 2009 to 2010. Currently, Letchu is also the chairman of Tadika Kg Kamuning (pre-school) a post that he has held since 2008. In PSM, Letchu also contributes significantly by holding the post of secretary for the Sungai Siput branch.
Devoted husband and father
Letchu is quiet by nature and a good-hearted person. He is a devoted husband to wife Selvi and father to two lovely teenagers, Devan and Poorni. Both Devan and Poorni are well brought up and are top scorers in their school. For Letchu, education is vital for his children’s future.
Apart from the serious nature of his work, Letchu has a multitude of talents that include acting and hosting memorable events. For all the events organised under the ‘Kalvikuzhu’ group, Letchu always and naturally will be the chosen one to emcee in both Malay and Tamil, which he undertakes charmingly much to everyone’s admiration. .
It is extremely hard to imagine how someone as kind, giving and all-embracing like Letchu could be arrested under the draconian EO=ISA. Democracy has indeed been trampled upon when community leaders and law-abiding citizens are arrested under arbitrary laws.
Fatimah Joseph, a kindergarten teacher, is a member of the Sg Siput PSM branch.