On the morning of Monday 26 July 2021, Dato’ Vijay Kumar Natarajan breathed his last breath, 4 days before his 65th birthday.
Dato’ Vijay was the youngest son of Captain Dr. M. Natarajan (now deceased), an expatriate medical officer in the Malaysian Civil Service who served as State Health Officer in several states in the 1950s and 1960s.
Dato’ Vijay was born in the town of Batu Gajah in the state of Perak. He was schooled in Ibrahim School, Sg. Petani, Kedah followed by Victoria Institution, Kuala Lumpur. He graduated from the University of Singapore with the degree of Bachelor of Laws with Honours. There he met the love of his life, Datin Chua Lay Kim who graduated with a B. Acc (Hons) from the same university.
He was enrolled and admitted as an Advocate & Solicitor of the High Court of Malaya on 8 March 1981.
He then chambered with Shook Lin & Bok and subsequently Zain & Co where he commenced employment as a legal assistant until 1983.
In 1983, he left Zain & Co to join Albar Zulkifly & Yap (which later split into Albar & Partners and Zul Rafique & Partners). There he practiced as senior partner and head of litigation. Effective January 1, 1990, he retired as a partner in the firm and subsequently established Kumar Jaspal Quah & Aishah. At the time of his demise, he was a consultant in the firm Natarajan & Chee.
His legal experience included regular appearances in the High Courts throughout Peninsular Malaysia as well as at the Court of Appeal and Federal Court primarily on corporate banking and finance related cases.
He had also appeared before Her Majesty’s Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London.
He had vast experience in civil litigation and several of the matters handled and presented to the Courts have been considered landmark cases and reported in the Law Journals including Boustead Trading Sdn Bhd v Arab Malaysian Merchant Bank and Ambank v AIM Edition. He also appeared regularly as senior counsel for other law firms as his forte was civil litigation.
As stated by Ho Kok Yew, who worked in Kumar Jaspal Quah & Aishah for 4 years: “As an advocate, Dato Vijay was relentless. He was clever by far, turning imaginative ideas into reality, often thinking completely out of the box. He exuded charm, confidence and appeal. Never a man to handle awkward topics by remaining silent, Vijay had an extraordinary ability to manage conflict with infectious humour – almost redefining the pleasure of laughter in itself.”
He was a man of varied interests, and law was not his only pursuit. Close to his heart was the International Lodge fraternity where he was installed to various positions at the District level.
On the business front, he was actively involved in the corporate sector and sat on the Boards of a number of public listed and non-listed companies. He was also legal advisor to another number of societies including the Malaysian Dance Sports and was also the Bailli de Putra Jaya of the Confrérie de la Chaîne des Rôtisseurs.
He was appointed Trustee and Honorable Secretary of the Joseph William Yee Eu (JWYE) Foundation, a charitable foundation registered with the Prime Minister’s Department carrying out charity in the form of scholarships and bursaries for underprivileged children.
In recognition of his public service, he was conferred the Award of Darjah Indera Mahkota Pahang which carries the honorific Dato by his Royal Highness, the DYMM Sultan Pahang in 1998.
Everything he did, he did for a cause he believed in and what he stood for. He was not afraid of taking on the giants of various industries. The law reports are filled with cases where he acted against MAS, Citibank and Antah Holdings and in some of these cases he was the Plaintiff.
He was also involved in the activities of the bar and even presided in the disciplinary hearing on the complaint by Datuk Anwar Ibrahim against a prominent lawyer. He conducted one of the disciplinary hearings at the Sungai Buloh Prison’s meeting room.
He was deeply passionate and determined but was always available and willing to help others with advice and guidance. His attention to detail and meticulous preparation in numerous complex cases brought him success. He was generous to a fault.
He had decided to retire in 2021 but had one last case which he did pro bono for a colleague which he wanted to finish before moving permanently to Melbourne to be close to his children and grandchildren whom he adored.
He and Datin Kim had bought their tickets but then Covid-19 struck. All flights were cancelled. They later managed to book a flight for October 2021. However, in July 2021, while going to his office early one morning at around 7.30am to work on the witness statement for his last trial, he felt ill and later found out that he was struck down by Covid-19. At that time, he had yet to be fully vaccinated. He was then hospitalized.
Four days before he passed away i.e. on 22 July 2021, he sent me a whatsApp message. That message reads: “Krish, I need one final favour from you. Can you please take over XX file for me. This is the only thing bothering me now. The treatment is not going so well.. If you can’t do it, please let me know so I can try to find somebody else.
I could not say no and I replied ‘No prob Vijay’. I then managed to call him to see how he was doing. From the conversation with him, it seemed to me that he had given up all hope and did not feel that he could recover. I told him to be strong and I would pray for him.
On 26 July 2021, I received a message from his partner, Diana Chee stating that ‘Vijay has left us today at 1am’. I was devastated and so too his family, his friends and many of his colleagues.
He had been my opponent more than 20 years ago. We developed a close friendship and during the last 10 years prior to his death, David Mathews and I had represented him, although at times he was also my worthy opponent.
He was fair and professional in his undertaking with me and even until today, I just cannot believe that he is no longer around.
In the words of David Mathews: ‘We have lost a dear friend’.
Vijay was cremated on 27 July 2021. I believe only Datin Kim and Diana Chee were allowed to be present due to the Covid-19 SOPs then.
Vijay leaves behind his loving wife, Datin Kim Natarajan, his son Dr Dinesh Kumar Natarajan (a cardiologist) in Melbourne and daughter-in-law Melissa Choong Natarajan, and his daughter Drisha Kim Natarajan, a solicitor in Victoria, Australia and his grandchildren Aiden Jay, Asha Julianne, Alisha Jasmine as well as his siblings Dr. Jyothi Prasad, Mohd Fairoz, Sheila and their spouses, and a host of relatives.
And so in bidding farewell, may I echo a heartfelt poem by Ellen Brenneman:
My Journey’s Just Begun
Don’t think of me as gone away
My journey’s just begun
Life holds so many facets
This earth is but one
Just think of me as resting
From the sorrows and the tears
In a place of warmth and comfort
Where there are no days and years
Think of how I must be wishing
That you could know today
How nothing but your sadness
Can really go away
And think of me as living
In the hearts of those I touched
For nothing loved is ever lost
And I know I was loved so much