On January 20, 1874, the Pangkor Treaty was signed and the British began to invest heavily in the tin and rubber industry. The revenue generated by these investments enabled the Government to plan for greater development. The implementation of the plans formulated necessitated an English educated middle-level work force to be placed directly under British supervisors.
Since some British administrators have had working experience in the sub-continents of India and in the island of Ceylon, their attention naturally turned to those two said countries to satisfy their need for rubber estate labourers and middle-level administrators. Thousands were recruited in India and Ceylon, both countries which were then directly under British rule, to fill vacancies in Division II and III of the Civil Service. The pioneer groups of these expatriate workers appear to have landed on the shores of Malaya and Singapore in or around 1886.
The Jaffna Tamils were very visible at the Div. II and III scales of Government Service, especially in government departments, schools, hospitals and health clinics in rubber estates.
To encourage the Ceylon Tamils to leave their homeland and migrate to work in an unfamiliar environment, quite often considered hostile with unheard of diseases, the British built government and staff quarters throughout the length and breadth of Malaya. Large numbers of government quarters were built in the Kuala Lumpur area – especially in Brickfields, Sentul and Imbi Road areas.
Many of the Ceylon Tamils who occupied the government quarters in the Brickfields area came from a specific area of Ceylon, the Jaffna Peninsular in the north. All those Brickfields residents were employed by the Railways or by the various Government departments situated in KL.
The yearning for a closer nit community among the residents of the quarters resulted in some of the senior community members initiating the setting up of an Association. The Association was to address community needs such as a temple, a Tamil school, organising cultural activities, games and sports, and so forth. The members had the intention of creating a ‘home away from home’ living atmosphere.
The expatriate community’s needs were the result of their unfailing faith in the Saivite religion, the compelling nostalgia for a sense of belonging and the freedom experienced in their villages in Ceylon. These subjective feelings expressed themselves in a request for:
- the formation of an Association that would cater to the spiritual needs and the various cultural, educational and recreational needs of the community. There is a Tamil saying, ‘Do not live in a place that has no temple;’
- the promotion and protection of the Malayan Ceylon community’s general interest;
- the building of a Saivite Temple in KL, to represent the Nallur Kandaswamy Temple in Jaffna, Ceylon which would be instrumental for the spiritual and religious progress of the members and the whole Saivite community in general;
- an appropriate piece of land to be purchased, if possible, in ‘Chinna Yaarlpanam’ (Brickfields);
- and the maintenance of a piece of land allotted by the Government (sited off Circular Road) to the community for use as a cremation ground (crematorium)
These desires and expectations bore fruit when a group of Ceylon Tamils met in the house of Mr. V. Sinnapah, then Acting Traffic Inspector of the Malayan Railway. The inaugural meeting with 50 persons resulted in:
- the formation of a Ceylon Tamils Association;
- the formulation of the Association’s rules and regulations;
- the election of a Management Committee;
- the authorisation of the newly elected Management Committee to recommend a piece of land for building a Saivite Temple;
- and the decision to authorise the Association to maintain the land provided for cremation
Thus was born the present Malaysian Ceylon Saivites Association (MCSA) on 24th December, 1900. The Association was initially named Selangor Ceylon Tamils’ Saivite Association, which was later renamed as Selangor Ceylon Tamils’ Association to calm the sensitivity of the non-Saivite section of the Ceylon Tamils.