Director, Sri Murugan Centre, Malaysia
Contribution to Society
2007

The Contribution to the Society award recognises Dato' Dr. M. Thambirajah for his work in ensuring access to learning for the marginalised. 

Dato' Dr. M. Thambirajah was born in Penang in 1942 and received his early education at the High School Bukit Mertajam, the same school as the Malaysia Prime Minister. A trained teacher from Kirby Teacher Training College, Liverpool. After teaching in Kedah for 4 years, he joined the University of Malaya and graduated in 1969. He obtained a Boeing scholarship to do Masters and PhD in Seattle, Washington USA. In 1972 he joined the Faculty of Arts in University of Malaya. He furthered his studies and became a qualified lawyer in 1988. His publications include a series called "Malaysia Dalam Sejarah". 

More than his academic excellence, his outstanding achievement is the founding of a social welfare movement called Sri Murugan Centre in 1982. Sri Murugan Centre or SMC provides educational guidance to marginalized Indian students preparing for UPSR, PMR and STPM examinations. In 1983, he started 4 centres at Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya, Klang and Seremban. Today there are 110 centres throughout the country attending to about 10,000 students every year. Over the past 25 years 13,443 students have gained admission to local tertiary educational institutions and more than 500 have graduated from foreign institutions. 

The success and growth of Sri Murugan Centre can be attributed to genuine service without expectations and a vast pool of volunteers. 

It's 3 guiding principles are: 

  • All of us are created equal
  • All of us are endowed with the same intellectual capacity
  • Religion is crucial for success in education and life

It's pioneering work is blessed with many supporters and donors including YAB Dato' Seri Abdullah Haji Ahmad Badawi the Prime Minister who has attended SMC functions. The Patrons of SMC are Dato' Seri S. Samy Vellu and Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon, Chief Minister of Penang.