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‘Tunku gave us strength to fight for women’s rights’

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MALAYSIANS KINI | Rasammah Bhupalan, who turned 90 in May this year, keeps a neat house with plenty of natural light, an amazing view of the Istana Negara from the living room windows and framed photographs of her family everywhere you look.

Her family has clearly been a huge influence in her life, in which she has been a freedom fighter, social rights activist and dedicated teacher.

At 16, Rasammah joined the Rani of Jhansi Regiment, the women’s wing of the Indian National Army (INA) after attending a rally in her hometown of Ipoh to hear INA leader Subhas Chandra Bose’s speech.

Two years later, she returned home and eventually became a teacher, a decision influenced by the fact that she came from a family of teachers who were active in unions. In 1960, she formed the Women Teachers’ Union (WTU).

She also served as a teacher in many schools such as Methodist Girls’ School in Ipoh and Penang, later becoming a principal and administrator at Methodist Girls’ School Klang and Methodist College in Kuala Lumpur.

She was also very active in the National Council of Women’s Organisations and the Young Women’s Christian Association (YWCA), the latter of which she remains an elected member today.

But from the way she speaks, it is clear she holds a lot of pride for what WTU achieved in her time....