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The Kathigasu's Adopted Son William Pillay
There are very few pictures of William Giles Pillay in the Kathigasu collection even though he was adopted by Sybil and Dr A C Kathigasu as a baby. It was Sybil's mother who suggested the adoption after the Kathigasus' first baby, Michael, died just a few hours after his birth. William Pillay, born 25th October 1918, had been delivered by Beatrice who was a midwife (as was Sybil) and due to the poor financial status of the Pillay family had remained staying with them at their Pudu, Kuala Lumpur house. So when Sybil returned to Ipoh on 7th April 1921, she and her newly born daughter, Olga, were accompanied by William and Sybil's mother who had agreed to stay in Ipoh with the family.
William, who was also in St Michael’s Institution Ipoh, completed academic life at St Xavier’s Penang in 1932. While schooling in Ipoh, he served with the Hound Patrol of the Boy Scouts under Assistant Master Chang Min Tat (who later became Justice Chang of Penang). Upon completion in 1933 William started work with Borneo Motors Ltd in Ipoh becoming an Assistant Foreman in 1941. In 1960 he became Sales Manager attached to Century Motors.
He was a corporal in the Federated Malay States Volunteer Forces in 1940/41 and a member of the Police Volunteer Reserve as Discipline Sergeant. Like Sybil and her husband Dr A C Kathigasu, William was also imprisoned, part of the time in Cell No.2 Gopeng Road, and tortured by the Japanese Kempetai for anti-Japanese activities. When the war ended he was in Taiping Prison.
William an enthusiastic motorcyclist and a member of the Automobile Association of Malaya Committee, founded the Perak Lambretta Club and the Triumph Herald Owners’ Club which became the Triumph Owners' Club. William was also the founding member of Perak Motor Cycle Club.
William Pillay married Winnifred Ng Paik Choo in Ipoh in 1949 and Dawn Kathigasu was the bridesmaid. The bride was a schoolfriend of Olga Kathigasu, Dawn's elder sister, as they had both attended the Convent of the Infant Jesus (now called Main Convent) in Ipoh. He was the Secretary of the Ipoh Rotary Club from 1963 to 1966 and later became Vice-President in 1971.
These photographs show William as a young man of 18 in 1936, and William with his mother and sister Olga (then 17 years-old) in 1937. At that time he was working with Borneo Motors in Ipoh.
To read more about Sybil Kathigasu, click here.
To read more about Olga Kathigasu, click here.
To read more about St Michael’s Institution, click here.
To read more about The Main Convent School, click here.
To read more about the Royal Perak Motor Club / Perak Motor Club / Perak Motor Union, click here.