Charles Joseph Pemberton Paglar



Charles Joseph Pemberton Paglar (b. 1 September 1894, Alor Gajah, Malacca –d. 9 December 1954, Singapore), surgeon, member of the Legislative Council, philanthropist and sports patron, was a prominent Eurasian leader. During the Japanese Occupation of Singapore (1942–45), he was coerced to serve as the president of the Japanese-sponsored Eurasian Welfare Association – a connection that led to his indictment for treason by the British after the war.1 Paglar was not convicted as the case was withdrawn.2

Early life
Born to a British father and Indian mother, an orphaned Paglar was adopted by Alexander John Francis Paglar, a Catholic Eurasian planter, miner, magistrate, and justice of the peace in Malacca.3 He received his early education at a convent in Penang and later at the St Francis Institution in Malacca. In 1910, he obtained the Diamond Jubilee Scholarship and, in 1917, graduated from the King Edward VII College of Medicine in Singapore. Upon graduation, Paglar worked as an assistant house surgeon at the Singapore General Hospital.4

Medical career
During the World War I, Paglar served as a medical staff sergeant of the field ambulance unit at the Military Hospital on Belakang Mati (present-day Sentosa).5

In the 1920s, Paglar set up his private practice at Joo Chiat that led to the establishment of the Paglar Maternity and Nursing Home (where the Parkway East Hospital now stands). In addition to this medical practice, Paglar  also established the Paglar Pharmacy at North Bridge Road.6 In 1926, Paglar furthered his medical studies in Edinburgh, and obtained honours in surgery and midwifery at the Royal College of Surgeons' examination a year later.7 He also did post-graduate work in Java, Syria, France and Germany.8

Paglar became known for his excellent medical skills, and was appointed personal physician to Sultan Ibrahim of Johor in 1930. He was also the consultant and adviser to the sultan in the planning and construction of the Johor Bahru General Hospital (now known as the Sultanah Aminah Hospital). In recognition of his services to the Johor crown, Paglar was conferred the title of “Dato” (Order of the Crown of Johor) in 1948.9
 
Japanese Occupation
In the days leading to the fall of Singapore, Paglar served as the surgeon-in-charge at an emergency hospital for war casualties operated by the Medical Auxiliary Service at the Yeok Eng School in Tanjong Katong.10 There, he provided free treatment to war victims and the sick.11 During the Japanese Occupation, the Japanese made him the president of the Eurasian Welfare Association with the motive of making him carry out their orders.12 In those days, the Japanese regarded the Eurasians with suspicion due to their close affiliation with the British. Paglar understood the dangers to the community if they did not have an official go-between with the Japanese, and agreed to take up the post.13 However, some people did not understand him, and looked upon him as a collaborator of the enemy.14

Paglar was further implicated for his role in the resettlement of the Eurasian community in Bahau, Negri Sembilan, and in the reading of a speech pledging support for the Japanese at the birthday celebration of the emperor of Japan.15 Nevertheless, Paglar continued to help his community by providing medical aid, money, clothing and job assistance. He would treat patients with medicine bought with his own money, and was known to never turn away anyone with a medical need, regardless of his nationality or station in life.16 Paglar also made regular trips through guerilla-controlled areas to deliver his own medical supplies to the settlers in Bahau.17

Treason trial
Following the surrender of the Japanese, Paglar was imprisoned at Outram Road and charged with treason by the British.18 At the trial held on 25 January 1946, Mamoru Shinozaki, the chief welfare officer for the Japanese military administration, testified that it was he who had written Paglar’s speeches, and that Paglar had acted under his direction in order to protect the Eurasian community.19 On 23 March 1946, the president of the court granted Paglar a discharge amounting to an acquittal.20


Contributions to society
After the war, Paglar continued to lead the Eurasian community, and was president of the Singapore Recreation Club from 1946 until his demise in 1954. He was known for his generosity and gave his time, energy, and money in support of many charitable and sporting organisations. These included the Adult Education Board, Singapore Table Tennis Association, Singapore Amateur Boxing Association, Singapore Amateur Weight Lifting Federation, Singapore Boy Scouts and St. John Ambulance Brigade.21

Paglar was also instrumental in the formation of the Yio Chu Kang Youth Club and the Katong Boys Club where youths could spend their time purposefully.22 He also built a Tamil school for children at Wing Loong Road, and contributed to a mosque for the Malay villages in Punggol.23 Another instance of Paglar’s philanthropic spirit was his donation to the construction of the Singapore Badminton Hall. Not only did he donate twice, he also rallied others to contribute as well.24

Political contributions
In 1951, Paglar was elected as a member of the Legislative Council for Changi under the ticket of the Singapore Progressive Party.25 He held the seat until his death. During his term, he spoke up on many issues which affected the common man, such as the cost of living, food supply and production, healthcare, housing, education, protection for workers and businesses, and accountability in government revenue and investments.26

Death
On 3 December 1954, Paglar was admitted to the Singapore General Hospital. He suffered a stroke a few days later and died peacefully in his sleep on 9 December , at the age of 60.27 The funeral service was held at St Joseph's Church on 12 December, and thousands turned up at the funeral procession.28 His body was laid to rest at the Bidadari Cemetery. In memoriam, a Paglar Ambulance Division was established in the St John Ambulance Brigade.29 The Paglar Cabin of the Singapore Scouts Association at Jurong Park was also named after him.30

Family31
1st wife: Marie Kathleen Paglar (divorced)
2nd wife: Mani Lim Geok Neo
3rd wife: Baby Quek
4th wife: Emily Paglar
Children: Ethel Barbara Kinna nee Paglar, Rene Paglar, Eric Paglar, Kenneth Paglar and Hana Paglar



Author
Joshua Chia Yeong Jia




References
1. Cardoza, F., & Cardoza, J. (1992). They made their mark: Prominent Eurasians in Singapore’s history. In M. Braga-Blake (Ed.), Singapore Eurasians: Memories and hopes. Singapore: Published for Eurasian Association, Singapore, by Times Editions, p. 83. (Call no.: RSING 305.80405957 SIN); Koh, T. T. B., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with the National Heritage Board, pp. 401–402. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS]); Lee, G. B. (2005). The Syonan years: Singapore under Japanese rule 1942–1945. Singapore: National Archives of Singapore and Epigram Pte Ltd, p. 118. (Call no.: RSING q940.53957 LEE-[WAR])
2. Cases against doctor, lawyer & journalist withdrawn. (1946, March 24). Sunday Tribune (Singapore), p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
3. Shelley, R. (2010). Dr Paglar: Everyman's hero. Singapore: Published for the Eurasian Association by Straits Times Press, pp. 12–13 (Call no.: RSING 610.92 SHE); Koh, T. T. B., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with the National Heritage Board, p. 401. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS]); Cardoza, F., & Cardoza, J. (1992). They made their mark: Prominent Eurasians in Singapore’s history. In M. Braga-Blake (Ed.), Singapore Eurasians: Memories and hopes. Singapore: Published for Eurasian Association, Singapore, by Times Editions, p. 83. (Call no.: RSING 305.80405957 SIN)
4. Cardoza, F., & Cardoza, J. (1992). They made their mark: Prominent Eurasians in Singapore’s history. In M. Braga-Blake (Ed.), Singapore Eurasians: Memories and hopes. Singapore: Published for Eurasian Association, Singapore, by Times Editions, p. 83. (Call no.: RSING 305.80405957 SIN)
5. Cardoza, F., & Cardoza, J. (1992). They made their mark: Prominent Eurasians in Singapore’s history. In M. Braga-Blake (Ed.), Singapore Eurasians: Memories and hopes. Singapore: Published for Eurasian Association, Singapore, by Times Editions, p. 83. (Call no.: RSING 305.80405957 SIN); Dr. Paglar – He helped the poor & championed sport. (1954, December 9). Singapore Standard, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
6. Cardoza, F., & Cardoza, J. (1992). They made their mark: Prominent Eurasians in Singapore’s history. In M. Braga-Blake (Ed.), Singapore Eurasians: Memories and hopes. Singapore: Published for Eurasian Association, Singapore, by Times Editions, p. 83. (Call no.: RSING 305.80405957 SIN); Koh, T. T. B., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with the National Heritage Board, p. 402. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS])
7. Koh, T. T. B., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with the National Heritage Board, pp. 401–402. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS]); Society and personal. (1927, September 20). Malaya Tribune, p. 8. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
8. Dr. Paglar – He helped the poor & championed sport. (1954, December 9). Singapore Standard, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
9. Shelley, R. (2010). Dr Paglar: Everyman's hero. Singapore: Published for the Eurasian Association by Straits Times Press, p. 36. (Call no.: RSING 610.92 SHE); Koh, T. T. B., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with the National Heritage Board, p. 402. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS]); Cardoza, F., & Cardoza, J. (1992). They made their mark: Prominent Eurasians in Singapore’s history. In M. Braga-Blake (Ed.), Singapore Eurasians: Memories and hopes. Singapore: Published for Eurasian Association, Singapore, by Times Editions, pp. 83–84. (Call no.: RSING 305.80405957 SIN)
10. Cardoza, F., & Cardoza, J. (1992). They made their mark: Prominent Eurasians in Singapore’s history. In M. Braga-Blake (Ed.), Singapore Eurasians: Memories and hopes. Singapore: Published for Eurasian Association, Singapore, by Times Editions, p. 83. (Call no.: RSING 305.80405957 SIN)
11. Dr. Paglar – He helped the poor & championed sport. (1954, December 9). Singapore Standard, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Cardoza, F., & Cardoza, J. (1992). They made their mark: Prominent Eurasians in Singapore’s history. In M. Braga-Blake (Ed.), Singapore Eurasians: Memories and hopes. Singapore: Published for Eurasian Association, Singapore, by Times Editions, p. 83. (Call no.: RSING 305.80405957 SIN)
12. Cardoza, F., & Cardoza, J. (1992). They made their mark: Prominent Eurasians in Singapore’s history. In M. Braga-Blake (Ed.), Singapore Eurasians: Memories and hopes. Singapore: Published for Eurasian Association, Singapore, by Times Editions, p. 83. (Call no.: RSING 305.80405957 SIN); Lee, G. B. (2005). The Syonan years: Singapore under Japanese rule 1942–1945. Singapore: National Archives of Singapore and Epigram Pte Ltd, p. 118. (Call no.: RSING q940.53957 LEE-[WAR]); Koh, T. T. B., et al. (Eds.). (2006). Singapore: The encyclopedia. Singapore: Editions Didier Millet in association with the National Heritage Board, p. 402. (Call no.: RSING 959.57003 SIN-[HIS])
13. Low, L. L. (Interviewer). (1983, August 25). Oral history interview with Eric Charles Pemberton Paglar [Transcript of cassette recording no. 000299/12/03, pp. 31–37]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
14. Yeo, C. (Interviewer). (2006, April 19). Oral history interview with Rudy William Mosbergen [Transcript of cassette recording no.003051/02/01, pp. 36–38]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/

15. Pitt, K. Y. (Interviewer). (2005, September 19). Oral history interview with Rudy William Mosbergen [Transcript of cassette recording no.002983/07/06, pp. 75–77]; Low, L. L. (Interviewer). (1983, August 25). Oral history interview with Eric Charles Pemberton Paglar [Transcript of cassette recording no. 000299/12/03, pp. 37–38]; Low, L. L. (Interviewer). (1983, August 25). Oral history interview with Eric Charles Pemberton Paglar [Transcript of cassette recording no. 000299/12/04, pp. 45–53]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/

16. Dr. Paglar – He helped the poor & championed sport. (1954, December 9). Singapore Standard, p. 7. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Low, L. L. (Interviewer). (1983, September 6). Oral history interview with Eric Charles Pemberton Paglar [Transcript of recording no. 000299/12/05, pp. 64–66]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/

17. Cardoza, F., & Cardoza, J. (1992). They made their mark: Prominent Eurasians in Singapore’s history. In M. Braga-Blake (Ed.), Singapore Eurasians: Memories and hopes. Singapore: Published for Eurasian Association, Singapore, by Times Editions, p. 83. (Call no.: RSING 305.80405957 SIN); Shelley, R. (2010). Dr Paglar: Everyman's hero. Singapore: Published for the Eurasian Association by Straits Times Press, pp.46–49. (Call no.: RSING 610.92 SHE); Pitt, K. Y. (Interviewer). (2005, September 19). Oral history interview with Rudy William Mosbergen  [Transcript of cassette recording no.002983/07/06, p. 75]; Low, L. L. (interviewer). (1983, August 25). Oral history interview with Eric Charles Pemberton Paglar  [Transcript of cassette recording no. 000299/12/04, pp. 49–52]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/

18. Paglar charged with treason. (1946, January 30). Malaya Tribune, p. 4/1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Shelley, R. (2010). Dr Paglar: Everyman's hero. Singapore: Published for the Eurasian Association by Straits Times Press, pp. 93–94. (Call no.: RSING 610.92 SHE); Low, L. L. (Interviewer). (1983, August 25). Oral history interview with Eric Charles Pemberton Paglar [Transcript of cassette recording no. 000299/12/03, pp. 33–34]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
19. Former Jap welfare officer's evidence. (1946, January 25). Malaya Tribune, p. 4/1; Paglar case: Charge to be framed on Monday – Shinozaki's evidence. (1946, January 26). The Straits Times, p. 3. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Shelley, R. (2010). Dr Paglar: Everyman's hero. Singapore: Published for the Eurasian Association by Straits Times Press, pp. 95–100 (Call no.: RSING 610.92 SHE)
20. Cases against doctor, lawyer & journalist withdrawn. (1946, March 24). Sunday Tribune (Singapore), p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Shelley, R. (2010). Dr Paglar: Everyman's hero. Singapore: Published for the Eurasian Association by Straits Times Press, pp.100–101 (Call no.: RSING 610.92 SHE); Low, L. L. (Interviewer). (1983, October 17). Oral history interview with Eric Charles Pemberton Paglar [Transcript of cassette recording no. 000299/12/11, pp. 140–141]. Retrieved from National Archives of Singapore website: http://www.nas.gov.sg/archivesonline/
21. Cardoza, F., & Cardoza, J. (1992). They made their mark: Prominent Eurasians in Singapore’s history. In M. Braga-Blake (Ed.), Singapore Eurasians: Memories and hopes. Singapore: Published for Eurasian Association, Singapore, by Times Editions, pp. 83–84. (Call no.: RSING 305.80405957 SIN)
22. Shelley, R. (2010). Dr Paglar: Everyman's hero. Singapore: Published for the Eurasian Association by Straits Times Press, p. 121 (Call no.: RSING 610.92 SHE)
23. Cardoza, F., & Cardoza, J. (1992). They made their mark: Prominent Eurasians in Singapore’s history. In M. Braga-Blake (Ed.), Singapore Eurasians: Memories and hopes. Singapore: Published for Eurasian Association, Singapore, by Times Editions, p. 84. (Call no.: RSING 305.80405957 SIN)
24. The Hall: Donations rolling in (1951, July 1). The Straits Times, p. 18. Retrieved from NewspaperSG; Shelley, R. (2010). Dr Paglar: Everyman's hero. Singapore: Published for the Eurasian Association by Straits Times Press, p. 111 (Call no.: RSING 610.92 SHE)
25. Progressives head S'pore poll. (1951, April 11). The Straits Times, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
26.  Shelley, R. (2010). Dr Paglar: Everyman's hero. Singapore: Published for the Eurasian Association by Straits Times Press, pp. 107–108 (Call no.: RSING 610.92 SHE); Cardoza, F., & Cardoza, J. (1992). They made their mark: Prominent Eurasians in Singapore’s history. In M. Braga-Blake (Ed.), Singapore Eurasians: Memories and hopes. Singapore: Published for Eurasian Association, Singapore, by Times Editions, p. 83. (Call no.: RSING 305.80405957 SIN); S'pore mourns Paglar – 'A great figure'. (1954, December 10). Singapore Standard, p. 1; Paglar wants to know. (1954, July 9). The Straits Times, p. 5. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
[27. Paglar dies in his sleep. (1954, December 9). Singapore Standard, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
28. 4,000 at funeral of Dato Paglar. (1954, December 13). The Straits Times, p. 7; Dato Paglar's last journey. (1954, December 14). Indian Daily Mail, p. 1. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
29. Paglar division for St. John. (1955, June 17). The Straits Times, p. 4. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
30. “Paglar Cabin” opened. (1955, August 7). The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.
31. Shelley, R. (2010). Dr Paglar: Everyman's hero. Singapore: Published for the Eurasian Association by Straits Times Press, pp. 25–28, 48, 49, 94, 122. (Call no.: RSING 610.92 SHE); Decree nisi granted to doctors wife. (1940, October 17). The Straits Times, p. 11. Retrieved from NewspaperSG.



The information in this article is valid as at 2010 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources.  It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject.  Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

 

Subject
Heritage and Culture
Charles Joseph Pemberton Paglar, 1894-1954
Ethnic Communities
Surgeons--Singapore--Biography
Personalities>>Biographies>>Community Leaders
People and communities
Community leaders
History>>Asia>>Southeast Asia>>Singapore