Uma Ramaswamy Iyer, 65, was a dedicated and passionate consumer advocate who served with CAP for close to 35 years. She was the personal secretary to the late CAP President S M Mohd Idris for almost 32 years. After his demise, she continued in this position under the new president Encik Mohideen Abdul Kader, until her recent passing.

Uma was involved in important areas of CAP’s administrative work, and was in charge of our press releases for a good period of time. Until her death, she was Head of the Complaints Section that advises and fights for justice for consumers on various matters.

She was a pillar of strength to the organisation – an efficient multi-tasker who thought nothing about sacrificing her own time in the name of work. Working quietly behind the scenes, she ensured the organisation’s voice and recommendations reach the authorities and our findings and alerts reach the public.

Always the first to correct things, she spoke without fear and in an unapologetic fashion, on anything that’s perceived as unfair or wrong, providing good checks-and-balances in everything we do. She brought this same approach to CAP’s important areas of work in her care. Strong and determined, she was resourceful and had a “just-do-it” stance that quickly gets things done.

A highly disciplined worker, she would clock in an hour before anyone else did to get a head start on the work. She was a firm believer in good time management and had a penchant for punctuality that drove staff nuts. But in spite of her strict demeanour, she spoke in the language of laughter. Her straight-faced sense of humour could make any serious person smile. And she had a hidden talent – she could sing and make people feel happy.

Uma had a larger-than-life personality, and a golden heart that touched many. To friends, colleagues, family, and all of humanity she was a bringer of love, care, comfort and hope – often in ways and when you least expect it. Generous to a fault, she often gave money and food to the needy and hungry, including total strangers. She gave freely to charity. At CAP functions and staff events, she made sure everyone got to eat. At lunch breaks if anyone was without food, she ensured food wings its way to them in no time.

She was extraordinarily kind and concerned for others, and she lived out this virtue to her last breath. In her final days of frailty, she took the trouble to contact and send good wishes to an unwell colleague undergoing chemotherapy. She demonstrated many such countless acts of selflessness in her lifetime; selfishness simply did not exist in her vocabulary.

We have lost a shining star. But just as burnt-out stars leave their precious energy behind, Uma’s legacy – her strong fighting spirit, her courage and outspokenness, her no-nonsense approach to work, her kindness and empathy, her warm and helping ways, and her protective and caring persona – will always remain to inspire us to be altruistic in service and humanistic in life.

Thank you, Uma for the good work, love, time and kindness you’ve given us, which will live on and shine forever. Rest in peace, dear comrade and friend. You are dearly missed and will be fondly remembered.