The father of the Malaysian rubber industry

Giants in History: Known as Mr. Natural Rubber, chemist and researcher B. C. Shekhar (17 November 1929 – 6 September 2006) introduced a number of technical innovations that helped put Malaysia’s natural rubber industry on the world map.

A firm believer in fair employment, Sekhar also championed the rights of Malaysian plantation workers, ensuring that they received a monthly wage and recognition from the government for their contributions to the economy. Starting as a chemist at the Rubber Research Institute of Malaysia (RRIM), Shekhar went on to work in the industry for 50 years. Under his leadership as RRIM’s Asian Director, the institute was transformed into a premier centre for natural rubber research. 21 patents were filed during Sekhar’s tenure at RRIM, one of which resulted from his research on the stabilisation of rubber. Sekhar also led research to develop stimulants that greatly increased the latex yield from rubber trees. He was instrumental in inventing and developing the Standard Malaysian Rubber process, which ensured the production of high-quality rubber as a raw material for industrial applications.