GS Gill: Farewell sir, sports will miss you

| Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia | 28 Aug 2016 Asia Samachar |
Gill at Wisma Harwant during an interview with Malay Mail in 2008. — Picture by Malay Mail
Gill at Wisma Harwant during an interview with Malay Mail in 2008. — Picture by Malay Mail

By Haresh Deol

PETALING JAYA, Aug 28 — Tan Sri GS Gill is what this country is all about.

Born Indera Pura Gurdial Singh Gill, the self-made man, who beat all odds to pioneer the nation’s sporting industry has left a legacy Malaysians will remember for a long time.

And testament of his prowess is his 11-storey Wisma Harwant, named after his wife, which stands tall in Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman till today.

Gill died yesterday aged 92, but many who dealt with him over the decades spoke warmly of the man they say revolutionised sports in the country.

Former Kuala Lumpur mayor Tan Sri Elyas Omar was one of them.

“We were very close, especially during my days as mayor and Kuala Lumpur FA president (in the 1980s). We met regularly and I respected him for his good nature,” said Elyas.

“He was concerned about sports and ever willing to help in every way possible. To him, it was the spirit of giving and helping others. That made him different from the rest.”

Elyas added: “He took Malaysian sports to new heights. His contributions were immense… beyond measure. He assisted sports associations in many ways.”

Olympic Council of Malaysia assistant secretary general Datuk Sieh Kok Chi said he was fortunate to had known a man who he grew up admiring.

“If you don’t know who GS Gill is, you don’t know sports. I used to buy sports equipment when I was in school and later as an official, I worked closely with him,” said Sieh.

“Perhaps there were others in the sports business at that time but Gill took it to the next level. When he became the licensor for Adidas (in 1952), GS Gill became a household name.”

Sieh said despite the fame, Gill remained humble.

“He was popular. He was also a fine gentleman and a professional in his dealings. It was a great honour knowing him.”

Gill was also a popular figure in the Rotary circle.

A past president of Rotary Kuala Lumpur (1974-1975) he was described as “a gem of a man” by his fellow Rotarian Datuk S. Kulasegaran.

“He initiated many projects for the community during his time as former president. He has this unfailing love for Rotary. Despite his advancing age, he attended our meetings,” said Kulasegaran.

Gill was the most senior Rotarian in the club.

“He was always immaculately attired in a suit, occasionally in batik. When he attended club meetings, he became one of the boys. All the members will miss him dearly.”

Born on February 4, 1924, Gill wanted to study medicine but could not obtain a scholarship. That’s when he decided to venture into business.

He sought monetary assistance from his father Mihan Singh Gill and was instead told to raise his own funds. Through his meagre means, he set up GS Gill Sdn Bhd in 1946.

Gill wrote to various sporting firms in England, and Armstrong was the first to respond by offering 25 bicycles for distribution. And that got the ball rolling as he started selling shuttlecocks, footballs and other sports goods.

His break came in 1952 when he was the licensor of Adidas in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and Thailand, and became the biggest distributor of the brand.

He then built his house brand, McGill. Some of his golf equipment were exported to Italy, Germany, Finland and Australia.

His daughter Ranjit Kaur said her father was a “beautiful man” and “had worked hard to build his business”.

Gill is survived by Ranjit, his other daughter Premjeet Kaur, three grandchildren and one great grandson.

Those wanting to pay their final respects can do so at his home at No. 6, Jalan Gallagher, Taman Duta, Kuala Lumpur.

He will be cremated today at the Cheras crematorium in Jalan Kuari at 3pm. The path da bhog will be held at Tatt Khalsa Gurdwara next Sunday.

The original story, entitled ‘Farewell sir, sports will miss you’, appeared in The Malay Mail on 28 Aug 2016. See here.


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