By Adrian David | New Straits Times | Malaysia |
He has endured many torrid episodes in the past nine decades.
In fact, Amar Singh has virtually done and seen it all – surviving World War II (1939-45) and the subsequent Japanese Occupation, the communist insurgency, the two Emergencies (1948-60 and 1968-89), the Confrontation with Indonesia (1963-66), the ‘May 13’ 1969 racial riots and Kuala Lumpur’s great floods in 1971, to name a few.
Yet, it is the global Covid-19 pandemic that is the most challenging period in the life of Amar, who turns 96 on Feb 13.
“Never have I experienced such a lockdown the past one year. You can say it feels like being in Alcatraz (the infamous penal island off San Francisco),” said the ‘grand old man’ of Sentul Bahagia, who is also probably the most senior living Punjabi in the country.
Despite his age, Amar remains sprightly by cycling regularly, can move about without aid, speaks the Queen’s English coherently and has good hearing and eye-sight.
Amar is, however, grateful to be living in a ‘kampung house’ that offers plenty of greenery, thanks to his fruit orchard and vegetable garden complete with hens and cockerel.
Amar’s working journey began on May 15, 1941 soon after finishing his education with Loyola School and then Maxwell School in Kuala Lumpur.
At 16, he sought employment with Malayan Railways as a lathe machine apprentice at its Sentul central workshop. He said his late father Sunder Singh, also a Malayan Railways employee, had encouraged him to work. Sunder, who was also a bugler with the British Army, had arrived in Malaya from India in 1920.
“I remember my supervisor advising me: “Master the machining job and you will never go hungry!”
Read the full story, ’96-year-old Sentul man has seen it all – but Covid-19 is an eye-opener’ (New Straits Times, 22 Jan 2020), here.