My dad, my hero

Manmohan Singh retires from Malaysian Airlines after a colourful 38-year stint. His son, SIMRET SINGH, looks back at those years

Manmohan Singh (second from right) and his family in a 2016 photo. Simret is at the extreme right – Photo: Courtesy of Simret’s Facebook

By Simret Singh

Active, enthusiastic, loyal employee of Malaysia Airlines (MAS). He (Manmohan Singh) retires after 38 years working at the national airliner.

He began as a young man in the engineering technician department, taking care of spark plugs and dirty engines. While working, he pursued a degree in corporate communications. He flourished in corporate communications: handling public relations and writing for various MAS related publications.

He was then asked to take on sales. He did an equally awesome job here, resulting in him being made the country and area manager for Sri Lanka/Maldives. He then headed the MAS arm of meetings, incentives, conferencing and exhibitions (MICE), handling relations with various trade partners and travel agents. He was looked at as an ambassador not only for MAS but for Malaysia as well.

MAS has been a part of him longer than I have, as his son. He even met his wife, my mom, in MAS.

There is another side to him. My father is also a selfless man. While working for MAS, he always found time to give back to the community.

Sikh Naujawan Sabha Malaysia (SNSM) was always his extended family. He always wanted to follow in the footsteps of his dad, Mr Chatar Singh, who was once the Jathedar of SNSM.

As a young man, he found time to travel with the SNSM jathas to various small towns to hold samelans (Sikh camps) and kirtan programs.

Once he had kids, he realised the importance of a community-based learning. He played a key role in the formation of the Akaal Purk Ki Fauj, a Scout like Sikh set-up in Malaysia. He began looking after the Miri Piri teens in Petaling Jaya gurdwara, and the Mighty Khalsa kids in Petaling Tin. Until today, he is known as the “Mighty Khalsa uncle” among the families in Petaling Tin.

He organised various outdoor adventures and educational seminars. In each, he would inject the fundamentals of the Sikh faith.

As a PR person for MAS, he saw the value in soft skills. He helped groom many youngsters who are now stable professionals.

During the 300 year of the Khalsa in 1999, he joined a large group of SNSM members to Anandpur Sahib, Punjab.

My father was also the co-founder of Holla Mahala Games. As a long distance runner and a footballer, he saw the need to be competitive on the national stage. What better way than to have an annual event to showcase and groom young athletic talent. In his speech at the first Hola Mahala Games, he said: “Alone you go fast, but together we go far.” Today Holla Mahala Games has grown into a huge annual event.

SNSM has been an integral part of my dad’s life. Selfless community-based service is my dad’s main driver.

I know this is also the reason he never left MAS. He always saw MAS as his family and his community, always wanting to help make it better. People who have worked with him know how much he gives for MAS.

Today, he hangs his boots with pride and respect. Happy retirement, Pa. I know you would never stop working, but MAS is, for now, a book for the shelves. To new beginnings. Love you.

[Adapted from a note Simret Singh wrote on 30 Jan 2018. His dad, Manmohan Singh, among others, had served as the Meet Jathedar or Vice President of SNSM in 2015-2016]


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