By Frankie D’Cruz | MALAYSIA |
KUALA LUMPUR: Fearless security guard Sukdave Singh, a central figure in the Japanese Red Army (JRA) siege at the American International Assurance (AIA) building here in 1975, turned 74 yesterday.
The day passed like any other in past decades with no visitors, and birthday greetings only from family members.
It was the same every August 4, the day 45 years ago when he became a national hero after being shot in the right eye while investigating a “robbery” that turned out to be a hostage crisis.
JRA fanatics stormed the ninth floor of the building and took 53 people hostage from the US and Swedish embassies, the AIA agency office and a Japanese firm, C Itoh.
Today, Sukdave, who may not be known to younger Malaysians, is like a hostage left behind and long forgotten.
He is helpless, depressed – spirit crushed.
Looking desolate, he told FMT at his Taman Sri Ampang home that life wasn’t easy for him over the years with the nightmares and scars, both physical and mental.
He was 29 when he lost sight in his right eye after a shot fired by a terrorist went under the eye and out at the back.
Both his legs are weak and he had to stop riding his motorcycle after falling off several times.
Sukdave needs cataract surgery in his left eye but has been putting it off to look after ailing Kuldip, 64.
His two-room terrace home is infested with white ants and he doesn’t have the money to call pest control.
Since his wife sleeps on a bed downstairs, he struggles to climb the narrow, steep staircase to retire for the night.
Sukdave said he remained idle at home after stopping work as a watchman two years ago and missed cooking at the Gurdwara Sahib Ampang, Ulu Klang, where he did community service for over three decades.
He said his two sons and two daughters had their own family obligations looking after his seven grandchildren.
Sukdave, who began work with AIA on June 6, 1966 with a basic pay of $100, received $2,000 from the company that also covered his medical costs until his retirement which was extended until in 2003.
This is an abridged version of ‘Heartbreak of Malaysian hero in 1975 Japanese Red Army hostage crisis’ (Free Malaysia Today, 31 Aug 2020). Read the full story here.