96-year-old Malaysian Sikh has seen it all – but Covid-19 is an eye-opener

Amar Singh's working journey began in on 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

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Left: Turner-cum-fitter lathe specialist Amar Singh who had worked nearly 72 years of his life. Right: A testimonial by Britain’s War Department’s Pioneer and Civil Labour Unit issued to Amar Singh for his services as a civilian Class One turner and fitter with the British Army’s Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Corps at the Batu Cantonment camp in Jalan Ipoh. – Photo: NSTP / Adrian David
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.

 

ASIA SAMACHAR is an online newspaper for Sikhs / Punjabis in Southeast Asia and beyond. Facebook | WhatsApp +6017-335-1399 | Email: editor@asiasamachar.com | Twitter | Instagram | Obituary announcements, click here |

1 COMMENT

  1. I can commiserate with him. My Nanaji S. Hakam Singh (late).

    My dear Mamaji S. Hakikat Singh from Sentul can fill in the full story of these wonderful men.

    My late mother married my father at 16 at the Sentul Gurdwara. My recently expired Father was first Chief of Singapore Navy.

    But I cannot forget my Naniji’s cooking and of course love and my late mother’s cooking All honed in Sentul which I understand is now changed. I am 68

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