By Zhariff Afandi
We’ve lost a great Malaysian and an amazing human being. I had the greatest joy of knowing humanitarian aid provider Rishiwant Singh Randhawa, better known as the Flying Singh.
Rishi as he was fondly known, was a true shining light. He lit the lives of so many people and illuminated our souls with his kindness and spirit.
He always was an outlier, never one to mince his words, and true to his heart. Rishi was a legend on radio and was a real class act in emceeing. He and his radio partner took the airwaves by storm and were the pioneers of the wacky crazy styles of today. They pulled the first radio call prank, and broke the ceiling of what could be done on radio.
When the 2004 tsunami hit Aceh, Rishi was one of the first people to mobalise humanitarian aid there, even before the UN and Red Cross. Even though we were both in Aceh at that period, but we never got to meet.
I had the good fortune of knowing Rishi on the first Murfest at Putrajaya back in 2013.
He was the emcee on stage, super pro, a total rock star. As we hanged out a bit, he shared his vision and intentions to create a movement of people who would propagate the world with love and compassion – a walk in which the good will walk, one that spreads joy and happiness, and to help raise funds for those in need. He called it the Good Will Walk.
For the last few years, our Rishi has been mobilising all the necessary components to get this vision up, and he was indeed an expert on that… mobilising, getting things done. He was not just all heart, but was an all action kind of guy. He made sure he did all he could to serve ALL mankind.
He thought me about Reht and Seva, action and giving. Regardless of race, religion, Rishi was absolutely void of prejudices. He saw all people as brothers and sisters. And he was indeed my brother.
So for the last three years we walked. A bunch of us. We came from everywhere. Sikhs, Malays, Indians, Chinese, orang asli, white folks, black folks, even Latinos.
We did long walks from Perlis to Melaka, and short ones in neighbourhoods around the country. He had even walked in Australia. The one aim – to unite us as a family of Malaysia, and really the world.
Thus I feel it’s also worth remembering this true Malaysian hero. Not just in our heart, but through our actions. Together, I feel absolutely compelled to ask for all of us to rise beyond these current racial tensions, and look beyond the myopic lenses, our differences, limitations of fear and social anarchy, and just embrace love.
How can we hurt or destroy what we love? Love breeds compassion. Love grows care and courage. It is love that keeps us at peace.
Through his Good Will Walk, the United Sikhs, and Malaysia food bank, Rishi dedicated his entire life to seva, or service and love. He fed thousands at Nanak’s kitchens, brought aid and assistance to refugees at Macedonia and Aceh, mobilised a helicopter to help orang asli deep in Kelantan duirng floods. And he regularly gave away his last Ringgit to help anyone in need. Even if it meant him going hungry. He always felt blessed.
So this is no ordinary man that we ought to remember here. We have lost an amazing person, brother, friend, son, husband and a true Malaysian hero.
Recently, his family and loved ones organised a service, or Bhog, and put together a walk in his hometown in Muar. It was majestic and truly beautiful, with hundreds of people from all corners of life paying tribute to the Flying Singh.