The pandemic has been tough on all us, it affects our health both mentally and physically, and impacts our economy. Inevitably, the people will struggle to make ends meet and sometimes sacrifices have to be made.
Recently, legendary Malaysian rally driver, Karamjit Singh aka The Flying Sikh, had to let go of one of his prized possessions. He had to sell his beloved Proton Waja 1.6 for RM7,000 in order to get a new car to work as a Grab driver to survive.
Admitting that he still loves the car but had to sell it off due to vehicle specifications set by Grab, Karamjit once raced for the Petronas EON Team and Proton Pert Malaysia Team using the Proton 4WD rally car, making many sacrifices for Proton and Malaysia to be on the world’s stage.
He said he has no property left; cars, houses, savings from EPF have all been used to race at the Asia Pacific level once upon a time.
The 58-year-old father to an only child feels it’s the best option to be a Grab Driver as he still has to support his family.
Karamjit claims he was promised a pension by the Ministry of Youth and Sports (KBS) for his success at the world rally arena, but he has never received it.
“I met KBS around 2005 or 2006. They said I deserve a pension because being a world champion is just like winning gold. At that time they said I could get RM5,000.
“It was just a promise and until now, I have not received the pension. It is very necessary for my old age but at the moment, I still want to race for at least another two or three years.
“Racing in countries like New Zealand, Indonesia and everywhere else because I am still able to be the number one in Asia. My fitness is also at its best and I think a lot of young people can’t beat me,” said the racing legend.
“I go to the gym four times a week apart from doing hill and mountain climbing activities to stay fit. In terms of skills, I am still number one,” he said.
Karamjit, who’s been a professional racer since 1985, said that many fans still want to see him race but it is difficult to get sponsorship since the cost of racing in the world of motorsports is not cheap, even though it’s not as expensive as Formula One (F1).
The name Karamjit Singh will be familiar among motorsport enthusiasts as he dominated the rally championship in Malaysia in the ’90s. He went further by winning the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) in 2001.
However, his most memorable achievement was when he emerged as the WRC world champion for the FIA World Car Production category in 2002 even though he was in his first year of probation. He was the first Asian driver to win the championship.
Karamjit’s story, like that of entertainment icon Adibah Noor who had to sell her house and pawn her jewellery earlier this year, reminds us of how hard the coronavirus has hit us all, no matter where we stood financially prior to the pandemic.