A man of dignity and distinction
Mr Santokh Singh, a great teacher and journalist dies of a heart attack
Sincere devotion to a close-knit family and an army of friends.
Unselfish dedication to work, community programmes and charitable deeds.
Noble acts performed with dignity, distinction and decorum.
Mr Santokh Singh embodied all these, and more.
He was a perfect gentleman, a caring father and a good role model.
MISSED: (Above) Mr Santokh Singh, Nanyang Polytechnic director of communications and outreach, starting a meeting with the Singapore Sikh Education Foundation staff with a prayer. PHOTO: TABLA FILE
And a strong campaigner for the underdogs, and the underprivileged, many of whom have experienced his charitable ways.
With his sudden death on Friday night at his Toh Yi Drive home, where he collapsed with a heart attack after a simple home-cooked dinner with his wife of 30 years, Sukhdevi, many tears were shed.
Distress and disbelief overcame all those who heard the tragic news as he was careful with his health (regular exercise), diet (vegetarian) and habits (he was a teetotaller and a non-smoker).
MISSED: Santokh with former then-SAFFC player Mirko Grabovac. PHOTO: ST FILE
When his body was brought up to his sixth-storey flat yesterday evening, women and men wept; the grief was infectious.
Because Santokh, 57, was a man much appreciated and admired.
I have known the teacher-turned-journalist-turned-administrator for more than 20 years.
Since January 1996 when I, as sports editor of The Straits Times, interviewed him for a reporter's position, he had impressed me.
Having been a teacher and discipline master at Victoria School, he displayed an uncanny ability and assured maturity in understanding news and stories - traits of a seasoned journalist.
Within a month of joining the ST Sports Desk, he suffered a setback - a serious ankle injury put his right foot in a cast and he moved around on crutches.
He was on a month's medical leave, but he surprised me by stating he would fulfil his obligations. Even a yachting assignment that involved a lot of walking did not discourage him.
He performed his duties the only way he knew how - professionally.
Former national hockey player Farouk Merican, who watched Santokh play for the Khalsa Association in the 80s, says: "He was a gentleman in the game and was honest as a journalist. He had good, strong values, and he imparted them easily to his four children, especially to his sons Ishwarpal and Jaspal who are national players."
With such an attitude, "Tokh" as he was affectionately known as, could only rise in his career. And rise he did.
Within the first year of his journalistic career, he won accolades and awards, even historically claiming the Feature of the Year as a rookie in ST's annual awards presentation ceremony.
Within a couple of years, he became a senior correspondent - prepared to take on heavier duties such as reporting on football overseas and the SEA Games, and supervising.
With his strong and varied contacts, great energy and enthusiasm, he was a master at bringing in scoops.
At one SEA Games, he climbed over fences to beat a mob to the Senayan Stadium, just to fulfil an assignment.
He covered the 6am marathon event, when many other journalists preferred to sleep, and later picked up the story.
His career rise was so phenomenal that when he joined The New Paper in 2000, he helped boost its circulation with his well-researched education stories.
He became News Editor and later was seconded to The Straits Times as a supervisor, where he scored on many fronts.
And after his return to The New Paper, he worked to make the TNP School Sports Star awards a reality.
The award recognises young athletes for their sporting achievements, the strength of their character as well as the contributions they make to their schools.
Santokh later decided on another career switch, and joined Nanyang Polytechnic as director of community and outreach.
But he kept in touch with his journalism friends.
The New Paper's editor Dominic Nathan said: "Passionate about sports and education, Santokh continued to pass us ideas for stories long after he left journalism. But above all, he was a caring mentor to younger colleagues."
He has been my teh tarik kaki (lately teh si kosong) for almost 15 years now, regularly meeting between 4pm and 5pm, and we enjoyed our discussions and banter.
When he dropped me off at my home last Wednesday after one such meeting, his parting words were: "Boss (as he has been addressing me since I first interviewed him), see you on Monday."
Sadly, it won't happen. I will have to learn to live with that.
"Santokh had a great sense of humour, which he wasn't afraid to show, even though he held the director for communications and outreach post at NYP. Many people enjoyed the humour that he injected. Before he came along, the humour wasn't there."
- Azhar Abdul-Salam, 46, media lecturer at Nanyang Polytechnic
"Santokh could connect with anyone. He was always warm and friendly. He made the effort to keep in touch with friends and former colleagues. I could not have asked for a better friend. He was the kind of man who would risk his life to save another friend. He will be dearly missed."
- Mr Jawharilal Rajendran, 58, editor of Tamil Murasu