Budget airline AirAsia co-founder Tony Fernandes kept a group of predominantly Sikh audience from Southeast Asia in stitches with his remarks on barfi, Kelab Aman and how Sikh leaders fear their mothers.
“My experience with Sikhs is barfi in Rawang, Selangor Club and Kelab Aman….not always a great experience after 10 o’clock at night,” he told the 200-odd participants of the Asean Sikh Economic and Entrepreneurship Summit (ASEES) in Kuala Lumpur.
Fernandes, who donned a red turban, was one of the invited guest speaker at the two-day summit, held at the Securities Commission Malaysia headquarters, started today (8 July 2017).
In an animated and session moderated by Digital News Asia co-founder/CEO Karamjeet Singh, Fernandes shared about Ajaypal Singh Banga, the current president and chief executive officer of MasterCard, whom he described as a ‘dear friend and a great guy’.
“You know why he’s so great? I think the greatest aspect in any human being is humility, and being humble. I hate these guys who think they are more important than they actually are, walk around with 17 bodyguards.
“He is super successful, but he is down to earth. I think he is a great Sikh. He still wears his turban with pride.
“And he takes me to some godforsaken restaurant in New York, and says: ‘This is the best Punjabi food in New York’. Like I’m really interested because I come form Malaysia, anyway, I get the best Punjabi food everyday!” The crowd again breaks into loud laughter.
“I find Sikhs never loose their roots, they are very proud of where they came from, and they all stick together, and they are great leaders,” he told the audience which broke into laughter.
Fernandes then invited anyone donning a red turban to come to stage to claim a price. Autar Singh, a long-time Sikh activist in Malaysia, went on stage to win tickets for two to Jakarta and Hawaii.
The event included address by two prominent guest speakers from India: Punjab finance minister Manpreet Singh and former deputy chairman of planning commission Dr Montek Singh Ahluwalia.