Infernal Ramblings
A Malaysian Perspective on Politics, Society and Economics

Remembering Rajan Rishyakaran

Written by johnleemk on 12:10:20 pm Dec 30, 2009.
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I just found out I lost one of my best friends. I'm still in shock, I haven't updated this place in over a year, and I'm using a weird Belgian keyboard with a funny layout, so this will not be one of my finer moments. But man, what a loss.

I think I first encountered Rajan Rishyakaran five years ago, when someone tried to impersonate him on Wikipedia -- there aren't many Malaysians on Wikipedia, so I naturally noticed. He was the first libertarian Malaysian I've ever encountered -- and although the term "libertarian" can encompass anything from anarchism to American conservatism (neither of which would accurately describe our views), he and I were virtually like peas in a pod as far as our politics went. I think the first thing I ever said to him (online) was a suggestion that we one day form a Malaysian Libertarian Party.

But unlike another good friend of ours, Hafiz (who wrote a great obit), I don't want to play up the political angle here, as unavoidable as it is. I think the three of us were for a long while the most prolific libertarian writers in the Malaysian blogosphere, perhaps the only ones. But Rajan and I connected on more than politics.

Another good friend, Nat Tan, remembers that I would skip out on our various get-rich-quick schemes to go to the cinema with Rajan. We both had a quirky sense of humour that I guess isn't that common. I think our sensitive sides connected too, because there were times when we'd say "Screw it," and catch a chick flick at 1U.

(The last time we ever communicated was in a threeway exchange on Twitter with Soon Li Tsin about how terrible 1U is -- and yet how much I love it. I love it because of all the memories I have there with people like Rajan -- but I never did get to tell him so.)

I can't remember if I caught up with Rajan this summer -- maybe we managed to get in a game of poker at Nat's very early on, but I don't think we hung out since then. I wanted to meet up with him in Singapore, but things just didn't work out.

As my mother can probably tell you, it's not easy to drag me to a church service. I think organised religion and I don't get along that well, even though in terms of beliefs and faith, I am like Rajan a rather conservative Christian. Last summer though, I followed Rajan to a service at his church in Singapore.

There aren't enough people like Rajan in the world. Two of Rajan's dreams were to set up a liberal arts college in Southeast Asia, and to fix the damned urban planning around the Klang Valley. It was always great fun talking with him, whether about politics or girls, and I will miss him so much. God took you home too soon, friend.

There will be a memorial service tomorrow in Shah Alam. I will be nearing the end of my Christmas break in Europe, and so cannot attend, but I hope if you will be there, you can tell his folks that I will keep him and them in my thoughts and prayers. I'm so sorry.


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Infernal Ramblings is a Malaysian website focusing on current events and sociopolitical issues. Its articles run the gamut from economics to society to education.

Infernal Ramblings is run by John Lee. For more, see the About section. If you have any questions or comments, do drop him a line.


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