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Riz Sunawan: A Shining Star Dims Too Soon in the Malay Media Industry

Singapore’s Malay media industry lost a shining star on February 8th, 2023, with the passing of former Mediacorp news presenter Asri Sunawan, also known as Riz Sunawan, at the young age of 44.

Diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) in 2018 which left him bedridden and unable to perform basic acts such as eating solids over time, Mr Asri never let his terminal illness bring him down. Instead, he co-founded the first Motor Neurone Disease Association of Singapore in 2021, becoming its ambassador and spreading awareness of the disease.

“His Passing is a Loss to the Community”

Tributes quickly came pouring in from members of the Malay media industry, including an ex-radio colleague, Nona Kirana. In her Instagram post, Nona thanked Mr Asri for being a sincere friend in an otherwise cutthroat media industry:

Source: Screenshot from Nona Kirana, Instagram

Dzar Ismail, on behalf of OKLETSGO, too, paid tribute to Mr Asri. A committee member of Bulan Bahasa, Mr Asri and Dzar worked together when the latter was appointed as a Malay Language Ambassador in 2017.

Source: Screenshot from Dzar Ismail, Instagram

The news of Mr Asri's passing was also met with an outpouring of tributes from prominent members of the Malay/Muslim community, including President Halimah Yaacob, who shared her condolences and expressed her support for Mr Asri and his advocacy on Facebook. President Halimah strongly supported Riz and his advocacy, even attending his book launch in December 2022.

Source: Screenshot from Halimah Yaacob, Facebook

The Mufti of Singapore, Ustaz Nazirudin Mohd Nasir, also had kind words to say about Mr Asri, thanking him for the lessons of kindness, mannerism, selflessness, and resilience that he taught the community while he was alive.

Source: Screenshot from Nazirudin Mohd Nasir, Instagram

My Name is Riz. I have Motor Neurone Disease

Photo: Wardah Books

Mr Asri also released a bilingual book titled 'My Name is Riz. I have Motor Neurone Disease' in December 2022, detailing the life of an MND patient in Singapore. While the disease may have affected his ability to use his voice, the book served as an extension of his voice to raise awareness of MND and ALS in Singapore.

Mr Asri's passing is a significant loss for the Malay media industry and those touched by his advocacy and resilience. His book will continue to serve as a testament to his legacy and a reminder of one person's impact on their community.

We extend our deepest condolences to Mr Asri's family and loved ones during this difficult time. May his soul, Mohammad Asri Sunawan, be placed among the faithful.

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