Mentor to some, dear friend to many, legend to the industry, and prankster to all, Tony Francis was the real McCoy.

Though he has passed on to another realm, he has left an indelible mark on many, who don’t just feel his absence, but also feel the loss of a person who had been many things to different people.

In this tribute, brought to you by Sports Flame, the spirit of Tony Francis, lives on, immortalised by the memories shared by his friends and former colleagues.


  1. Befitting tribute to the versatile journalist Tony Francis.
    May his soul rest in eternal peace 🌹🙏

  2. An awesome complication of very deserving compliments to a Malaysian writer-legend, who was like a Pied Piper, using the typewriter or keyboards to fire away. Congratulations to George Das and his “SportsFlame” kakis for keeping the fiery fire burning to salute Tony Francis’s overwhelming contributions to journalism.
    His unique brand of making writing a “pleasure rather than pressure” will remain a global trademark for every budding teenage-writer.
    RIP Tony Francis, I just wish the nation could’ve honoured you with a Datukship (still not too late from the sporting Agong) for your exemplary pen-ship performances.

    Suresh Nair (Singapore)

  3. Thks 4 d post! A very good tribute 2 our good friend…Tony Francis😩😩😩! May He Rest in Peace! 🙏🙏🙏

    Len Oliveiro (Australia)

  4. Tony Francis was a
    great sports journalist well received as a Sports Flame of the good old days of Malaysian Sports.He has left a vacuum yet to be filled today.

    -A.Vaithilingam. (Malaysia)

  5. George, tx so much for sharing … This tribute video clip was done straight from the heart and I can imagine what Tony meant to you n gang… that was the era when sports journalists were personalities n celebrities unto themselves, and when the reading public actually placed great weight on their opinions, etc …may he now rest in peace 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻

    Christina Kwok ( Malaysia)

  6. Honestly I will miss Tony a lot.. great boss who always guided me. May his soul rest in peace. AMEEN.

    Fazil Mahmud ( Malaysia)

  7. Thank you for the beautiful and heartfelt tribute. You guys captured him perfectly and he would have been so happy(and probably embarrassed) listening to what everybody had to say. But I know he would have been immensely proud to have such loyal and wonderful friends. Please thank everyone involved in the project and once again please extend my apologies to those who did not get to say goodbye to Tony personally.

    Cheng Tuan ( wife of Tony Francis)

  8. Really good stuff . Loved every tribute. Touched to see Harbant Kaur. saying a few words too. Well done. Tony will be smiling.

    Peter Martinez ( New Zealand).

  9. Tony must have had a great impact on all of you This is a fitting tribute for him .As for me I would say Forever missed but never forgotten.
    N. Sri Shannuganathan

  10. Wow! What a beautiful & awesome Tribute to him! So many memories ya. 🙏🏽 Just lovely. Not sure if I could ever get even an ounce of all those love & memories like the ones that you all have shared about him. Salute to Uncle Tony Francis! 🌹🌹🌹🙏🏽
    Geraldine Raj ( Malaysia).

  11. Thank you everyone, especially George Das, for all your kind words and the lovely tribute for Tony. He would have been so touched.

  12. Georgie, if not for you, this flame wouldnt have seen it’s beginnings as a flicker, and if it wasn’t for you, this flame would have been snuffed out as quickly as it had started to burn years ago. Tony lives in this ‘flame’ because u wanted to keep him alive. Bless your good heart Georgie.

  13. Dear George, you are a true friend who has created this tribute to Tony with deep love and care. Beautifully done and very moving dedication to a significant part of your generous life. A salute to the seventies and the people who made life more meaningful. Keep that flame burning. Xx

  14. George, you have done an amazing job with this. A gargantuan “thank you” for this effort. You have immortalised some of greatest sportspersons and now, sportswriters. Much appreciated.
    Tony Francis will be missed. Cheers.

  15. TonyF left such a huge impression around him. At work, he was the mainstay at the Sportsdesk and later the Newsdesk. I was fortunate to be under him in both. After work, he was fun to be with. His endless Elvis jokes and pranks can never be forgotten. His last message to me was a month before he passed on. Asked me how I was and he wished we could get together for coffee. Tony, you were a gem.

  16. Tks once again George. You guys are legends and irreplaceable.Top Journalists of a dying era.

    James D’Cruz (Australia).

  17. My heart sank when I heard of Tony’s passing. He taught me what journalism is all about. He was my first boss and the greatest!. I cherish every moment working under him. His voice still lingers in my mind.

    Fazil Mahmud (Malaysia).

  18. I will remember Tony Francis for his staunch discretion.
    Observing him I used to wonder about the way he handled the intrigues that swirled around the NST sports desk and elsewhere in Balai Berita.
    He simply ignored them while being aware of their existence; he had friends who doubtless let him know. That was an object lesson for me.
    Here was a man who was aware and pretended, I would say, not to be aware. Clearly, he must have felt that discretion was the better part of valour. It was a lesson that grew on me as I aged; I wished I had absorbed it earlier.

    Terence Netto (Malaysia)

  19. Sad end to a great journalist. I have only met him a few times but his quiet and humble demeanour never failed to impress. By his own admission, he knew nothing about cricket when he started his career as a sports writer but such was his willingness to learn that very quickly he was able to write excellent reports of that sport.
    May his soul rest in peace.

  20. One bright morning in January 2020, my brother George calls me and says”come let’s pay Tony a visit” .Without a clue, I responded OK without knowing Tony’s condition.
    On seeing Tony I really cried to see a guy vibrant in his days now surviving on breathing equipment, which he had to trolley around.
    Was Tony angered by this or hiding himself away.. No he welcomed us with his big grin and with difficulty kept us entertained with his usual jokes.
    That’s Tony always caring and feeling for others.
    I will miss the Royal Selangor Club bar talk with a pint and the big country grin.
    Rest In Peace my friend .

    Phillip Das (Malaysia)

  21. By Haresh Deol

    Late 2007 – It was our first meeting that ended on a not so pleasant note.

    Just weeks earlier, Ghaz Ramli and I returned from our Korat SEA Games stint. While covering the regional Games we were informed by our then senior Rizal Hashim that the New Straits Times Press had sold Malay Mail to a new company.

    Upon returning, there were plenty of uncertainties. The ‘fear’ further escalated when a ‘new team’ was brought in to run the newsroom.

    Tony Francis was leading that team. He was hired as editor of The Malay Mail.

    At the first meeting with the sports desk, we sat at the opposite ends of the table. Deep down, I was hoping for a positive outcome. A fresh start following a rather gloomy period where colleagues and good friends were axed from the organisation.

    But my hopes were shattered the minute Tony looked at Ghaz and I and said, “So I heard you two were busy partying in Bangkok.”

    It wasn’t a question. It was a statement. Tony was misinformed.

    Here’s a veteran editor who failed to check his facts. Or perhaps it was Tony’s way of testing us.

    But before Ghaz and I could say anything, Rizal and my other colleague Graig Nunis leapt to our defense. The rest in the room quickly followed suit. Judging by the look on Tony’s face, he didn’t expect that his statement against the ‘young cikus’ would rile up every single person on the sports desk.

    This is where his experience came into the picture. He quickly calmed things down before we left the room. The following weeks, he made sure there was mutual respect in the newsroom.

    We had all started on the wrong foot but we saw beyond our differences and learnt to appreciate each other. Tony didn’t bear any grudges. He was a professional.

    He provided opportunities to the young journalists and photographers. What I loved about Tony is that he taught us. He made sure we attended meetings, he made sure we were allowed to voice our opinions, to make decisions.

    There was no “during my time” talk when it came to Tony. It was all about moving forward.

    While his final tour in The Malay Mail was shortlived after the company was sold off, yet again, Tony and I maintained our relationship.

    I wished we had met more during the final months but just by speaking to him over the phone, he was clearly under the weather and needed plenty of rest. The Covid-19 pandemic didn’t help either.

    He never failed to ask me about my better half and my son. He cared.

    The last conversation we had was on Aug 24, 2020. He ended his WhatsApp text by saying:

    ” … Yes, we should catch up. Will call you when I am much better. Cheers.”

    Thank you very much for everything, sir. You will always be in our hearts.

    p/s: Sir, when we finally do catch up in the afterlife, my first question to you would be: Why on earth did you have a huge Cristiano Ronaldo poster in your room at 3 Two Square? Why???!

    Haresh Deol (Malaysia).

  22. Tony a classmate from brat years to senior years.Never a fight nor a forgotten sight .You were the man.
    Always in touch whether talking cock sports or downing a six pack.
    Your last messages will always teach me to never wait for a visit and hopefully a lesson for others too.
    I would like to reprint those touching messages:
    Tony:Just to say Hi! as i have not seen you quite awhile. Three faces that keep flashing in my mind all the while in this depressing lockdown are yours (alfred), joseph d’cruz and tony moses. I’ve lost touch with all three. Hope all of you are keeping well. Let me know when you are in kl so we can celebrate to the good times. My best wishes to all of you and your families. God bless.
    Tony: Hi alfred, good to know people still remember me. How are you doing my friend? It’s been years since I last met you. Got to meet up one of these days when my health gets better. Promise. In the meantime, keep in touch. I actually, saw you in my dreams about a week ago. Alfred of 4th mile Ipoh Road. I was in 3rd mile ipoh road. Is that right?
    Tony: Great. Put my name down for any get-together. I always thought you had migrated to australia. How’s cricketer Hector? Used to cover him in my early years in the nst sports desk.
    Tony: Am ok bro. Not well but surviving. Can we meet with the oldtimers for coffee one of these days? Let’s see if i can get somebody to organise it.
    Tony: Hi alfred, i am still not well. But we could sound out what we want to do so we will know whether they would be interested. Can lah alfred. I still have a picture of us in teacher sta maria’s std 6 class. You look very handsome.

    Thanks Tony for being the friend you were.

    Alfred Durairatnam (Malaysia)

  23. A quiet but friendly n always smile I am honoured to have met him together with my good friend Mr Norman Siebel I am so happy to have the last lunch with him just before the MCO Rest in peace my friend.

    Yew Cheng Hoe

  24. I’m OK

    I’m OK, thank you
    That’s my response
    To those who asked

    But am I really?
    I miss you
    With every breath
    That I take

    40 long, empty days
    And the darkest of nights
    Waiting for dawn to break

    My heart aches
    For your gentle smile
    Your voice telling me
    ‘I love you’

    I yearn for your touch
    In every whisper of the wind
    That caresses my cheeks
    And dries my tears

    Tears that come unbidden
    With every familiar song
    Every familiar sight
    Every familiar smell

    I told you I was ready
    But it was my biggest lie
    For how can I ever be ready
    To let go
    Of my one and only love
    My soulmate
    My best friend
    My partner in crime

    So, am I ok?
    I don’t know, my love

    But I’ll keep my promise
    To be happy
    To live my life
    To see the world
    With you forever in my heart

    Hard as it may be
    Without you by my side
    I’ll try to be brave
    I’ll try to be strong
    As William Wordsworth said
    I will grieve not, rather find
    Strength in what remains behind

    Remember what I said
    On that heartbreaking morning
    As I held your hand
    And listened to you breathe
    ‘This is not the end
    But the beginning
    Of a new chapter’

    So, rest well, my love
    And write your best chapter yet
    Until we meet again…


    Cheng Tuan (wife of Tony Francis)

  25. The first time I met Tony was when I came to KL for a bureau chiefs/staff correspondents meeting at NST headquarters.
    After learning that I was not very familiar with KL, he asked me to stay back after the meeting. I’d spoken to him on the phone, but this was the first face to face meeting.
    He drove me to the bangsar hawkers centre where we had some food and chatted;and then he sent me back to the hotel at Brickfields.
    There was no need for the chief news editor to take an outstation staff for dinner. He did. I guess it was to make me comfortable. Or perhaps to find out more about me. I prefer to think that he did it because that was Tony Francis.
    Now that I was comfortable with him, after a couple of subsequent meetings he took me to Cantina. He didn’t ask me to drink alcohol as i had earlier told him that I don’t drink, but I enjoyed the company. He introduced me to some others who were there as his colleague from Penang.
    Whenever he wanted the Penang office to do something, it came across more as a request than an order.
    He was a kind man. He had this ability to make you feel comfortable.
    I last met him in 2019 when we had lunch together with a few other friends.
    May he be at peace.

    A. Kathiraisen (Malaysia)

  26. I first met Toñy a good 55 years ago. To be precise it was at the Taylor Road pitch, home ground of the Selàngor Indian Association’s football team which was next to the old Istana Negara.

    Tony and I were the only two reporters at the football match– Tony covering for the Straits Times and I for the Singapore–based Eastern Sun daily.
    And Tony earned his first byline by sharing it with two other writers — Ian Pereira and Peter de Souza who had covered other local matches.

    The Sports Editor of the Straits Times then was Norman Siebel and he splashed the bylines of the young writers to give them a boost.

    Cricket enjoyed good coverage and slowly Tony picked up lots of knowledge to cover local matches.

    His bosses praised him for his interest and Tony thanked all those who guided him.

    Tony is a friend to many.

    Rest in peace my dear Tony.

    R.D.Selva (Malaysia)


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