IT was a year when we mourned as a nation as tradegy after tradegy struck. It was a time when extremists sought to sow discord among races. But it was also a year that saw the upright of heart winning our hearts. Below are some of the individuals who led the way in being examples for us to follow.
Act of kindness
On Sept 29 this year, Lance Corporal Syed Hazril Ezra Tuan Ab Razak, 26, spotted Phyllis Kong’s white car pulled aside on a section of the Federal Highway. It was rush hour, and Kong was struggling to change her flat tyre in the sweltering heat while passing cars honked at her. The dutiful traffic policeman stopped and proceeded to help her change the tyre.
Syed Hazril then accompanied Kong to a petrol station to fill the spare tyre with air, only to find it was faulty. He then escorted Kong to a tyre shop to get it fixed.
Kong shared her appreciation on her social media account. Many Malaysians praised Syed Hazril for his action, including Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who thanked him for his level of commitment. Calling him an “angel in a uniform disguise”, Kong said she felt proud of Syed Hazril.
In a report by Utusan Malaysia, the humble policeman said he did not need the recognition as it was done out of duty to serve society and anyone in need. Syed Hazril said it should be Kong’s gratitude that should be praised, as it showed appreciation for the work of a police officer.
Let’s not forget also the efforts of the Royal Malaysia Police in helping those affected by the floods in Kelantan, where reportedly over 20,000 victims were caught in the “decade’s worst” flood.
A heartwarming journey
His aim was to make a “people’s movie”, but director Chiu Keng Guan could not have in any way anticipated the unprecedented response his film, The Journey, garnered. In telling the simple story of a prickly single father and his daughter, who brought home a mat salleh fiance, the film captured a sense of hope, love and humour in a heartwarming Malaysian movie beautifully shot throughout the country. Collecting over RM17 million within 56 days of its release, The Journey made history with its record for highest box office collection of all time, as awarded by the Malaysia Book of Records. There were some other gems as well from our local film industry this year. Just to name a few: the anthology-styled film Cuak, Lelaki Harapan Dunia (Men Who Save The World) by highly regarded director Liew Seng Tat, and In Between Floors by first-time director Bernice Low.
Dogs need TLC too
We applaud the bravery of Syed Azmi Alhabshi in his attempt to educate and demystify. A key organiser of the “I Want to Touch a Dog” event on Oct 18 in the Bandar Utama park, Syed Azmi wanted to break the barrier between people who are averse to dogs, due to religious reasons, and dog lovers.
After getting approval from the Selangor Mufti Department, Syed Azmi invited an Islamic scholar to teach participants how to perform the sertu (the Islamic ritual of cleaning and purifying oneself after coming into contact with dogs), while giving them guidelines and detailed explanations on how to handle canines.
The event was praised for its significance in building a cultural bridge and fostering understanding between those who love dogs and those who don’t.
Newsfeeds on social media were filled with reports and photographs. Despite the scathing criticism and backlash that soon followed, which subjected the well-meaning pharmacist to a barrage of criticism, negative feedback, harassment and even death threats, many Malaysians stood up to defend Syed Azmi’s desire to educate people on how to help dogs if they are in need of help.
This could also work towards allowing more freedom for the visually-impaired to use guide dogs in Malaysia. Visit www.facebook.com/dogsforsight to learn more.
Farewell, Tiger of Jelutong
Shock and disbelief barely described the emotions that many Malaysians felt when they woke up to news that Karpal Singh had been killed in a tragic car accident alongside his faithful assistant Michael Cornelius in the early hours of April 17.
On the newsfeed of social media, there was a flood of condolences. People from all walks of life and leaders from both sides of the political divide expressed their sorrow for the loss of a fiery leader who was revered for his principles.
Such a towering figure was Karpal that one need not be a reporter, a politician, his legal clients or his political opponent to witness his magic up close. The Tiger of Jelutong’s persistent roar had hit the right chord with ordinary Malaysians in his four decades of service.
As a lawyer, his grasp of the law and sheer kindness to assist those in need has been well documented. He knew the Federal Constitution like the back of his hand and could quote it at the drop of a hat. Karpal was a formidable politician who stood by his opinions on issues affecting the nation. His reputation earned people’s respect and Malaysians trusted him and knew that he would stand up for them. He was always quick to respond to developments and to remind the government that it cannot reign free without being accountable, and this long before the formation of the opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat in 2008.
His virtue, grit and heart are still missed, as many Malaysians still look for the figure to fill his shoes.
In the face of tragedy, united we stand
The disappearance of MH370, the gunning down of MH17 months later, and now the missing AirAsia flight Q8501, have left the nation reeling. Hundreds of lives lost, and still the fate of many more yet unknown, leaving families with little or no closure. While it would be foolish to claim to understand the grief of those intimately affected, as a nation there was a keen sense of loss and helplessness. With it, a wake-up call perhaps of the bigger picture to which we need to open our eyes.
We may have a long way to go, but the solidarity that organically crystallised in those darkest of moments showed that we truly became, simply, Malaysians.
And if we can each carry this priceless reminder that we are only as good as we are united in uplifting one another, no matter our race or religion, the “screams” that threaten to divide and weaken us will only become whispers.
May we be better this 2015. Happy New Year!
This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on December 29, 2014.