Home TA Online Meaningful gestures from ordinary human beings rekindle hope

Meaningful gestures from ordinary human beings rekindle hope

Water lily stalks - BENEDICT LOPEZ

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During his early morning walks, Benedict Lopez discovers honest and kind ordinary people who lift his spirits.

Previously, I used to start my morning walks at the unearthly hour of 4.30am.

Starting my exercise in pitch darkness before the crack of dawn can be a challenge, as I was usually the only one out on the streets. People expressed concern about my personal safety walking at such an early hour.

My standard response? I didn’t think I was a prime candidate for a robbery victim and if I was to encounter an unfortunate experience on the streets, I would give the robber everything I have, which would be only RM20.

Much to the surprise of many, I encountered many unsavoury characters at that hour who also enquired about me walking at that unnerving time.

My standard response: “I am in peace with nature only at this time of the day.”

From this week, I changed my routine to a 7am walk, just to observe how ordinary men and women in our country earn a living.

From what I see, they are mostly decent, hardworking, resilient women and men, eking out an honest living. They make me feel proud to be a Malaysian. They stand in stark contrast with many of the corrupt who rob the people of Malaysia.

During my walks, I notice a few nasi lemak vendors and others selling ordinary Malaysian pastries, vegetables, fish, meat and fruit, and I patronise them from time to time. From their body language alone, they are a bundle of hilarity and cheerfulness.

Just yesterday, I greeted one of the regular vendors.

As usual, she was vivacious and glad to see me. She gave me two stalks of a water lily plant (see photo above) and wished me a happy new year.

I was taken aback by her noble gesture.

The lady who sells curry puffs is like her. Sometimes, when it is time for her to retire for the day, she gives me one or two extra curry puffs, but I always pay her slightly more than the amount due.

Observing these vendors daily reignites my hope and longstanding belief that it is the ordinary Malaysians who genuinely epitomise the kindness, humanity and compassion that many Malaysians are noted for. In small and poignant ways, they are the ones who give impetus to economic activity on the ground.  

Happy new year to all those who have made and continue to make this country what it is today.

God bless all of you.

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Benedict Lopez was director of the Malaysian Investment Development Authority in Stockholm and economics counsellor at the Malaysian embassy there in 2010-2014. He covered all five Nordic countries in the course of his work. A pragmatic optimist and now an Aliran member, he believes Malaysia can provide its people with the same benefits and privileges found in the Nordic countries - not a far-fetched dream but one that he hopes will be realised in his lifetime
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