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A Crying Postman, 3 Arrests, And A Story That Gets More Confusing As It Unfolds

It appears the trio, which involved a 22-year-old postman, had concocted a plan to cash in on the online goodwill of everyday Malaysians amidst claims of no Aidilfitri bonus for postmen this year. They received RM5,000 in donations.

Cover image via Masakan Utara Barat/Facebook & EdgeProp Malaysia

A postman has been arrested for alleged fraud after collecting funds through social media amidst claims of no Aidilfitri bonus this year

Along with the 22-year-old postman, two others have been arrested for collecting a total of RM5,000 in donation from social media users, according to a Bernama report dated 22 May.

The three individuals are said to be under remand for three days, ending Monday, 25 May.

What happened?

On Monday, 18 May, local media including SAYS reported on a viral story about a postman who broke down after learning that there wouldn't be any bonus this year amidst the coronavirus-impacted economy.

The Pos Malaysia employee was seen in photos sitting under the rain by a roadside in Penang.

Moved by the postman's plight, Malaysians launched an online petition on Change.org. It is still gathering signatures from supporters demanding that Pos Malaysia give bonuses to their employees.

At the time of writing this story, 24 May, the petition had collected over 58,000 signatures.

Faced with online criticism, Pos Malaysia was forced to respond

The postal delivery service released a statement via its social media pages on 19 May "to clarify a few matters related to the commentaries that surfaced on social media and the news recently".

In the statement, Pos Malaysia said that while the company is facing a difficult time amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, it continues to protect the livelihood of over 15,000 frontliners and its other staff.

"We can't stop the general perception against us right now. But we assure everyone that we have our people's welfare at heart, and we are providing them the best as we possibly can at this time," it added.

Pos Malaysia did not say anything about a bonus for postmen nor did it address calls from netizens regarding the company's top management to take a pay cut to provide the bonuses to their employees.

Following which, SAYS ran a check of the company's Board of Directors' annual salaries and allowances, which are disclosed under a Bursa Malaysia filing dated 18 September 2019.

It revealed that the Board's chairman earns a basic salary of RM120,000 a year, whereas a committee member earns RM80,000 a year. They also receive multiple meeting allowances.

Two days later, on 21 May, a Bernama report said that Pos Malaysia has advised people "to avoid postings which are defamatory in nature"

In the same report, Bernama said a person was arrested for allegedly running donation scams on Facebook. However, no further details were provided about the person who was arrested.

A day later, on 22 May, we reported about the arrest after learning that the person arrested was a woman who had originally posted about the crying postman on a 'Masakan Utara Barat' Facebook account.

She defended herself, claiming that the story of the postman living on the breadline is true.

While apologising over the issue on a Facebook post on Thursday night, 21 May, the woman stated that all she wanted was to help the postman who did not receive his bonus.

"I never expected it would reach this situation," she wrote, adding, "In all honesty, I swear to Allah that I'm not lying. No money was deposited into my bank account."

However, multiple people have since shared bank transactions about them depositing money under a beneficiary named 'Muhd Syazwan'. One such transaction involved an RM500 deposit.

Why was the postman arrested?

According to Seberang Perai Tengah District Police chief Assistant Commissioner Police (ACP) Shafee Abd Samad, they arrested the postman, aged 22, after he lodged a police report on Wednesday, 20 May, under "the pretext of defending himself and to avoid being punished by his employer".

ACP Shafee said that the postman claimed that he did not have anything to do with the story about the crying postman while also denying that he was the individual in the viral photos.

An investigation followed, which revealed, according to Shafee, that it was the postman himself who had come up with the story and that the photos and bank account number were his.

However, the ACP also said that the postman told them that he had shared his plight of not getting a bonus to his elder brother and foster sister, who then posted about it on Facebook.

After the postman's arrest, police picked up his brother, aged 23, in Padang Serai, Kedah and the foster sister, aged 35, at the Seberang Perai Tengah District Police headquarters.

It appears the trio had concocted a plan to cash in on the online goodwill of everyday Malaysians amidst claims of no Aidilfitri bonus

They received RM5,000 donations from the public, according to a report in The Star.

"The postman had asked the page admins to upload his picture with a caption that says he is not getting any bonus from his employer," ACP Shafee was quoted as saying by the English daily yesterday, 23 May.

He added that the people behind the Facebook account, believed to the postman's brother and foster sister, would then give out the postman's bank account number to those who sympathise with him.

The RM5,000 in the donation were deposited into the postman's bank account and he has since admitted to having used a portion of the donation on personal things.

The postman's ATM card and mobile phone have seized, ACP Shafee told Bernama.

In conclusion, from what ACP Shafee said, the postman's claims about him not receiving a bonus this year corroborates, following which his relatives took to social media where people voluntarily transferred funds.

However, Pos Malaysia seems to have filed a complaint against them alleging scam. Based on which, the postman along with his two relatives was taken into custody for investigation.

The incident follows a similar social media event where a young man's claim of receiving a scholarship from NASA fooled everyone: