Here's a throwback to some of the kind, generous, and selfless things Malaysians did that made 2021 a little better:
1. A woman in Shah Alam, Selangor won hearts online for setting up a snack bar outside her house to treat delivery riders
On 15 January, Natasha Hidayah Hashim shared two photos of the simple snack bar she prepared outside her house during the Movement Control Order (MCO).
"For delivery, please take some snacks! Stay safe," read the note she wrote.
"Decided to do something small to show appreciation to my abang and kakak delivery," she said, adding that others could also show some kindness and pay something forward when they can.
2. A 44-year-old scrap collector braved social stigma to keep the bellies of stray dogs full when he saw they had difficulty finding food during MCO
"They were looking for food in the trash. When I saw that, I felt pity for them, so I decided to feed all of them," said Khairul from Kelantan.
He admitted that while collecting recyclables is difficult to make a living, he still could not bring himself to ignore the starving stray animals and watch them die.
Khairul named the pack of dogs in the area as 'Ah Ciak Gang', with Ah Ciak being the first dog he fed there.
"At first I was just feeding cats and Ah Ciak, but then she started bringing her other hungry friends along," he said.
Other than the challenge of sourcing food, Khairul also had to deal with stigma and heartbreak as stray dogs are often captured, poisoned, or killed by various parties.
However, he said he is determined to never stop feeding the strays.
3. A lucky foodpanda rider received a generous RM1,000 tip from a customer who simply wanted a stranger to pray for her
On 21 February, Muhammad Faris Faizul posted in a Facebook group, "Alhamdulillah, my luck this evening. I was so surprised that I felt like jumping off the motorcycle just now."
He elaborated that a customer had asked him to take a money packet left on a table at her home after completing his delivery as a kind gesture from her.
"Yes. It's your luck. Pray for me to be granted a child. Later share with your friends. Ask them to pray for me to get a child soon. Okay, take care," the woman had texted him after he double checked.
The incident left Faris feeling bittersweet as he wrote on Facebook, "Touched and sad. Thankful and happy. Because I did not expect the amount to be so much."
"Hope my other rider friends will pray for this woman to be granted children soon, God willing."
4. A pak cik from Melaka was moved to tears after a couple bought out all his fresh-cut fruit stock from his stall
Alina Farahin shared on 19 February that her husband talked to the pak cik, gave him a bag of rice, and also encouraged him to go home and rest.
"This uncle is strong. He stands and sits there until who knows what time just to finish selling his fruits. At an age like his, he shouldn't be working anymore, but this is his only choice to make a living," she wrote on Facebook.
"Anyone passing by, please stop by to buy fruits from this uncle. It's not expensive at all. This is the very least we can help," Alina pleaded, adding that the pak cik's stall is located at Petron Masjid Tanah, Melaka.
In the comment section of the video, a netizen who claimed to be the pak cik's daughter said that she has been away from their hometown due to the MCO.
"It has been a few months since I saw my father, but I often video call and WhatsApp him to check on him," she said, thanking Alina and her husband for the kind deed.
5. A disabled perfume seller received overwhelming support after a stranger stumbled upon his livestream and was inspired by how committed he was to his online business
Twitter user @shykinn first found out about Foo Chia Keat when she stumbled upon the seller's livestream on Shopee with only seven viewers.
"I just went in to see what he was selling. Then, I stalked his profile and found out he sells home and car fragrances," she said, impressed that he was a person with disabilities (OKU).
"He speaks Bahasa Melayu very fluently. Please support him guys. I'm sure he would be very happy if lots of people buy his items," she told her Twitter followers.
The tweet quickly took off, gaining nearly 45,000 retweets and Foo received countless orders from caring Malaysians who went to support his business.
Even Bliese, the company whose products he is an agent for, congratulated him for his booming sales on their official Twitter account.
"Thank you for supporting my business and for making me go viral on Twitter. I've got many orders now. I will work hard but my stock is limited," said Foo in response.
6. A concerned young Penangite bought RM5,000 worth of food from a Ramadan bazaar in Seberang Jaya and gave it all away
On 22 April, Muhammad Iddin Syah Mohd Fuzi decided to carry out the kind deed due to his concern about the fate of traders due to MCO and the poor weather.
Not only did he support the traders, but he also made other shoppers' day with the free food.
"Lately, it has been raining heavily in the evening and I wonder what if the food and drinks are not sold out," said the 27-year-old beauty product entrepreneur.
He explained that what he did was not to show off, but rather to use the profits he had made from his business this Ramadan to give back to the community.
"In our blessings, there are also other people's blessings," he said.
7. After seeing a terrified dog running aimlessly on a busy street in Kuala Lumpur, a group of motorcyclists quickly teamed up in a heroic feat to rescue it
A motorist even dived and fell flat on the ground to stop Dafi, a poodle who had been lost for almost two weeks, from running into oncoming traffic.
After a suspenseful two-minute chase, about 10 motorcyclists, including several Grab and foodpanda delivery riders, came together to finally corner the dog to safety at the side of the road.
"Guys, guys, you all have to watch this! This is how Malaysia should be. All foodpanda and Grab drivers and all the other car and bike riders, they helped a Chinese man catch their poodle puppy! I can't stop smiling and being happy," said a Twitter user.
After getting Dafi back, its owner Steven Chong said, "I am so grateful for everyone of you who has been trying to help and I can't thank you enough. Bless all of you, my fellow Malaysians."
8. A foodpanda walker was touched when a customer asked him to break his fast before delivering her food during Ramadan
"I was ready to deliver the food to her somewhere along Jalan Imbi. But then she messaged me to have my meal first before delivering the fried chicken to her," the foodpanda walker, Dinnie, told Malay Mail.
Although the customer told Dinnie to break his fast before delivering her order, he insisted on delivering first as he was afraid that the fried chicken would get cold.
He said that he felt good for delivering a warm meal rather than serving it cold.
"This is not the first time that a customer told me to have my food first before delivering food to them as many others have sent me similar messages," he said.
He added that, "As a foodpanda Walker, there are times where we need to brace the hot weather and the rain, so kind comments from customers really do make us feel appreciated."
"I was very touched when the customer told me to eat first as it showed that she cared for me and the work I do especially during the Ramadan month."
9. A woman in Cheras was surprised by the compassion shown by her GrabFood rider after she forgot to tell him her new address and he delivered dinner to her anyway
According to Vijaya Kasinathan in May, when she ordered dinner on her way out of her work in Cheras, she realised that she had forgotten to change the location for the food to be delivered to her home in Bandar Kinrara, Puchong.
"It was too late when I realised the blunder I had made," Vijaya wrote, adding that she then called up the GrabFood rider to tell him that as she is no longer in the office, he should keep the food for himself.
To her surprise, Muhammad Azrul Abu Hassan, the GrabFood rider, expressed sadness that she did not have anything to eat and offered to deliver the order all the way to her house for free.
"I never anticipated such courtesy and dedication... I was truly bowled over," she wrote.
Azrul rode for about 20km and beyond the scope of his duty. To show her gratitude, Vijaya gave him a RM100 tip, to which Azrul initially resisted.
"I told him, 'Listen, son, no one can put a value to what you just did for me.'"
10. A teacher in Terengganu housed and fed 33 of her students for one and a half months so that they could study for SPM effectively with her during MCO
Naimah Yusuf is a Chemistry teacher at Sekolah Menengah Teknik Terengganu who won a McDonald's Anugerah Guru Inpirasi 2021 award after one of her students nominated her.
The student explained, "At the beginning of the MCO, my spirit to study broke. Of course, it's hard to study online. Especially when it comes to Chemistry since we cannot physically see the theories. Sometimes I wanted to cry."
However, when MCO 2.0 started, Cikgu Naimah sent a message to her class and offered them to stay overnight at her house so they can learn better.
"If you want to know, we did not spend two, three, or four nights at her place. We stayed for a month and two weeks at the teacher's house. Imagine, there are 25 students in my class and about eight more students from other classes."
With the teacher's dedication and welcoming arms, the class managed to improve their Chemistry grades from F to C during the SPM trial exams and are inspired to continue in their teacher's footsteps to do good.
11. Three police officers rushed a stray dog, who had been keeping them company at a roadblock in Johor for over a year, to a clinic after finding out it got hurt
Activist and former policeman Kuan Chee Heng, fondly known as Uncle Kentang, shared on 30 May that three police officers rushed their doggo friend to a clinic to save his life after he suffered serious injuries to his stomach and leg.
Despite having little money to spare, Kuan said the police officers brought their friend — nicknamed Johnny — as he had been keeping them company at a roadblock throughout MCO.
"This is how resolute they were even though their pockets did not have much money. With that said, they were determined to send Johnny to a clinic to save his life," Kuan wrote.
"Well done to all of you. Congratulations to Johor police for producing police officers with noble hearts."
The police officers told Kuan that they would contribute however much they could to save the dog as "that is their buddy who accompanies them in the middle of the silent nights".
12. A kind man in Selangor went out of his way to help a father struggling to buy the cheapest formula milk and diapers at a baby supply store in Bangi
Facebook user Armel Iman Darwisyah said he took notice of the struggling man because he had walked around the shop countless of times but did not pick anything up.
Then, he overheard the man asking the store assistant, "Excuse me, do you sell any cheap baby supplies here? The cheapest milk, the cheapest diapers? I'm just looking for the cheapest ones. Now that it's MCO again, I haven't been able to find much work."
After overhearing the conversation, Armel said it was his luck that the man ended up in the cashier line behind him.
"I could see that he bought the smallest pack of diapers, and the cheapest and smallest can of milk. In my heart, I knew it was for his child, and I felt so sorry for him," Armel wrote.
So, when it came to his turn to pay, Armel whispered to the cashier to count the things the man behind him had bought as well, and to add on a few others.
"After hearing that, how could I not help? It would have been evil of me. I'm a father too, so I felt responsible. I know he was going through a tough time because I've gone through hardship too," said Armel.
13. A cendol hawker in Selangor celebrated his birthday by gifting a new pair of shoes to a street cleaner he often passes by on his way to work
Muhammad Affiruddin Mat Ariff said he once saw the man at a traffic light and noticed that his shoes were badly torn to the point his toes were visible.
"I have long intended to give him a gift because I was not happy to see him wearing worn and torn shoes while working. There were traces of stitches as if they have been sewn many times and it looked like it can't be repaired anymore," said Affiruddin.
So, on his birthday, he went to purchase a pair of shoes and delivered them to the 'Uncle', as he fondly calls him.
The kind man said he hoped that Malaysians would take more care of public areas so that public servants like Uncle do not have to work overtime.
"People like Uncle, working as a cleaner, need to be given attention because they keep the community clean," he said.
14. A woman shared that she witnessed a pharmacist paying for a patient's bill after the mother could not afford the medications for her baby
On Wednesday, 23 June, Maidatul tweeted that she overheard a woman talking to the clinic's pharmacist about her child's RM60 medication bill at a 24-hour clinic in Kuala Terengganu.
The woman offered to pay using a government assistance card but the pharmacist informed her that the clinic, unfortunately, did not accept it.
"The woman's face changed when she heard this and suddenly she said, 'It's okay. I've got no money. I don't want the medicine'," said Maidatul.
However, as the woman was about to leave, the pharmacist stopped her and said she will pay for her child's medication bill.
Ending her Twitter thread, Maidatul said, "To the pharmacist, I pray for your good health for helping the woman and her child!"
"Everyone's struggling now. She was a hero in my eyes last night!"
15. A teacher in Sabah turned his boat into a classroom to ensure that his students do not fall behind during MCO
As schools switched to teaching and learning at home (PdPR), 39-year-old Nasir Mohamed Jamal made sure his students with no Internet access could still attend lessons.
He rowed a wooden boat along Sungai Kinabatangan to his students' houses every week, equipped with the learning materials and a foldable table.
Nasir told SAYS that this is an initiative that he and his colleagues came up with themselves and they are currently managing using their own pocket money.
"If not me and the other teachers, who else? As human beings, we feel very sad when a student is left behind," he said.
He added that they will continue this effort until school reopens as it has been the most efficient and effective approach to ensuring students are learning.
16. A good Samaritan in Penang handed over a thick stack of RM50 notes to vaccination centre (PPV) staff out of the blue to thank them for their service
Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) said on Facebook that the man showed up for his vaccination appointment on 8 July with a plastic bag over his head.
The post read, "This uncle came for vaccination at USM PPV today, looking a little bizarre. He arrived by taxi. He sure did attract the crowd and we can hear whispers and sarcastic laughs from the public."
However, the university said the man suddenly gave them the money and said, "The frontliners have been working very hard. Please buy them lunch."
The man then left in the same taxi that brought him there.
"He stunned us with his generosity and humanity. Dear uncle, God bless. Let us give him some love," wrote USM.
17. After tense silence for two weeks, residents of Pangsapuri Sri Ayu celebrated the end of the Enhanced Movement Control Order (EMCO) by showering their caretakers and frontliners with gifts
In a heartwarming scene, frontliners and residents alike celebrated the end of the EMCO on 13 July by singing and dancing while maintaining physical distance from their homes.
The residents were seen dropping gifts from their balconies for the frontliners who carried out the hardwork of screening and vaccinating them in the past two weeks.
"I love you too! Thank you!" a healthcare worker can be heard shouting in a video while everyone around cheered.
"After cutting quarantine wristbands of all the residents were completed, the frontliners were given all sorts of gifts, including flowers, chocolates, teddy bears, and food," said the Hulu Langat Information Office.
"Thank you to all residents for appreciating our work."
18. A group of ordinary citizens spent their own time and money to ensure physical distancing measures were in place at a vaccination centre (PPV) in Kuala Lumpur
The effort was organised by an online tuition centre founder known as Sir Shakib, who was devastated to see people queuing up too closely to each other outside the PPV.
"Why people in power don't know how to use their power during this period? From ministers to police and patrol officers, why don't they know how to use their power? These people are stupid," he said while tearing up in an Instagram video showing the crowd.
Therefore, later that night, Shakib and a team of friends returned with tape and plastic traffic cones to implement their own physical distancing initiative for the PPV queue.
"If the government can't do it, we will do it," Shakib said.
19. A volunteer at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium PPV went to extra lengths by picking up foreign languages so she can cater to the different people who show up for their COVID-19 jabs
On 15 August, Twitter user @ainsyawani, also known as Ain, uploaded a clip of herself speaking in Bengali and Urdu while manning a counter at the PPV.
She wrote, "I just want to share this video of mine talking in Bangladeshi (sic) and Pakistani (Urdu)! Learning their language makes my job so much faster! And I love to see their reaction the moment I spoke! I hope this video will make your day."
Ain told SAYS that besides Bengali and Urdu, she also picked up a few phrases in Hindi and Nepali as well.
"It was really random though. I was assisting a Bangladeshi and he spoke Malay fluently so I took the opportunity to learn few sentences, basically the sentences that I would ask them. It was really spontaneous. Learnt while I was on duty actually!" she said.
"I wish I could record their faces the moment they hear me speak. It is really genuine and pure. They were all so surprised," she said, advocating more kindness to foreigners as they go through many difficulties just to come for their vaccination appointments.
20. A special needs teacher in Klang invented a contraption that allowed his blind students to run without holding on to others for the first time
Wan Muadzam Wan Abidin, known fondly as Cikgu Azam on TikTok, shared that he designed and built the running aid that went viral from scratch.
"This was the earliest version; it looks exactly like a supermarket trolley. But Alisya (the student in the TikTok) was so happy anyway because this was the first time she ran without having to hold my shoulder or grab a rope," he posted.
In a previous TikTok, he said he was so proud of her because she was able to complete a 5km fun run with the assistive frame.
The dedicated teacher said he also often tries to come up with activities, projects, and other inventions to instil confidence in his special needs students.
"It is disappointing to see that they are smart kids, but they are so used to their closed environment up to the point they don't want to get to know the outside world. Even though they're visually impaired or blind, they deserve to explore the outside world," said Cikgu Azam.
21. And last, but not least, thousands of Malaysians came together — regardless of their race or religion — to help out with relief work when floods recently inundated the country
While there were many other initiatives, our SAYS writer Sadho Ram shadowed the people behind Gurdwara Sahib Petaling Jaya (GSPJ), who organised a massive flood relief effort.
The gurdwara welcomed volunteers and has seen more than 40,000 free food boxes being sent to stranded victims across the Klang Valley.
One of the chefs, an elderly Malaysian Sikh named Malkith Singh, was in the kitchen from 5am every day, moving Malaysians online with his selfless act of cooking.
Meanwhile, there was a steady flow of people dropping by to donate groceries and daily essentials to be sent to victims every day.
"Malaysians doing what Malaysians do best in hours of need: helping with everything they can!" tweeted Sadho.
Feeling all warm and fuzzy inside? Well, remember to stay safe and stay kind!
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