PETALING JAYA: Personal experience and people’s response to disaster combined to strengthen a Briton’s faith in the country he now calls home.
Christopher James Syer, an 80-year-old who has spent the past 60 years in Malaysia, recounted an experience that could have ended badly without an honest man.
“It was a normal day when I went to a bank in Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur to deposit a check,” he told The Sun.
“There was a bit of a hassle so when I left the bank I didn’t check to make sure I hadn’t forgotten anything.
Syer said on the way back to his car he heard someone calling him. “I turned to look and there was this young man standing in front of me, saying ‘Sir, I think you lost this,’” he said.
It turned out that he forgot to take his wallet with him and the man, a young Sri Lankan named Tony, had picked it up and returned it to him, along with all the cash, the cards. credit cards, ATM cards and their ID.
Syer realized that if it had been someone with bad intentions, the day would have gone rather badly for him.
“In today’s world, where we always hear bad news, we have to recognize that there is still kindness in our lives,” he said.
Syer, who is now vice-president of the Malaysian British Society, sees the same good intentions in the people who have come together to help those affected by the recent flooding.
“It’s sad to see so many tragedies, but it’s also fantastic that everyone is helping each other. It brought people together, ”he observed.
Syer noted that in today’s society everyone is always in a hurry and as a result they become oblivious to everything that is going on around them. “Eventually they stop worrying about everything,” he said.
Nonetheless, he said, it was encouraging to see young people getting involved in helping others in a civic way.
For example, he said, the outpouring of love and care during the floods showed that in times of crisis people can always come together. “It must be one of the amazing qualities of Malaysians,” he said.
As someone who has spent time traveling to many countries, Syer believes that multiculturalism in Malaysia is still his greatest strength.
“There is no country in this world that has such a mixture of different cultures,” he said.
On the other hand, he said, society is becoming more and more fragmented. “In the age of modern technology, people have become estranged from each other. There are a lot of misunderstandings between people as society becomes more and more fragmented, ”he said.
He said this has led to the loss of a sense of community belonging, a quality that was once the highlight of the good side of Malaysians.
Syer was also concerned about the emergence of those who held the attention with their stronger hold on what goes on in society and espousing misconceptions.
“If this continues to happen, we will go down the road of self-destruction.
He said it had become imperative for everyone, especially young people, to take a look back at history, make the most of it and keep building on the big things.
“We need more non-commercial things and to do this we need to bring back the culture, art, sport and civic culture that made Malaysia a great country,” he added. (Sun every day)