Practice being selfless. You end up getting more than you anticipate when your soul is giving.

– Anonymous

Imagine this. You only have to pay 10 sen for a taxi ride, RM1 for a funeral hearse, RM1 for an ambulance and RM1 to spend the night in a transit home, and shop in a market that sells everything and anything for only 10 sen.

Such a place must be “heaven on earth” surely. Yes, but only if you are among the underprivileged who have approached a good Samaritan, and a very special man indeed, in Selangor for assistance.

To those in the Klang Valley, Kuan Chee Heng, affectionately known as Uncle Kentang (a moniker he earned for giving free potatoes to the poor in Selangor) is a well-known figure in the state, especially among those involved in community welfare work.

He has spent so much time, energy and personal resources on charitable activities over many years that he has now been called a local folk hero and champion of the poor.

Kuan deserves the accolades for he is probably one in a million — a man who gives without expecting anything in return.

However, whenever others heap praises on him, he would humbly respond, saying that “what I have done are very simple tasks actually and which everyone can do — extend a helping hand to those in need”.

“In fact, it is our duty and responsibility to do so. Would you stand idly by if you know, for example, that a mother and her young toddlers have to go hungry with nothing to eat? They could be your neighbours or someone staying in the same kampung or flat.

“It would be inhuman to turn a blind eye to such sufferings in our midst,” Kuan said in a recent interview with the Free Malaysia Today (FMT) news portal.

I have read about Uncle Kentang several times and I am very glad that FMT ran a story about him last Saturday.

How many of us would go that extra mile to help the underprivileged in the same manner as Kuan? We do not witness such acts of charity every day.

To Uncle Kentang, his was a labour of love and compassion, performed in all sincerity and heartfelt warmth for the needy he came across or those who approached him for help.

Would anyone of us operate a taxi service for 50 sen a ride, a funeral hearse, ambulance and a transit lodging for RM1? Or a flea market where everything and anything goes for only 10 sen?

A photo of Kuan, dressed up in baju Melayu and a songkok, in front of a hearse while attending the funeral of a Muslim really touched me.

Uncle Kentang helps all who need help, irrespective of race, culture or religion. The true Malaysian spirit shines brightly through Kuan and this is something we should all proudly embrace. 

In an attempt to encourage others to do something for the needy, I shared Uncle Kentang’s story with friends and associates last Saturday, adding this message:

“We need more ‘Uncle Kentang(s)’ surely. What a selfless man.

“If a person like Kuan Chee Heng is the welfare minister, we can be assured that every sen meant for the needy will benefit them.

“Politicians say they are in politics to serve the people. Kuan genuinely is a servant of the people without being in politics.”

Let me add this here today to that little message: With selfless and sincere souls like Uncle Kentang around who are genuinely dedicated to the service of the people, who needs politicians?

A day later, I was pleasantly surprised to hear from a friend in Singapore (whom I also shared Uncle Kentang’s story with) telling me that he would like to make a donation to Kuan.

I will contact Kuan in the days ahead to inform him of the contribution. My generous friend wishes to remain anonymous and that will be respected.

On the same note, I am also happy to announce here (with permission from the Tribune editor) that the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) has also established its welfare fund to help the needy in Sarawak.

As an NGO, MoCS has been carrying out charitable work on an ad hoc basis. Setting up the MoCS Welfare Fund in September was to place welfare activities as a permanent feature.

We are aware that with the economic upheavals and the pandemic, many in Sarawak are also going through very tough times. MoCS intends to do its bit for the poor and underprivileged.

We had passed the hat around among our fellows and collected some funds. Those in need of some assistance or wish to contribute so that we can continue to help others, please email me at the address below.

Like Uncle Kentang had stressed, it is our duty and responsibility to help those in need.

Let no Sarawakian ever go hungry.

The views expressed here are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the views of New Sarawak Tribune. He can be contacted at tribunenew2019@gmail.com