Singaporean Ivan Choong was walking along Boon Tiong Road in Tiong Bahru when he came across a middle-aged man.
The man, dressed in office attire and donning a sturdy black backpack, was fastidiously picking up litter on the sidewalks with a pair of tongs, and depositing the trash in a plastic bag.
In a Facebook post, Choong recalled asking the man: “Hi there! May I ask what you are doing?”
The man, identified in Choong’s post as a Japanese tourist named Toshi, replied: “I’m picking up litter.”
Bewildered, Choong asked Toshi why he was doing that, and if Toshi lived around the area.
Toshi replied: “No, I am from Japan. But I [have been in Singapore] for a long time, about two months.”
Toshi explained that he would be returning to Japan in a week’s time, but as he liked Singapore so much because of how clean and green it is, he decided to do his part and help to pick up the litter he spotted on the sidewalk.
Impressed with Toshi’s civic spirit, Choong concluded the post with: “Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Toshi. The hero we don’t deserve.”
Netizens quick to commend kind foreigner
Choong’s post documenting his short but heartwarming encounter with the Japanese national has since been shared over 5,000 times, with many netizens applauding the Japanese gentleman for his kind deed.
One Maraea Ririnui simply commented: “Thank you Toshi!” Another, Nantha Nk, wrote: “This man deserves a salute. He must be very kind hearted person and helpful.”
Another, Jenny Goonting-Jung, added: “Great job! We should do this to keep our surroundings clean.”
B H Liau Jonathan wrote: “Selfless sense of ownership: that’s the essence of civic mindedness!”
Several netizens also used this chance to highlight that many Singaporeans themselves embody Toshi’s sense of civic duty.
One user Tk Sh, wrote: “I just want to comment, there is this local auntie that does the same thing every morning along St Michael Road.”
Another, Kim Chi, also commented: “This morning, saw a sweet lady doing the same thing at Choa Chu Kang area… I give her two thumbs up!”
Toshi’s actions even prompted local netizens to rethink the way they treat Singapore.
“Kudos to Mr Toshi,” one Saduddin Suhaimi wrote. “I feel ashamed of myself. As a Singaporean, I did not have the thought to keep Singapore clean, as shown by Mr Toshi who has been here for two months. He is doing it as his responsibility as a human being.”