While Singapore may pride itself on being a racially-harmonious country, there is no denying that casual racism and stereotyping still remains prevalent across all strata of its society.
One such person who used to believe in these unjustified cultural stereotypes was the mother of Facebook user YW Lee.
According to Lee, her mother did not have much interaction with people of other cultures. As such, Lee explained, a lot of the common cultural stereotypes were “deeply entrenched” in her mother.
But that all changed two weeks ago, after Lee’s mother misplaced her handphone.
Recounting the incident on Facebook, Lee said her mother had assumed that her phone was lost for good after being unable to connect with it.
Lee’s mother, however, decided to try calling her phone one more time the next day. To her surprise, a man picked up the call this time round, and arranged to meet her at Sembawang so that he could return the phone.
As fate would have it, the man who found the phone was of a different race to Lee’s mother.
Understandably, Lee’s mother was incredibly grateful to the man – who goes by the name of Raja – for having found her phone, and being kind enough to return it.
As such, she offered Raja a reward when she went to retrieve the phone.
Raja, however, stunned Lee’s mother by refusing the reward. He reasoned that it was his civic duty to return the phone, and that Lee’s mother had no reason to pay him as she did not ask him “to do any work”.
Not quite believing that anyone would refuse a reward, Lee’s mother contacted Raja again some time later to see if she could “offer him anything – a gift card, a meal, or maybe a phone top up”.
Raja politely declined her offer once again, and even thanked Lee’s mother for having a “good heart” to offer him a reward.
Lee revealed that this episode with Raja has helped her mother view people of other races and cultures in a more positive light.
She wrote in her Facebook post: “This one positive encounter helped…bring (my mother) a new perspective to other cultures, and it’s because…Raja decided to be a great guy.”
The majority of netizens who commented on Lee’s post, which has now been shared over a thousand times on Facebook, praised Raja for his integrity.
Facebook user Bernard Jacelyn Tan commented: “Respect to this gentleman. He found the phone and really want to return to the owner and not get anything in return.”
Another Facebook user, Myke Muk K C, simply wrote: “Good to know there are…honest people like him around.”