‘I did not want them to fall sick’: Boy who won hearts for sheltering bus passengers from rain
It was pouring heavily as passengers hurriedly alighted from their buses and were greeted by a bespectacled boy in uniform sheltering them from the storm with an umbrella.
Thirteen-year-old Soon Hwee Tze continued to help strangers from five other buses at a bus stop before Punggol Road along Tampines Expressway until his bus came.
The Springfield Secondary School student’s kind act in September won over the Internet when a passer-by uploaded a video to the sgfollowsall Instagram account.
It also caught the attention of Mr Baey Yam Keng, who is Senior Parliamentary Secretary for Transport, as well as for Sustainability and the Environment. He invited Hwee Tze to join him at a networking session at the Caring Carnival on Nov 4, where he presented the boy with a commendation letter.
The event kicked off the annual Caring Commuter Week, which was launched to promote a more caring commuter culture.
When The Straits Times met him on Nov 22 and asked what motivated him that day, Hwee Tze replied simply: “I did not want them to get wet and fall sick.”
Although he got drenched, he stayed in the pink of health.
“Many of the passengers thanked me for the gesture, which made me quite happy,” he added.
A few days later, the Secondary 1 student from the Normal (Academic) stream repeated the same act by sheltering two Yusof Ishak Secondary School students from their school to Waterway Point in Punggol.
“It was raining and I saw them walking towards the mall without an umbrella,” said Hwee Tze, who has a younger brother.
“I had a small umbrella and those students were about the same height as me, so I went up to shelter them. I was drenched after that but luckily my bag is waterproof.
“The students thanked me after that and told me that they recognised me as the boy who helped alighting passengers.”
Some readers were so moved by his story that they came forward to offer tokens of appreciation for the boy. A donor who wished to remain anonymous gifted Hwee Tze an assortment of goodies and FairPrice vouchers, while an ST reader rewarded him with a $300 cash gift.
Hwee Tze’s father Soon Joon Teng, 49, told ST that he did not teach his son anything special. Instead, he believes Hwee Tze’s alma mater, Punggol View Primary School, instilled good values in the boy.
“The parenting is usually done by my wife as I’m mostly working but I feel that this act of kindness comes from Hwee Tze himself,” said the kitchen assistant, who realised that it was his son in the viral clip only after his wife told him about it.
“It was his own personality that led him to help others who are in need. But I’m very proud of him. Both myself and my wife praised him for his kind act, and we’re glad that the Government recognises such acts by ordinary citizens like us.”
Hwee Tze’s act was commended by Springfield Secondary’s principal during assembly the following day, said his form teacher Siti Nuraliah Ghazali, 29, and the school’s secondary one year head Eddie Chong, 37.
“We didn’t expect the principal to commend him. Later, it was very heartwarming to hear that Mr Baey also wanted to commend him,” said Ms Aliah, adding that she had multiple students, including those from upper secondary, sharing the clip with her.
“I thought it was a teaching point for the other students as well. I shared with them that they can also be like Hwee Tze (when they see others in need). I hope that this act will inspire Springfield students and other youth out there.”
Mr Chong added that a Secondary 2 student had also gone up to Hwee Tze and told him that he wanted to be like him.
“In a way, (that comment) gave Hwee Tze the encouragement that he had made a positive impact on his peers, that there is this intention to do good acts not for the cameras, not for the lights, but purely from the heart,” he added.
Mr Soon added his younger son had also displayed acts of kindness such as buying food for his classmate when he forgot to bring his pocket money to school or protecting a girl who was bullied at the playground.
While one’s academic results is important, Mr Soon said he valued character building more than anything else.
“When one becomes successful, it doesn’t mean that he or she is holding a good position. It is how one deals with the people around them that will gain them respect,” he said.
“I’m a kitchen helper, but I also help whoever that needs help. There shouldn’t be any motive in helping another person, whether he or she is a friend or not.”