Hero Hong Kong cop of Pakistani origin wows with his fluent Cantonese

Mr Ifzal Zaffar won the hearts of Hong Kongers after saving a man from jumping off a crane. His clean-cut looks and fluent Cantonese have helped too.
Mr Ifzal Zaffar won the hearts of Hong Kongers after saving a man from jumping off a crane. His clean-cut looks and fluent Cantonese have helped too.PHOTO: FACEBOOK/IFZAL ZAFFAR

HONG KONG (DAWN/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A Hong Kong policeman of Pakistani descent won thousands of hearts overnight after he convinced a suicidal man not to kill himself in his native language, Urdu.

Twenty-year-old Ifzal Zaffar, of the patrol unit of Yau Tsim District, said he had received a call after 10.40am on Sunday about a suicidal Pakistani man who had climbed up a 20-metre-high crane at a construction site near the Western Harbour Tunnel.

After Mr Zaffar arrived at the construction site, his commanding officer urged him to help.

The young officer climbed up the crane and spoke to Anan in Urdu.

Anan, after talking to the officer for a while, finally agreed to come down and was taken to hospital, according to Hong Kong's Apple Daily, a local newspaper.

The policeman told Apple Daily that he had used techniques he had learnt at the police academy.

"I think he felt safer knowing that I could talk to him in his own language," he said.

His commanding officer, Mr Cheung Leung Yuk, said he was proud of the young officer for handling the situation well.

Mr Zaffar, who speaks fluent Cantonese, joined the force less than a year ago after graduating from Project Gemstone - a police scheme to recruit non-Chinese officers.

He is said to be the only officer of Pakistani origin in the district, but the fifth non-Chinese officer to join the force through the programme.

In a video posted by the Hong Kong police force, Mr Zaffar said that while working in the district, he came across a lot of people of South Asian descent and this gave him opportunities to speak in his mother tongue frequently.

"I can gain their trust as I am able to speak their language and with their trust I can handle their cases easily," he said, adding that it was his childhood dream to become a police officer.

He also said that many Hong Kongers are "wowed" by his fluent Cantonese.

He has won widespread praise on the internet where people have lauded him for his quick thinking and empathy. A good deal of attention, however, has been focused on Mr Zaffar's good looks, with many netizens and some media outlets calling him the "pretty boy cop", and "Hong Kong's most handsome police officer".

Netizens were also impressed with his fluent Cantonese in the video posted by the police.

"His Cantonese even better than mine!" wrote Facebook user Wendy Wong.