Praiseworthy act

Van driver owns up to hitting car

Mr Panneerselvam Kulothungan (left), a foreign worker from India, left not just one note, but two for the owner of the car he damaged (far left, top). He even took the trouble to wrap the second note (far left, bottom) in plastic in case it rained.
Mr Panneerselvam Kulothungan (above), a foreign worker from India, left not just one note, but two for the owner of the car he damaged. He even took the trouble to wrap the second note in plastic in case it rained.PHOTO: DESMOND FOO
Mr Panneerselvam Kulothungan (left), a foreign worker from India, left not just one note, but two for the owner of the car he damaged (far left, top). He even took the trouble to wrap the second note (far left, bottom) in plastic in case it rained.
Mr Panneerselvam Kulothungan, a foreign worker from India, left not just one note, but two for the owner of the car he damaged (above). He even took the trouble to wrap the second note in plastic in case it rained.PHOTO: COURTESY OF MR TONY WEE
Mr Panneerselvam Kulothungan (left), a foreign worker from India, left not just one note, but two for the owner of the car he damaged (far left, top). He even took the trouble to wrap the second note (far left, bottom) in plastic in case it rained.
Mr Panneerselvam Kulothungan, a foreign worker from India, left not just one note, but two for the owner of the car he damaged. He even took the trouble to wrap the second note (above) in plastic in case it rained.PHOTO: COURTESY OF MR TONY WEE

Even though there are no witnesses, he leaves his contact details for the car owner

If you did something wrong but there were no witnesses, what would you do?

Some people might be in two minds about what to do but not Mr Panneerselvam Kulothungan.

When the 29-year-old, who was driving a company van, accidentally scratched a car as he was entering a car park and the car's owner was nowhere in sight, he waited to own up.

The foreign worker from India waited an hour for the car's owner to return to the car park near Block 120 Bukit Batok Central.

He also left his contact details in a note on the car's windscreen.

FACING UP TO ONE'S MISTAKES

If you damage someone's things, you should at least apologise. It is not a good practice in life to run away from your mistakes, as what goes around comes around.

MR PANNEERSELVAM KULOTHUNGAN, on his life philosophy

IMPRESSIVE TRAIT

At 7.30 pm, most people would have quickly driven away without stopping... his honesty is to be applauded. I have never come across such an honest (person) before.

MR TONY WEE, on how impressed he is with Mr Kulothungan

Later, Mr Kulothungan, who was then working as a driver, went the extra mile of putting a second note in a plastic bag in case it rained.

When the owner did not contact him overnight, he went back to the parking lot the next day to look for the him.

When he found the owner, Mr Tony Wee, he apologised in person and offered to compensate him for the damage caused.

Mr Wee's car paintwork was damaged and licence plate was dislodged from its original position.

For his actions, Mr Kulothungan received praise from Mr Wee, who wrote in to The Straits Times Forum applauding his good deed.

Writing about the incident which happened in April, Mr Wee said: "At 7.30pm, most people would have quickly driven away without stopping... his honesty is to be applauded."

The Traffic Police, on hearing about his story, also commended his honesty.

Mr Kulothungan, who was not aware of Mr Wee's letter, was surprised to hear about it.

Though there was no serious damage done, Mr Kulothungan said he felt bad about damaging another person's property.

"I thought to myself, 'This kind of action should be the norm, why is this reported?' " he said.

The son of a farmer and a housewife, Mr Kulothungan started working in Singapore in 2009 to support his family.

He declined to disclose how much he earned as a driver but said it was not much.

Despite this, he offered to pay for the damage.

When Mr Wee saw the damage, he was initially angry but his anger melted away when he found the notes on his windscreen.

Mr Wee recalled how his parked car had been hit by a taxi before but he only found out from witnesses later as the driver fled the scene.

Referring to Mr Kulothungan, he said: "This guy is very honest. At 7.30pm, it would have been easy for him to run away as there were no witnesses.

"I have never come across such an honest (person) before."

  • Know of someone, somewhere or something that’s interesting in your neighbourhood?

  • Share your stories at stnewsdesk@sph.com.sg with the heading "Community"

After hearing Mr Kulothungan's side of the story, Mr Wee told him not to worry as he would settle the cost of repair himself.

When Mr Kulothungan realised he did not have to pay for the damages which could have amounted to about $300, he said: "I think Mr Wee is a very nice person."

For those deciding whether to own up even if there are no witnesses, Mr Kulothungan has this advice: "If you damage someone's things, you should at least apologise. It is not a good practice in life to run away from your mistakes, as what goes around comes around."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 09, 2015, with the headline 'Van driver owns up to hitting car'. Print Edition | Subscribe