When full-time national serviceman Dickson Phoon saw an elderly man struggling with a big plastic bag of tissues, his caring instinct kicked in. The 18-year-old offered to help the senior citizen carry his load - before proceeding to buy him a drink.
His kind gesture has now gone viral, after an onlooker wrote about it on citizen journalism website Stomp and Facebook.
Recruit Phoon, who is undergoing Basic Military Training at Pulau Tekong, told The Straits Times that he noticed the elderly man while queuing at a bubble tea stand at Compass Point mall in Sengkang last Thursday. The man was walking with the aid of two crutches and bearing a big bag.
"This uncle looked like he was having difficulty carrying the heavy plastic bag, so I decided to help him," he said. "Anybody would have done the same."
He carried the bag for the elderly man, then helped him sit down at a spot in the mall. The man asked Rec Phoon to buy him a drink and offered some money to pay for it.
"I told him, 'No need, uncle, I'll treat you'," said the teenager, who went to a convenience store to buy the man a bottle of 7-Up.
The praise that his actions have received, however, has surprised him. "It's just a small deed," he said. "Someone else would have helped him as well."
Rec Phoon, who will complete his BMT in July, plans to study chemical engineering in university.
Ms Janaine Eng, who had started it all by posting about the deed online, said: "This could be a small act of kindness and compassion... But how many people, really, would stop to even help the needy? I felt that this was so heart-warming and I just wanted to share it".