SINGAPORE - A Malaysian Grab driver's honesty has earned him unexpected attention online.
Mr Sateesh Karuppusamy, 39, elected to cut short his family holiday in Malacca last Sunday (Jan 5) when he realised that a passenger from the night before had left his wallet in the car.
Despite his three children's disappointment, he drove back to Johor Baru where he lives to hand the Prada wallet containing about $250 in cash back to its Singaporean owner, Mr Carney Mak.
The good deed has earned him kudos after Mr Mak, a 31-year-old head of investment in a family office, posted a selfie with Mr Karuppusamy and details of the day's events in a Facebook group called JB Tracer: Johor Bahru Traffic, Crime & Community Service Report.
When contacted by The Straits Times, Mr Karuppusamy said what he did should not have been an exception but "the norm of how we treat people".
He had picked up Mr Mak, who was on a day trip with a friend to Johor Baru, at about 8.30pm last Saturday.
Near midnight, he then received a message in the Grab app from Mr Mak saying that he had left his wallet in the backseat.
"To be honest, I thought it was a gone case," Mr Karuppusamy said. "I picked up quite a few passengers after him, and none of them alerted me to it. So I was thinking that one of them probably would have taken it."
When he checked his car, however, he found the wallet still lying in the backseat and told Mr Mak he would return it to him "tomorrow evening", thinking that meant Monday evening after his road trip with his wife and three children aged six, four and one.
But Mr Mak interpreted it to mean Sunday evening and so travelled to Johor Baru the next day.
Mr Karuppusamy said: "I decided it was not right to make him go back to Singapore that day since he was already in Malaysia. My wife also felt uneasy that I was holding on to somebody else's wallet, so we went back."
He added that his own experiences, such as when he lost his mobile in Singapore in 2002, had taught him the anxiety felt when one loses his prized possessions.
He said: "I used to work in Singapore and had lost my mobile in Ang Mo Kio. A man answered the phone when I called it and despite my pleas and even offer to pay him to return my mobile, he refused.
"He switched the phone off and I never heard from him again."
Mr Karuppusamy was then a customer service officer at Changi Airport.
Mr Mak said he knew his attempt to contact the Grab driver via the Grab app was a long shot and was then certain it was a lost cause.
"I called my parents and they said I should not have brought my wallet with all my cash and credit and debit cards to Johor Baru. I was also beating myself up for my carelessness," he said.
His relief at having his wallet returned motivated him to do something good for Mr Karuppusamy. Apart from a tip he gave the driver, he decided to publish what happened online so he could be better appreciated.
He said he will also meet Mr Karuppusamy for dinner when he next visits Johor Baru, but said that online reports that he had invited the driver to Singapore for an all-expenses-paid holiday were false.
A Grab Malaysia spokesman told ST that it will give Mr Karuppusamy a token of appreciation.
He said: "We would like to thank him for his hard work and passion in over-serving his passenger as a Grab driver-partner... We would like to remind and encourage the public to always provide us with feedback on their experiences so that we are able to continue to acknowledge all the outstanding driver and delivery-partners we have on our platform."
For his part, Mr Karuppusamy said it is unfortunate that his deed needed to be recognised. He said: "It is sad that there are fewer and fewer honest and kind people in the world. Everyone should behave this way. This should not be something special."
Additional reporting by Clara Chong