CALLING another person “gila” (crazy) would usually land someone in trouble, but the word is no insult for Abdul Jalil Darus, who often gets called that by his good friend Kuan Chee Heng.
“Dia ni gila! Tapi dia awesome (He is crazy but he is awesome), ” said Kuan of his friend of more than 30 years.
While Kuan, who also goes by the moniker Uncle Kentang, is known for his charitable deeds, not many know that Abdul Jalil works behind the scenes to support and cheer him on in his own special way.
The two men may appear intimidating, but beneath their seemingly stern and towering exterior lie warm hearts and a burning spirit that motivates them to brighten up the lives of people in need.
The two met when they were serving in the police force in the 1980s and ‘90s. Although Abdul Jalil was a higher ranking officer and Kuan’s superior, the two bonded over their love for rugby and their compassion for the less fortunate.
“We’re like Starsky and Hutch. We’ll put our heads together to see how best we can help a cause, ” said Kuan.
Abdul Jalil or Tok Jack, 65, remembers the first time he helped Kuan, 57, bring joy to a little girl whose father was murdered, leaving the family without a stable income.
It was a few years ago and Kuan had organised a birthday party for the girl known as Manja, who is now 13.
When he heard about it, Tok Jack was moved by the family’s predicament and he decided to donate essential items to them.
“I told Kuan later that I wanted to be involved. I was already doing something similar on my own, but on a smaller scale. He was doing something big, so why not do it together?” said Tok Jack.
Kuan is delighted to have his friend on board and knows he can rely on Tok Jack to give only his best, adding: “We trust each other and I know Tok Jack would offer his help with no questions asked.”
A Bukit Mertajam High School alumnus, Tok Jack adopted his school motto – “Accomplish or do not begin” – as his life principle and strives for perfection.
Kuan recalls the time Tok Jack donated his old motorcycle to a struggling student from a poor family who had his own machine stolen.Tok Jack even made sure that the motorcycle was in perfect condition and fitted with new tyres before giving it away.
Since then, Tok Jack has given away countless motorcycles. The pair even drove to Ipoh once to personally give a motorcycle to a single mother in need, said Kuan.
“It is rare for anyone to go to all that trouble. I told you he was crazy, ” Kuan quipped.
Recently, another friend of Kuan’s named Albert also fell “victim” to one of Tok Jack’s crazy ideas.
Albert had been distributing essential items to struggling households during the movement control order (MCO) and Tok Jack decided to perform a good deed with a twist.
Tok Jack prepared 14 care packages for distribution and then placed a prank call to Albert, pretending to be a hungry and desperate man who had lost his job during the MCO.
Albert was saddened by the case and asked the caller for more information about his predicament, but Tok Jack arranged a meet-up at a petrol station instead.
“When Albert arrived, he was shocked to find that the ‘desperate’ man was actually giving him more care packages to distribute.
“We had a good laugh about it and Albert said he had never been pranked that way in his life, ” recalled Kuan.
Tok Jack also playfully mocks Kuan on Facebook every time he starts a donation drive and gets a thrill out of the backlash he gets from Kuan’s supporters.
“People will come to his defence and scold me online for mocking him. But I don’t mind because I know they are defending Kuan and supporting something good, ” he said.
Kuan doesn’t mind Tok Jack’s silliness either as he knows it comes from a good place.
“They don’t know we are good friends but never mind, let them gasak (scold) him. He has to face the music, ” he said with a smile.
Tok Jack admits that his ways may come off as a little peculiar to some, but says it is his way of dealing with the overwhelming emotions he feels when hearing about other people’s struggles.
He said he easily sheds tears at others’ plights and is happy being behind the scenes and letting Kuan be the face of their work.“Kuan is a superhuman, I don’t think I can handle all of it the way he can. It is tough, ” Tok Jack said.
However, Kuan himself admits that he can only wear the tough persona for so long before he too breaks down.
The two men are also happy to simply enjoy admiration from their familes as a reward for their noble work.
“You become a hero in the eyes of your children and it is even more rewarding when they learn such noble values from you, ” said Tok Jack.
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