A timeless tale of compassion

A screencap from the video.

PETALING JAYA: A story about kindness is timeless, as seen in the tale of a lawyer who helped a poor mother back in 1998 – it has now become a stirring Hari Raya message.

As someone pointed out on X, it is a story that should be told again and again.

This was in reference to a Hari Raya video titled Lembaran Baharu (A New Chapter) by the RHB Group, which was based on lawyer Ahmad Zaharil Muhaiyar who went out of his way to help a Malaysian-Indian mother who stole a pencil box as she had promised one for her 10-year-old son for being top in class.

Forgiveness is key: ‘Lembaran Baharu’ is based on the real-life story of caring lawyer Ahmad Zaharil (left). Forgiveness is key: ‘Lembaran Baharu’ is based on the real-life story of caring lawyer Ahmad Zaharil (left).The boy eventually grew up to be a lawyer and was reunited with Ahmad Zaharil in 2018 during a chance encounter in court.

When The Star broke the story eight months ago, it resonated among readers who were touched by it.

Likewise, the Hari Raya video has led to many comments from Malaysians.

“What a beautiful, touching and humbling ad. May we forever be blessed with this spirit of Malaysia,” one user said.

Ahmad Zaharil, when contacted, said the mother and son felt pride when they saw the Raya video ad.

“They thanked me again,” he said.

However, he said the son and his mother, who is now about 80 years old, preferred to remain anonymous.

“We have become like relatives. They call me, I call them. They would come to see me anytime, no invitations needed,” he added.

Their last meeting was during Deepavali and they plan to get together again for Hari Raya, he said.

Ahmad Zaharil, 57, said there had been much attention since the story first came out on The Star, despite the deed having happened more than two decades ago.

“I didn’t expect anything from that story. I did it because we are Malaysians. We help each other,” he said, adding that he believed in the innate goodness of people.

Ahmad Zaharil, who had chanced upon the woman in a courtroom, had rushed to the boy’s school to verify her claims and got a teacher to testify in court.

The magistrate subsequently discharged the mother, who was working as a cleaner at the time.

Later, Ahmad Zaharil, the court staff and policemen even donated some cash to her.

Both the lawyer and woman never crossed paths again until 2018, when Ahmad Zaharil was approached by a man in his early 30s. He introduced himself as the son of the cleaner in the pencil box case.

“My mother saw you in the news on TV over a case you had handled and told me who you are,” Ahmad Zaharil recounted to The Star in the earlier story.

As for the Hari Raya ad, RHB Banking Group chief marketing officer Abdul Sani Abdul Murad said they wanted to highlight inspiring stories of real Malaysians and how they affected the lives of others.

“Essentially, it’s a stranger-than-fiction tale that spanned over 20 years and that’s the recipe for an absolute winner of a film,” he said.

The story, he said, reflected values such as forgiveness.

“This is deemed perfect for the Hari Raya celebration,” he said.

According to him, the entire process – from conceptualising the story to pre-production, shooting and post-production – took about one and a half months.

He said Ahmad Zaharil provided guidance, enabling the team to accurately depict the details of the case and courtroom scenes.

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Hari Raya , Raya Ad , RHB Group , The Star , Shoplifting , Lawyer


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