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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 25, 2015:

The “paying it forward” concept, where people do good deeds for others without asking for anything in return, is not about “throwing” away money, activist Syed Azmi Alhabshi explained.

Syed Azmi, who was thrust into the limelight after organising the controversial “I-want-to-touch-a-dog” campaign, said this in response to criticisms toward his latest campaign in Kelantan and a free market project in Taman Tun Dr Ismail he started last year.

In his recent project in Kota Baru, at the Pasar Siti Khadijah area, Syed Azmi and his friends went around handing out cash to roadside stalls selling guava, keropok lekor (fish cracker snack), cordial drinks and also to a trishaw driver.

“What we did was we bought around RM100 worth of items from each stall.

“We explained to them that we were purchasing this amount of their produce and whoever wanted to buy those would be told it’d been paid for and it was free for them that day.

“At first, they were sceptical. One stall totally refused our offer by saying ‘What if I cannot sell that much?'”, he told The Rakyat Post.

Syed Azmi said some also thought there was a catch to it or someone holding a camera and hiding somewhere to take pictures.

Some did they want to receive money for nothing.

In the end, he said, they took the effort to explain to most customers that their products were free for the day.

A woman who sold cordial drinks, Syed Azmi revealed, even made a note in her book to tally up the number of free drinks given away.

However, Syed Azmi said his critics commented that the initiative was easy as they were merely giving away money.

The idea, he said, was to help people, especially the low-income group, get started in their business, using money collected from others.

“To us, it’s a way to say thanks and bump up their sales by being kind to others or simply just a gesture to say ‘you will be okay’.

“They are really hardworking people who need help to get started.”

It was also an opportunity for people to experience the joy of giving, especially for those who could not afford anything to give.

Syed Azmi pointed out that anyone could do what they did anytime and anywhere in every way imaginable.

They could always be generous, without necessarily spending large sums of money, he added.

For example, a person can pay the toll for the next five cars behind him or pay free petrol for motorcyclists going to work in the morning.

For people who would like give “pay it forward” a try, he said it was important not to worry about others trying to take advantage of the freebies.

“For example, instead of looking at how many packets of free nasi lemak a person takes, we should think of where the food will end up.

“A person can only eat so many packets of nasi lemak.

“So the food will definitely be given out to others,” he said, adding that people should not judge and think negatively of others.

Being too suspicious, he said, would only prevent people from doing good deeds.

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