PETALING JAYA - Kuan Chee Heng is often called "the 10-sen man" but the people he helps may see a much greater value in his deeds.
The founder of the Community Policing Malaysia (COPs) organisation and his team have set up initiatives such as a 10-sen flea market, 10-sen ambulance service and 10-sen taxi to alleviate the financial burden of the poor and needy.
Kuan said 10 sen was the smallest sum to charge customers while still allowing them to maintain their dignity.
"They needn't feel bad about getting the items for 10 sen."
"They are not getting handouts. They are still buying the things, but for a low price," he said.
Dubbed "Hero Malaya" by netizens, Kuan, 54, stepped into the spotlight after helping police identify and capture the prime suspect in the murder of 15-year-old Ng Yuk Tim in October 2013.
The crime activist persistently questioned suspect Poon Wai Hong, then 23, after noticing a wound resembling a bite mark on his left palm while they were searching for the teenager, who went missing a day earlier.
Poon later confessed to murdering the girl and was handed over to the police.
Kuan's day usually starts at 5.30am and he handles about 10 cases daily.
In his most recent venture, Kuan and his team of volunteers successfully set up an initiative called "10-sen library" to provide a safe space for children living in the Pinggiran Bukit Jalil People's Housing Project (PPR) to study and read.
The children, who come from low-income families, usually do not have a designated space for studying at home.
Kuan said in some cases, young girls were forced to study in stairwells because there was no room to do so at home. This in turn exposed them to danger, he added.
"The library is comfortable and air-conditioned, and drinks are provided. They can study there and borrow books for only 10 sen.
"The librarians also act as counsellors. The kids can go to them with any complaints.
"The librarians will then tell me about the problems faced by the children, which may include abuse," he said.
Kuan also recently acquired two double-storey houses, one of which will be rented to visiting family members of hospitalised individuals for as little as RM1 per night.
The other house, he said, will be transformed into a temporary shelter for battered wives.
Kuan said he came from a poor family and was bullied because of his circumstances.
"My family was very poor. I know how it is to be in that position. I have the capacity, opportunity and resources to help people.
"So if I can change or enhance a few lives in my lifetime, why not? It doesn't affect my business at all," he told The Star.
Kuan was in the police force from 1986 to 1991 before leaving to become a florist for 18 years.
He founded COPs in 2007 and the association now has 130,000 members nationwide.
"In humanity, there is no colour, no religion, no politics. We are all about finding solutions to problems.
"We are united, we work together to get things done and we don't leave people behind," he said.