JULY 13 — The late Bo Yang, a famous Taiwanese writer, wrote a book called “The Ugly Chinese.” While what he said is true for certain groups of Chinese people, it is actually wrong to profile all Chinese as “ugly”.
I would say that only a small portion fits the “ugliness” bill described by Bo Yang. Many of the more educated ones (by education, I do not mean a university or college degree, but rather home upbringing, since true education starts from home) are compassionate, since the central teaching of Confucianism is about “ren” or compassion.
But there are certain old Chinese wisdoms passed down by common folk that actually help shape the “ugliness” of certain people and which may have even influenced other Asians, including Malaysians.
For example, there is this saying — “sweep away the snow in front of your house, but do not bother to clean the ice from others’ roofs.” Because of this saying, there are many people who would teach their children not to bother about the affairs of other people, and just to keep to themselves. What they fail to realise is bad things can happen to anyone, and if ever they need help, they sure would not want others to practise what they have taught their children.
The recent case of an elderly woman who fell after being the victim of a snatch thief was a clear-cut case of this saying. A CCTV recording showed five people actually walked past without even rendering any help.
It was the sixth person — a very old Chinese Ah Pek with a walking stick — who tried to wave and stop passers-by for help. Eventually four people from the nearby flats came to help, but it was too late. The woman died.
This is really apathetic. Some may argue that even with instant help, the woman would still have died, but that is actually besides the point here. The point is it could easily be a case that with quick and instant help, the victim might have survived. And it could be anyone of us (or our loved ones) who could have been the victim, given that snatch thefts are now so rampant and common.
As a doctor, I have treated umpteen cases of such crimes. Many, in fact, would choose not to make police reports, since to them it would be an exercise in futility, since we seldom hear of any snatch thieves being caught.
Increasingly, people are now more self-centred and selfish. It is now not common to see youngsters standing up and giving their seats to others, in all forms of public transportation. Sometimes, it is the old chivalrous Ah Pek who would stand up and give his place to a more needy person, and what shameful culture is that?
This apathy apart, we have some conflicting news about the crime rate. While the authorities maintain that the crime rate has come down, we have come across or heard about more robberies. Even areas with security cameras and patrols, such as parking areas of shopping complexes, are no more safe.
While we do not doubt the figures given by the authorities, it may be that many victims do not report to police. In other words, there is gross under-reporting, resulting in a lower crime rate.
If that is the case, then we must find out the reason why people do not report such crimes.
Safety to move about is one of the most basic rights of a citizen. If we cannot feel safe when we go shopping, or we have to worry about the safety of our loved ones who go shopping, then something is really very wrong.
Telling us that crime rate has come down would not make us feel safer. In order for us to feel safe, we must actually see for ourselves that there is a real reduction in stories about robberies on the streets, in the malls, in our own neighbourhoods. We must see for ourselves that there are robbers and thieves being caught, charged and jailed.
It would not do to ask newspapers not to report crime since the primary duty of any news organisation is to report news, whether good or bad.
To do so would be a case of the proverbial ostrich burying its head in the sand.
* The views expressed here are the personal opinion of the columnist.