Tuesday, 15 May 2012
Warning: Graphic Content
This video is the actual footage of the Rochor Road accident taken by another taxi's in-car video recorder. Had they been one second faster, they would have met with certain death.
It is painful to watch when you realise that the inconsiderate action of the Ferrari driver took the lives of 2 innocent people, cabbie Mr Cheng Teck Hock (a father leaving behind 3 children) and Japanese passenger Ms Ito Shigemi. It also brought grievous injury to motorcyclist Mr Muhammad Najib Ghazali.
Sadly, instead of portraying the facts as they are, the headlines of the evening Chinese tabloids Shin Ming was awash with the alleged talent, wealth and success of Ma Chi, the culprit. It is as if the main stream media went full force to made the heinous act of the culprit less abominable. I am not alone because it was not long before netizens spoke about the perceived injustice in the matter.
Meantime, I have no idea what happened to the victims until Monday, when I read that the cabbie has passed away. It is heart wrenching to read his family's account. (There was almost no report on Ms Ito. All I did read was a brief write up that her brother was the only person who went to identify her body, because her parents did not want to see their beloved daughter disfigured. Her brother has politely refused interview. Unfortunately I could not find any English version of the same report.)
Excerpts from an article on insing.com
But Mr Cheng, the sole bread winner of his family, apparently hung on because he wanted to let his family know what really happened, according to the newspaper.
His family told the cabbie to “go in peace, since your children are already grown up”, but Mr Cheng, who was seen shedding tears, hung on.
On Sunday evening, after the family found out how the accident happened, they repeated their plea to Mr Cheng.
“We know it was not your fault. You did not drive recklessly,” they told him.
On hearing this, Mr Cheng opened his eyes and his heartbeat slowly stopped, the newspaper said.
As if the slanted and favorable reporting of the culprit by the local media isn't bad enough, I start reading articles about how the crash fuels xenophobia in Singapore. While I cannot (and I won't) deny that shit stirrer sites like Temasek Times are clearly xenophobic, there is no denying that part of the anger also stemmed from the perceived absence of justice (if not the perceived failure or weakness of Singapore in exacting justice) when dealing with offending foreigners. This perception has steadily built up over the last two years. It began when former Romanian diplomat Silviu Ionescu fled the country after his hit-and-run accident in December 2010. While Ionescu is now on trial in Romania's courts, justice has yet been meted out to him.
It was then further aggravated when news broke that the police took almost a year to investigate a brawl at SunTec City where 4 people were assaulted by three expatriates. To make matters worse, after finally pressing charges against them, two out of three of the culprits jumped bail and escaped the justice of Singapore's Courts of Law. While it had originally looked like the police only acted after public pressure, this now convinces some Singaporeans that anyone can come to our country, bully our people and even flout our laws and get away with it. Add that on to the competition we face from foreigners in all aspect of our lives - from jobs to housing, from transportation to places in our schools and it is of no surprise that things boiled over.
Of course, beyond the competition and the perceived injustice, there is also an element of annoyance towards the deplorable journalism standards of Singapore's newspapers. Personally, I don't really care about the nationality, identity, success or wealth of the culprit. Even if the papers did not want to stand up and point it out as wrong, I personally expect the papers (and in this case Singapore Press Holding's [SPH] Shin Ming Daily) to at least report the facts as is without trying to slant it either way. It is undisputed that the taxi had the right of way and it was hit even when the traffic signals were in its favor. The very least the papers could do was to give us an educated report on what the family can do in this case to seek compensation, whether from the culprit himself or from the insurance policies that cover such matters. Granted, there is a distant possibility that the entire accident may be one of mechanical failure and no one would be any wiser until all the facts are out, just what exactly has the Ferrari driver's success got anything to do with anything? For Shin Ming to emphasise on the Ferrari driver's supposed wealth, success and talent is just wrong on so many levels. It almost sounds like it was trying to absolve Ma Chi from the idiocy he has committed.
If SPH thinks they're going to avoid a massive xenophobic outbreak by sugar-coating the entire thing and painting Ma Chi in a positive light, they're dumber than dumb. While Temasek Times' meaningless foreigner bashing is grating, SPH's foreigner praising (which SPH has a long history in doing) is simply nauseating. It isn't helping to improve Singaporean-foreigner relationship at all. In fact, it is simply making it worse because the obvious bias will continue to enforce Singaporeans' rejection of whatever attempts the government makes to smoothen relations between Singaporeans and foreigners. That's not mentioning that if SPH keeps this up, the next time a careless driver driving similar cars may actually find himself lynched by a mob regardless whether he is foreigner or Singaporean because the anger will be on the wealthy as well.
It is also my considered opinion that Comfort Delgro needs to do one important thing - review the safety features of the Hyundai Sonata cabs. First of all, there had been 2 cases of fire. In this particular incident, the entire engine block was knocked 30 meters out of the cab. I seriously cannot perceive how the engine can fly out of the cab even in spite of the speed of the Ferrari because the bolts that secure it to the engine compartment are normally huge. I am not suggesting any responsibility on the part of the cab company but am raising this matter as a commuter's concern on the safety of the cabs we frequently use.
In view of my subsequent blog post, I must also point out that Ma Chi and his passenger Wu Wei Wei are perhaps also victims if my assertion in that blog post is true.