When I logged on to MSN Malaysia’s main page this morning, I saw the following headline to my horror: “Woman burned alive after kiosk workers refuse to lend fire extinguisher”.
While the news has saddened me a lot, at the same time I found the headline subjective and biased at its best.
This Shaza guy made it sound as if the woman would be 100% alive had the kiosk attendants lent their fire extinguisher.
He also made it sound as if it had not been caused by a serious collision involving the Myvi driven by the deceased, a Toyota Vios and a lorry.
In other word, the journalist suggested the blame to be on the kiosk attendants, who did indeed refuse to let witness Teo have the fire extinguisher.
Since when has it become a journalist’s job to decide who to be blamed, rather than objectively reporting what really happened?
Yes, the fact that the kiosk attendants refused to lend the fire extinguisher may be linked to the woman’s death, but running the headline like that, as if the woman would have been saved had they lent the fire extinguisher, is nothing more than including personal judgement into the news report.
On the other hand, a lot of people have also expressed anger at the “selfish” kiosk attendants and suggested that the latter should be the ones burned alive. I must admit that when I first read the news on FB, I was super disturbed by the “selfish” act of those kiosk attendants too.
However after much thought, I had a change of mind as I was reminded of an incident some years ago where a foreign worker, claimed to have been cheated by a local company, was begging my friends and I for help.
He had no money or a place to stay, and needed help financially to go back to his home country, India.
As much as we sympathised him and would like to help, we were ultimately hold back by the fear that he could be a cheat. And we ended up giving him a little less money that the original amount we wanted to give, and asking him to go to seek police’s help instead.
Besides, I had also encountered a horrible incident with some “donation people” who rudely followed me from one end of a building to the other end trying to talk me into “donating” money for their the “needy”.
And now back to the incident of the dead woman. Teo the witness asked for help from attendants of a 24-hour BHP kiosk situated 500 meters away from the place of accident.
Imagine if you were one of the attendants, would you not be frightened when some stranger suddenly asked for a fire extinguisher and told you about an accident that you were not able to see?
The attendants could be low-paid staff making maybe only 30 bucks per day just to make ends meet. With robberies and cheating cases on the rise (cases where petrol stations are robbed, are not at all uncommon in the country), it is not surprising one would rather not risk borrowing something that doesn’t belong to him and having to be responsible for any loss.
Also, the following is an account of what happened posted by Teo the witness on Facebook after the incident:
then he still say he kenot open the door. Then he say his boss wont allowed to borrow. WTF!!!
then i started to amuk kicking the kiosk and punching the glass of the kiosk.
i even throw my IC to him say that if im dun return u report police.
When you read through the description, you get the idea that he was acting frantically when asking for help. I understand it’s just natural to act in a frantic and panicky manner in times of emergency, so there’s nothing wrong with that.
In fact I’m giving Teo props for braving himself and taking the trouble to go through the whole process – he definitely had every good intention and a big heart.
However we must also try seeing things from the kiosk attendants’ perspective. If you were the attendant, would you not be scared by someone acting so frantically, acting amok and kicking the kiosk?
There were definitely more reasons behind their unwillingness to borrow the fire extinguisher other than being “selfish”.
Instead of pointing fingers at BHP and the two attendants involved, I feel it’s only fair to first look into and understand the many problems and social ills plaguing our society at the moments, how our society is raised (e.g., kids being taught “not to simply trust strangers”), and how it evolves through the recent years where emphasis is constantly placed upon anything else but humanities.