‘TIDAK APA’: An apathetic attitude is not desirable in society, but that’s the way it is; the way most of us are
LAST week, seven people walked past a 60-year-old snatch theft victim at the Rifle Range flats in Penang without lifting a finger to help her as she lay unconscious on the road with a cracked skull.
It was only later that three good Samaritans lifted her to the side of the road and called an ambulance.
Tan Kim Chuan died at the hospital.
The case, which was hotly debated and discussed on social media, brought to mind equally appalling incidents elsewhere.
Last year, a toddler was struck twice, by two different vans, and left bleeding on the road in Foshan, southern China. More than a dozen people walked by and did nothing to help the seriously injured child.
The incident, captured by a surveillance camera, elicited global condemnation.
The 2-year-old girl, nicknamed Yueyue, died in hospital later.
The chilling footage sparked an outpouring of grief and concern. It led to a serious discussion online and offline about public values.
For some, it epitomised moral decline and increasing selfishness in a fast-developing society. Not too long after, an 88-year-old man in central China collapsed, his face striking the pavement. Yet, no one came to his aid, and he ended up choking to death on the blood from his nose.
Most, however, argued that this was not a peculiarly Chinese phenomenon and that it could have happened anywhere in the world. They are right. Malaysians are now guilty of it, but what's worse is the Rifle Range flats incident is not the first time this state of apathetic detachment has manifested itself in society.
Two years ago, a young woman was burnt alive in her Perodua MyVi following a tragic accident which occurred in the small hours of the morning along Jalan Cheras, Kuala Lumpur.
It was all the more devastating for Florina Joseph's family when it emerged that her death might have been prevented.
Reportedly, a passer-by who saw the car on fire had gone to a petrol kiosk situated just 500m away to get help, but the attendants there refused to lend him fire extinguishers.
The petrol company immediately expressed regret over the incident, saying the attendants refused to open their doors because robberies were common at that hour. That was not enough to quell public ire. Some labelled the company "a murderer" and called for a boycott of its products and services. Others demanded a formal apology and compensation.
But is it fair to blame the attendants? They were confronted by a frantic man. It was 3.30am. Was it a hold-up? Would the man pull out a gun or parang once the door was unlocked? Worse still, was that even a man?
How often have we heard stories about those who went out of their way to help others only to end up stabbed, hammered, beaten to a pulp, or dead?
Some may remember the young man in Sungai Bakap who rushed to help his elderly neighbour only to be knifed by a robber. Mohamad Faizal Mohamad Zin later succumbed to his injuries.
Because of such incidents, society has become largely apathetic; not eager to step out of the comfortable and familiar to help those in need. Sometimes, the best thing to do is to do nothing at all. It's better to be safe than sorry.
Don't stop to help that woman in distress by the roadside. Don't wind down your car window when anyone stops you. Don't stop when you see an accident as it might be staged by robbers. Don't help break up a fight. Turn the other way when you see snatch thieves stalking a potential victim.
Security experts know this attitude only too well. This is why they constantly stress that when being attacked or chased by assailants, or unit trust and/or direct selling agents, it's better to shout "Fire!", instead of "Help!".
It's every man and woman for themselves these days.
This attitude is not desirable in a society, but that's the way it is; the way most of us are. Thus, can we really blame all those who have turned a blind eye to trouble?
What would you have done?