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Punishing people doing good is really bad

Update: June, 10/2015 - 08:55

Chi Lan

One day after being re-leased from prison, a senior high school student was determined to go back to his school in Buon Ma Thuot City in the highland province of Dak Lak to attend the year-end examination.

Do Quang Thien had spent the longest 52 days of his life behind bars, all beginning on a sunny September afternoon three years ago when he was trying to save a man. Then a tenth grader, Thien was hit by a motorcycle driven by Le Phuoc Tho, 67, who is reported to have lost consciousness while riding.

The young boy rushed to call a taxi to deliver Tho to the Dak Lak Hospital, where he was diagnosed as suffering from stroke.

Unbelievably, Thien was later prosecuted for causing the temporary loss of 50 per cent of Tho's health. He was later sentenced to nine months in jail and ordered to pay VND56 million (US$2,600) compensation to the injured man.

He was arrested in the middle of class on April 2, taken by police car to jail, where he was locked up for almost two months. He did not dare to look back as he was leaving, because he was too scared of the building.

As the news broke out, people cheered for Thien and his family who worked endlessly for real justice. Many others, including myself, could not help but feeling disheartened at what happened to the poor boy.

Two words, "thank you", by the court would have prevented all of this happening. The person Thien helped ignored his stroke, saying it was unrelated to the accident, and demanded compensation.

And this was not the first time such behaviour has been reported. One of my friends told how her brother was treated after he tried to help a girl on the street after an accident.

"My brother ran to help her stand up. When people asked her how come she fell off, she pointed straight at my brother's face and said he was the reason. Well, what do you say now?" she pouted.

Some foreigners have also had some shocking experiences in Viet Nam when helping people in urgent need. One year ago, American Aaron Smith shared a story about a bleeding Vietnamese man lying on the road in HCM City while hundreds of Vietnamese didn't even bothered to stop.

Matthew Loyden still feels outraged when he thinks how he could have bled to death from a wound on his arm, while Vietnamese all around chose to stare either at him or their phones. It was ironic that Loyden, a Britisher, was taken to hospital by an American man.

There are old Vietnamese arguments that getting involved with people in trouble means that you get cursed with their bad luck. But do people know that people who help could be physically, emotionally and even financially attacked by police, officials, and even those they tried to save?

Whenever I heard of the student's plight, I was reminded of a tragedy in China last month, where a man ignored an old woman who was knocked down in the street. It was only until he arrived in his mother's empty house did he realise that the injured woman was his own mother, who died while waiting for help.

I believe these types of stories are bells ringing for us to extend kindness to anyone in need. Life is so short and you do not know what it will throw at you in the next minute.

As Albert Einstein said: "The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything". — VNS

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