Bus attacks show the need for balanced development and social justice so that the least advantaged also enjoy benefits of growth
Police have confirmed that the fire on a bus in Guangzhou, capital of southern Guangdong province, on Tuesday was “man made”.
The fire killed two and injured 32, at least eight of whom are in a critical condition. The 25-year-old suspect, a Hunan native surnamed Ou, is reported to have confessed to police that he set fire to the bus because he wanted to “take revenge on the society” after he lost money gambling. He is now in detention and police are investigating the incident further.
It is really upsetting to see another frustrated person at the bottom of society behaving in such an irrational and violent manner. No matter what the circumstances, a person’s “misfortune” can never be taken as an excuse for harming others.
Worryingly, the Guangzhou bus fire occurred only days after a man set fire to a bus in Hangzhou, the capital of eastern Zhejiang province, injuring 30 people, 15 of them seriously. Like Ou, 34-year-old Hangzhou arsonist Bao Laixu is also a member of the grassroots population. A native of under-developed Gansu province, he worked part-time in several cities, including Hangzhou, and he reportedly said he felt lonely and depressed, especially after he was diagnosed with tuberculosis. According to reports, on several occasions Bao revealed to others his intention of staging a malignant act to gain publicity.
Besides the two most recent incidents, there were also a number of similar incidents last year, including one in Xiamen, eastern Fujian province, when a man set fire to a bus, killing 47 and injuring 34 others. This incident sparked intense public debate with some expressing sympathy with the suspect, Chen Shuizong, a 59-year-old Xiamen native who had been struggling to meet his daily needs. Chen, who also died in the fire, apparently decided to set the packed bus ablaze to get revenge on society after he had failed to change the “unfair treatment” he felt he had received regarding his pension and medical care.
But besides the fierce voices condemning Chen, the case also provoked a lot of debate about the country’s social assistance system and appeal channels.
That all these bus attacks seem to have been carried out because the perpetrators felt aggrieved at their unfair treatment is cause for both concern and reflection. It is true that during the period of the country’s transformation, numerous social problems and contradictions have emerged and the opportunities presented to people have not always been equal.
But it is also true that the social malaises and inequality that have accumulated over the past decades cannot be resolved overnight, especially since there are entrenched interests obstructing change. The leadership’s unprecedented campaign to fight corruption shows its unwavering determination to face up to and resolve the problems in society.
However, no society will tolerate such acts of violence no matter what personal “grievances” or “unfairness” a person feels they have been subject to. One person’s adversity does not endow him or her with a right to deprive other people the right to live. A sense of helplessness does not justify murder.
Everyone can see the tangible progresses the country has achieved and its ongoing efforts to eradicate the sources of social inequality. In recent years, the country has taken practical measures to narrow the wealth gap, such as continuous efforts by local governments to raise residents’ minimum incomes and tangible measures to set up an all-inclusive social security and healthcare network. Many local governments across the country have also included migrant workers into the local government-subsidized housing system that was previously only open to urban residents with hukou, or permanent household registration certificates, and integrated their children into the local educational system. All these measures, together with others, have helped promote a “sense of de-marginalization” among migrant workers and other disadvantaged groups and increased their sense of inclusion as members of our big family.
However, the frequent occurrence of such incidents should sound the warning that we still need to pay more attention to our social assistance mechanisms and ensure that the necessary channels are in place so that people have a genuine means to air their grievances and have unfair decisions changed.
At grassroots levels, there should be better social care for migrant workers in urban areas so that they can find solace in troubled times, if not a wider community with which they can identify.
Source: China Daily