Thursday, February 21, 2008

The Big Bang

Today marks the end of the Lunar New Year festivities after two weeks.

Traditionally on this day there are lantern festivals (deng hui) in parts of the city. But mysteriously this year they have been cancelled and people can only see them in the suburbs. The reason given was because of the upcoming Olympics. Huh?

Four years ago 37 people died at a stampede during a lantern festival in Mihong Park in Beijing. A person stumbled on an overcrowded bridge which lead to confusion and the stampede.

Many of the people killed were children.

Tonight, despite the lack of lanterns to gaze at, people are not giving residents any peace and quiet, filling the sky with the lights and explosions of fireworks. It's the last night they are allowed to set them off and by golly they're setting off the entire stock.

But the brilliant display hasn't been without casualties.

In the first seven days of the Spring Festival, some 434 people were injured from setting off fireworks, according to The People's Daily.

There are no regulations of where people can set them off. They are persuaded to do it in open spaces, but the definition of open space is relative.

After work I was walking to the bus stop when a young girl of about six was setting off firecrackers on her own on the sidewalk. There was no adult nearby at all. And she had no regard for anyone walking by as she lit them and threw them on the ground.

And when I got home, there were giant explosions near my apartment building -- because someone was setting the fireworks off just across the street, not considering if the explosions would hit the nearby buildings.

It's no wonder places like Hong Kong ban fireworks and then put on an excellent show at Victoria Harbour on special occasions like these. It's a 20 minute show, set to music and all professionally done. And best of all, no one gets hurt.

Safety regulations here are lax. What's even more strange is when a society that only permits couples to have one child allow their only child to play with firecrackers on her own without any adult supervision.

I've seen many parents letting their children sit in the front passenger seat of the car without a seatbelt. Or they hold the child in the front and let them put their face up to the windshield while the car is moving.

The government isn't doing enough to educate its people to be safe, civil citizens. For example, the media tells people to be more environmentally conscious, but doesn't tell them to recycle paper and plastic, or to avoid catching diseases, people should wash their hands after finishing their business in the bathroom.

The ability to disseminate information is there, but there's no content.

Or is it because people are so jaded by what they watch and read that they don't listen anymore?


Anonymous said...

what china needs is a well thought out social order and educate the people. law and order in a sophisticated society should be the goal rather than building glossy high rises. there should be more civil organisations rather tahn government agency to do this .

ks said...

this marks the end of the new year celebration, the equivalent of chinese valentine day. firecrackers are supposed to chase away evil spirits. now they only produce pollution of all sorts. should be well controlled if not banned.