I was reading about something called the “bystander effect” which is a phenomenon where bystanders will just watch someone who is in need of help without offering any assistance.
I remember an incident from a few years ago in China where a little girl had been run over by a car and no one in the crowd moved to help her and she ended up being run over a second time. It took several more minutes before someone went to her and tried to get help. Sadly in this case the little girl died from her injuries a few days later.
There are many reasons for the “bystander effect” and you can read them in the link below. I've always been curious about how I would react in certain situations. Would I intervene? Or just watch silently? Or maybe take out my phone and try to record a video and hope it becomes viral on Youtube. Something happened this week that sort of gave me an answer.
Where I live we seem to be known for three things; the jungles that are teeming with monkeys who will enter your house and steal your food if you're not careful; the postmen who being a bit lazy decided to dump their mail in a ravine (yes it happened) and the prevalence of crime.
A few weeks ago I talked about all the recent gun crime in Malaysia. And the papers here have been more than happy to inform the public about all the high profile shooting that have taken place. At last count we've had thirteen shootings in three weeks. There are probably people who live in more dangerous parts of the world who are rolling their eyes at such a “low” number. But in Malaysia gun crime is pretty rare. Or at least used to be.
In Malaysia it is highly illegal to own a weapon without a permit. And it's very hard to obtain a permit. We're a bit like Britain when it comes to guns. In Malaysia the people that tend to carry firearms are law enforcement, politicians and criminals. Everyone else who wants a gun needs to apply for those hard to get permits. Knife crime is more common here. As a law abiding citizen I do not possess a firearm. But criminals do. Funny how criminals just break the law like that.
Another form of crime that is common is snatch theft. Snatch theft usually involves two men on a bike who will try and grab women's handbags from them. Sometimes they will be have knives to try and either cut the straps or attack the woman so that she lets go of her handbag. Unfortunately in some cases this has led to fatalities. The best advice for women is to not struggle and just let go of the bag.
And in my neighbourhood there have been a few incidents involving snatch theft. We've even come across a few cases where we came across several women who'd just been robbed but were thankfully unharmed.
A few days ago I was driving back home from the Mosque with my Dad and I noticed two men on a bike who were struggling with a woman over her handbag. Now my Dad wasn't so sure about what was going on. But from her reaction I knew she was being mugged. So I did something that was brave/stupid/foolish/reckless.
I pressed down on the car horn and swerved the car to block the path of the robbers. I think at that moment they both panicked. And as they tried to avoid the car they both fell over. To their credit they were pretty fast. By the time I got out of the car they were both already running away. Where's Usain Bolt when you need him? A small part of me was glad that they did. I didn't have much of a plan as I opened the car door. I guess I would have tried to fight them. That might not have ended well.
Well they forgot to take their bike with them. I noticed another car parked at the side of the road just behind us. One car passed by close to me and the woman driving asked if a robbery had taken place. For some reason I couldn't speak and just nodded and the woman just said “Bastards.” Which seemed appropriate in this case.
I then heard my Dad shouting at me to get back in the car and drive back home. For some reason he was upset with me. He kept talking about how I could've ended up hitting the two guys and been charged by the police. I also think a part of him was worried that the two men might have had weapons and that I could have gotten seriously hurt.
When he got home he immediately called the police to tell them about what had happened and left to go back to meet them there and make sure the lady was okay. It turns out she was working at one of the houses and had just left work when she got mugged
The other driver was still there with her and after talking to him my Dad was surprised to find out that he had stopped with the intention of trying to catch the two men. My Dad had thought he had stopped at the side of the road to avoid hitting us. Apparently his friend had been seriously hurt in a similar type of robbery.
A couple of police patrol cars arrived a few minutes later. The bike that the criminals had left behind still the keys in them and had it's padlock intact which meant that it wasn't stolen and the police think that they'd be able to find the owner of the bike easily.
By the time my Dad got back he had calmed down and wasn't angry with me any more. Though I suspect he will be giving me crap about it for..let's see..the rest of my life. So I learned that in certain situations I'm the type of person who would take action. Even if that action is brave/stupid/foolish/reckless. And the fact there was already someone else who was ready to help as well means that things aren't so bad. There are plenty of decent people in this world.
I also learnt that my friends Sara and TJ can be quite violent. They suggested that I should have actually run the two motorcyclist over instead of just blocking their path. I blame violent video games. On a serious note I'm just glad everyone is okay. The lady, the other driver who stopped, myself & even those two idiots who tried to steal a woman purse.
So does this mean that on top of my blogging I'll turn myself into a caped crusader and hunt down criminals on a quest to keep the streets of Kuala Lumpur safe? I don't think I would even need a costume. I'll just take my glasses off and be COMPLETELY unrecognisable (seriously Superman?)
I wouldn't recommend being a vigilante either. Let's leave it up to the police to fight crime. The exception of course is if you're a Billionaire with access to hi-tech gear and a bat filled caved or maybe you're just a boy in love with a girl who just happened to get bitten by a radioactive spider. Then you can become a vigilante.
P.S. The next morning I read a story in the newspaper about a POLICE OFFICER who was a victim of snatch theft. He was feeling a little drowsy and decided to take a nap at the side of the road and had left his drivers side window half open.
As he was sleeping he felt someone tugging at the gun in his holster. Before he could react the robber got away with the policemans gun and several personal belongings. The robber then ran to a waiting accomplice on a motorcycle and they both promptly got away. The police officer in question is being investigated though he is still on active duty.
And recently a police officer has been arrested for helping a drug dealer escape from his cell at a detention centre. Sigh..Commissioner Gordon, light up the Beardyman Signal.
"Because he's the hero Kuala Lumpur deserves, but not the one it needs right now"
Some Links for you: