Public Eye

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 25 August, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 25 August, 2010, 12:00am

How not to handle a hostage crisis

At first Public Eye thought it was a parody of a B-grade movie about crack Filipino commandos storming a hijacked bus full of Hong Kong tourists. But no, it was no comedy. It was for real. It was Manila's very own Keystone Kops in action. SWAT teams everywhere should immediately acquire Monday night's live television footage of the bumbling, indecisive, mostly overweight Filipino police officers using primitive equipment to free hostages. It's a priceless teaching tool on exactly how not to handle a hostage crisis. Who runs Manila's police anyway? Inspector Clouseau? Filipinos ought to be ashamed and embarrassed that the whole world was able to watch on live television their security forces making fools of themselves.

Filipinos should demand answers as well

Maybe something good can come out of the tragedy. Maybe we can make it so that those eight Hong Kong lives were not lost for nothing. But only Filipinos themselves can do that. They have a vibrant democracy but for too long they have allowed self-serving leaders and corruption to impoverish their country while their neighbours prospered. They should not just let Hong Kong demand answers on the poor handling of the hostage crisis. They should demand answers themselves. They should be furious their leaders allowed the whole nation to be embarrassed in such a way. Why does the country lack properly-trained SWAT teams in this day and age? How come the commandos didn't even have the most basic equipment? But you get the leaders you deserve.

Macho men should make us all feel safe

First they came for the old men who shine shoes in Central for a living. Then they came for the ice-cream vendor who dared sell candy sticks as well. Then they came for the street busker who tried to lighten up the day for passers-by. Then they came for the 74-year-old partially blind woman who made HK$50 a day selling nail clippers and combs on a street corner. She knelt before the half a dozen burly hygiene officers to beg for mercy. But these are macho men who like to exert power over frail old women. They slapped a summons on her to appear in court. They even locked up a 70-year-old man who tried to help the old woman. That must have made them feel real macho, throwing an old man in jail. With so many macho men in uniform protecting us from elderly shoeshiners, ice-cream vendors, street buskers and old women selling combs, we should all feel safe going to bed at night.

... but then again, maybe we are not so safe

Maybe we can't sleep so safe at night after all. The government decided not to prosecute the old woman hawker who threatened public safety by selling combs and nail clippers. That means she'll be back on the prowl. You can easily recognise her. She's partially blind and has an injured leg in a bandage. So watch your back.

A slap, a nudge and a slump to the ground

Still remember the slap that was played over and over again on television? Public Eye is of course talking about the jaw-dropping video of Amina Bokhary slapping a policeman after being stopped for suspected drink-driving. But did any of you pay attention to how the policeman who got the slap reacted? He let loose an 'aargh' and fell slowly to the ground ... from a slap by a small-sized female? We were reminded of that after reading about the burly hygiene officers who ganged up on the old woman hawker selling combs. One of them fell to the ground too when a 70-year-old passer-by tried to mediate. That's right, one of our strapping young men in uniform fell to the ground when a 70-year-old tried to help a 74-year-old. Maybe they're not macho men after all ... or maybe they've been told to fall whenever there's body contact, even if it's just a tap with your little finger. That way, they'll have a stronger case in court.