Hit-and-run case triggers calls for legislation

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 20 October, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 20 October, 2011, 12:00am


Mainland intellectuals are calling for legislation to be passed that would punish people who do not try to help a stranger in need.

This comes after a two-year-old girl was knocked down by two vehicles and ignored by more than a dozen passers-by. The case continues to spark outrage and has prompted debate over why people did not help the child.

Wang Yue was left lying in her own blood after she was ignored by 18 passers-by until Chen Xianmei, an elderly rubbish scavenger, pulled her from the road and helped find her mother a week ago in Foshan , Guangdong. The girl was taken to hospital but doctors say she has a slim chance of survival, as she suffered severe damage to her cerebral cortex and brainstem reflexes. Her pupils were dilated and the girl is on a life-support machine at Guangzhou Military District General Hospital.

Speaking outside a cramped ward yesterday, the head of the hospital's intensive care unit, Dr Su Lei, said the girl's situation had worsened since Tuesday evening. Su said doctors would do everything they could to save her life. He did not take questions from reporters. Another neuro-specialist, who declined to be identified, said the girl's heart and lung functions were deteriorating. The mother of Yueyue, as she is known to her family, appeared devastated after hearing the news and declined to comment.

Two drivers suspected of running over the girl have been arrested.

Leading Guangzhou commentators conducted a soul-searching discussion at a public forum in the city yesterday about why people were reluctant to help a dying child.

Zhu Yongping, director of a Guangzhou law firm, said the incident reflected the degradation of modern Chinese morality.

'There should be legal guidance in place to prevent something like this from happening again when moral guidance fails to serve its purpose,' Zhu said.

Zhu said people could be asked to take up the basic responsibility to report, protect and rescue those found on the verge of dying. Legislation should be enacted to penalise people who failed to act with 15 days' detention and fines.

The incident has sparked widespread discussion online.

Tang Hao, associate professor of political studies at South China Normal University, said not all moral problems could be solved by legal means.

'Under circumstances where members of the public are living without the education telling them to care about public affairs, without the conditions encouraging them to participate in public affairs and without the protection of their right to free speech, there is no way they will pay attention to civil matters or take responsibility for people around them,' Tang said.

'It's not normal for us to demand that the public care about others all of a sudden when an accident happens. In our society, civil education has been lacking, and people are not encouraged to discuss public affairs politically.'

There have been instances in the past of mainlanders being sued after trying to help people in need.