• Thu
  • Sep 18, 2014
  • Updated: 1:28am
My Take
PUBLISHED : Friday, 22 August, 2014, 4:30am
UPDATED : Friday, 22 August, 2014, 4:40am

Hong Kong's MTR should have shown some humanity over stray dog

BIO

Alex Lo is a senior writer at the South China Morning Post. He writes editorials and the daily “My Take” column on page 2. He also edits the weekly science and technology page in Sunday Morning Post.
 

The Mass Transit Railway has blood on its hands. Train command centre staff could have saved a stray dog which accidentally wandered onto the tracks of its East Rail line. Instead, they chose to keep the trains running rather than cause a delay that would have provided enough time for rescuers to get the dog to safety.

The incident has rightly caused outrage. Animal lovers and rights campaigners laid flowers and put up banners at Fanling station where the stray was struck by a train on Wednesday. An online campaign against the rail operator collected thousands of signatures in just a few hours.

MTR staff at Sheung Shui station where the animal first appeared tried all of six minutes to rescue it. This involved lowering a chair - a chair! - to the tracks, perhaps in the hope that the scared dog would sit on it steadily enough so staff could raise it to the passenger platform. The rescue attempt was not only inadequate, but absurd.

Normally, in similar situations, officials in charge of public sites would call animal catchers from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department to help. But according to the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, the MTR had no "procedures" in place on how to handle stray animals on train tracks. It is, however, under enormous pressure to keep trains running on time.

The operator has been plagued by problems great and small recently, such as a massive cost overrun and delay in the construction of the Hong Kong section of the express rail link to Shenzhen and Guangzhou.

Relentless media focus on its not infrequent system malfunctions leading to train delays has added to the pressure. No doubt command centre staff have been instructed in no uncertain terms by people higher up to make every effort to keep trains running on time. But the unfortunate stray dog was one case where staff would have been more than justified to cause a delay until it was evacuated.

The MTR is still world-class despite all its problems. Alas, showing greater flexibility and humanity would have made it an even better company. It might even have been good public relations.

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16

This article is now closed to comments

mercedes2233
Videos from other sources convinced me that the staff members concerned clearly did not do their best, nor really assisted the dog. If they could be charged, justice would be done and everybody would know that those attitudes were wrong. Then the public can go back to attacking the government.
mh0908
Please donate to:
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TNR FUND HK (a registered charitable institution in HK) was set up to support the desexing of stray and loosely-owned dogs (half-strays) in Hong Kong. Thousands of surplus dogs are killed in Hong Kong each year. Desexing is a much more humane way of dog population control and improves the welfare of stray dogs.
scmpgt
This would never happen before 1997.
Ant Lee
is alex lo just being random or does he really care
asiaseen
Where's your sense of proportion Mr Lo? Sadly lacking, I fear.
mercedes2233
Hong Kong people have demonstrated the correct sense of proportion, maybe?
jenny@asian-emphasis.com
Now, if it was a child on the tracks, would you stop the train then? Of course you would. People should think of others for a little while, instead of trying to save a nanosecond or two to get somewhere.
Why do many in Hong Kong lack empathy and are so self-centred (or is this what they call "pragmatism"?
mh0908
Reading comments here and elsewhere sends chill down my spine. Hong Kong has never been the greatest place for dogs. They are not allowed into parks nor beaches with life guards. Most Hong Kongers have a phobia for them. Looking back in time, at least the British love dogs. Hong Kong has become less compassionate in recent years. we spend too much time on how to elect a chief executive and in doing so, become ruthless in our pursuit. Our morality has gone down the slippery slope.
-
I have not felt this uncomfortable and uneasy in a long time. Seeing the helpless dogs blood on the tracks makes my own boiled. Instead of asking people to understand that saving a life is a good thing worth sacrificing our time for, we instead pray the **** for doing the right thing. What have we become? Has Hong Kong truly become this morally corrupt? What happened to our Good Samaritan spirit? How is this dog than the girl who was repeatedly ran over in China by motorists?
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"Time can bring you down, time can bend your knees.
Time can break your heart, have you begging please, begging please.
Beyond the door there's peace I'm sure.
And I know there'll be no more tears in heaven."
ant5354
I believe Hong Kongers would be more irritated if trains have been delayed more than 6 mins and up to 60 mins yesterday.
If the MTR had done the critics' suggestion, It was very likely that the trains (up to 30 trains) were suspended for longer time due to the inefficiency of coaxing the dog out of the railway, would you blamed MTR, AFCD or SCPA for their inefficiency, wasting money and manpower?
Weighing the blame for brutality against spending huge effort to earn the name of infamous useless organization, you know which choice is wise.
In addition, will you, from heart, welcome that trains are halted because of a wandering stray dog when you are standing at a 30 degree temperature platform?
Would you applaud the humanity of MTR?

I sympathize the dog. I agree that MTR must take more actions to prevent the accident from happening again in the future. Taking action is more helpful than blaming. If anyone want to change the situation or save dogs from the same tragedy, Please post your suggestion / remedy, let's solve the problem together, as a family.
mh0908
What if it was a group of old ladies who fainted and fell onto the tracks due to the heat, seriously injured. What if they could not be moved unless with the proper rescue equipment. What if the emergency personnel tells you that it will take half an hour to have the equipment brought in from Prince of Wales hospital. What if the Doctors tell you it will take another half hour to secure and remove these old ladies from the tracks. Will you still make the same comment? In a moral society, every life is precious.

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