Drunk Driving

crashPhoto from Shin Min

By today, practically everyone in the nation would have heard about the horrific crash that occurred in the Bugis area on Saturday night. First off I would like to convey my condolences to the families of the victims of the crash. The deceased and their families deserved better.

The news coverage over this matter has so far been mostly fair and balanced, telling the public the story of the Cheng family that lost a devoted and dotting father. So far there has been no talk about the other victims, such as the deceased Japanese woman whom Mr Cheng was ferrying when the nightmarish accident occurred. The other victims deserve to have someone speak out on their behalfÖwhich leads me to the sticking point that is irking me regarding this entire matter.

The press apparently had decided that it was more important that the story about the man who caused the accident be heard. Fair enough I thought. For the sake of balance perhaps we should hear about Mr Ma Chi. What I saw in the paper only served to infuriate me.

Ferrari driver 'not a heavy drinker'. That was the headline that greeted anyone reading the paper. The story goes on to provide accounts from friends of Mr Ma who vouched on his behalf that he is not a habitual drinker.

I understand the urge to not speak ill of the dead. After all Mr Ma is dead and is not here to defend himself against the mudslinging. I even understand the need for the press to downplay the issue of nationality in this accident because xenophobic tensions in the nation are at an all time high - People are on edge and the last thing we need is an online lynch mob rearing its ugly head again. People need to remember that this was a tragedy born out of drunk driving. It was not caused by anyoneís nationality. Making this about us versus the foreigners besmirches the memory of the innocent people who died in this accident. And I would like to think that we as a society are above such petty nonsense.

Now with that being said, for the national press to do a story talking about how this guy is not a habitual drinker and downplaying the fact he was drunk driving is downright disgusting. Mr Ma had no business getting behind the wheel while intoxicated. Period. Especially if he and his friends knew Mr Ma Chi was someone who could not handle his alcohol. The establishment that served Mr Ma his alcohol, as well as the friends who let him drive while under the influence, they all have blood on their hands regarding this matter. They should be culpable under the law. But they are not. And therein lies the rub: Nothing is going to happen to anyone regarding this case and it is very likely something like this will happen again. And again. And again.

Perhaps it is time the government relook its anti drunk driving campaign and implement stricter enforcement and penalties against drunk drivers. Or maybe there should be a Singaporean grassroots movement that advocates for something like the designated driver system the Americans use. Something should be done to prevent this gruesome accident from happening again. The questions that are looking at all of us in the face now are: Who is going to step up and do something about it? And what are they going to do about it?

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