It was a surreal scene that would not have been out of place in an action movie – first, the chase across the road. Then, the well-timed kick to stop the speeding perpetrator, who loses control and flies head-first onto the pavement.
I am, of course, referring to the recent viral video of an errant personal mobility device (PMD) rider who was speeding along Bedok Reservoir Road, before being unceremoniously kicked to the ground by a pursuing auxiliary police officer.
The incident resulted in injuries to both the PMD rider and the officer – both individuals were treated by paramedics at the scene, before being sent to the hospital for further medical assistance.
The video of the incident, which was first posted on Tuesday (Dec 10) on ROADS.sg, has since gone viral, garnering more than 100,000 views on YouTube and 900 shares on Facebook.
Naturally, many netizens took to social media to share their thoughts on the incident as well, with the original Facebook post of the incident on ROADS.sg already attracting more than 900 comments.
While most of the commenters praised the officer for his actions, there were those who appeared to celebrate the fact that the PMD rider had sustained injuries – including abrasions to his right elbow and knee – as a result of the crash.
“Orbi good”, wrote one netizen in response to ROADS.sg’s update that the PMD rider had been sent to the hospital. “I wish the PMD rider become disabled or bedridden,” another commented.
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One netizen even went as far as to imply that it would have been better if the PMD rider had died, as he wrote: “The rider still alive. If he…succumb to his injuries, the officer will surely get a medal of courage and highly praised by netizen.”
Whatever your thoughts are about the incident, are such callous comments – and there were many more apart from the three examples above – really necessary?
Now, I fully recognise that what the PMD rider did was wrong. Not only was his PMD, which has since been impounded, more than 10kg heavier than the legal limit, he also blatantly disregarded the law by riding it on the road. It also didn’t help that he appeared to be speeding, which made him a menace on the road.
The PMD rider then compounded his litany of offences by failing to stop when told to by the enforcement officers.
So, there is no doubt at all that the PMD rider deserves to be taken to task. What he did was reckless, selfish, and dangerous.
But, does it really warrant the sort of toxic vitriol that has since been directed at him? Does it justify rejoicing in his injuries, which, though we now know are not too serious, could have been worse, and even life-threatening?
Quite simply, no. Not if we want to cultivate a kind and gracious society, that is.
I can understand why public sentiment towards PMD riders, especially the ones who flout the law and ride dangerously, is so low. After all, accidents involving such reckless riders were so increasingly frequent and destructive – some were even fatal – that PMDs had to be banned from being on footpaths.
And the argument that this particular PMD rider could have caused a serious accident, and so needed to be stopped, is a valid one, even though the officer’s employers, Certis Cisco, has since clarified that what their employee did in this incident was wrong. The officer in question is currently suspended from active duty, and faces a disciplinary inquiry.
Regardless of all these factors, however, there is no good reason for one to openly delight in the physical injuries suffered by another.
What does it say about us, as a society, when we gloat about someone getting hurt? Even if that person was in the wrong? This rider, after all, is still someone’s son. He might be a brother, a husband, a father, or a friend.
We can disagree with what he did. We can even call for him to be punished by law. But, shouldn’t we also hope that he learns his lesson – and becomes a better person in the process – rather than condemning him outright as someone who deserves to be injured, maimed, or worse?
After all, being greater is not about finding joy in another person’s misery. It’s about empathy, compassion, and being gracious enough to forgive.