Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Holiday Turns to Tragedy

Hong Kong people are still reeling from the shock of watching the tense standoff in Manila that led to eight of their compatriots being shot dead along with the hostage taker yesterday.

What made it even more horrific was that it was broadcast live on television, a drama that unfolded with a tragic end.

Today the newspapers carried bloody pictures of the event, people on the bus recalling the terror of being held at gunpoint and the anger of the Hong Kong government at their Philippine counterpart for not doing enough to try to save the innocent victims. 

One woman told of her husband who deliberately rushed forward in front of her to shield her from the bullets. She did not know what happened to her children and was frantically searching for them. Others were visibly shaken and didn't want to talk to the media, only wanting to go back to their hotels and try to make sense of what happened.

Chief Executive Donald Tsang Yam-kuen was also demanding answers. Last night he said he was unable to reach Philippine President Benigno Aquino on Monday, while the Chinese consulate in Manila urged the authorities to try to safely rescue the hostages.

However, the tense standoff broadcast live only revealed the Philippine police's weakness in dealing with the situation. Critics are saying the police missed opportunities especially when they did not have a negotiator to deal with the hostage taker, 55-year-old Rolando Mendoza. He claimed his reputation was smeared when he was accused of robbery and extortion and was fired last year.

The police were seen hesitating and not even having the proper equipment to break the glass window of the bus, taking them 45 minutes to do this. It just reveals how ill-equipped they were and the lack of training in dealing with these situations.

As a result, the Hong Kong government has issued black alert, strongly recommending that people cancel leisure trips to the Philippines. The coverage alone was enough to scare most people, and tour operators have also canceled many tours.

In the next few days Hong Kong and China will be expecting more answers.

Losing innocent lives, especially while on holiday, is a consequence too cruel too accept.

1 comment:

  1. that is why i am always a little worried about going to out-of-the way places or under developed countries.