“Am I wrong to be a good person?” These became the last words Mr. Wu of Heyuan City in Guangdong Province, before his body was found in a pond near his home on Jan. 2.
The 46-year-old had seen an elderly man fall to the ground as he was riding by on his motorcycle at 3am on New Year’s Eve. Wu offered to help to send the man to hospital, Wu’s family told the Chinese media Southern Television (TVS) in Guangdong.
Wu’s wife said he didn’t know why the senior had fallen, but took him to the hospital, contacted his family, and accompanied him until the medical examinations were completed. It turned out the senior had a fractured bone in his leg.
The following day, however, Wu received a troubling phone call. The elderly man’s family was calling, and they wanted hundreds of thousands of yuan (tens of thousands of dollars) in compensation.
“I didn’t hit him. Why should I give him several hundred thousand? They wronged me. Am I wrong to be a good person?” Wu said before his death, according to his wife.
Wu’s wife said he had nowhere to express his grievance, and that the sum they wanted was “astronomical” for the family.
Another man, surnamed Zhou, was also on site when the senior fell over on the street. Zhou didn’t see how the senior fell, he said, but he offered him help first before Wu came along.
Zhou said to the Southern Television reporter that he tried to help move the old man but failed, and then he asked Wu, who was nearby, to take the senior to hospital.
“He is very honest. I know him,” Zhou said of Wu. Zhou also indicated that he felt surprised and guilty for Wu’s death, because he’s the one who asked him to help.
A police investigation showed that there was no injury due to a collision on Wu’s bicycle; the police are still trying to find out what caused the man’s fall.
For Chinese people who read about the story, the message was clear: attempts to help other people in China today are fraught with risk. One may be falsely accused and need to prove out the case against the accusers. Helpers should also make sure they have a witness before they help out, lest they are wrongly accused.
“Morality is dead…” A large number of netizens remark following the report on the internet. One Internet user remarked: “What a society here? It is difficult to be a man, and even more difficult to be a good man.”
China doesn’t currently have a law equivalent to the Good Samaritan Law, to protect people who offer reasonable assistance to people who are ill, injured and so on.
Fearing false accusations, incidences of people refusing to offer help are sometimes widely reported. An incident that took place in 2011 captured the attention of the nation, for example, when a two year old girl, Xiao Yueyue, was hit by two cars within seven minutes. Surveillance video shows that 18 passersby walked by her during that time, but none of them offered any help. A trash collector finally offered assistance, but the girl died in hospital.