Friday, March 7, 2008

The Power of Arrogance

I've spent most of this morning working on a letter to various government authorities here in Singapore about a dangerous traffic situation that I've been complaining about for years. This came up because a friend of mine just witnessed an accident on the same stretch of road, ending in a young woman being killed in a horrific way, while onlookers took photos and gawked, she said.

I'd been keeping a log of all the calls and written complaints I've made to the authorities over the years, plus photos to back up my claims of the danger on this stretch of road. Unfortunately, I recently threw it all out, realizing I didn't have time for this while I was busy trying to stay alive. And by eerie coincidence, in the last phone complaint I made to the Traffic Police, I said, "Does somebody actually have to get KILLED before anything is done about this?"

You must be wondering if you're reading the right Blog. Or if maybe the tumors in my brain have finally reached the critical parts.

Traffic safety probably shouldn't rank very high on my list of priorities, given I have two young kids who might lose their mother very soon. But I want to do this for them. Bear with me.

Yes, my children walk along that road everyday to and from school, so I'd like to ensure measures are put into place so that such an accident doesn't happen again. But that's not the real reason for spending my very precious time and energy on this.

I have a far grander goal. I don't want Josie and Toby growing up thinking that things just ARE and they can't do anything to fix them. Traffic accidents are a very small thing in the grand scheme of things when you consider genocide, political oppression, racism, environmental destruction, oh... I could go on and on. But the feeling of being too small and powerless to change anything is the same.

Some of my friends know about a certain corrupt "businessman" I chased down some years ago. In the course of my investigation, I came upon other victims of this unscrupulous man, and when I asked why they hadn't taken action, their answers were, "I didn't think I could do anything", "The police told me they couldn't do anything", and even "The guy threatened me". One of his victims was an elderly lady who was left in tears.

If any of these other victims, or the authorities who claimed that they could do nothing, had even tried, I wouldn't have had to suffer the same fate they had. Each time this nasty character cheated someone else and got away with it, he got the message that he could keep doing it because nobody, not even the police, would or could do anything to stop him. I was a first-time mother with a newborn baby at the time but I was on a mission. It was not about getting revenge anymore. I was out to make a point.

Friends laughed at me. Tony laughed at me - until the guy showed up at our house and we had to call the police. And maybe it was a bit funny. Luckily, nobody got hurt, and the baddie got his comeuppance.

The point is, I've always had the arrogance to believe I could FIX things, even if they were little things in my own little world. Sometimes, they're little things that my own friends and family have laughed at me about, calling them petty or my efforts ineffectual. But I've always thought I had the power to do something, however small.

I want Josie and Toby to grow up with this same arrogance.


Anonymous said...

I wish there were more arrogant people like you in the world. Mel xx

Shin said...

There are. They just don't know it yet.

What I need now is someone smart and resourceful to do some legwork for me. Anybody know a good reporter type who actually cares about doing stories that change things and not just does stories to fill up pages or airtime?

I need some statistics too - a log of all traffic accidents on Upper East Coast/East Coast Road between Frankel Avenue and Bedok South Ave. 1 in the past ten years. Check with LTA and Traffic Police.

Anonymous said...

On to it..............first thing tomorrow.............x

love leigh x

Anonymous said...

:-( I think I may have failed you for now :-(

I shall continue "investigations" this afternoon but at the moment it seems an almost impossible tasc to get the specific information we are after :-(

The records appear to be far too "general" and don't appear to be catagorised in to "areas" for me to be able to indicate how many accidents occured in the "East Coast Road" area.

The police publications confirm the statists as far as how many accidents there are monthy in Singapore with comparatives but still don't split down in to "areas" :-(

Sorry - I shall continue my quest later ;-)

Loves ya

Leigh x

Shin said...


You've hardly "failed" me. Besides, this isn't about me.

I think someone out there will be in a position to do something about this particular situation.

But more important, I hope the next time you (the plural "you") find something that needs fixing that really matters to you, you'll DO something about it, rather than just complaining.

Complain with your brain. There's a good rhyme for the kids to add to their Dr. Seuss collection!

Leighbee said...

Shins great and also my mate???!!! Can I get away with that too?!!!!


Jin said...

How about, "Complain with your brain, and it won't be in vain. Though it may be a strain, it may keep us sane. So please don't refrain; by all means complain!"

It's apparent to me,
In fact, quite easy to see.
My sister has a clever friend,
And that friend is Leigh!

I hope to meet you too!


leighbee said...

What fun to find
Another fun mind
The humour gene
Was not mean
It ran the line
Became divine
Can't wait to meet you
That I know to be true!

I don't think poetry is my "thing"?!?!?!

Jin you are SOOOOOOOOOO Funny! I see the sense of houmour gene runs strongly through the family!

Have a great day!

Jin said...

Not your thing?
I must disagree!
I was quite amused,
With the rhymes you used!
Not too shabby.
And that's for sure.
No point in being crabby.
When there's no cure.
So what a wonderful thing,
This "humour gene."
Especially to share,
With the ones for whom we care!

Have a great day too, Leigh!

I love you Shin!