Re: Drowning in sorrow (Issue No. 87, May 27 June 2)
This is merely part of a completely consistent pattern.
A lack of concern for personal safety, in traffic, at work, with electrical wiring, with pollution, failure to teach children to swim and some perfectly satisfactory laws which are consistently treated with contempt.
Let's deal with the last item first. The predominant approach is: Will I get caught? Is it cheaper to pay the fine than conform to the law?
First of all we need to get some bureaucrats out of their offices, out here in the real world, so that there is a serious risk of getting caught. Ho Chi Minh warned us repeatedly that bureaucracy would be our most serious peacetime enemy.
Maybe there is a case to be made for making the punishment, not just fit the crime, but a bit excessive, as many societies do. Escalate the risk of getting caught and escalate the penalties until it works. How much would it cost boat owners to conform to the law? What are the risks of getting caught? What are the penalties?
There has been some talk about swimming pools in schools. I learned to swim in a cold sea. How many Vietnamese children live a long way from a warm river, lake or sea?! Just one other example, the workers building my house were industrious and competent. I mentioned turning off the power when walking in the wet with bare wires and wearing goggles when sparks were flying from their tile grinding machine. They laughed. If they are totally unconcerned and irresponsible about their own safety what are the chances that they will have a different attitude about mine? This is all caused by bad education, a real dearth of media propaganda and bad management. What is the point of controlling the education and the media if messages of safe behavior cannot be communicated effectively? It is true that strict enforcement and severe penalties are needed, but it would be a big help if the public understands that it is a good idea to have some pride, patriotism and plain civic sense. This is separate from politics and economics.