Wednesday 22 September 2010

Searching for a Silver Lining in the Manila Massacre

The partial release of the long-awaited official report from the Philippines government investigating the ‘tragicomedic’ event on 23 August has probably added more fuel to the fire.

A total of 23 pages of “conclusions on accountability” were omitted from the 84-page report, which has taken a month to complete. Here are the headlines of some local news articles:

Eight deadly blunders

How death came to eight on bus

Philippine hostage report lists tragic chain of errors

Left to die as top officials fumbled

Survivor outraged at omissions in report

Lack of co-ordination between media, police and authorities highlighted

Is there a silver lining to all this? There doesn’t appear to be, although it is somewhat surprising that no Chinese media or even individuals have mentioned the really super “lucky” numbers that are associated with the Manila hostage crisis.

Remember, Chinese protestors will not fail to use slogans such as “six-four” (6/4) to represent the June 4th Tiananamen incident massacre or “four-four” (4/4) for the April 4th movement. Anything that enhances Chinese traditions and superstitions will be unashamedly exploited. Fung Shui masters are especially adept at doing this, and the media must also take responsibility for propagating such silly beliefs and superstitions.

But for the Manila ‘tragicomedy’ no one, it seems, has noticed or at least publicly acknowledged the super “lucky” association with “eight-two-three” (8/23) along with the “eight deadly blunders”, not to mention the number of fatalities?

As morose as this post may seem, this is just an illustration of the cherry picking that is involved whenever people use superstition and traditional beliefs to support their cause … as opposed to rationality. We can’t have it both ways: if people choose to use numbers to confirm their biases, then there should be no complaints if conflicting evidence also appears.

This blog makes no apologies when it states that the Manila hostage crisis happened on an extremely auspicious-sounding date, 23 August (8/23), and eight Hong Kong Chinese people were killed. Oh, and the official Philippine investigation report is 84 pages long.

Is there a silver lining to all this?

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