Pub­lic trust as frag­ile as del­i­cate china

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - PAGE TWO - OP Rana

Cold, cough and flu are sea­sonal ill­nesses hu­mans have learned to live with. But the mo­ment some­body hears of can­cer or any other ter­mi­nal dis­ease, the limbs go numb, the mind goes blank ren­der­ing peo­ple help­less, even if tem­po­rar­ily. And if the vic­tim is a child — such as Luo Yix­iao — des­per­a­tion takes over rea­son.

Per­haps des­per­a­tion was what drove Luo Er, 5-yearold Luo Yix­iao’s father, to seek peo­ple’s help for the treat­ment of his daugh­ter suf­fer­ing from leukemia.

Re­ports say Luo Er owns three apart­ments, one in Shen­zhen and two in neigh­bor­ing Dong­guan in Guang­dong prov­ince. In­stead of sell­ing one of the apart­ments to get the money for lit­tle Luo’s treat­ment, Luo Er posted an emo­tional story on­line, through WeChat, on Nov 25 seek­ing do­na­tions from the peo­ple. And by Nov 30 more than 2.5 mil­lion yuan ($350,000) had poured in as do­na­tions.

The twist in the tale came when Luo Er, a mag­a­zine editor, al­lowed his friend and for­mer col­league Liu Xi­afeng, to post his daugh­ter’s story on the WeChat ac­count of his in­ter­net fi­nance com­pany, Xiao­ton­gren. The other mis­take, de­lib­er­ate or oth­er­wise, Luo Er com­mit­ted was not to men­tion his prop­er­ties in the story. And the mo­ment peo­ple came to know about them, they re­acted as was ex­pected, though Luo Er ex­plained later he can­not sell his prop­er­ties in Dong­guan be­cause of “property rights is­sues”.

There is noth­ing wrong in seek­ing peo­ple’s help, in cash or kind, to pay the med­i­cal bills for a loved one’s treat­ment. But one has to lay bare all the facts be­fore seek­ing peo­ple’s help, which is some­thing Luo Er did not do.

Des­per­a­tion may have forced Luo Er to lose his sense of rea­son. But Liu should have seen the trou­ble com­ing, be­cause as a per­son run­ning an in­ter­net com­pany he should have known what the pub­lic re­ac­tion would be once peo­ple came to know about Luo ER’s prop­er­ties.

Luo Yix­iao de­serves the best treat­ment, and we hope she re­cov­ers fully and en­joys all that this world of ours has to of­fer. It’s an­other mat­ter that with each pass­ing day the world has less and less to of­fer its chil­dren thanks to shrink­ing forests, dy­ing co­ral reefs, de­plet­ing marine stocks, melt­ing ice caps, wilt­ing wa­ter bod­ies, vanishing wildlife, in­creas­ing droughts and floods, more fre­quent cy­clones and earth­quakes, ex­pand­ing deserts, ris­ing pop­u­la­tion and un­em­ploy­ment, and in­ten­si­fy­ing con­flicts and wars.

Liu, if not the des­per­ate father that is Luo Er, should have re­al­ized the pub­lic re­ac­tion once peo­ple sus­pected, even if wrongly, that some foul play was in­volved. Maybe Liu gen­uinely wanted to help Luo Er get the best treat­ment for his daugh­ter. Maybe he saw an op­por­tu­nity to ex­ploit the plight of Luo Yix­iao to pro­mote his com­pany.

But as a per­son deal­ing with the pub­lic, Liu should have known pub­lic trust is frag­ile, which should al­ways be han­dled with care. Once it breaks … well, we know what hap­pens to crock­ery, es­pe­cially if it’s del­i­cate china.

Con­tact the writer at oprana@chi­nadaily.com.cn

JOEL PAGE / REUTERS

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