TL;DR – There are many sides to any story.
Some time ago, there was a post that went viral on Facebook. It was posted by this taxi driver who was issued with a fine.
The taxi driver apparently parked his vehicle at a service road in Punggol to help push a woman in a wheelchair up the slope to the lift lobby. He claimed that he left his engine on and was away from his vehicle for less than two minutes.
It’s hardly surprising that the post went viral. People slammed the authorities for being petty, for punishing the taxi driver for being kind.
As it turned out, according to HDB, the taxi driver had left his vehicle unattended for about 10 minutes. Not only that, there were two loading/unloading bays near the block that motorists can used to drop off passengers with restricted mobility. Those bays have ramps that allow barrier-free access to the block.
This entire episode shows us two things.
1. There are good reasons for rules and laws
The taxi driver was parked at service road in front of the central refuse chute chamber. That means the taxi driver’s vehicle was blocking access to the central refuse chute chamber. HDB explained:
“Service roads must be kept clear at all times to allow access for emergency and essential vehicles, such as ambulance, fire engine and refuse truck, to the housing blocks. Illegal parking on such roads will impede the movement of these vehicles”
Now imagine that the taxi driver was parked at the fire engine access instead. Also imagine that while his vehicle was there, there was a fire. And when the fire engine arrived, it can’t get access to the housing blocks because the vehicle was in the way. And imagine if in those precious minutes that were wasted for the vehicle to move out of the way to allow the fire engine to get access to the blocks, someone has already died.
What would happen? We would condemn the vehicle driver for parking there, regardless why he was parked there. We would also condemn HDB for not doing enough for preventing people from parking at service roads and blocking access for those emergency vehicles.
And that’s why HDB has those laws, and fines people who park there. It’s to deter people from parking at those areas and prevent possible tragedy, and ensure that essential services aren’t disrupted.
2. But there are measures to make the rules and laws more humane
As HDB has explained, the taxi driver could have parked at the loading and unloading bays.
That means that the taxi driver could have parked at those loading and unloading bays and helped the lady in the wheelchair without risking being issued a fine. So it’s not as if there isn’t a way for the taxi driver to be helpful without being issued a fine.
In other words, there are measures to soften the rules and laws. So it’s not that HDB is going out of its way to discourage people from being kind and helpful. It has the unenviable task of balancing other competing needs.
Many of us jump to conclusions
The taxi driver’s post went viral. But HDB’s clarification didn’t spread as far. Fewer people cared that the taxi driver could have been blocking access for emergency and essential vehicles, or that he could parked elsewhere and still helped that lady. It seems that many of us jump to conclusions without considering whether there’s more than one side to the story. That makes our reaction often unfair to the government agencies, and makes it unnecessarily harder for them to do their work.
If we want to have a better society, then it would be useful if we don’t be too quick to react, don’t be too quick to condemn. Especially not when there’s only one side of the story.
Because, often, there is more than one side to the story.