Monday, November 29, 2010

The Shocking Stampede Tragedy at Koh Pich Bridge

Images of Koh Pich Bridge, Group meditation at Koh Pich to alleviate the suffering, Praying ceremony for the victims and their loved ones at Pannasastra University of Cambodia

The Shocking Stampede Tragedy at Koh Pich Bridge

To those who lost their life or sustained horrific injuries at Koh Pich on 22nd November, I wish to express my heartfelt sympathy and deepest sorrow and to their loved ones. I share their indescribable pain and suffering and I join my hands over my head to pray for every affected fellow citizen.

In Cambodia, I don’t try to understand everything; some things will just never make sense. It is a country where the impossible become possible, the immoral become acceptable, and the insane become normal; just look and think at the findings so far (The Cambodia Daily Saturday-Sunday November 27-28, 2010: After Koh Pich, Resignation Looking Unlikely) by the independent investigating body for the indirect massacre which claimed 351 lives on Koh Pich bridge by the latest count which changes almost daily. The committee has so far lain the blame on the deceased and injured victims. Is it the right approach to be pointing fingers at the real victims and avoid exposing the whole story and the truth of the negligence, failure and the irresponsibility of the event organizers, the police and the city officials to control the flow of the crowd? Is this how the present system works? Is the culture of blaming others continues to rule Cambodia? Can this predictable tragedy be preventable? The facts speak louder than words.

I would like to share a classic story about four people named Anybody, Everybody, Somebody, and Nobody. There was a very important task to find the root cause of the incident for the country and the people, and Everybody was asked to do it. Everybody was sure Somebody would it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about that, because it is Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it. It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

The message here is everyone blames everybody (except themselves of course) and fails to take and fulfill their responsibility for their duties and obligations to protect the lives of the innocent people. Besides the financial compensation to the family members of the victims, the people of Cambodia and the international community deserve a better and complete explanation. The extent of the tremendous suffering affects the whole nation and the world. The cost of 351 lives cannot be simply tagged as a bitter lesson, case study, an experimental and learning experience to prepare better for next year’s event. The nation and the soul of the 351 lives cannot be fully rested until the special committee to oversee the government’s response and investigation into the last day of the Water Festival’s shocking stampede on Koh Pich bridge finds the culprits, and the real and acceptable causes of the devastating disaster. May all see the truth of what really happened.