Opinion / Raymond Zhou

Too close to call

By Raymond Zhou (China Daily) Updated: 2016-12-05 09:21

I honestly believe that China's medical system covers most who need help and the few who fall through the cracks can be helped by philanthropy, including online donations in small amounts.

Judging from all the reports, I have a feeling that Luo did not set out to dupe anyone.

When his daughter was taken into an intensive care unit, it was natural for him as a father to feel sudden despair. He exaggerated the amount needed probably because he was trying to cover future medical costs. Also, as he said, he never expected his article to go viral. Most such pleas never go out of one's circle of acquaintances.

There is a streak in the Chinese mentality that favors exaggeration and simplification. Luo may be an example of it, but those who accuse him of various "sins" and "crimes" seem more culpable. They rely on hearsay instead of conducting investigations. The road to the moral high ground is always crowded with people who think in either-or terms.

I salute those who uncover fabrications of "good deeds".

About a year ago, there was a father's post of his drive along with his teenage son to the western part of Sichuan province. The son was suffering from altitude sickness, but the father did not know better. By the time they sought help at a local hospital, it was too late.

This was meant as a cautionary tale for travelers from the plains who are unaware of such risks. It did not carry a whiff of financial gain. But the hospital mentioned dutifully checked its record and found no such incident.

To date, I have no idea what the hoax was about. Maybe it was a novelist who forgot to state he was writing fiction.

In the age of internet, even a token gesture of giving 1 yuan or forwarding a post will require a certain familiarity with journalistic ethics of properly vetting and double-checking things. I just don't know whether this is a sad or glad turn for the public.

By the end of Dec 1, Luo, Tencent, the online platform where the fund was raised, and other relevant parties issued a statement that the money would be returned-every cent of it.

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