What do mayors do? They chair municipal meetings, open public libraries and pay citizens to hack off each other’s heads.
That’s true anyway of Rodrigo Duterte, who is expected shortly to become mayor of Davao in the Philippines. To cut crime, Mr. Duterte offered $120,000 to anyone who brings him the head of another citizen, alleged car thief Ryan Yu. “Bring it to me on ice, so it doesn’t smell bad,” he told reporters. (Hacked up bodyparts he can cope with, but don’t ask him to put up with an unpleasant smell.)
I heard about this from Filipino author Miguel Sjyuco. When a Filipina lady of my acquaintance revealed herself to be a big fan of Mr. Duertes, I asked her: “Don’t you think that murder and that kind of thing, is, well, a bit on the naughty side?”
She referred me to a statement by the city’s police chief, who said that if Yu “resists arrest”, his death could be legally justified. Ah. Right. Got it. In that case, I’m tempted to go for the reward myself, defending myself with the line: “He repeatedly attacked my axe with his neck, your honor.”
The police chief urged people to work alongside officers in decapitation patrols: “Otherwise we will have so many Ryan Yus or people who look like him dead.”
That would be bad. I checked Linked-In. There at least 36 people called Ryan Yu. I imagine most of them have gone into hiding.
Remember, my axe-wielding friends: CHECK before you CHOP.
The same day, I was sent a US crime report by reader Balbir Singh. A man tried to rob a laundry. But crime is so rare in the town of Auburn, Maine, that cashier Linda Wilson thought he was joking. The armed raider pointed his gun and said: “Give me all your money.” Ms Wilson joked back in reply: “I only have a dollar-fifty,” and went back to talking to a customer.
The man interrupted again and eventually managed to persuade her that he was a real, actual armed robber. He escaped with the contents of the cash register, so the incident made big news, although it involved less than $20.
So in one society, criminals are so rare people don’t believe in them, while in another, hacking off heads is something the good guys do. I miss absolute values. Life was easier when good guys were good and bad guys were bad.
Note from reader Lawrence Gray, a screenwriter: “I have decided to operate on a new twenty-four-month-a-year calendar. I can now get twice as much done and age half as quick.”
A fire station caught fire. Embarrassed firefighters in Lanzhou city in China’s Gansu province had to flee. The story came to light a few days ago when passer-by Liu Siyu took a picture of a blackened fire station and put it up on his Weibo (Chinese Twitter) page.
Officers pretended they “meant to do that” for a “training exercise”, but people aren’t stupid. The picture even showed their fire engine was charred.
A web-user added a comment: “They’re forever telling other people what to do, how many extinguishers to have, and closing down businesses because they don’t meet fire regulations. How about we close them down now?” That’s a good idea. Then what do you do if your house burns down, Mr Silly Web User?
On the plus side, the firefighters can surely apply to the Guinness Book of Records for being “fastest firefighters to reach the scene of a blaze.”
A woman travelling from Lahore to Paris fell fast asleep in her aircraft and failed to disembark. By the time she woke up, the plane had gone from Pakistan to France to Italy and back to Pakistan. The woman was furious that staff of Pakistan International Airways did not wake her, according to Express News, a Pakistani TV show. After 18 hours in the air, she had managed to get precisely nowhere, so decided to go home. Then Lahore officials stopped her re-entering as her paperwork was wrong. And you thought YOU had a bad day.
A man who annoyed the new leader of North Korea was vaporized, news sources reported. Kim Chol, vice minister of the army, was caught partying during the mourning period for Kim Jong Il, and angered new leader Kim Jong-un. (The name Kim is compulsory in North Korea for everybody and everything, including rocks and trees, or, as I should say: Kim Rock and Kim Tree.)
Kim Chol had a mortar (a missile) fired at him, according to the Chosun Ilbo newspaper of South Korea. This caused him to be destroyed so thoroughly there was no trace left, a bit like Lance Armstrong’s credibility. I don’t want to be morbid, but it’s interesting way to go. Imagine how cool your tombstone epitaph would be: “There’s no corpse here. He was vaporized.”
Meanwhile in South Korea, scientists found that eunuchs (men who have been castrated) live 14 to 19 years longer than normal men. Well, thanks for that news, guys. I’m planning to live a very short, very happy life.
Movie industry friends tell me that Hollywood is putting the final touches on an ultra-violent version of Hansel and Gretel, the classic fairy tale. Don’t these filmmakers have kids? “What did you do today, Daddy?” “I turned one of your favorite bedtime stories into a blood-drenched slasher pic which you will probably encounter on the Internet one day and be traumatized into taking weapons to school and perpetuating the circle of violence, darling.”
A woman who went past her three-minute speaking deadline at a town council meeting a few days ago was arrested by police and taken away in handcuffs. A big round of applause to officers at the Riverside municipal meeting in California. I wish you guys would come to every meeting I attend.
(Nury Vittachi is an Asia-based frequent traveler. Send ideas and comments via www.mrjamorg )