Wrong place at the wrong time - thread II

This is a continuation of this thread.


As Dr. John once sang:

[quote]I been in the right place
But it must have been the wrong time
I’d of said the right thing
But I must have used the wrong line
I been in the right trip
But I must have used the wrong car
My head was in a bad place
And I’m wondering what it’s good for…[/quote]

I’d never thought about the level of law enforcement that comes from your peers. If the blue truck guy got this treatment every single time he’d soon start waiting at lights.

I’d never thought about the level of law enforcement that comes from your peers. If the blue truck guy got this treatment every single time he’d soon start waiting at lights.[/quote]

Sounds reasonable, but I believe I’ve read stories on this forum where this situation led to one car pushing another and even more violent reactions. You never now if the guy is really determined to run the red.

I’d never thought about the level of law enforcement that comes from your peers. If the blue truck guy got this treatment every single time he’d soon start waiting at lights.[/quote]

Sounds reasonable, but I believe I’ve read stories on this forum where this situation led to one car pushing another and even more violent reactions. You never now if the guy is really determined to run the red.[/quote]
I had a situation a few months ago when waitng at a red and some guy was honking at me and the scooters beside be to get through. He had a flashing light on the dash so ifgure he was a unmarked cop, so I edged forward so I was just over the line, and he went around and thru the red.
A few weeks later I got a camera ticket for being over the line. 900nt. Shit.

I came from a poor family and grew up in the high rise council estates of a poor industrial city. High living costs, low wages and high unemployment do not a merry mixture make. You name it, I’ve seen it. In theory, Taiwan is safer than my hometown of Liverpool. Drugs are kept under the surface, kids are generally under control and street crime is rare compared to the likes of Toxteth, North Liverpool which seems to carry a death sentence for walking alone after 7pm.

I am a normal guy with a normal demeanour. I’m not big and I know my limits. I’m not a confrontational person but neither am I a patient saint. If someone does something stupid on the road I will beep at them - once. If a Taiwanese guy shouts insults at me I will shout back. If I see a kid getting beaten up on the street I will try to break it up. If I see someone helpless being threatened I will intervene if I can or at least get the police involved. And yup, if things get scary I invoke my special power of running away. This occasionally got me into trouble back in Liverpool and I’m sure it will occasionally get me into trouble in Taiwan. What worries me is that even though conflicts are rarer out here, the locals do not seem to know when to stop.

The problem - and it’s a huge frigging mother of a problem - is policing. I would hazard that Taiwan’s number one problem right now is policing. You want to know why Taiwanese get so violent in seemingly minor altercations? Because they can. Pick a problem with Taiwan at random - I guarantee the police are involved at some level. Think about it - even down to the pollution, for example - what happens when black belching trucks can no longer get away with slipping someone a few NT$ to pass their smog check?

Whether you agree or not, I believe 110% with cherries on top that a radical shake-up of the Taiwanese police force would change Taiwan in ways we could barely imagine. Economy, public order, safety, traffic - you name it. I would love for a bunch of Taiwanese police to exchange for three months with British police. The Brits would realise how much worse things could be and the Taiwanese would shit their pants and hopefully be ashamed. Even getting emergency services to turn off their f&*%ing lights when not on an emergency would be a start.

Sometimes I wonder why I sacrificed so much to live in Taiwan when the place has me bashing my head against the nearest hard surface on a daily basis. Then I remember the beautiful countryside I’m looking at from my window, or the wonderful friends I have, or the cheap delicious food, or my neighbour who gave up hours of her precious time to try and get me into medical school.

Perhaps it’s a male thing but if I’m completely honest, I like things that are broken because it gives me a chance to fix them. I was brought up to believe that if something is broken you should at least try to fix it before you throw it away. God only knows Taiwan is pretty broken but there’s definitely enough to salvage - and as people who’ve come half way around the world and know how things could be we should at least be trying to salvage it. Anyone who replied with ‘you just don’t understand Chinese culture’ or ‘you just don’t understand about face’ should be ashamed of themselves. I’m not a crazy idealist but rather a cautious - and proactive - optimist. Trying to do something might have a 10% chance of success but doing nothing has a 0% chance of success.

PS: I apologise sincerely for me heinous crime of living in the Taichung countryside, for which I will no doubt be severely punished in due course.

I’m with you on that. If in doubt run.

[quote=“llary”] Even getting emergency services to turn off their f&*%ing lights when not on an emergency would be a start.

I keep trying to see the other side. Maybe the ligthts are on as a presence reminder. Then, a few days ago a police car with the light on came up to a red light then got by the car in front and did a left turn into the police station. I was still going “okay, he must have a good reason for that, emergency police business”

I was right, it was an emergency. He went straight to the toilet.

Very difficult to try and tell the local community what to do. It will just piss them off. Leading by example might be a great start.

Did you read the article linked to in the previous thread.

michaelturton.blogspot.com/2006/ … olice.html

Here is a little bit of it.

[quote]The highlight of the morning was Jeff Martin, a newly-minted PHD fresh from the University of Chicago’s Department of Anthropology,
Jeff was introduced by Linda Arrigo. She observed that he had done fieldwork on how the police function in Taiwan by “spending three years drinking with them,” coming back from the torturous and ever-changing world out there with a shipload of information that no one else understood. The police have two systems, Linda said – the official system, and “the other one.” It was our happy lot to listen to Jeff clarify both for us.

Jeff began with two simple questions: what do the police do? And why do they do it? [color=blue]It turned out that Jeff had to answer a third question: just who are the police?[/color]

According to Jeff, the transition from martial law to democracy has left no impression on the police. Why? Because Jeff was talking to the civil police, whose job description didn’t change. Rather, martial law changed policing by “extracting the military from police work.” The content of police work, from a formal perspective, has not changed dramatically from the end of martial law, and is based on the police law of 1953, amended slightly in 1986. “There’s no smoking gun policy that shows that policing has become democratic whereas it used to be authoritarian,” Jeff observed.

At this point Linda Arrigo remarked that it was still fairly authoritarian. True, Jeff answered, responding that what has actually changed was that the legitimacy of civil institutions is based on their upholding of civil rights in a democratic system – the basis of legitimacy, the “hegemonic rhetoric” that underpins the system, has changed.

Who are the police? This is the central question to understanding what has changed since martial law ended. The police, formally defined, are those people who work for the Central Police Administration of the Ministry of the Interior, created in 1972, some 80,000 souls. Jeff briefly listed the twenty or thirty police organizations, maritime, border, railroad, and so on. The key distinction, Jeff argued, is threefold: between the judicial police, administrative police, and the staff who process paperwork.

This is the Continental system of criminal justice, profoundly different from the Anglo-Saxon system. Taiwan distinguishes between policeman who carry on police work, and policeman who are just administrative police.

What defines policing as a task? Jeff answered that the literature says three things: law enforcement, maintenance of public order, and provision of services. The police do a lot of things that are neither of the first two, Jeff said, such as answering questions or holding documents, for example.

Jeff’s project was studying substations, your friendly neighborhood police office. The system in Taiwan is centrally organized. The national policy agency oversees departments in each county, underneath that are police precincts, and then finally, substations. Substations are where calls get routed to, and people are sent out to respond to citizen problems. Such people are classified as administrative policemen: thirty to forty to a substation, probably all men, females being a rarity at the moment. These policemen are the lowest ranking members of the police bureaucracy.

The system was created under the Japanese and has persisted through two very different regime changes, Jeff said. It’s “completely entrenched,” the substations having survived two attempts to get rid of them and create a more centralized system.

“So it’s not a Qing Dynasty system,” Jerome Keating interjected. “Absolutely not,” averred Jeff. The Japanese “created the prototype for East Asian policing,” Jeff stated. “This looks just like what they have in China now,” Jeff said. “When the Chinese government decided to create a police in 1980 – because it wasn’t working to just not have any police – they basically used this system.” As we all erupted into laughter at the thought of China without police, Jerome asked where the system came from. The Japanese sent people out to survey all the police systems of the world during the Meiji period, and ended up copying the French and the Germans. They did make one “decisive difference” between the French and the Japanese system: the Japanese attached the local police to the household registration system. It was that act that defines East Asian policing. “The census system is the means by which the central government keeps tabs on every citizen,” Jeff explained.[/quote]

An update if you will.

I received a summons in the mail, so on Wednesday I went to the Xinzhu area court with Mr. He (He was my translator–unfortuantely, having him and his local SO assist me at the police station after the incident occurred got him listed as my translator and he was also summoned. The debt of gratitude and inconvenience to you shall be repaid in liquid refreshments, mate.).

The hearing took place in a small room with both parties present, a judge (or arbitrator of some sort), recorder, and bailiff. Both parties signed a statement that said, to the effect, that if we were caught lying we were subject to prison terms.

I was then asked to recount what happened and did so. The defendants were asked to do the same-- and this is where they hung themselves. They basically confirmed the most important parts of my story! They basically admitted to using a baseball bat, chasing me in their car and smashing my windshield. Weird. They only altered parts of the string of events to make it look as if they were justified in their actions because I was photographing their car (we took a picture of their license plate after they began threatening us with the weapon and trying to force us off the road-- they tried to claim that we began photographing “wildly” with no provocation).

The judge was having none of it and launched into what I can only describe as a scolding. Amazing. The defendant stood there motionless. The judge then asked the other two occupants of the defendant’s car (his supposed witnesses) if they had anything to add. Neither of them let out a peep (Mr He and I both figure the documents we signed stating that lies would get us in serious doo-doo spooked them). The judge seemed to grow further irritated. The scene is one that would evoke images similar to those that teachers would be familiar with-- the teacher scolding the student and the student standing motionless, head down.

I think that my offer to settle for the cost of my windshield and wages lost (a total of 10k) really got the judge on my side. When the defendant’s initially balked at the figure, the judge responded in some of the first Chinese sarcasm I’d heard: “So you think after what you did, you can just pay a thousand NT and make everything alright?! His offer is very reasonable. I can tell you if you don’t take it, things are only going to get more difficult and expensive for you.”

I suppose I could have–and perhaps should have-- pushed for more money, but the scene in that room was absolutely priceless. The end result pleased me immensely. They were out 10k and were forced to apologize to a foreigner.

I am convinced that these individuals were totally fried on drugs on the day they attacked. The way they hung themselves like they did in court did not suggest that these people were entirely with it, so to speak. I think they are perma-fried or else never possessed a lot of intelligence to begin with. In a way, I pity them.

:bravo: :bravo: :bravo: :bravo: :bravo: :bravo:

See, there’s hope. The system does work if you use it. Another triumph for civilisation over the idea that you can take the law into your own hands.

Did you call Aple Daily? Word needs to get out that we have rule of law here now. You must be stoked. Congratulations.

Well done, Toasty! :slight_smile:


Well done toasty! Great to see that sometimes, justice IS served.

:bravo: :laughing: :bravo: :laughing: :bravo: :laughing: :bravo: :laughing:
That’s way too cool.


:bravo: :bravo: :bravo: :sunglasses:

I just hope this is the end of it.

Ahhhh…civilization. Who’d a thunk it?

I’m delighted to read this Toasty. Hopefully this will be a sign of things to come. If you are in the right and do what needs to be done, then you will get the justice you deserve. :bravo:

It is. They’re nobodies. Just punks on drugs or alcohol that day. They wired the settlement money immediately. I think they feel quite lucky to have gotten off so easily.

They certainly did get off lightly. If they’d acted like that in England, they’d have faced a string of charges, including criminal damage, threatening behaviour, causing an affray, and dangerous driving, for which they would quite likely have been sentenced to time inside and hit with a heavy fine, as well as being ordered to pay you damages.

However, in view of our much more limited expectations of the police and the criminal justice system in Taiwan, it’s as good an outcome as could reasonably have been hoped for and certainly worthy of applause. :bravo: Kudos to you for pursuing it all the way, and congratulations on getting all that you asked for!

Good to hear toasty, congratulations to you and Mr. He. Seems the “wild west” from here gets a bit less wild.
Just hope that more and more people really take it to that and get rid of this “all this guys are big brothers, so be carefull and let them go”.

Contrats on your victory. I am glad the judge had common sense and compassion. Truly unique qualities in this otherwise easy society in which to live.

I have a lot of trouble with people not being held accountable for their actions, and so I’ve had problems in Taiwan to that end, most of these problems have occured in traffic and at 7-Elevens, oddly enough. :loco:

My former GF has the most western sensibilities that I know among all my TW friends and acquaintances, yet even she tells me to leave it alone when someone is obviously in the wrong during an everyday situation such as traffic. I never let anyone get away with anything and yes, it has got me into trouble because, quite often, these people simply take the law into their own hands.

One sunny day we were cruising on my scooter and at a county intersection where we had the green light, some fool was determined to turn left in front of us (or to be more accurate, drive over top of us), just so he could go first and make us wait. There was no traffic behind me. He just had to prove a point I guess. This is a rural setting on a Sunday so I can’t imagine any urgent business matters.

I made it as difficult as possible for him to turn without endangering me and my gal, but he still had to go first. I gave him the finger and shouted some common quip. Well, he was having none of it and pulled over to confront me. I was only to happy to oblige, but my gal said to forget it because he might have a weapon (not how she put it).

To pacify her, I continued down the road and left the idiot standing on the side of the road, shouting at me. I have to admit it looked pretty funny. But I know why these people are so deadset on having their way even on a Sunday with no traffic and a nano-second of “waiting” time.

It’s because almost everyone in this country would rather avoid confrontation than to hold people to waiting their turn, hence the fools who honk at people to let them run red lights. If more people would take a firmer stance and simply ignore these fools, then we might have less baseball wielding incidents.

The result in this thread is a rare instance in which someone had to pay for his or her outrageous behavior. I only wish it would happen more often. It’s too bad the victims in this case were terrorized, but coming forward and pursuing justice to the Nth degree is the only way to go. :bravo:

Everything he said, and a big up for Mr He too.