The recent death of Chinese doctor has broken an ancient custom that has been observed by even the most barbaric nations of antiquity.
There has been a global tradition for ages not to kill the messenger, no matter howsoever unfavorable or indignant message he would bring.
Li Wenliang was a Chinese ophthalmologist at Wuhan Central Hospital. He was serving in what in later days became the epicenter of coronavirus. He had warned about a new coronavirus strain on 30 December 2019 on WeChat to fellow colleagues
Li Wenliang had brought the message of death, from a virus he thought looked like Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). But the state-led censor silenced him, making him apologize in black and white for revealing what he felt.
The doctor had reported the suspicious signs of what later was found to be the fatal coronavirus in December.
Dr Li died last week from the contagion he wanted to inform Chinese authorities before no one did. Not unsurprisingly, the doctor was reprimanded for telling the truth.
Eventually, Li Wenliang had to die in order to embarrass Chinese authorities that initially ignored his warning.
In December, he had informed the authority about the indications of a SARS-like virus that played havoc in 2003. He did so by informing first to his fellows in WhatsApp-like group, before formally doing so. But he was asked to keep a mum. The police warned him of dire consequences for “spreading rumors,” for which he was investigated too.
“I don’t think he was rumor-mongering. Hasn’t this turned out into reality now? Li Wenliang’s father told the BBC, my son was wonderful.”
Now after the death of the informer and the killing of at least 900, as I’m writing, besides the number of affected surpassing 31000. the authorities find it the right time to open an investigation into “issues involving Dr Li”.
On this occasion, “better late than never” seems to lose its justification.
Understandably, public anger is manifest despite state-led censor. Soon after the news of the death of Chinese doctor, the social media consumers vented their rage on Weibo, Twitter of China.
The news of Dr Wenlang topped the trend, garnering around 1.5 billion views. Among the top hashtag trends were:
“Wuhan Government owes Dr. Wenlang an apology,” while the other read,
“We want the freedom of speech”.
Freedom of Speech, A Chinese Dilemma!
In many of the western countries, all of the democratic ones, none has been progressing more rapidly than China economically.
For the last decade, China has outpaced Japan as the second-largest economy, and it is only second to the US. The experts believe that soon within a decade or maybe two, China could surpass the US as the world’s leading economy.
Indeed, the economy is not the area that China lacks or needs to take a lesson from any of the other models. It is its political structure that needs an overhaul, or at least, a review.
As a political scientist, I claim to be the biggest critic of democracy. But if only you ask me only one justification for which I support this system, it is freedom of speech!
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