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April 28, 2017

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Woman fended off MRT attacker with bag

TAIPEI -- News of another act of heroism in the Taipei Metro stabbing spree last week emerged Wednesday, this time involving a woman who wielded only a handbag to protect herself and other passengers from the attacker.

The woman, identified as 37-year old Tsai Yueh-yin, reportedly swung her bag filled with books at the 21-year-old suspect Cheng Chieh to fend him off as he approached her carriage, stabbing people at random with knives.

"I had books borrowed from the library in my bag, so acting on instinct, I immediately stood up and swung the bag at him," Tsai, a survey assistant at New Taipei's Land Administration Department, told cable TV network Eastern Television (ETTV).

Cheng reportedly also tried to attack a mother-infant pair sitting next to Tsai, who stood up to the suspect to protect the pair.

"It was my maternal instincts. I pulled them behind me and swung my large bag at the suspect again," Tsai, a mother of two, told ETTV.

According to a United Daily News report, Tsai also tried to stop the suspect from attacking an elderly woman sitting near her and had one of her fingers cut by the attacker's knife while defending the passenger.

In response to an earlier controversial remark by a government official that "no one" stood up against the suspect, Tsai hopes that people will stop making the survivors of the stabbing spree feel guilty.

"We are not well-trained police or SWAT team members. We just wanted to stay alive for the people we love," Tsai said.

Tsai was not the only passenger who demonstrated bravery during the incident on May 21 that left four people dead and 24 others injured.

A few men stood in front of a group of passengers to defend them from the attacker.

A video clip shot by one of the passengers showed one of the men, later identified as a 52-year-old businessman, standing bravely with others in front of the group, pointing only an umbrella at the suspect in a standoff that lasted at least 40 seconds, until the train approached the next stop.

When contacted by the Apple Daily, the man said modestly that he was "not the only one" standing in front of the group.

Surveillance video also showed a few courageous passengers trying to subdue the suspect on the platform. A 62-year-old man named Chen Feng, who has practiced martial arts, was the first to subdue the suspect and kept him in place until the police arrived.

He said he didn't dare tell his family about the incident, but knew he was "doing the right thing."

A 36 year-old nurse who was waiting on the platform was also reported by local media to have rushed into the train to help the wounded with little regard for her own safety.

"It was an instinctive response. I didn't think that much about it on the spur of the moment," she told the press.

1 Comment
May 29, 2014    kanganimate@
What the government official is trying to address is the greater issue that we have here in Taiwan, and in Asia to, where people are often too selfish and too apathetic towards each other.

It's not just the case of your life being in danger and you not wanting to do something because you are not well trained in violence control, because it is also seen on a daily basis where people simply do not want to get involved to help others on the street. Our people here too often feel comfort by hiding behind the thoughts of --- "it is none of my business so I should not get involved", ---- or the usual "there are too many scams around and I don't want to get cheated" ---- or the too common "I don't want to get sued, so best to stay away".

Another big elephant in the room is the amount of mentally ill people walking around in Taiwan. But the culture of 'Saving Face' prevents families from confronting the problem head on and reporting their family members to a clinic or the police, for fear of being looked down upon or chastised by their neighbors. We have a ticking time bomb on our hands if we don't stop and think that we need to start taking action and responsibility for our INACTION.

What we need in Taiwan is a social campaign to make people more empathetic towards their neighbors. We are a small island and we can only count on each other. So people need to start realizing that we need to stick together and help each other out if we plan to prosper as a nation.

For policies, the government should implement a GOOD SAMARITAN law that exempts any person from damage, harm or liability if that person acted on good faith and really intended to help. On the flip side, we need more serious penalties for frauds, scams and others.

Finally the government should start making entire families liable for any harm that their mentally disturbed families members cause to society. This should not be meant to punish the families... but instead to encourage them to seek professional help for their loved ones, or at least report any disturbing incidents to the police for assistance. Start making families liable and we can hopefully see more mentally disturbed people get the help they need in Taiwan.
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