The ban after the blood spill

The hostage crisis in the Philippines and the subsequent travel ban issued by Hong Kong is quite unfortunate.

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Published: Wed 25 Aug 2010, 10:02 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 1:35 PM

The 10-hour drama in which a bus full of foreign tourists was held hostage by a berserk retired police officer, followed by a shootout, which killed eight Hong Kong residents, has come as a rude shock. Though not a terrorist act, this incident has brought in far-reaching ramifications for travel and tourism prospects of the archipelago. Hong Kong’s spontaneous reaction to issue a stern travel advisory banning travel to the Philippines is, however, no less than a kneejerk reaction. Though Hong Kong and China’s concerns for its citizens are well placed, this accident should not be allowed to act as a spanner in the works. South-east Asia cannot afford any such ban, and obstructing trade, travel and tourism opportunities will come to haunt the regional economy, which is already mired in recessionary trends.

As rightly demanded by Beijing, a thorough investigation needs to be done to primarily pinpoint security lax on Manila’s part. Secondly, there are questions that need to be answered as to why the lone gunman couldn’t be overpowered through amicable means, and why did the police reportedly sit back to see the drama unfold in blood and tears. Last but not the least, were there any socio-political issues involved that motivated the retired cop to target nationals of a peaceful and irk-free destination. The good thing, however, is that Philippines is keeping its cool and President Benigno Aquino has promised to personally look into the issue. It would be prudent of authorities in China, Hong Kong and Philippines to deal with the issue in a professional investigative manner, and not to compound the situation by hampering diplomatic and recreational activities.

The Philippines, that is home to a large number of Chinese nationals and a preferred tourist destination, should take an inclusive view of this tragedy. Actually, it is response to the hostage taking that had painted Manila in bad light. The police decision to storm the bus was ill advised, and that apparently provided the hijacker with an excuse to go on rampage.

Anyway, the post-carnage fear psyche is in need of being undone. Hong Kong, which equally houses hundreds and thousands of Filipinos, cannot stand to miss the archipelago connection.

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