A social statement

Updated: 2013-06-18 08:46

(China Daily)

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After receiving reports that a 72-year-old man was illegally felling trees in Yongzhou, Hunan province, on June 11, a policeman rushed to the spot only to find that he was doing so to buy his grandson zongzi (glutinous rice dumplings) for the Dragon Boat Festival. On learning this, the policeman not only let him off, but also gave him 200 yuan ($32.62) to buy zongzi for his grandson, says an article in the Qianjiang Evening News. Excerpts:

The 72-year-old man took the risk of felling trees illegally because he had no other way to buy his grandson zongzi. Therefore, the policeman didn't contradict the law by letting him off. In fact, his gesture was most humane.

Zongzi may not be expensive. But the old man didn't have enough money even for that. Since his only son works in a city, he has to take care of his grandson despite of his old age.

Left-behind children (children of migrant workers who stay with their grandparents in rural areas) and senior citizens forced to fend for themselves are not uncommon in China. And one policeman helping one such senior citizen will not solve the problem.

The fact that the old man was forced to fell trees illegally just to buy his grandson zongzi is a social tragedy. It also draws attention to the plight of left-behind children and senior citizens. It's time the government helped the left-behind children and elderly citizens lead a better life.