'Green caps' as punishment stir debate

Updated: 2015-08-08 09:40


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'Green caps' as punishment stir debate

A young man, standing by a policeman, directs the traffic at an intersection.[Photo/IC]

The Shenzhen authorities have been cracking down on pedestrians' traffic violations lately. Those caught disobeying traffic signals can choose to either pay a fine or don a green vest and hat and help the traffic police to supervise the traffic. In Chinese culture, wearing a green hat your wife or girlfriend has cheated on you. The campaign has aroused heated discussions, though Shenzhen's traffic administrative department has repeatedly explained the use of a green hat as a penalty is a mere coincidence and does not have any other implications.

Shenzhen residents held a mixture of opinions on the campaign. A woman surnamed Chen, a local resident, said, "the move is not only creative but also impressive. People who get punished will learn a lesson and not break the law again. It is beneficial to ensure people will obey the law." Mr Li, another local resident, said, "We will accept punishment if we act illegally. And it is good to have a sunhat under such fierce sunshine, but the color is a little bit odd indeed. I hope the related department could change the color of the hat."

Despite the controversy, this policy has got its desired effect. Over 300 netizens polled expressed that they would pay more attention to traffic lights.

Guo Yuanpeng, a commentator, criticized the move as disregarding Chinese people's traditional thinking and because it challenged to moral beliefs. "It is praiseworthy for law enforcers to punish traffic offenders severely, but forcing them to wear green hats crosses the moral line and is definitely not appropriate. This is violence in the name of law enforcement".

However, Miao Fengjun, a commentator on the Netease website, holds a different view. "Those breaking the law ought to reflect upon their own behaviors. Violating traffic law not only threatens their own safety but also puts others in danger, which is extremely irresponsible. They should learn a lesson by feeling embarrassed before the public and realize their mistake."