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Malaysia: Petrol station blamed over girl's death

Malaysian bloggers and social media users react to an accident that took place in the capital city in the early morning of June 3. A 27-year-old student by the name of Florina ak Joseph was trapped inside her burning car, after an accident involving a car and a lorry.

Photo from ondscene

Teo Chai Yong was the first to arrive on the scene. Local daily The Star has the details of Teo's attempt to save the girl:

Teo, 31, had driven to the 24-hour petrol station that was near the scene of an accident to look for a fire extinguisher after he heard screams from the trapped woman and saw sparks under the car. Teo had pleaded with the attendants and even offered to buy the extinguishers but was rejected. He rushed back to the accident scene, only to see the car engulfed in flames with the woman still inside.

After the story was published in various mainstream newspapers, many are blaming the petrol station for refusing to lend the fire extinguishers that could possibly save the girl's live, but are they to blame?

The Malaysian blogoshpere is divided over this especially after a note written by Teo was posted on a Facebook account venting his anger and asking for a boycott of BHP (the post has seen been removed). Blogger Kwong Fei has an extraction of the note. He believes that BHP cannot be held accountable for the death of the girl:

The BHP staff may be morally wrong for not lending the fire extinguisher despite being told it was a real accident and Witness A is willing to give them his IC to prove it was a real scenario. However, the BHP staff did not do any wrong legally.

Creating FB page and making a blog post asking the public to boycott BHP petrol is legally not wrong if your judgement is that the staff lack of humanity, True enough how much a fire extinguisher would cost compared to a life of a person. As a consumer, you have the power to decide and to choose you products.

Claiming the BHP staff as murderer is legally wrong. The real murderer is the driver of the Toyota Vios who hit the car of the victim. You may be sued for tarnishing the image of the company. (in my opinion)

Erna Mahyuni provides her thoughts on this issue:

Rather than hand over a fire extinguisher, staff at a BHP petrol station cited directives not to open the kiosk’s doors after hours. Their caution did have some basis. Holdups are common occurrences at petrol station kiosks and mini-marts in Malaysia. The reality, though, is that a woman’s life might have been saved if a fire extinguisher had been on hand. Instead, she burned alive while helpless onlookers watched. It’s a sad reflection of how Malaysians have become so used to not using their heads. We toe the line, we play it safe.

Point2Entertainment still calls for a boycott of all BHP Petrol stations:

I read with great anger, sympathy and sadness at this probably avoidable death (photos, more news). My only help is to boycott ALL BHP PETROL STATIONS throughout Malaysia, not just Tmn Pertama/Cheras stations. How cruel and insensitive. How stupid. And what a waste of a good life. Are they accountable? Legally, no. But morally, yes. Legally is the VIOS driver. To think being burned alive; that scares me to no end. And I am driving a Myvi too. Better pack a fire extinguisher in the car?

Other reactions from netizens were published in The Star:

Netizen Tan Loon Wern demanded that BHP make a formal apology to the victim’s family while Justin Tan said it should also compensate the woman’s family.

Another Netizen, Chong Kit Ling, expressed sadness that a human life was not valued, while Kelvin Wong Jing Zhi said petrol stations should place fire extinguishers at accessible spots.

Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation vice-chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said he could understand the anger showed by the public and Netizens.

“A life could have been saved if the attendants had lent Teo a fire extinguisher. This is a very unfortunate incident,” he said.

MCA Public Services and Complaints Department head Datuk Michael Chong said the attendants could have used their judgment to decide if Teo’s pleas were genuine.

“They should have just lent him the extinguisher. Instead, they did nothing. This is very sad,” he said.

Also frustrated with the situation, Brunei-based Filipino blogger John Rey could only offer his prayers:

I personally do not have anything else to say about this without pointing a finger at someone but this is just sad. My prayers go out to the family and friends of the victim.

8 comments

  • Mee La

    I think government should start the rules that all gas station have to standby one fire extinguisher near welcome door.

    the end.

  • Aai

    waduh, gimana kayaknya jika kamu duduk di posisi wanita itu.. selain pemandu vios, kamu pasti menginginkan penduduk lain utk membantu kamu.. memang ini kesalahan bhp karena enggak mau minjamkan penyembur api itu..

    accident berlaku dimana mana aja. sometimes, kejadian yang tidak diingini ini bukanlah kesalahan pemandu, malah mungkin ada kerosakan dimana-mana bahagian kereta. Maukah kamu menuduh syarikat kereta itu atas kerosakan keretanya jika ia masalah enjin @ break? pasti tidak bukan? so, bg sesiapa yang enggan untuk membantu, dia lah pembunuh sebenar kejadian ini..

  • wong kon fah

    All petrol kiosk should have fire extinguisher outside and not store inside the office.It a standing order from Bomba.BHP are breaking the law.If i am the guy asking for this extinguisher i will ignore this attendance and simply grab it to save the girl trap inside burning car.

  • Saya Laa

    Fire Extinguisher, the name say it all about the EMERGENCY. BHP is in fact breaking the Building Requirement Law such as standing order from Bomba and for sure the GOV or the authorities will not take any action about it because it is multi billion oil company. Plain and simple yet effective, i will just break the glass door and let the attendance call the police while I’m trying to save someone who burn alive. Yet in my mind I’m going to jail because of this. The sense of regret is useless is this life when God create human kind and the Law we create prevent just that. Burning Hell Petrol.

  • Gie

    To boycott or not, the blame goes to those who were in the scene. Just recently, a lady Korean’s car had the same dilemma. It happened in Manila. The Filipino bystanders helped her. The nearest petrol station’s fire extinguisher was used and the Korean was saved. Her car was not totally damaged, she went home and said she will just have it fixed.

  • Gie

    Many times, we call it ‘Filipino Values’ or in vernacular ‘Barangayan System’ or ‘Bayanihan’. Bayani means – hero. Friend or not, we were taught at home and school to help people in need. Sometimes there are those who do not abide due to personality differences but in general, we help each other.

  • Ali Baba

    The person who asked for fire extinguisher give his IC to the kiosk. If BHP has hired kiosk manager with brain, he would understood Teo is not a thief and exchange fire extinguisher for IC. Brain is important to have safety culture. Safety is very important for petrol kiosk. Since there is no brain in BHP, BHP must have a low level of safety culture. BHP is not a safe place and I will not go to BHP.

  • Ricky

    Consider this, the BHP attendants got the fire extinguisher against the company policy in order to save lives. In the end, they may be reprimanded but in the end forgiven or maybe rewarded as well. But that’s not the case.

    The second scenario is Teo give the attendants his IC, ask them ready to call police and arrest him afterwards. He break the glass no matter how and get the fire extinguisher.

    I’m not trying to blame anyone here for the death of our beloved Malaysian. But if I’m BH Petrol’s managing director Tan Kim Thiam, I will terminate their service for allowing someone to die after what have Teo explain to them. If they are to continue their service in BHP, it is morally wrong. In my opinion, there could be some element of racist involved for disagreement to give the fire extinguisher. I could be wrong but no one initiate any investigation to find out the truth.

    Even when we can blame the other driver that cause the accident, but this is the ultimate action where the girl’s life could have been saved.

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