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Richard Chang, death at Abbey National in London
When you don't know the person, his family, or his friends, you can only read about it in the papers. After all, journalists are supposed to be truth seekers, reporting an event from all angles, questioning with skepticism, attempting to get at the real truth but leaving a question mark for the readers to conclude for themselves.
What really happened to Richard Chang? Was the verdict of suicide at his place of employment the end of story? Could it have been prevented?
At his memorial service I attended a year ago, I found it impossible to believe that the only son of elderly parents with a family of his own to support would jump to his death. From my understanding of Chinese traditions, the eldest son has responsibility not only of his own wife and children but his parents also. Knowing the high achiever that he was, I could not believe that he would end a life full of promise.
Someone like Richard Chang had much to look forward to. He was serving his notice, having accepted another job offer. He had plane tickets to take his family to New York for his son's choir performance, an event they had planned for a long time. There was nothing to anticipate his fall on that fateful Tuesday, 13 July 2004.
From talking to his sisters, I gathered that they saw it as David vs Goliath, not unlike the unfortunate employees of Enron or other individuals battling justice against giant corporations. While we all like to believe that truth and justice will prevail in the end, the long and winding road is anything but smooth. Enron's collapse occurred after 11th September 2001. The big trial is finally scheduled for 2006, some five years later.
When I googled "Richard Chang suicide" I kept getting "Iris Chang 1968 - 2004." The two Changs are not related, but their stories tell of a harrowing truth about the Chinese people. In Iris Chang's "The Chinese in America," a narrative history of Chinese immigrants to America, she wrote of the reactions of wrongly accused, innocent Chinese scientists in the USA. Instead of hiring a lawyer and fighting back, as any innocent person would be expected to do, one scientist withdrew in resignation. Although he refused to admit guilt, he did not try to clear his name. He did not fight back to make sure the world knew that he was totally innocent and how he had been wrongly accused and bullied. Relying only on reports in the press and hearsay, others refused to hire him thus perpetuating the myth that he was guilty. Why would an eminent scientist react so? Why would Iris Chang herself commit suicide when her books had topped the New York bestseller list? Why would Richard Chang end his life when he had so much to live for?
The history of the Chinese immigrants tells of struggle, hardship, injustice, and most of all, sacrifice. Yin and yang are two opposite ways of looking at things, the feminine and masculine, the passive and the aggressive, the dark and the light, the negative and the positive. The yang reaction is to fight back. The yin reaction is to remain silent, even to the extent of sacrificing one's own life.
Who will ever know whatever happened during the final moments of Richard Chang's life? However, in every one of us, we will always champion the Davids of this world.
5 September 2005 Monday
Truth and justice for Richard Chang new site
Memorial service at Temple Church, Bon Journal entry 28 July 2004
Crisis of faith, The Guardian 24 September 2005
The usual suspects: what to consider if covertly monitoring your employees, Personnel Today 23 August 2005
Death of Abbey Bank Employee Ruled a Suicide, Neither Abbey Bank Nor Kroll Found at Fault, The Daily Caveat, 21 July 2005
Widow blames Abbey bosses for hubby death plunge, Life Style Extra, 20 July 2005
Widow accuses bank over suicide, BBC News, 20 July 2005
Inquest Begins on Kroll Interviewee Who Plunged to Death in Connection with Abbey Bank Investigation, The Daily Caveat, 19 July 2005
Abbey in court over death of IT worker, Contractor UK, 18 July 2005
Abbey faces grilling over death at HQ, Mail on Sunday, This is Money 17 July 2005
The moneybag discussion forum: summaries of Private Eye