Mahjong: That Loving, Brutal Game

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Legal consequences involving the Chinese tile game mahjong were in the news twice today.

First, the AP reported that petty criminals in Taiwan are increasingly being given the choice of either paying a fine or engaging in community service.  ("Petty criminal" apparently includes burglary, drunk driving, and "posting nude pictures on the Internet.")  One frequent type of community service involves forcing offenders to play mahjong with elderly people.  According to a Taiwanese official, "the offenders first dismissed the duty as wasting time, but they soon discovered they were respected and drew satisfaction from helping the elderly."  It’s also easier than picking up trash, of course.

But in Malaysia, mahjong showed its darker side.  Two men were playing mahjong in a coffee shop in George Town, Penang, last Thursday, when an argument started.  The report did not say what started the argument, but it did say how it ended: one man grabbed a spoon and shoved it up his opponent’s nose.

He followed up by bashing the man with a chair.

Other customers broke up the fight and the victim was treated at a nearby hospital, presumably for spoon inhalation.  Police are still looking for the assailant.

The rate of mahjong-related violence has skyrocketed recently, going from zero cases to this one.

AP via
New Straits Times (Malaysia)