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Making all the right presumptions


(Remember this statement from Bill Clinton? Are you making the right presumptions?)
I had a good lesson in making the right presumptions couple days ago when I was listening to a radio show where people call in to talk about their problems and sometimes, call in to say sorry to people who they have hurt or had misunderstanding.

So, there was this guy called and he said he wanted to say sorry to his ex-wife and he hopes that she will forgive him and allow him to see his 3 children again. He said that the problem between him and his ex-wife started as a small problem but turned into a big problem later on. After a further chat with the DJ, the guy confirmed that he already got married again and revealed that the only reason he will saying sorry is because he really wanted to see his kids. In other words, he was implying that he was not apologizing to his ex-wife for the problem itself.

When we heard that, my wife immediately said that the guy must have been at fault and the problem is likely to be started by him getting married with another woman. So, how dare he is to simply apologise now and to think the problem can be solved just like that. I agreed with her at that time.

A day later, I was thinking back of the show and what the guy have said and I realised that we did not make the right presumptions. We branded the guy as being guilty without all the facts. I had completely ignored the legal maxim that “one is presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond doubt”. I should have considered these facts:-

1. The guy said that it started as a small problem – marrying another woman when you already had 3 kids is hardly called “small problem”. He did not say what the “small” problem was.

2. We do not know whether his ex-wife had re-married and if yes, did she got married before the guy? So, it was possible that the guy got married only after his ex-wife got married with someone else.

3. The “problem” may not been started by the guy but for the sake of the kids, he is willing to be one who apologise first

In our daily life, we will meet people and heard stories about them or their work. The question is will we be making the right presumptions when the time comes? Will we presume someone to be innocent until it is proven guilty?

At numerous times or at one point or another, we have made certain presumptions way before we actually sat down and looked at the facts. This is clearly so when we are confronted with issues involving politicians. A good example of this was the “AP issue”. I am not saying who is right or wrong but I guess we should not be quick to made certain presumptions and act on it (luckily for Rafidah, there are lot of people who gave the chance to her to explain the facts although she seemed arrogant enough to do so correctly).

So, the next time, we make certain presumptions, it is always better to give the other person the benefit of the doubt or an opportunity to explain the facts. Bad or wrong presumptions can affect our relationship with our family, friends or office mates. Think about it.

(Cartoon source:

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