Tuesday, June 23, 2009

What happened to simple common courtesy nowadays?

I commute to work by public transport. I ride the MRT from my home at Bukit Batok to my workplace at Boon Lay at least 5 days a week.

For the past few years, the train operators have tried to make those seats nearest the exits available for those in real need of it, i.e. pregnant ladies, the elderly or physically disabled.
Beginning with the "Please give up this seat to people who need it" to the "Priority Seat" to the latest and more forceful "Reserved Seating".

Alas, I don't see that the latest concept by the train operators is any different from the previous, meaning its effectiveness is just as suspect. The problem from my personal perspective is that commuters (ugly singaporeans?) have not reached that level of graciousness to understand what Priority or Reserved means.

Most of the time you will notice the rush and the beeline straight for those seats, heck care the signs. The next thing they do is pretend to sleep, put on their MP3 or text on their mobiles till they get off, oblivious to all around them

Hey, when you go to restaurant and see a Reserved sign, you don't plonk yourself down but look for another table! So what's the difference here? In Japan, Korea or Canada, you will see able bodied passengers standing beside the empty seat, knowing that it is 'reserved' for the needy. Their train culture has reached a level of maturity that had been infused into their civic consciousness.

While I am all for the idea for giving up seats for those who need them, simply putting up 'another campaign' signage is ineffective in the absence of proper commuter education. When, or if ever, we can reach an acceptable level of graciousness, then even the concept of reserved seats become redundant. Every seat in the cabin will be offered up for any one who needs it! Sadly, that'll be the day, which probably will not be in my lifetime.

The passenger train culture here has a long long way to go to reach first world standard. Today we gripe about not giving way, not moving inside, eating on board, not being courteous, etc. Yet we are the ones who need to make the first move. Even shaming individuals on public forums like Stomp website will do little to improve the situation without effort from both the public and the operators. In our nanny state, I guess we are all waiting for someone else to set the rules and tell us how to behave even for such minor courtesies. Sigh.

Have a look at this latest attempt by the train operators, which I personalLy feel is real crass. Message is ok but the presentation sucks. Of all people, snot picking PCK as an example of graciousness. What a joke and you expect people to listen to his message?

I am getting old and grouchy. If one day you see me hobbling into the train, I hope there's a seat reserved for me.


  1. thats so true....but the peak of ungracious behavior must be on the roads and behind the wheel... driving on singapore roads feels like a race for the finish even while just going out for a leisurely drive or "eat air"...jiak huang....where else in the world do you get the car next to you speeding up THE MOMENT u signal your intention to move in front of him?....or her...

  2. sad but true...many a times i've given up my seat intentionally for someone i thought deserved it more only to be occuppied rudely by a younger more abled person. this bad manners irks me everytime!

  3. I see y PCK doesn't appeal to ur sense of graciousness. Perhaps the campaign is targeted at the kaisu's that wont read signs?

  4. Try this..approach the able person sitting in the reserved seat and politely but LOUDLY say "excuse me but i think this seat is reserved for the elderly or pregnant. see the sign?" hopefully this will embarrass tat person to give up tat seat. but size tat person first and make sure u can take him or her down in case he/she retaliate or be prepare to run or get off the train fast..ha ha..nothing like being embarrassed to make them think twice. judging from ur other story, i'm sure from now on u'll look behind u (for tail)b4 leaving the loo...love from ur sister in texas