Friday, July 27, 2007

Graciousness in Singapore?

ST Forum 27th July
What's become of our youth? Many young people don't care to give up seats to a pregnant woman

THE most uncomfortable moment of the day comes when I am on board the MRT train.
The passengers of the whole cabin would instantly close their eyes. You may have guessed it, they saw me, a pregnant lady, boarding the train.

There is a thread in a 'motherhood" forum that discusses the topic of the difficulty in getting a seat on the train. I was mentally prepared for all what I had experienced, but the fire in me pushed me to put my feelings into writing.

Wouldn't it be comforting if someone could graciously stand up and volunteer his/her seat to me?

Through the experiences over the last few months, the sad truth is that such a probability is extremely low.

Surprisingly, students and women are the people who do not bother to lift their eyes to look at you, what more giving up their precious seats.

If Singapore could put great emphasis on encouraging childbirth, I believe an equal amount of effort should be made to educate our next generation of young leaders on how to be gracious.

I was standing right in front of a student one evening in the train cabin. She looked blankly at me and closed her eyes. When it was time for her to alight, she did all she could to hide her school badge from me.

How can we depend on such people as future leaders? Even if they achieve No. 1 in all aspects, they score zero in compassion.

Since young, my parents had taught me the right values of greeting the elderly and giving up my seat to those who need it more. I also put myself in other people's shoes and console myself that the women around me in the train cabin may be pregnant in their first trimester. It is not convincing, but I feel better thinking this way. Give them a reason to justify their behaviour, I thought.

But what about the students? I cannot seem to convince myself. Tiredness? I was a student before but being considerate was of a higher importance than given the opportunity to rest at the expense of another person's comfort.

What a great difference the new generation is. In other words, great disappointment.

Chai Juwin (Ms)

I would recommend you to read the Straits Time Forum online instead of reading them from the paper. Not only does it has a additional Online Forum section for letters who are not published.
They also have new feature for reader to post their comments with regard to a certain letter and some are quite good.

See some of the response to Miss Chai letter below:

I think if Ms Chai looks like she needed the seat, there will be those who would offer it to her. In most cases, I have seen pregnant ladies or old people who actually do not expect to have a seat.
Some of them prefers to stand, maybe. But most of them do not have the attitude of "I am pregnant, it is my right", or "I am old, you stand up".
While I think it is a gracious thing to give up my seat if I see a pregnant lady, I do not think it is mandatory. I have very bad chronic headaches, and sometime, I just need to seat and close my eyes on the train to rest. But if someone needs the seat more than me, I would stand up for him or her, if he or she would ask politely.I am not defending the selfish people. But I think that instead of pouting over it, try something else. Do not push all responsibilities to others unless you have make an effort too.Maybe next time, if you feel that you need a seat, ask politely. You will be surprise how many people would give up their seat. As the saying goes, " Ask, and you shall be given".
Posted by: jasoncbk at Fri Jul 27 11:57:16 SGT 2007

Lets be open about it. Being pregnant is difficult but it does not neccessarily mean that you have to sit all day. In Singapore, the MRT/LRT longest ride would be about 40mins? (sorry hv been overseas too long) So that 40mins, would be an alternate to some exercise that doctors encourage pregnant women to have esp closer to delivery date. I guess look at things on the positive side, at least you have some exercise rather then stand 40mins fuming about who is giving up a seat to you. Your baby will be affected by your mood.Cheers!!
Posted by: tony1971 at Fri Jul 27 11:31:22 SGT 2007

Maybe the sitting passenger was tired? Sick? Leg hurts?What disturbs me more is the tendency of people to jump into a 'moral-police' mode and judge a person guilty by default. The sitting person may or may not have valid reason, he could jolly well be simply selfish, I don't know. Since I do not know, I shall not judge. The sitting passenger is not obliged to explain to anyone also.
Posted by: John.Hooi at Fri Jul 27 11:21:39 SGT 2007

I shared the sentiment of some of the readers here.

Being pregnant does not give you the rights to have a seat. Everyone on the train paid for the tickets and although it would be a nice gesture if someone offer you his or her seats but they have no obligation to.

Personally I think old folks have more rights to be offered seat rather then pregnant women.

Being pregnant is a choice and we all should know by now that Singapore is not really a Family friendly place.

The government want people to give birth, but they don’t re-look at a flexible working environment.

Owning a car too expensive for normal Singaporean, Taxi companies sucks and MRT and Buses are there to rack up profit which result in the long waits for over crowded buses and trains.

In school we are taught it’s the survival of the fittest and in society where we needed to be reminded to flush our toilets, I don’t think there is much social grace left in us.

Its every man for himself out there, even our goverment told us they cannot take care for us forever. (But somehow they like to keep our CPF for us.)


Anonymous said...

Hi, i'm a pupil from the GEP (gifted programme) and i'm doing a portfolio on graciousness in singapore. I think we should all give in to women like the poor pregnant lady here.(people who are fine and feeling well eg. school students, young men and women,etc.) i agree with the pregnant lady. Would you like it if you were in the lady's shoes and people(yes, those inconsiderate youngsters listening to their MP3)ignore you even though you are feeling sick? Although it is true that YOU should ask politely first. Give and take. :)

HH said...

I think the root cause of the lack of graciouness in Singapore is due to our education system.

From young we are brain washed by not to failed in our studies.

Students are paper chasers, no choice as in our society we need a good education in order to be "sucessful".

Where is the subject Moral Education? I heard they only teach them in Primary school now.

As for the pregnant lady, being pregnant is your choice and please don't expect the whole world to revolve around you.

I have seen pregant ladies didn't even say a word of thanks when somone offer them the seats.

Anonymous said...

Singapore dwell so much in material things that they lost their humanity and compassion.