Until we asked a heavily pregnant friend for her opinion.
Everyone meet Dorthy Sng, a young mother at 29.
“She’s not entirely wrong lah, I’m obviously pregnant and in my experience 70% of commuters won’t give up their seats for me”, said Dorthy.
Unconvinced, we boarded a train together with Dorthy on a journey of discovery. For a tinge of drama, we asked her to carry two bags that looked like heavy loads.
The time: 1230hrs
The place: Raffles Place – Queenstown MRT
Would anyone help Dorthy with her bags? Would anyone offer her a seat? Would anyone help her to get a seat?
Nope.. we noticed fellow commuters looking into their phones or looking away. This is what we call “The thousand mile stare“.
This chap should have spotted her by now… or maybe not, let us give the benefit of the doubt…
Yes! A seat was free!
…but not for long…
Here’s the full video:
Turns out that was not a one off occurrence.
We spotted another senior citizen who looked like he could do with a seat. We did not know this uncle and this was all natural.
For a good minute and a station, nothing happened. No one batted an eyelid, everyone had their eyes on their phones.
Finally a seat! But taken the split second it becomes available…
Another seat, but also taken instantaneously…
Here’s the full video, with not much action until 00:39 when his seat gets taken.
I’ve seen this behaviour happen at carparks also.
Charlotte of the BBC said that she felt unhappy at her experience and that Singaporeans had “let her down”. After we did this little social experiment, we personally felt let down ourselves. Does this point to a deficit of compassion in our island?
Is it little wonder that with all the policies and funding by the Government, some of us feel that this country is not a place to have a baby? Could it not be a problem with policy, but a problem with society? I watch these videos and I think to myself: If I had a wife and she was pregnant, I would be dead worried should she take the trains.
In my experiences travelling overseas, I have seen people openly chiding those who sit in reserved seats. I have seen people publicly telling off those who dared take an available seat when someone who needs it more is nearby. I rarely see such practices here. We’ve been taught at a young age to “mind your own business”, but this is everybody’s business so that society get their act together.