04 May 2009

The rosary woman and other head-shaking tales

Movie star Jackie Chan said Singaporeans have no self-respect, that's why social graces, courtesy and consideration are so lacking in Singapore. Full essay.


Chris said...

Last year I was on a North-South line train going towards Orchard Road. I was sitting next to the Priority Seat, and a young man with his headphones in was sitting in that seat. An elderly woman got on the train with some difficulty and, of course, there were no seats. The teenager ignored her, so I got up, stood in front of the seat so no one else could grab it, and gestured to the elderly lady to take my seat, which she gratefully did.

I stood in front of the young man in the Priority Seat the rest of the way downtown and glared at him, but he paid me no mind.

Singapore is not alone in harbouring discourteous acts, of course. Perhaps making it an offense for anyone who is not over the age of 55, carrying small children, or disabled from sitting in the Priority Seats might help, but is fraught with difficulty so probably won't happen.

In Bangkok, on the ferries and other public transport, there are places reserved for monks. In Paris, there are places on the M├ętro and other trains reserved for war heroes.

I wonder if people are so cheesed off by the government that they turn on their fellow people in these petty ways.

Saint Splattergut said...

good of you, YB...
and good of the couple to thank you. :)

Jonathan Wong said...

Chris said: "I wonder if people are so cheesed off by the government that they turn on their fellow people in these petty ways."

I think you hit the nail right on the head.

When your freedom is restricted, it's almost as if you will try to find any small possible way to rebel and vent your frustrations.

It's probably a similar reason for all the maid abuse cases we have here in Singapore.

Anonymous said...

"It's probably a similar reason for all the maid abuse cases we have here in Singapore."

Truly pathetic. Instead of taking it out on the real cause of your misery, you take it out on someone who can't fight back.

Cowardly and pathetic.

Anonymous said...

These comments are spot on...sadly, we all see such incidents every day. Let's clean up our act before criticising Jackie.

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for speaking up. Indeed, we need a lot of work to improve our social behaviour. It's deteriorating, even with all the ineffective courtesy and kindness campaigns going on.

Anonymous said...

I feel that there are multiple reasons for Singaporeans acting the way they did.

- dislike, nonchalant about Singapore. If they don't care about or dislike this country, would they care for their fellow citizens?

- competition for (increasingly) limited resources. I think this is universal, competition brings out the worst of human behavior. A case in point - shoppers trampling security guard to death in a sale in the US.

- stressed out. People are kinder and more gracious if they are in a relaxed mood.

- Singapore's over emphasis on material success. The side effect is that if you have made it in life, or enjoyed moderate success, you are a "higher" human being than those "below" you. The opposite can be true too - those who feel they have not done as well resent rich, successful people.

KiWeTO said...

SG Govt wanted to be the mother of all nannies.

This is the outcome.

We cannot speak up against illegal smoking at bus stops because we no longer believe that we have the right as human beings not to be poisoned by others. We need the NEA's firm hand to do it, but it cannot be everywhere.
[perhaps we just need more CCTV cameras like in the UK? More Big Brother?]

We never truly had a society that cared for each other beyond small kumpung-level communities? The more anonymous a city gets, the less the individuals in it care for each other as long as their own toes are not stepped on?

Can we change? Or should we just wait for the nanny to come by and make everything better again?

Too many complex-socio-economic issues interwined with what YB has raised. At the end of the day, are we a society that cares for one another or a just nexus of economic contracts?

One can but hope, whilst preparing for not the best.



Thanks for sharing. I share the same sentiments. I remember my best friend who was holding a glass door for me had a young man dashed in before me. We were both thinking how inconsiderate & ungentleman of him.

There are a lot to reflect on though. Even my own actions towards other people and other people like that.

I also hope to change for the better instead of retaliating due to this type of environment & society.

Anonymous said...

Religious people are all hypocrites.

Doublespeak said...

My pet peeve: people looking into others' handphones when they are texting or reading sms when in trains.

Does it not occur to them that this act is an invasion into others' privacy?

Can nobody respect another person's space?

Anonymous said...

"As she fed her baby, the young mother grumbled in a way that the older woman next to her cannot but hear: "No courtesy, no consideration whatsoever," or something to that effect."

In your haste to admonish the older couple, you forgot that the younger woman needed some friendly advice too. Be grateful that a seat was actually given to you. That's all that matters. What's with the grumbling? There again, if you had done that, the younger man may just use violence on you.

Fair Is Fair.

Yawning Bread Sampler said...

Are you suggesting I should have told the young mother off: "Be grateful for the crumbs... and you have no right to grumble"?

Anonymous said...

You don't have to do anything. If you needed to admonish the older couple, the grumbling younger woman is deserving of a ticking off as well. Why grumble when you have already got what you want. why is there a need to escalate the situation when the man had already given up his seat and the younger woman had some place to feed her young. Was it necessary, if at all, to prove your point which was totally bias and one sided? There could have been valid reasons why the older woman didn't give up her seat. She did the right thing to totally ignore you rather than to make a scene.

If I were the older man, I would have shown you the middle finger as well and told you to fcuk yourself.

Fair Is Fair

Fellow Commuter said...

Oh dear, YB, I think you have just been told to mind your own business. But when someone else's business in question is hawked before you, can you really keep yours to yourself?

I think it is necessary to identify what is really the issue here. A woman had refused to give up her seat for another woman clearly in need of it.

By telling the unyielding woman she was wrong, YB, you had not only spoken your mind, you had done the woman a favour by drawing to her attention her lack of civic-mindedness.

I do not think you were taking sides, even when you did not chastise the other woman, telling her to be grateful for what she had received.

Why is it so common for people to imagine possible "valid reasons" behind clearly discourteous and inconsiderate acts? Is it so hard to believe that there are people who are just plain rude and unkind?

And when one, too, wishes to emulate another's bad behaviour by showing one's third finger and, thereafter, tell someone to perform clearly unachievable acts to himself, is one any better than the person one is modelling oneself after?

The mind boggles...