A woman who was 13 weeks pregnant, Ms. Gracia Chem, was feeling slightly ill as she boarded the train towards Serangoon at Paya Lebar earlier last week.
Seeing that the priority seat was vacant, she made her way towards it only to be almost tackled by a burly man who was rushing towards the seat as well.
Ms. Gracia Chem managed to get herself seated, only to be given the evil eye by this man.
The same man, allegedly took a picture of her, presumably to air his grievances about her online.
Here is the post put up by Ms. Gracia Chem
And here are a few comments from members of the public
Facebook user Zhe You Tan, called for more patience and understanding.
While another Facebook user Valeria Chia, tried to explain that being pregnant is no walk in the park.
But what struck me most, was the last line of Ms. Chem’s post.
What is the purpose of the priority seat?
The fact that seats in our trains and buses need to be allocated as ‘priority’ seats for those who need it most, is very telling.
Are courtesy and graciousness then qualities that need to be extracted through strict policing?
And if that’s the case, can we genuinely call ourselves a courteous and gracious society?
Far from being a reserved spot for commuters who are in need of a seat, these ‘priority’ seats have become a symbol of entitlement and complacency.
I once saw a man yell a young girl off the ‘priority’ seat as he had just gone for an operation and was therefore in a great deal of pain.
But, what if the girl had been feeling unwell?
It has come to a point where only those who occupy the ‘priority’ seats need give them up to the elderly, the sick or those who are expecting.
As such, these seats are left primarily empty on trains.
When these seats are filled and there are others who require them, most people turn a blind eye.
Which brings us back to the question of what these seats do for us in the first place.
There needs to come a realisation that true altruism is a quality that cannot be forced, but must be intrinsically felt; that every seat is a ‘priority’ seat, and every commuter morally responsible.
Enforcing a tokenistic measure such as allocating seats, can only go so far.
Empathy will always be a ground up emotion.