Pregnant commuter asks for a seat – and gets scolded

Letter from Yeo Swee Tiang Joanne
Source:  Mar 16, 2011
I’m 28 weeks pregnant, with low blood pressure that makes me prone to fainting spells and shallow breathing. On Mar 15, I boarded the train from Buangkok Station at around 8.55am and, as usual, all the cabin seats were occupied and no one was gracious enough to give up their seat to me.

By the time the train arrived at Kovan, I started to feel breathless and needed to take a seat. So I walked over to the seat reserved for pregnant and elderly passengers, which was occupied by a teenage boy, and I plucked up my courage to ask him politely if I could have the seat. He obliged.

Shortly after, an old man came to me and reprimanded me loudly, saying that I should not ask for the reserved seat. He carried on shouting at me, saying that all the rest were paying passengers and they shouldn’t have to give up their seat for me. I was traumatised by this insensitive old man, while other commuters watched on and none of them spoke up for me.

I reported this incident to SBS Transit’s Outram Station manager, Mr Kean Wong, who helped me take a look at the CCTV footage and report the incident to his management.

I would like to tell the public that when a pregnant woman has the courage to ask for a reserved seat, please graciously offer it to her and if she is being bullied in public, please step forward to assist.

In the meantime, I hope that the public transport operators can work with the Government to improve Singaporeans’ social graciousness, and for them to develop some initiative to help needy commuters get a seat that has been reserved for them. Perhaps SBS Transit and SMRT can consider a “Ladies only” cabin during peak hours, such as that implemented by Japan.

Lastly, I would like to thank the station manager, Mr Wong, for attending to my complaint and comforting me when I was crying at his station.