S'poreans uncaring? Readers say yes ...and no

S'poreans uncaring? Readers say yes ...and no
One foreign resident says rudeness in Singapore is mainly confined to public transport, as is the case around the world.

WHEN Ms Vivien Goh was five months pregnant, she tripped and fell on the pavement near her office at Raffles Place.

But she was quickly helped to her feet by a couple, who sat with her until she was able to get up and walk back to her workplace.

Meanwhile, frequent MRT user Steven Tannenbaum, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor, said he has "never not been offered a seat by a younger person, or seen a person in need not offered assistance".

The don and his wife, both in their 70s, have been shuttling between Singapore and the United States over the last five years for work.

These two accounts were among more than 90 responses from citizens and foreigners to The Straits Times after the paper ran a piece asking if Singapore was suffering from a "massive compassion deficit".

That was a phrase used by freelance writer Charlotte Ashton in a BBC Viewpoint piece, in which she recounted how, in her 10th week of pregnancy, she was overcome with nausea while taking the train to work and had to crouch for 15 minutes because no one offered her a seat.

Ms Ashton, who moved to Singapore from London last year and said she had been happy here until that incident, concluded that Singapore suffers from a "massive compassion deficit".

Her comments prompted online posts by Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and two ministers, urging Singaporeans to be kinder and more gracious.

It also spurred more than 90 readers to write in to ST with passionate accounts of their encounters with kind and callous Singaporeans, and their theories on why Singaporeans behave the way they do.

They were evenly split between those who think Singaporeans lack compassion and those who say people here are among the kindest they have met.

Of the nine foreigners who wrote in, six shared positive experiences of how Singaporeans behaved towards them on trains and in malls. The other three related negative encounters.

Mr Simon Hulber, who has been here since 1998, said "the rudeness and indifference I experience does seem more confined to public transport". He added that this was "no different from other crowded mass transport systems around the world".

More about

Purchase this article for republication.
Your daily good stuff - AsiaOne stories delivered straight to your inbox
By signing up, you agree to our Privacy policy and Terms and Conditions.