'Wheelchair people can, why not mums?'

SINGAPORE - When a mother uploaded a video online of her problem getting a pram on board a bus, she expected support.

Instead, she's been flamed - big time.

"The situation has gone out of control, and haters managed to find my private e-mails too," Mrs Pearl Ng, 36, told The New Paper on Wednesday.

Netizens also found her mobile number online and have been calling her to lambast her, added Mrs Ng, who is self-employed.

She has decided to ignore the calls.

What did she do to spark such a reaction?

On Sunday, Mrs Ng boarded an SBS bus at a stop at Commonwealth MRT station with her daughter in a stroller, and husband and son in tow. She declined to reveal their ages.

When the bus driver told her she had to take her girl out of the pram for safety reasons, Mrs Ng refused, saying the girl was sleeping and that she was alighting after two bus stops.

Her husband then picked up the stroller with the daughter in it and said it was safe enough.

But the driver refused to budge, saying those were the rules.

Mrs Ng then yelled and ranted at the driver for 15 minutes, insisting the rules were too rigid and that there should be more sympathy for mothers while other commuters looked on.

She also claimed she did not know how to fold her pram, and insisted that others also push for a change of the rules. She then compared her situation with the disabled.

"Wheelchair people can," she said. "But why not mothers?"

Mrs Ng left after 15 minutes, leaving her contact number with the driver, insisting that SBS Transit call her back.

She had recorded the incident on her mobile phone, and she later sent in her video to citizen-journalism website Stomp and uploaded it onto YouTube. The YouTube video has since been taken down. When TNP spoke to her over the phone two days ago, Mrs Ng explained her remark on the disabled. She said that while there were facilities for the handicapped, there were none for mothers with prams. But Ms Marissa Medjeral, executive director for the Disabled People's Association, did not agree with her comparison.

She said: "Wheelchair users do not have an option to get out of their wheelchairs on public transport. You can't compare it that way."

Mrs Ng had also contacted TNP earlier on Wednesday, saying: "I am contemplating writing a closure letter about my reflection and apology to the driver."

But later in the day she changed her mind, backtracking and saying her post was "never directed at the driver but the authority that passes such ruling".

The Land Transport Authority (LTA) said strollers and prams must be folded before they can be taken on board buses.

Emergency brake

A spokesman for the LTA said: "In a moving bus, situations may arise in which the emergency brake may need to be applied.

"When that happens, the child and other passengers may get hurt as the pram may get thrown around. "For these safety reasons, it is a necessary requirement for prams to be folded for the safety of the child and other passengers."

Ms Tammy Tan, the senior vice-president of corporate communications at SBS Transit, said their policy allows only folded prams and strollers on buses.

"This is a necessary requirement for safety reasons. In fact, we have posters on board to inform commuters that prams should be folded," she said.

"In this case, our bus captain was carrying out his duty in accordance with our safety policy for the well-being of all passengers. We seek Mr and Mrs Ng's understanding."

Netizens had slammed Mrs Ng's actions, saying the bus driver was right.

But she had sympathisers, like Madam Susan Koh, 33, a marketing manager and mother of one, who runs Ajugglingmom.com, a blog about her journey as a mother.

She told TNP: "While I understand that the rule was made for the safety of the passengers, my question is if the mum had no seats, had to carry a baby and balance a pram with a big bag on a moving vehicle, would that not be dangerous too?

"Most times the child is secured by a belt in the pram, so it keeps them safe and the parents can use the brake on the pram to prevent it from rolling.

"What I do hope to see is more flexibility and for rules to be made with consideration for parents' needs."

Madam Adora Tan, a stay-at-home mother of two who runs Gingerbreadmum.com, a blog about her parenthood journey, said: "It's not easy while you have a kid with you, but it can be done.

"I don't like doing it (using a pram). I rather use a baby carrier instead, even though it might be heavier.

"If I really need to use a pram, I try and take a taxi."