Sunday, July 26, 2009

Penalty for eating sweets on Singapore public train -MRT

Fine for eating sweets [article source]

SHE was feeling giddy and decided to suck on a sweet while riding on an MRT train.
CAUGHT: Housewife Bibi Zaina Mohamed was given a notification of offence for eating a sweet on the train. For doing that, she was slapped with a fine after she was caught by an SMRT officer.

Since last Wednesday, SMRT has been giving out immediate fines to those caught eating or drinking in trains and stations.

Madam Bibi Zaina Mohamed, 48, a housewife, was given a notification of offence for eating a sweet while she was on the train.

It is not yet known how much exactly she will be fined, but first-time offenders who are caught eating are usually fined $30 by the Land Transport Authority. Penalties can go up to $500.

Though Madam Bibi Zaina explained that she took a sweet because she was feeling giddy and thirsty, SMRT officer Roger Foo felt a line had to be drawn. Mr Foo is one of SMRT's 500 station employees who make rostered patrols throughout the day.

He told RazorTV: 'Everyone can tell us that they are thirsty or they have to take sweets because they feel giddy. 'Everyone will start doing that. How are you going to put a stop to that?'

'Even drinking plain water on the train is not allowed. I don't see the reason for that,' she said.

But SMRT's recent crackdown comes as a result of more commuters being fined for eating and drinking over the years. From 276 in 2006, the number has jumped annually. Last year, a record 626 commuters were fined.

Before the crackdown, SMRT used to give warnings and fine only those who were recalcitrant. But from last Wednesday till Tuesday, SMRT has issued 242 notifications of offences.

But is SMRT being too harsh for fining commuters who suck on sweets?

An SMRT spokesman told The New Paper: 'If our officers catch you consuming a sweet, you will get a notification.' Many netizens and commuters feel that SMRT is too strict.

Mr Kam Leong Kiat, 33, an IT worker, said: '(Eating sweets) is like taking medicine. Some people need sugar in their blood, as long as they don't spit it out. It's not something that will cause a mess.'

She said: 'If it's food that can scatter and attract pests, I understand, but having a sweet in the mouth should be fine.

'As for water, if you're not allowed to even take a sip, it would be an uncomfortable experience especially if it's a long journey, like from Pasir Ris to Boon Lay, which takes a long time.'

'If you are sick and need to take medication, you can approach the staff. But if not, and you're caught, you deserve it.'


Need a sweet? Ask staff first

SBS Transit, which runs the North-east Line, will continue to give warnings to commuters caught eating on trains and in stations.

Ms Tammy Tan, the company's vice-president for corporate communications, said: 'We have customer service officers who patrol our trains and their presence do serve as a deterrent against eating or drinking on board.

'They will continue to warn passengers who are caught violating this regulation and those who refuse to comply will be issued with a notification of offence.'

The New Paper asked SMRT if there will be exceptions for certain cases. For instance, what if a commuter has to take his medication?

'Passengers who need to take medication, including lozenges for sore throat, may approach our station staff for assistance,' a spokesman said.

'Special arrangements can be made for these passengers to take their medication within our station premises. Similarly for people who need to eat something for health reasons or caregivers who want to feed their children.'

What about drinking plain water?

The spokesman said: 'Although a liquid may be clear, it is not possible to tell if it is plain water or flavoured.

'Besides, like all other liquids, when spilled onto the floor, it could result in puddles that could cause passengers, for example, children and the elderly, to slip.

'Also, when spilled onto seats, it could dirty passengers' clothing, bags and other personal belongings.'


oh this is soooo freaking ridiculous. this is one of the few things i hate about Singapore. they either completely slack off not caring and idle on the job, or when being exposed after a series of whistle blowing about people chomping on food in the train, the officials immediately jump into actions and follow the rules to a T, without using their brain or discretion. Its almost like robotic nature.

While I totally agree about the non consumption of solid food and drinks in the train journey but come on, penalising someone for having a lolly in the mouth is way way way way way incredulously bordering on stupidity.

If i need a lozenges, i freaking need to ask permission. Ask a staff. What am i, a kid that has a brain but not allow to function. Why do i feel like we are being treated like a herd of brainless sheeps rather than thinking adults.

Granted there are many selfish nincompoop who flouted the rules blatantly by deliberately consuming noodles and burgers on the train previously, but using that as an excuse and banning people from just sucking on a sweet is way beyond freedom of an individual. Plus its a small minority that really ought to be more harshly penalise but instead, even the law abiding ones get the backlash.

Thanks, it only goes to reinforce the point that it seemed that it does not pay to respect the rules in singapore public transport because one does not get rewarded when u follow them, but you definitely get penalised if some other sucker breaks them.

Sure, there are rules and regulations i can respect, for very obvious reasons and considerations to other passengers and cleanliness of public transports that has to zip thousands of people thru the country. And yes where there are rules that ought to have a line drawn, and I do appreciate the banning of food consumption because the smell at times will certainly get to me, but stipulating a fine over a sweet is over the top, and making a mountain out of a molehill.

SMRT, please use your common sense when it comes to enforcing rules and regulations. STOP such autocratical tactics because it is so unbecoming for a developed country. I wish someone would stop this ridiculous ban.

The idea of banning food consumption is mooted with the intention of
- preventing annoying food smell
- dirtying of cabins
- attracting of vermin from scrapes and food bit traces
- accidentally staining other passengers with food

Can someone explain how does lozenges and small lollies fall under the above categories.

Am I to assume that the enforcing of rules about sweet is because of the below
- the company is belittling their own officials be to too incompetent and incapable to use their brain to analyse the situation or/and, the officials are too lazy to use their brain or/and, or most probably, it is only simply to make it convenient for officials to issue fine and warnings because no judgement call is required

So it is a given that one loses all rights as an individual when one is on any public transport. We have no ave of recourse, no channels of protest that will be genuinely considered. This is plain disgustingly high handed and authoritarian attitude on SMRT part.

If a company are unsure on how to move forth before making a decision, that is what focus groups are for. Spend a little time and money to hear from your true stakeholders - the commuters . That would be to provide true public service, and not just going about making arbitrary decisions, spurned from someone sitting in some office floor on some office chair.


Seelan Palay said...

Hey glad you see the stupidity of this. I made a blogpost about it too:

Anonymous said...

i happen to chance upon ur blog and im so glad tat u brought out the ridiculousness pretty well. I totally agree with u 100%!!!