Friday, August 06, 2010

Shame on you, SMRT

I refer to the MediaCorp News on August 4th showing a SMRT officer giving out warning to young children drinking on the train. The first thing that came to mind was, why the offenders are mainly children, although it's reported in the same segment that teenagers make up the bulk of the offenders.

The news footage seems to indicate the intention of the authorities to re-assert the point that even young children are not allowed to drink, and not even plain water is permissible. Children who feel thirsty should inform their caretaker, get off the train, engage the help of SMRT officer and go to the designated room. God bless those who have the urge to take a small sip every 5 minutes. How much time is needed just for a sip of plain water when you are travelling on SMRT train? How much stress do parents need to force on their young toddlers who are too young to comprehend the situation? How about physically handicapped people?

Why is there no provision for young children and people with special needs? To make the point clear, the laws make provision and clearly separate the legal responsibilities of the adults and juveniles. There is a good reason for this: children, especially the very young ones, do not have the same capability of logical thinking that makes them behave differently under different situations. While adults can exert control over the behavior of their children, one wonders if simple thing like taking a sip of water on the train necessitates such disciplinary action against the children. Instead of having rules and regulations to protect the children and people with special needs, SMRT seems to be enforcing rules that go against their needs.

While I generally agree that commuters should not eat and drink on the train, I do think that SMRT has gone too far in its implementation. One suggestion is for the company to study the implications to allow for exceptions, such as children under certain age, senior citizens above certain age and people with special conditions and needs, to at least drink water or take medication without having to go through the inconvenient process. The findings can then be used as a basis for the provision that may be put in place for the interest of a wider population.