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'Choping' is not gracious

It does not come as a surprise that views on the "chope" culture are divided (Chope - is that cool?; April 2). But it seems we are not the only ones disgruntled with the "pragmatic" reserving of seats (Chope! Singaporeans not only ones reserving seats: How other countries deal with problem; ST Online, April 3).

From San Francisco to Shanghai to Italian beaches, measures are taken to prevent seat hogging. These measures are clearly in place to deter people from various seat-hogging abuses.

I shudder to think that the authorities here would have to resort to the punitive measures that some of these places practise. Fines are not the solution.

If graciousness were to be enforced, the very act of being gracious to one another would lose its meaning; it simply won't be sincere. People would perform these acts just to avoid a penalty.

Which is why the Singapore Kindness Movement has consistently placed the responsibility on the individual to step up, be kind and considerate.

If we believe that "choping" is not considerate, we should stand up and speak out against it.

That said, I also appreciate those who have disagreed with me and spoken out passionately by offering a contrary viewpoint. These are people who believe in being gracious even though they do not see anything ungracious about "choping".

At the Singapore Kindness Movement, we maintain that choping is not gracious or considerate.

By the same token, we are against ungracious reactions. We advocate that if you do need a seat, politely ask for it. If you meet resistance, try to reason with the other party.

If reason fails, move away to avoid escalating the situation.

If we have more seats than needed, we should offer our seats to others and share the table.

So instead of making choping seats with tissue paper or umbrellas our culture, let's look out for one another instead and make kindness Singapore's signature.

It is within our power to be kind and considerate.

William Wan (Dr)
General Secretary
Singapore Kindness Movement

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on April 09, 2017, with the headline ''Choping' is not gracious'. Print Edition | Subscribe