To step in or not? Singaporeans split on umbrella beating incident on MRT

An 11-second video posted on citizen journalism portal, Stomp, shows an elderly woman in her 60s beating a child who appeared to be about nine years old, repeatedly with an umbrella at the end carriage of a MRT train at about 5.30pm on Oct 22, 2014.
An 11-second video posted on citizen journalism portal, Stomp, shows an elderly woman in her 60s beating a child who appeared to be about nine years old, repeatedly with an umbrella at the end carriage of a MRT train at about 5.30pm on Oct 22, 2014. -- PHOTO: STOMP

SINGAPORE - An online video clip of a little boy being beaten by his grandmother has upset a lot of netizens, but Singaporeans were split on whether they would have intervened if they were there.

The eight-second long video, which was submitted to Stomp, showed a little boy cowering and screaming in the last carriage of a train as a woman whacked him with an umbrella. She hit him until the umbrella broke.

A 17-year-old eyewitness, who wanted to be known only as Lulu, said the incident went on for a couple of minutes while other passengers sat in shock.

"There was a couple sitting the closest to them at the end of the carriage and they kept looking my way expecting someone to step in. I was about to go up and stop them but my dad went up to confront the woman," said the student, adding that it was only then that the beating stopped.

Her dad did not make a police report, said Lulu.

Some Singaporeans who saw the video felt they would have stepped in for sure.

Mother-of-two Stella Fun, for one, said children should not be punished in public no matter what. "Beating children in public is a no-no. If they are naughty (at home), I would just walk away or bring them to a corner and talk to them eye level, and they will listen," said Ms Fun.

Others such as Stomp user Sarah Leong said the incident amounted to abuse. "The lady should be traced and the child put into temporary care," she commented.

But others felt it might not be their place to interfere in another family's affairs.

"Unless the boy is visibly injured or bleeding, I don't think I would go in and stop," said finance executive Kenneth Taw, 26. "As an outsider you wouldn't make head nor tail of the incident."

When contacted, SMRT said commuters can alert transport staff via the Emergency Communication Button for them to provide assistance in cases of distress.

"Where necessary, we will alert Transcom police officers and assist in investigations. Commuters should also take socially responsible steps to offer assistance especially where immediate help may be needed or sought by fellow commuters." said SMRT's vice-president of corporate information and communications Patrick Nathan.