Altruistic person should not be misconstrued as a busybody

There is no shortage of people in our society who demonstrate apathy in public (Absence of help shows lack of community spirit; Sept 22).

Many prefer to adopt a mind-your-own-business attitude. No one wishes to take unnecessary risks especially when he has no vested interest in a matter.

Whenever something unpleasant happens, a good number of us would shy away or simply wait for a "hero" to intervene.

I have witnessed the indifference displayed by Singaporeans on numerous occasions.

Recently, a commuter on an MRT train dozed off, leaving music blaring from his mobile phone. The noise was audible and disruptive.

There were several commuters who were visibly annoyed by the loud music. However, they tried to endure the disturbance and none of them did anything.

It seemed like everyone was waiting for someone else to act.

It came to a point when I could no longer put up with the situation. I woke the person up and told him sternly that his behaviour was inconsiderate and unbecoming.

He appeared startled before proceeding to turn off the music. He hurriedly disembarked from the train.

Unhealthy insouciance has been deeply entrenched in us over decades. It is difficult to erase this psyche. To mitigate this situation, our children must be taught the right values in schools.

They should learn to be civic-minded, and should not be afraid to help strangers who are in distress.

An altruistic person should not be misconstrued as a busybody but his acts should instead be advocated and glorified.

Teo Kok Seah

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 24, 2018, with the headline 'Altruistic person should not be misconstrued as a busybody'. Print Edition | Subscribe