Good to be able to 'chope' seats in a crowded foodcourt

As a frequent diner at foodcourts and hawker centres, I do not see what the fuss over "choping" is about (Don't put up with 'choping', by Ms Inderjit Kaur, Aug 26 ; and Let's put stop to 'chope' mentality, by Mr Jeff Tan Hong Liak, Forum Online, Aug 29).

Choping seats is in line with the principle of "first come, first served" - if one arrives at the foodcourt earlier, one should be able to reserve a seat.

This is especially important if the foodcourt is very crowded.

There are two scenarios where choping is necessary and makes good sense.

First, when one is alone in a crowded foodcourt.

If one does not chope a seat, one could be wandering around with hot soup and a hot drink, trying to find a seat. This could be potentially dangerous, as the hot liquids may accidentally spill on someone.

Second, when one is in a group with friends or family.

The normal practice is to find a table with enough seats for the whole group and chope it while everyone buys their food.

Choping has always been a way of life here. It ensures fairness and orderliness in crowded places, and encourages people to interact and have meals together.

If the group is not allowed to chope a table, they may not be able to find one with enough seats after buying their food, and may be forced to split up instead of enjoying a meal together.

Of course, if a group of people are seated together and there are one or two vacant seats at the table, then anyone should be allowed to take them.

Choping has always been a way of life here. It ensures fairness and orderliness in crowded places, and encourages people to interact and have meals together.

There is nothing wrong with choping as long as the seats choped are eventually occupied.

Let common sense and graciousness be the order of the day.

Tan Kia Yong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2017, with the headline 'Good to be able to 'chope' seats in a crowded foodcourt'. Print Edition | Subscribe