Govt shouldn't intervene in everything

If the Government were to do as Mr Lawrence Loh Kiah Muan suggested and address the problem of "choping" (Time for the authorities to step in; Aug 28), then it should also intervene in many other ungracious practices.

These include not returning trays, sitting in the reserved seats of trains and buses, jumping the queue, hogging seats at eateries, and the random parking of shared bikes.

It is an endless list. It does not make sense for the Government to micromanage every citizen's behaviour in public, unless the practice results in a criminal offence or causes harm.

For example, if the Government did not set a law prohibiting smoking in public places, the smoke would harm citizens' health. It has the obligation and right to intervene in this case.

To have a harmonious society, we need to balance government control and citizens' free choice.

When the Government oversteps its authority, it impinges on people's freedom. Unnecessary rules and excessive control devalue people by making them feel like children.

A big mess of regulations might lead to a totalitarian nightmare. Worse, we could get an Orwellian society where every movement is monitored.

There is no simple solution to seat choping. The best way is to appeal to the civic-mindedness of people and put up signs to explain that the tables are for sharing.

Francis Cheng

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 31, 2017, with the headline 'Govt shouldn't intervene in everything'. Print Edition | Subscribe