Does fear of liability deter people from clearing tables?

At a hawker centre in the west recently, my sister saw an elderly man returning his used cup to the hawker stall.

While walking, however, he accidentally dropped the cup and it broke. This man was kind enough to squat down to pick up the broken glass on the floor.

The drinks stall vendor demanded that the old man pay for the broken cup. He graciously said that he would do so.

The episode prompted a discussion among my elderly sister and other seniors around her. They said that they were able and willing to clear their tables after their meals, as has been advocated.

However, they were concerned about their liability, should dishes break in their attempt to clear their tables for the next patron.

This also raises a larger question for the rest of the population.

While there have been campaigns and exhortations for Singaporeans to clear their tables at hawker centres and foodcourts for the next patron, will the fear of being liable for accidents, such as broken dishes, deter people from being more socially conscious at eating places?

Soh Lay Chin (Madam)