It is beyond me how a uniquely Singaporean social norm that allocates hawker centre patrons seats efficiently and effectively can become an issue.
The practice of "choping" is an elegant and simple solution that has evolved in Singapore in the absence of a proper seat allocation system.
The alternative is to have patrons wandering around in search of a seat after purchasing their meal, simply because they do not have one to go back to.
And forget about hawker centres being communal places for interaction - groups will, in all likelihood, have to sit separately because the chances of finding an empty table are slim.
To my mind, the only ones complaining are those who either don't know how to "play the game" or who refuse to do so because of some illusory moral high ground that they wish to claim.
What is most perturbing is the National Environment Agency's waffling over this issue.
People are just asking for a little guidance. Either ban choping or don't.
The NEA's response only muddies things further (Two hawker centres set 'house rules' against choping; Sept 2). Just what purpose do the "house rules" at Our Tampines Hub and Tiong Bahru Market serve? Are there consequences for not heeding them?
If choping is banned, I am certain that Singaporeans would appreciate if policymakers could propose a more effective alternative.
Angeline Wong Hui Wei