MRT Train Seat Spat between the young and old ladies


When I watched the YouTube video here, I can’t help wondering what’s wrong with our society. It’s rather sad if we really examine the deep implications and social malaise plaguing our society.

The scene is in a typical crowded MRT train with all seats occupied and many passengers standing. An old lady demanding for the “reserved seat” next to the door. The young attractive lady reluctantly gave up her seat for that old lady. The story should end here.

But it didn’t.

The old lady was obviously unhappy. She spoke quite good English. She started to berate that young lady standing in front of her who had just given up her precious seat. She was busy fiddling her mobile phone and couldn’t stand any longer leading to a war of words. Nasty exchange followed.

From the exchange of words, we could conclude that the old lady was clearly unreasonable. She pointed out the “reserved seat” signage to her indicating her right to the reserved seat. She accused her of being a “PRC” and she wanted to snap a photo of the young lady to complain to the press.

There is no written law to say that someone seating on the reserved seat must give up her seat to the old or pregnant passengers. The signage is there just to remind passengers to practice graciousness by giving up your seat to those in need. But that has become a right. The old and pregnant have forgotten that it’s a privilege and not your right to the reserved seat. You can’t do anything if that person refuses to give up his seat to you.


Obviously, both of them are locals if we listen to their spat. Why then the old lady accused the young lady of being a “PRC?” Assuming that the young lady is really a PRC, you can imagine even more ugliness. It clearly shows that even old folks are habouring anti-foreigner feelings. The comments on many forums and YouTube so far are more sympathetic to the young lady. But it would be interesting to watch if the young lady were to be a PRC.

Next, the “fook” word seems to be quite commonly used nowadays. That young attractive lady dressed up so fashionably didn’t hesitate to use the “fook” word liberally on the old lady which added to her anger and she threatened to publicize her photo in the newspaper.

Anger begets anger in this space restricted constrained train where that young lady couldn’t even walk away in the crowded train carriage but had to stand in front of the irritating old lady enduring her endless tirade and tantrum. Obviously, she was caught in the bind.


Maybe that old lady was once beautiful. She became accustomed to being pampered. She grew old and no longer had men answering their every beck and call. She becomes bitter at the slightest annoyance of a young, attractive “wongable” lady reluctantly giving up her seat because the world has seemingly turned their back on her, which compels her to demand more out of the world. That obviously triggered the chain reactions.

How can the young learn good manners and graciousness from that old lady who seemed educated cuz she could speak good English. She thought the whole world owe her a living. She demanded as if it’s her right to the reserved seat. When that demand was not so forthcoming, she threw up a tempestuous tantrum even though she already got what she wanted. How obnoxiously unbecoming of her!

The best part is that the whole train carriage was crowded with passengers yet no one came forward to settle the spat and give advise. Did they learn from the “young man pushed an old lady in bus” incident that it’s better to stay away from such nonsense? It clearly reflects on the social malaise on our stressful society. Really langgar!


Read related article here.

Read another related article here.

Click here to read another perspective by Ah Heng.


About Gintai_昇泰

I'm a Chinese Singaporean living in the Eastern part of Singapore. I tweet on current affairs & inspirational quotes. I blog on issues or events if they interest me. I write for pleasure. I also write mainly for my family and friends.
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38 Responses to MRT Train Seat Spat between the young and old ladies

  1. agongkia says:

    How can angmo lew lian continue to hurt this young little sweet lady like that?.How I wish I could be besides her on that day to protect her from hurt and shame.
    Reserve seats aside,what do we learn from here?
    Like STOMP contributors ,many are being encouraged and start to have a bad habit of taking photo of others to shame them giving one side of the picture.Time to consider making it an offence for snapping photos of others with intention.
    But I also understand angmolewlian.She looks overstressed.Maybe husband never give her happiness.Sometimes without proper care from the husband at this age,one will behave like that,I observed.Learn a lesson here.Dun just enjoy the video.Go home and sayang your love one at home,help her to reduce stress and try to satisfy her on her every needs.She will behave better in public if she gets want she wish for.I think.

  2. dotseng says:

    One of the problems with the information age is that it swarms us with information whether we ask for it or not all the time. It is not that this variety of news is even news worthy or that it is even special or for that matter even extraordinary to be considered worth mentioning – after all old people have been berating youngsters since the beginning of time. What is so new about this? There is nothing new about it at all. However what I suspect is very new to all of us (including netizens) is HOW the information age can so easily magnify this sort of incidences that it even provokes us all to ask, “how did we end up like this?” – with the power of moving pictures and a stream of live commentaries the mundane and ordinary can now be magically transformed into the memorable and significant. But the only thing significant that I can see from this incident is how technology has overtaken humanity – to the point where no one these days is even asking anymore, “what is the big deal? It is just a spat between two confused women.”

    But when we are calm. And watch this. We will begin to see it for what it is. All it is, is two confused people having a argument in a public place – it could have been even two drunks fighting over who won the football world cup in 1965 in a back alley. Or even any argument between two people in Singapore. No big deal. Sometimes it is best for us to just see a thing for what it is and not try to read beyond it or to seek out imaginary invisible lines where destiny and fate may intersect.

    Nothing more or less. Just another day in happy Singapore. The world is not coming to and end. Society is not melting away. Breathe. You are safe. The end of the world is not knocking on your door. This is after all life. And we are all just part of it.

    Darkness 2012

    • Hi Darkness2012,
      Good of you to drop by to offer your unique perspective. Your reading into this mundane matter between “two confused women” relating to information technology is most correct. An insubstantial common everyday event magnified into a big fuss. As it is only on YouTube, it hits more than 100,000 views. What abt other sites and online forum discussing abt this so called mundane event between two confused women?
      Let me say that when I first joined SMRT as a train driver, there was no reserved seat signage. The trains were quite relatively empty. It’s a relaxing experience taking the train then. No stress and no pressure. Its a breeze then. You try getting into the train at any time now, it’s usually packed esp during peak hours – its a nightmare. You may have to wait for three other trains before you could “squeeze” into the train, let alone get a seat. Thus, the train seat becomes a scarce commodity to the extent of fighting over it.
      The above scenario is repeated all over the island. Be it road space and cheap COEs or no COEs in those days to the over building of HDB flats with no demand. They had to convert those three room flats in Woodlands to the giant six room when they broke them to combine into a jambo unit. Not any more.
      Is it not a sign of the greater problems in our society. If it’s a common innocuous event like you say, then why has it become a talking point all over the island? Just like those itchy monkeys and the little cobra. What’s the big deal? It’s nothing new. This is happening all over the world and also since ancient times. But it got to do our public expectations of high pay means perfection. The rich and famous in our ever widening income divide where money can buy a little sexy cobra which led to such an epic interest and public outcry.
      Yes, you are right to say its part of living and life. Technology has become part of our lifestyle. A simple thing could just spin out of control. Only perceptive people like your good self could see thru the spin. But most of us don’t. That explains why it’s gone viral over cyber land. Thks for your comment.

      • dotseng says:


        What is even more disturbing to me is how so many of us continue to remain ambivalent about the internet. Most of us do not realize that it can be so easily weaponized. We prefer to look at the good side and no one seems interested to know the bad. I do not blame them – they probably have never considered the theoretical possibilty, that if certain images go viral it can ONLY inflame emotions and turn brother against brother causing many to do and say things they would not normally do and say. Gintai I have seen this destructive side of the internet, not as a causal spectator, but as someone who understands a thing from the inside out i.e deep within the system, so deep that it’s inner workings are all but transparent – in the a way a weapons scientist opens the manifold of a war head to reveal the marvels of its destructive power. To come face to face with this thing is to understand completely why, the father of the atomic bomb Robert Oppenheimer once cried like a baby when all his colleagues were celebrating when he witnessed the first atomic test in the desert somewhere in the US.

        “I am death, the destroyer of worlds”

        Yes, Gintai, seen it all and marvelled at the completion of the internets destructive power as it fueled the EU crisis, Sub Prime debacle, Arab Spring, Mexico well head disaster and maybe ten other events.

        Trust me Gintai, when you have seen this dark side of the internet that I have seen. It is not such a pretty thing. Not at all. Many people may not even realize this, but we were all just very lucky that it was the video of two confused women making fools of themselves that went viral. What about next time Gintai? Will we all be so lucky?

        “I am death, the destroyer of worlds.”

        Remember these words my friend. Never forget them.

        Darkness 2012

  3. Lohcifer says:

    So two women in an altercation what’s the big deal? People fight all the time. Of course some are unreasonable, some are “too much” and some are bullies but that’s the world we live in. Singaporeans should know better – we have been bullied for years by unreasonable heavy handed powers-that-be haven’t we? Let’s not fall into the trap of newspaper companies with decreasing sales who are now sucking regular people to become their “journalists” all in the name of “citizen journalism” and encouraging the clueless to intrude into the privacy of others by whipping out their smart phones to record and post the most petty of quarrels. What next? Citizen vigilantism? Stomp-troopers barging into your homes because butter is bad for you? Groups of vigilantes breaking down your door because you are cooking unhealthy food at home? Hey there are real problems out there deserving our attention – what’s happening in Europe could drag us down, social inequity could eventually strangle this country, an insensitive government explaining away why certain people should only get a slap on the wrists while others go to jail could fan further resentment, more people could jump from Marina Bay Sands, etc etc you get the drift I hope, so let’s not focus on two alpha bitches doing their thing k?

    • Hi Lohcifer,
      Europe’s situation is a big headache for the world. Since we are plugged onto the world order, we will be affected also. It seems that MBS is the new avenue for that short cut instead of Bedok Reservoir. It used to be railway track. That loophole was plugged and so they look for another outlet. This is life and living. When the living gets tough, they just take the short cut to end it all! Really langgar.

      • Expensive price says:

        Tot we were creating the happiest island in the universe and beyond – what went wrong??

    • l says:

      agreed that there are more issues out there deserving more attention.. but lets take a step back to look at this situation..

      like bro gintai already mentioned, i suspect this outburst is the symptom of a bigger problem… too much pressure in sg? too frustrated with the things happening in sg? to much competition for jobs, for seats???

      its not something which happens overnight. these changes seep in slowly into a persons behaviour without one noticing.. what you read or see become your thoughts, your thoughts become your belief, your belief become your actions…
      i dont have the statistics but i believe there are more frustrated (to say it nicely) / “mentally unstable” (to say it in the other extreme) ppl in sg than say 10 or 15 yrs ago…

      technology also has a part to play in this as bro darkness have already mentioned. technology can help surface issues which are overlooked and swept under the carpet. the same technology can also prevent us humans from being the humans we truely are – which i think is the reason why no one tried to intervene and break it up….

      consider this scenario – a young professional tries to break up the argument.. kena stomp.. you really dont know what other ppl will make of the situation you are in… some ppl will side the older woman and some will side the younger… either way you will receive brickbats… now, suddenly this young professional is thrust into the spotlight and i know there are some companies that dislike their employees to receive unnecessary attention esp in such situations.. which is why nowadays no one wants to be involved…

      as for myself, i will never take any seat on the trains even if the vacant seat is right in front of me… (unless its like off-peak hour and there are more than 3 or 4 seats available).. dont wanna get into unnecessary situations like this…

  4. Sgcynic says:

    Butterfly wings. Tempest comes.

    • Lohcifer says:

      Indeed. Edward Norton Lorenz has shown us that the flapping of a butterfly’s wings in South America could affect the weather in Texas. We all contribute to this don’t we?

  5. Pingback: Daily SG: 22 June 2012 « The Singapore Daily

  6. Ah Heng says:

    In the clip, I heard someone in the background shout: “Shut up lah!” as the argument got more heated. Talk about adding fuel to the fire…

  7. Ah Heng,
    I’ve read your perspective. Perhaps the Dharma is the answer? When I watched ‘天龙八部’ by Jinyong which I downloaded to my iPad using PPS, I was moved by the power of the Dharma. It’s 40 chapters and occupy 6GB. Towards, the end a high status enlightened monk (hiding inside Shao Lim Temple library as a curator) was able to bring two equally powerful martial arts exponents with hatred and vengeance stretching over 30 yrs and yet could convince them to give up arms and seek enlightenment. They converted to monks and became his disciples. You shld watch the touching scene.

    • Ah Heng says:

      Thanks, Gintai. I will look out for the series! 🙂

    • ape@kinjioleaf says:

      Digress a bit. The novels of Dr Louis Cha is really worth reading. Avoid the movies unless you’re for entertainment. There’s much to be learnt about society and cultures, especially Chinese, if you read the books. Movies and drama series tend to overlook the messages he’s expressing through the books.

      • Ape,
        I blog on it. Pls read
        That article was written for the school newsletter in the year 1982 when I was a student.
        I have read at least twice, some as many as three or four times some of the 14 novels written by him.
        I tried to talk Dr Mike to read them but to no avail. He can read a little Chinese. You need patience and stamina to start with. But once it’s half way through, it would move like a torpedoe – swift and sleek towards the end of the voluminous novel!
        Of course, the movies will never portray the true nuances and descriptive power of the author. Tell me how to get the best innocent pretty actress to act like a pure virgin at a tender age of 15 or 16 yrs who is so shy and blushes easily when a handsome young man is around or when hints of sexual connotations are detected?
        I love the part of a legendary swordman”孤独求败” where at different ages, he uses a different sword until he reaches the peak of his prowess where there is no need for any sword or weapon. The tree branch – any tree branch can be his weapon or sword! He need no forms or strokes at all. It has become formless and he has become one with nature where he becomes invincible. Hence, his Chinese title “孤独求败” meaning “Pleading for defeat!”. He becomes so lonely in the martial arts world cuz no one can defeat him and he yearns for an opponent! This character only appeared as a legendary figure. He was nvr portrayed as a living figure in the novels.
        I dare say that in all the Chinese communities in the world all have heard about Jinyong or seen his so many remake versions of his novels. He is the all time best seller with millions of his novels in every Chinese corner! It’s really amazing.
        When I retire from active duty, I will still want to re-read all his 14 novels before I expire ! That will be one of my last wishes! The Chinese community would be much poorer without the presence of this great novelist! He shld be in his nineties now. In those days, words have it that he could just walk in to paramount leader Deng Xioping for an audience cuz the latter is an ardent fan of Jinyong!
        Ape, we share the same passion on this! Cheers!

        • simple man says:


          the Philosophy of Laozi will be a good read too.
          This simple man is almost forgotten in this material

  8. newball says:

    Unfortunately, such incident do happen all the times except that we may not be aware of until smart phone came along and open up the whole wide world…..!!!
    But fortunately, there is something good came about from such incident that I see as a positive sign of people becoming a little more graceful than before as what I had witnessed inside the MRT train on wednesday….!! Not once but twice, two teenagers gave up their seats without being asked or prompted upon seeing two elderly citizens of which its not even on a reserved seat…!! Of which both did acknowledged their thank you to the two teenagers. It may take years before we as a nation ever becomes a graceful society …!!!
    Perhaps, as the saying goes,” the government is the representative of its people”….therefore, if they are arrogant, ungraceful and you will see likewise in its people ……..!!!

  9. Z says:

    “becoming a little more graceful than before”: unfounded statement. Graciousness existed before, you can’t just claim these people wouldn’t have given up their seat last time.

  10. Z says:

    I’ve always thought it was a joke to believe that the bandaid ‘reserved/priority seating’ solution would pave the way to a gracious society. Yes, it covered ugly wounds, but I also observe various elderlies (and kids that can jolly well stand on their own) act like they own the seat, and people avoiding the priority seat for the same reason. It has nothing to do with the graciousness I used to see (however occasional), pre-reserved-signs, of people giving up their seat wherever they were sitting voluntarily.
    “becoming a little more graceful than before”: unfounded statement. Graciousness existed before, you can’t just claim these people wouldn’t have given up their seat last time.

  11. Unahppy One says:

    Singapore is ranked one of the most unhappy nation in the world. Enough of PAP leadership, we need to change a new government for more happyiness to spread in this dwindling nation.

    • If you change this govt, do you think the new govt can do better? Or we just take chances and hope that it will do better?

      • Sgcynic says:

        People will take chances and hope for a better outcome when they have given hope that sticking with the status quo will turn things around. Carpe diem or face the consequences. Clock ticks. 4 years to go.

      • l says:

        actually its not abt which party is the govt or changing govt is good or no good.. its abt WHO are the people who make up our govt and parliament..

        the current grc system does not ensure that only the fittest and the best survive and is deserving of the seats in the highest house of this land… once you lose this natural selection process, ppl take votes for granted and “clutch mentality” creeps into parliament house… we must always remember that the sg 40 yrs ago is different from the sg now.. the game has changed.. and we must change…not for ourselves… but for our children… who we are today is what our fathers/grandfathers did in the past (PAP 1st gen).. who our children will be, is dependent on what we do today…

        the current selection process is clearly not ensuring the best interest of the nation is taken care of.. dont get me wrong.. the system its not wrong, its just outdated..

    • patriot says:

      Yes, me agrees very much with Unhappy one, a change for the better or worse is worthy and desirable. Each regime change usually provides for good start for some years unless the incumbent is unwilling to give up its’ power and take action to stay in power unlawfully.
      By the logic of some good years, it is good to have constant changes and as in politic, NEVER give absolute power to any single politician or political party. It inevitably leads to absolute abuse and corruption. THIS IS THE SINGLE BIGGEST PROBLEM

      The emotion is jumpy now because most Singaporeans are now unhappy and the slightest ugliness will be magnified manifold. Many are aware of the situation EXCEPT the super talents and the super sane.

      One Ah Kong(grandfather) was fined $3000 for protecting his family members, read it at My Singapore News Blogspot and see how disappointed Singaporeans are with the Justice System as in the Case of Woffles Wu.


  12. patriot says:

    Btw, me concurs fully with Gintai’s observation
    and opinion in his Reponse to
    Darkness on Gintai_昇泰 says:
    22/06/2012 at 11:01.


  13. ape@kinjioleaf says:

    We’re living in a confined place with quite demanding circumstances. Stress level is high. These factors provided much opportunities for tempers to rise.

  14. K says:

    Still the government fault. Should remove the priority seating policy in public transport. That would allow people to learn about grace and kindness in public spaces on their own. Given time I believe we would grow to be become a better civilized society. Better than now, as most of us feel we deserve better and it is fine to be selfish. We don’t really bother watching out for others unless being told or have an ulterior motive. This is our society, whether you like it or not.

    • A materialistic society based on bottom line, dollars and cents! Yes, we shld remove the reserve seat signage indeed!

      • Expensive price says:

        Maybe like the budget airlines – we sud charge double for the seat – use RFID attached to seat bottom with directional antenna to do extra deduction when u land on the seat – think every ody will be standing up – allowing MRT to remove seats n increase capacity making more profit allowing fares to be lowered??

    • ape@kinjioleaf says:

      I wouldn’t put the blame entirely on the govt. They do what they did thinking that it’s in the best interest of the people-the majority who voted them in. If the majority feels that the incumbent can no longer represents our aspirations, transform your thoughts to action at the polling station.

      • l says:

        your statement is true, provided the system is fair.
        like i mentioned in previous comment, the grc system does not allow that to happen naturally… 60% voted for the GOP the last round. how many seats are they taking up in the house?

        if everyone is being made to fight for their votes without riding coattails, no one will take any votes for granted and in addition, they will be given the deserving and upmost respect and space to do their jobs effectively by the electorate becoz they are the electorate’s true choice. win-win.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yeap, you said it! The powerful and the rich will always be taken care of just like Dr. Woffles Wu debacles. You are the very brain dead Singaporean. I am referring below my other comment. You better learn to shut up and do not complain about the garment!
      I have not been to an “all you can eat” restaurant for a long time. Nevertheless, I remember many many years ago, gluttons and uncivilized pigs take so much food on their plates and did not finished it and some restaurants imposed a surcharge on leftover.

      Yeap, remove the sign and allow people to learn… Than I suggest the garment also do away with policemen and the Court and let the people….. Pretty soon you will see another Napoleon surface, but before that you’ll probably loose your head.

      I understand my examples are extreme, I guess it is the best way to put it across to people living in Disneyland.

  15. FL says:

    The so called “aunty” is an embarassment in public. She’s not the very old, handicap or fragile person that deserve a seat on the MRT or bus. In the first place, she’s the able-bodied person, and has so much energy to even quarrel in public place. What’s a shame on her. The young had already offered her a seat, and she should have said “thank you” to her, instead of giving unnecessary comments to embarrass the young lady. I hope after this incident, the aunty has realised herself that if she wants the young to respect her, she herself has to give respect to the young as well. I really hope her family members after reading all the netizens’ comments, can advise her to behave in a proper manner in public places. I am older than her and I don’t demand anyone for a seat in train or bus.

  16. octopi says:

    Somebody alerted me to this: in the coverage of the event, RazorTV made it sound neutral, as though both parties were equally at fault. Even the “auntie” was invited to give her “side” of the story.

    So whatever you want to say about the internet, you should understand that if there is a spat between a young kid and an older person, the mainstream media will usually support the older person.

    If you want to think about the picture, it’s like this: 50 years ago, people will all living in kampongs, or slums and everybody was kaypohing each other and nobody had privacy. 20 years ago, people had privacy. Suddenly, with the internet, it all seems like everybody is going back to living in the same cramped kampong. What we used to think of as “normal” isn’t really normal. It was just a blip in history, an anomaly where people suddenly were able to hide behind walls. It’s not going to last forever.

  17. Anonymous says:

    By chance I came across, “MRT Train Seat Spat between the young and old ladies.” Your posting and readers’ comments flabbergast me. It seems we forget the main issue, “Courtesy.” Regardless whether the old lady speaks good or not a word of English has no bearing what has become of our society obligation. She is “OLD” and everyone in that train has a moral obligation to give up their seats without prompting, whether be the reserve seats or other seats. Why “reluctantly gave up her seat,” is this not the right thing to do beside moral obligation? You and your young punk may have forgotten you too will get old and need that seat whether you like it or NOT. What if that OLD lady should fall, chances she may never walk again or worst still die.

    My dad passed from heart attacked after a fall. His last words to me while still lying on the floor, “I cannot walk again,” hound me till today. I dunno if your parent or grandparents still alive and if they are, better makes sure they have a seat if they are traveling in public transport! Unless, you could careless whether they Live or die! Don’t tell they never listen or whatever. Old folks are usually unreasonable, since time in memorial. They have their reasons and mainly not to burden or trouble anyone. The old lady maybe out of line doing or saying what she did. The problem would never had occurred if brain dead’s Singaporean show a bit of courtesy and caring, don’t you think so?

    I am a senor and “demand” a seat near the door. I knew the consequence should I fall. My mother-in-law and my late wife’s aunty also had falls now, semi-bedridden. When I was young, I “ALWAYS” gave my seats without prompting to “ANYONE” who need it more than me. Regardless if they are old, pregnant, young male or female. Be courtesy help anyone who needs it, if we are able. While driving taxis for a short spell, I never collect fares from the sick old folks. No one ever thanks me and it does not bother me one bit. No one expects someone like me exists in Singapore. My taxi’s colleagues think I am sick, am I? Money, money that is what everyone cares huh? Sure I lost time and petrol for the journey. So what? I feel good inside and that what matter most!

    As I continue to read the comments. I am stun really stuns! What has our sick society turn out to be? If we progress from a third world nation to “First,” I am sorry we are still in the third world. While we berate the “AngMoh” or “garment” (BTW, I am no AngMoh or PAP lover). My experiences as I travel, the “Asians” are most backward. I always open or keep manual doors open for anyone who happen to be within second coming in or getting out. The “AngMoh” always “Thank me,” but never from Asians!

    Most comments were off topics except one that I like “newball ” he or she says there are a few teenagers do give up their seats without prompting. I always smile and say “thanks you” to anyone. I NEVER say thanks, if I have to prompt for the seat from young folks. Don’t think us old folks are selfish or unreasonable. We need the seats whether you like it or not.

    BTW, I NEVER accept a seat from old and young folks, if I feel the kind they needs it more than me. I am not an ANGMOH, but a Chinese’s Singaporean. I never imposed my ideas or religion on anyone, but practice what I preach. A little kindness here and there makes my day goes better.

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