Queue-jumping happens often, say train commuters
A man was fined $3,000 on Tuesday for assaulting a fellow commuter while they were boarding an MRT train. SHAFFIQ ALKHATIB (firstname.lastname@example.org) speaks to commuters who say the bad practice is common
The sight of people cutting the queue while boarding MRT trains is apparently quite commonplace in Singapore.
This was what nearly 20 commuters told The New Paper on Tuesday.
Out of 20 people, 17 said they encounter queue-jumpers at least twice a week.
A primary school teacher who wanted to be known only as Madam Rina, 36, said she takes the train home at Bedok station every evening.
While queues sometimes form on the platform, all it takes is for a few people to cut in and others will follow suit.
The mother of a nine-year-old boy and a 13-year-old girl said: "Some people will just squeeze their way through when the trains arrive.
"(Those) queueing will then decide to stop waiting in line when they see others crowding near the train doors."
On Tuesday, Singapore Armed Forces regular Kelvin Poon Kai Chen, 22, was fined $3,000 after pleading guilty to one count of voluntarily causing hurt.
Poon punched a commuter, principal engineer Choo Chin Huat, 35, on a train between Bedok and Kembangan MRT stations at 5.05pm on Feb 6. According to Poon and his girlfriend, Mr Choo had jumped the queue ahead of them.
Fifteen of the commuters TNP spoke to said they would not confront queue-jumpers.
Madam Rina said: "I just ignore them. Some people may get violent when confronted and I don't want to create a scene."
Mr Nabil Idris, 29, who works in shipping, agreed, saying: "Of course I get annoyed... But I just let it slide.
"It's not worth confronting others over such a small matter."
However, a civil servant who wanted to be known only as Mr Chan, 42, said he politely tells queue-cutters to wait in line.
He added: "I will smile and remind them there are others waiting in line as well.
"Most of the time, they will sheepishly join the queue, but some just ignore me. I let the matter rest if they still refuse to queue."
When TNP asked the Singapore Kindness Movement for its view on the punching case, its spokesman said that rather than turn to aggression, cooler heads should prevailso the conflict can be resolved graciously. (See report, right.)
The spokesman said: "It is unfortunate the situation escalated as it did."
Unlike many commuters TNP spoke to, housewife Sylvia Tan said she sees people queueing up for trains all the time now.
Madam Tan, who is in her 50s, said: "Things have really improved. When the MRT system first started many years ago, nobody queued up. It was like a free-for-all."
She also felt Singaporeans are more gracious now.
The mother of two adult sons said: "For example, I see more people give up their seats to the elderly in trains and buses (now) as compared to before.
"Change might not come so quickly, but I think we are definitely moving towards a more gracious society."
Fined for punching commuter on train
He was upset with a fellow commuter at Bedok MRT station.
Singapore Armed Forces regular Kelvin Poon Kai Chen, 22, then quarrelled with the man, principal engineer Choo Chin Huat, 35, while they were on a west-bound train.
It escalated into a scuffle and Poon punched Mr Choo in the left eye.
Poon was fined $3,000 on Tuesday after pleading guilty to one count of voluntarily causing hurt. Another count of using criminal force on Mr Choo was taken into consideration.
Poon was at Bedok MRT station with his girlfriend, student Denise Ang Ying Zhi, 20, at around 5pm on Feb 6. According to the couple, Mr Choo jumped the queue and boarded the train ahead of them.
About five minutes later, a dispute broke out in the train between the two men and Poon pushed Mr Choo's hand away.
Two other commuters, students Mohammad Fairuz Omar, 18, and Putera Z Rudy Daniel, 20, tried to separate them. But Poon suddenly punched Mr Choo, damaging his spectacles.
Deputy Public Prosecutor Kong Kuek Foo said Mr Putera restrained Poon, who was later escorted off the train at Kembangan station by SMRT staff.
Mr Choo went to Changi General Hospital where he was found to have a black eye.
Poon's lawyer, Ms Alice Tan, said in mitigation that her client had an unblemished record and was a first-time offender.
For voluntarily causing hurt, Poon could have been jailed up to two years and fined up to $5,000.
More signs, marshals, may help
Queueing etiquette on train platforms is still a work in progress.
Responding to queries from The New Paper on Tuesday, the Singapore Kindness Movement (SKM) said that having more marshals and signs may help remind people.
Its spokesman said: "Ultimately, it is up to commuters to adopt this practice and become role models for fellow commuters to learn from, such that a stronger culture of good commuter etiquette can take root."
The SKM said that queueing makes it easier for alighting passengers as it creates a natural path for their exit.
Queueing also allows those who are there earlier to board the trains first.
So what can commuters do when they encounter queue-jumpers?
The SKM said that a polite word to remind them of the need to queue can often be effective.
Its spokesman said: "It is important that in correcting others, we observe the appropriate tone and language as well. It is only right that we do our part to live up to the same expectations of graciousness we have of others."