Younger Commuter Says It’s “Not Compulsory” To Give Up Priority Seat in Argument with Elderly Man on the MRT


Sharing is caring. That is what most of us have been taught from young, whether by our families or in school. Remember Sharity the Elephant?

More recently, the theme of “sharing” has pivoted from sharing with charities to sharing seats on public transport.

Many trains with “reserved seats” for the elderly, injured, pregnant women and other specific individuals are marked with a “Show You Care” sticker, encouraging commuters to give up these seats to those who need them more than themselves.

It seems that these stickers or “reserved seating” may be a divisive topic for society.

Recently, an elderly commuter and a younger commuter exchanged heated words over giving up the seat.

This is what happened.

Elderly Man Criticised Younger Man for Seating on the Reserved Seat

In some videos making rounds on social media earlier this week, an elderly man wearing a yellow polo shirt and a younger man wearing a white t-shirt can be seen arguing over the younger man’s right to sit on a reserved seat.

It appears that this whole situation started when the older man criticised a younger man for sitting on the train’s reserved seat. At the beginning of this Facebook video posted by Singapore Incidents, the on-screen caption says that the “uncle” was “not happy with the young man” for sitting in the priority seat.

The “uncle” then “chided” the young man that the priority seat was “not his seat”.

The older man can be seen in the video to be carrying a few plastic bags, and we note that he himself was already sitting on a reserved seat, with the younger man sitting directly opposite him.

Given that the older man already had a seat to himself, we are curious as to why he still decided to scold the younger man for seating on the reserved seating. Was the former just kaypoh (which translates to nosy)?

Younger Man Retaliated With Harsh Words

The Facebook video then transitions to one which appears to be filmed from the perspective of the younger man. The younger man is in the midst of arguing with the older man when he pans his camera to the “Show You Care” sticker on the reserved seat, saying that “This is not compulsory”.

Presumably, the younger man is saying that it is not mandatory for him to give up his seat for others. He continues by vehemently expressing that it is “not law” and re-emphasises that it is “not compulsory” to follow the directions on the sticker to offer his seat.

The older man tries to get a word in during the younger man’s tirade, saying that it is an action of “care” to give up the seat.

The younger man continues his retort against the older man, saying that the latter should “ask [for a seat]”.


The older man then says, “You are not Singaporean”, which breaks the flow of the younger man’s rant, who concludes with an annoyed “ugh” and calls the older man “stupid”.

The video ends.

However, it appears that the exchange between the two men does not end there.

In a video posted on Instagram by user @sgfollowsall.backup, the argument continues as the younger man insists on his right to sit on the reserved seating, saying that it is “not in the constitution” that he has to give up his seat.

He also taunts the older man by asking the latter, “Who do you think you are” and calls him an “idiot” again, this time with an expletive in front.


The curse word angers the older man as he becomes visibly agitated, pointing his left index finger at the younger man. The younger man tells the older man to “come la” and says, “I make sure I sue you”.

What saves the two from a fistfight in the MRT is the train arriving at Bukit Gombak station, where the older man alights.

Interestingly enough, the perspective of this second video appears to be from the seat directly opposite the younger man (meaning it’s the seat that the elderly man vacated).

We wonder whether this new occupant of the seat who filmed this exchange was a younger person or an older person.

What Netizens Have to Say About This Matter

Arguably, the younger man has a point that it is not mandated by law to give up your seat to someone else (or an older person in particular), nor is it illegal for a young person to be sitting on the reserved seat.

It ultimately boils down to the consideration and compassion of the person occupying the seat.


Some netizens, however, took umbrage at the fact that the younger man was rude to the older man.

User @spamton_i.spamton said that the younger man was not taught manners, while user @pam_pamkkk wondered if the younger man would be as harsh to his father.

Image: Instagram (@spamton_i.spamton, @pam_pamkk) 

Another user, @skullcrushergold, said that the younger man should have given up his seat and “find another seat”.

Image: Instagram (@skullcrushergold)

It is not clear from the video whether the train was full and whether the younger man could have found a different seat.

Also, it appears from the video that the older man was intending to alight at the next stop, so he may not have been looking for a seat himself.


There were also netizens who took the side of the younger man. User @badminton.dudj1 left a comment saying that “50yo+ ppl always liddat”, which we take to mean that the older generation may sometimes be harsh on the younger generation, criticising them when the latter do not behave as the former expects them to.

Instagram (@badminton.dudj1)

Or a more cynical person would say that the older generation sometimes feels “entitled” to certain things.

A third perspective also appeared in the comments section. A user who goes by @kalz84 thought everyone was in the wrong, including the person filming the video (and who was not involved in the argument). The comment said that the young man “lacks respect” and the uncle was “entitled”. The videographer was “self centered”, though it is unclear if the user expected the videographer to be a mediator to stop the quarrel.

Image: Instagram (@kalz84)

Other netizens commented on things other than the argument itself. One user, @dahrismg, pitied the girl who was standing in the middle of the two men.

Image: Instagram (@dahrismg)

In the videos, a young girl who appears to be wearing a school uniform is standing in between the two men. She appears unfazed while the two men argue it out, Airpods plugged into her ears.

There is also a man who is sitting next to the younger man on the train—he also pays no attention to the exchange of words, busy with his phone.

People Who Look Fine May Need the Reserved Seat as Well

The elderly man appears to have been harsh against the younger man for taking up the reserved seat because the latter was younger and may not be in need of a seat.

However, it may be hasty to judge someone’s need for a seat solely on their appearance. After all, there some people may be suffering from illnesses which are not outwardly visible.


In fact, there have been recent reports that younger people who are suffering from non-visible diseases, such as arthritis and diabetes, face a stigma when they sit on reserved seats. This could result in them being afraid to take up the reserved seats because others may think that they are inconsiderate or rude.

Perhaps the “solution” to this problem is for everyone involved to be more patient and tolerant of one another. People can learn to give up their seats to others as a mark of consideration and thoughtfulness.

At the same time, others can be slower to judge if something may not be aligned with their expectations. After all, it could be a situation of “there is more than meets the eye”.

Hopefully, this means a more gracious Singapore in time to come.