by Noah Tan on

Most commuters taking public transport in Singapore expect – and desire – a peaceful and drama-free journey to their destination.

So, you can imagine how annoyed some commuters on the MRT at Bishan last Saturday morning (Feb 9) were, when a middle-aged man began playing music at full blast on his speaker after boarding the train.

An eyewitness, who posted his account on Stomp, said that while the rest of the commuters who were in the same train as the man were “irritated” at having their peace disturbed by the loud music, none of them did anything about it.

That was until one of the commuters – a younger man dressed in formal attire – approached the middle-aged man and “politely asked him to turn down the volume”.

According to the eyewitness, the middle-aged man did not take kindly to the request, and acted in a confrontational and hostile manner towards the younger man.

In a video that was captured by the same eyewitness, the middle-aged man could be seen making a threatening throat-slitting gesture. The younger man responded to the gesture by hitting the side of the train just above the head of the middle-aged man.

This, in turn, sparked a furious reaction from the middle-aged man, who began shouting and gesticulating wildly at the younger man. At one point, the middle-aged man even threatened to castrate and murder the younger man.

In the midst of the argument, another commuter attempted to defuse the situation by asking the younger man to walk away from the middle-aged man, but to no avail.

The argument only came to an end when the middle-aged man alighted at Macpherson MRT, whereupon the young man apologised to the other commuters in the train for the ruckus.

Now, while the entire episode might leave a bad taste in the mouth, there are still some lessons we can glean from it.

Firstly, credit must go to the younger man for at least intervening and attempting to right a wrong he witnessed. Instead of simply taking a photo, or a video, of the middle-aged man and posting it online to complain, the younger man proactively took steps to try and solve the problem.

Yes, things may not have gone the way he intended it to go. And his reaction to the initial throat-slitting gesture was not ideal either.

But, his proactiveness in trying to create a better ride experience is something that we should aspire to emulate. When we witness a situation that could use our help, we should step up and do our best to try and resolve the issue, instead of simply playing the role of a bystander – something that most of us in Singapore tend to do.

Next, while most of us may be aware of common MRT etiquette – such as giving way to alighting passengers before boarding, and giving up our seats to someone who needs it more than us – not many realise that excessive noise can make a train ride very unpleasant.

Of course, given the nature of public transport, some level of noise is expected in the train. But when it gets too noisy – like in the incident above – it can frustrate other commuters.

And, if you think that you’re not creating too much noise in the train just because you’re not blasting music on your speakers, think again. Talking loudly, or playing games and watching shows on your mobile phone without headphones are equally noisy and annoying.

So, the next time you take public transport, do try to be mindful about how much noise you’re making – that little bit of consideration can go a long way in helping to create a conducive travel environment for everyone.

After all, doesn’t a peaceful and quiet train ride sound like music to your ears?