Youths stand up for Singapore – on the MRT?

Elizabeth Soh
Singapore Showbiz

An ambassador wears her "Stand up" tee (Video screengrab)
An ambassador wears her "Stand up" tee (Video screengrab)

This National Day, almost 500 Singaporeans will be running around in trains all over the country - for a good cause.

Dressed in red-and-white, they will be travelling from train to train, chatting to commuters and encouraging them to give their seats up for those who need it more.

They are "Stand up for Singapore" ambassadors - part of an independent movement which wants to make a stand on graciousness on public transport.

Besides spreading the message, they will also distribute special red and white badges with "Stand up for our Elderly" and "Stand up for our Mothers" slogans to the elderly and the pregnant.

"We thought that these badges would be a cute and funny way for them to 'ask' for a seat without sounding demanding, and also help to indicate to shy commuters that they do want to sit down," said Claire Ong, 25, one of the movement's main organisers.

"Stand up" badges (Photo courtesy of Claire Ong)
"Stand up" badges (Photo courtesy of Claire Ong)

"We always hear from friends how they want to offer their seats but are confused about whether a lady is really pregnant or worry that they might accidentally insult people about their age."

Stand up for Singapore was born last month when Claire and seven other close friends decided that more needed to be done about graciousness on public transport and changing the climate of apathy most youths feel towards the country.

"My vision for Singapore is that it can develop not only in terms of economic growth, but also in terms of heart," said Claire, who is a civil servant.

"We are grateful to our elderly for the Singapore we have now, and we are thankful for our mothers who are vital in shaping the Singapore that is to come - so we choose to take a stand for them on our public transport, to contribute to a culture that we can be proud of."

An ambassador gives up her seat to a pregnant commuter (Video screengrab)
An ambassador gives up her seat to a pregnant commuter (Video screengrab)

In three weeks, the group of friends got shirts printed for volunteers, designed and made 10,000 badges and 25,000 flyers.

"With our own jobs, and responsibilities and similar problems, a small group of us pulled this effort together. We raised money. And we made what we thought impossible, possible," reads the information on the campaign's Facebook page.

Stand Up For Our Singapore from Big Red Button on Vimeo.

A video (see above) for the campaign was also filmed and cut in record-time.

The group sees their Stand Up campaign as a baby step towards engaging Singapore's youths to do their part for society.

"Join us if you are keen to play a part of shifting the City's state of apathy, negativity and self-entitlement into a mood of graciousness, love, hope and optimism," said Claire.

Last month, a quarrel between a teenager and a middle aged lady on a crowded train sparked widespread debate about courtesy on trains.

The middle aged lady had allegedly scolded the teenager for not immediately giving up her priority seat. The teenager, who had not heard or seen the lady, offered the seat once she was asked to do so, but was instead subjected to a barrage of insults.

The incident prompted concerns about the lack of graciousness on public transport in Singapore despite a series of courtesy campaigns fronted by the likes of the Dim Sum Dollies and Phua Chu Kang.

You can sign up to volunteer for the Stand up for Singapore campaign here