Watch the video of the outreach and TOC's interview with the students below.
Sweltering heat and bustling human traffic on a Saturday afternoon did not deter six polytechnic students in their mission at Bugis.
The students were there to collect signatures for their petition on fairer public transport fares for tertiary students. This is the students’ first public outreach event for the cause since they launched the campaign on Monday. Previous petition drives took place at the canteens of various polytechnics.
Close to 200 members of the public, students and non-students alike, pledged their support at Bugis, one of the busiest districts in Singapore. Bernard Chen, a student at Temasek Polytechnic, pioneered the petition, which will be sent to the Public Transport Council eventually.
Members of the public were supportive when approached. Some of these supporters are parents concerned over the financial burden polytechnic students have to bear. Others were completely unaware of the differences in concession rates and signed the petition upon learning of the current disparity. Several secondary school students lent their support to this cause because they aspire to enter polytechnics and felt this campaign will benefit them in the future.
Bernard explained that the aim of this petition is to evoke change, and to persuade authorities to listen to “sentiments on the ground”. Bernard hopes to collect 30,000 to 100,000 signatures of support for the petition. He however has not set a time limit to achieve this.
Also pitching in to help at Bugis were sisters Lynette and Leanne Lee from Singapore Polytechnic and Yuan Ching Secondary School respectively. They got involved in the campaign through Bernard, who is a mutual friend. The two of them said students expressed “favourable support” when they went around collecting signatures in their respective schools. Mellissa Seah and Ariel Chia, both from Temasek Polytechnic, got involved through their polytechnic mate, Kamilul Ashraf Bin Kamsani, the inspiration behind the campaign. “This is a very worthy cause!” was Mellissa’s enthusiastic response when asked why she was willing to sacrifice a Saturday afternoon for this campaign. The team collected an encouraging 100 signatures in the first hour at Bugis.
Bernard said he was motivated to start this campaign by fellow student Ashraf, also from Temasek Polytechnic, who had sent out an email to 80 friends after reading Bernard’s article on The Sunday Times last week. The email, which called for action, was forwarded by friends of friends to over 1,000 people. Bernard, heartened by such enthusiastic response to the issue, decided to take on this project alongside Ashraf in a bid to “replicate Obama’s campaign for change” – referring to the newly elected President of the United States.
The students have come up with a proposal for the authorities. In it, they are calling for a “concession price bandwidth” to be introduced from which a concession fare is established, of between 0 - 60% for the various student groups.
The Facebook group set up for the cause has more than 5,000 members so far.
Read also TOC’s earlier report: Poly students want fairer transport fares.
Video of the event: Filmed and edited by Mervin Lee.
Pictures by Sijia. (Click on pictures to enlarge):