While Singapore celebrates diversity and inclusivity, there is a limit to everything as shown in a recent incident where a Muslim girl was stopped from consuming a chocolate bar during her break fast time.
The girl hopes that people will show more consideration towards those consuming candies or food that do not soil the place on public transport, especially Muslims who are fasting as it might be urgent for them.
The post on Singapore’s social media account SgfollowsAll on Wednesday (12 Apr) garnered mixed reactions from netizens.
While some empathized with the Muslim girl and suggested that people should be considerate during Ramadan, others felt that the rule against eating in public transport should apply, except for commuters with medical conditions that require special arrangements.
The 20-year-old girl, Maryam, later shared her experience in an interview with AsiaOne.
She boarded the MRT at Dover station around 6.40 pm and was heading to Bedok, which is a long journey taking more than 40 minutes.
As she had been fasting the whole day, she discreetly unwrapped a Snickers bar during her break fast time at around 7 pm.
“So, I had no choice but to break fast during my journey on the MRT as I had no luxury to get down at a station and eat out then get on board back. ”
Maryam explained that she was rushing home to attend an online class at 8pm. She also said she needed to assist her parents in cleaning up after their Iftar (fast-breaking evening meal).
Maryam said she did discreetly unwrap the chocolate so as not to attract the attention of nearby passengers, as she fully aware of the rule that consuming food and drink in MRT station and trains are prohibited.
However, a woman in her mid-30s admonished her for eating on the MRT, pointing at the sign sticker on the window that prohibited eating on public transport.
Maryam then explained that she was fasting and needed to eat, but the woman persisted that she should not consume food on the MRT.
“I just did as she told. After a few seconds and I restarted the conversation by questioning ,what if someone is low on sugar and they had to eat?… She just kept silent and still repeated that i should not eat on MRT.”
After getting down at Bedok, Maryam approached the MRT staff to inquire if it was permissible to consume finger snacks that were dry and without aroma, to which the staff replied that it was totally permissible.
Maryam hoped that people will show more consideration towards those consuming candies or food that do not soil the place on public transport.
“You might not know how urgent it is for them. Especially muslims who are fasting. If possible, if u see a muslim on board and it is time break fast, and they are not having anything, offer them if you have something!”
Some netizens expressed empathy towards the girl, while others emphasized the importance of adhering to the rules
The girl’s experience resonated with many netizens, and several of them empathized with her.
A netizen who commented on AsiaOne’s Facebook post, called for empathy towards the Muslim girl, “It’s very hard for her to start work so early and then rushing home for her online lessons. Let’s just be more understanding.”
A netizen shared her experience with a helper who becomes pale and hungry towards the end of her fast, and emphasized that as long as it’s not messy, people should be considerate of others’ needs.
“Rules are still in place”
Some netizens believed that eating a Snickers bar on the train is going too far, as the rules are still in place and eating in the MRT is prohibited.
They suggested alternatives to consider, such as taking a quick sip of plain water and having a small snack like dates or candy, which can be sufficient for breaking the fast.
A netizen suggested that although the rule must be followed, the MRT could consider designating a front or rear cabin for Muslim citizens to break their fast during Ramadan.
Some comment acknowledges challenges for those with medical issues
Another Muslim pointed out that in such scenario she might break their fast with water quickly, and then eat after they have exited the train.
But she also acknowledged that for those with medical issues, it could be tough as they need to eat something during the break fast time.
It is generally prohibited to consume food or drinks in MRT trains and stations, and violators may be fined up to S$500.
However, in cases where individuals need to take medication within the station, SMRT can make special arrangements for them to do so.