I was watching the 9.30 news (which is supposed to really be news, and is nothing like The Noose!) and saw a news story about there being fewer people being caught eating and drinking on MRT trains.
You can find the web story here. But frankly, it does not convey the true absurdity and ridiculousness of the rule. The news clip did.
The clip showed an SMRT inspector asking at least two different adults, each with a baby or toddler in a pram who was suckling from a milk bottle (although one of them appeared to be drinking water not milk), to essentially cease and desist. In fact, the inspector was asking at least one of them to get off the train and go with him to the station staff room, where the baby could drink "in comfort".
Come on. Surely that has got to be absolutely ridiculous and uncalled-for. First, you are talking about babies and toddlers drinking out of milk bottles -- the risk of leakage or spillage is pretty low. Second, you are asking them to get off the train to go with you to your staff room, just so their babies and toddlers can drink -- that's got to take at least 30 minutes, if not more! Third, well, you are talking about babies and toddlers!
The SMRT inspector was, to his credit, very polite and patient. But still!
There is a Latin phrase called "reductio ad absurdum", meaning "reduction to the absurd". To quote Wikipedia, it is "a form of argument in which a proposition is disproven by following its implications logically to an absurd consequence". Well, SMRT is certainly taking its rule against eating and drinking on trains to its absurd conclusion.
My wife felt that this showed how Singapore is so much about binary states and dichotomies: "yes/no", "right/wrong", "black/white". There is little or no discretion or common sense employed, when rules are being enforced. She's clearly right, of course. (You might say that, yes, of course I would say that!)
But my own takeaway from the clip, was about how Singapore rule-makers frequently make rules that punish the innocent majority, for the infractions of a small minority.
In this case, it was a small minority of commuters who were eating and drinking on trains and generally being anti-social and inconsiderate. Well, crack down on them! But SMRT clearly went overboard and is punishing everyone for the actions of a few, instead of focusing its enforcement efforts only on those few.
The web story also noted that most of the "offenders" were secondary school kids eating bread and drinking water. Hardly the most offensive of conduct. Indeed, I wonder how many of the 143 so-called offenders were caught for sucking on a lozenge, which ranks right up there for absurdity, next to telling parents to take their babies and toddlers off the train so that they can get a drink out of milk bottles.
What a joke and waste of time, effort and money this whole thing is.