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August 31, 2012

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New twist to courtesy seat quandary

THE age-old moral quandary on whether to offer a seat or not in buses or trains to elderly or women passengers has taken a strange twist and sparked safety concerns after three passengers came in for violent treatment for their refusal this month.

A "warm-hearted" man openly cursed a young lady who refused to offer her seat to a mother carrying her child in a Metro Line 8 train on Wednesday, which later led to a fight among passengers.

It was the third incident in the country this month in which passengers were physically attacked for refusing to offer seats on public transport.

In the latest case, the young lady surnamed Yang told Shanghai Evening Post that she was on a train heading to People's Square Station at 9am on Wednesday when an elderly man offered his seat to a mother with two children.

The mother refused, saying her children wanted to play in the train carriage. Yang then took the seat beside the elderly man. But shortly after she had sat down, a male passenger surnamed Niu confronted her, asking why she wouldn't offer her seat to the mother.

"I would give a seat to people in need, but this time the mother had already rejected the old man's offer," said Yang. She tried to explain this to Niu but he only became angry.

Niu cursed Yang, calling her "crap" when another passenger told him to stop the abuse. Niu turned on him. Another young man surnamed Fan tried to stop them and was hit in the face by Niu. Fan and Niu fought each other until they got off the train and were taken away by police.

This followed the case in a bus in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, last Thursday when a young man was slapped on his face five times by a man for not offering his seat to the man's pregnant wife.

Three days later on a bus in Ji'nan, Shandong Province, a young mother carrying her three-year-old child slapped a young passenger who didn't offer a seat to her.

The series of violent incidents have sparked a heated debate among local netizens over whether they should offer seat on public transport, an old moral question that has now sparked safety concerns.

Some netizens are calling on police to punish those indulging in violence in the name of morality. Others, however, said they could understand their anger since people are becoming increasingly indifferent to passengers in need.

"I have my right to decide whether to offer a seat or not, and those who violently deprive others of this right should be severely punished by law," said a netizen on the microblog


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