Debate over whether seats should be given up for children sparks altercation on MTR, delay on East Rail line (Videos)

A debate over whether MTR seats should be given up for children recently sparked an altercation in a train car, resulting in a delay on the East Rail line. 

A user posted four videos on Facebook on Wednesday with the caption: “Please give your opinion. Why must we give up our seats on the MTR to children. Why can’t they take a taxi instead?”

The videos, which have since gone viral on social media, shows two women, who had three children with them, embroiled in a quarrel with a man and woman in the MTR car. 

“Why must we give up our seats to children? If [you insist on having] your children sit, why take the MTR? Take the taxi instead,” says the woman filming the video. 

“Because we are scared children might fall,” says a woman in purple, who takes out her smartphone to film the other woman right back.  

“Children and the elderly should get priority seating.”

But the woman filming the video retorts, “You’re setting a bad example for your children.” 

As the debate gets more heated, the woman who filmed the videos that were uploaded tries to film one of the children. 

The woman in purple and another in yellow appear to get physical with the woman filming the video and a man. 

“How can you film children?” ask the women in purple and yellow in raised voices. 

The filmer then warns the two women not to touch her, saying she will call the police and that someone has pressed the emergency button in the train car.

With the woman in yellow speaking in Mandarin, the filmer says, “Look at these mainland Chinese.” 

The women in yellow and purple then clarified agitatedly that the woman speaking Mandarin is not from mainland China. 

“Sorry, I’m not a mainland Chinese. Not everyone who speaks Mandarin is from mainland China, okay? 

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Meanwhile, the train car appears to be stopped at a station with an MTR staff member seen reporting the situation to others via walkie-talkie.

Some other passengers can be heard grumbling about the hold-up.

HK01 reported that the debate started after the women, mothers to three children, requested a male passenger to give up a seat to one of the children. But the commuter did not do so, resulting in the altercation.

The online portal also quoted an MTR spokesman as saying that the incident took place at 12:53pm on Wednesday on a train car traveling from Tai Po Market Station to University Station on the East Rail line.

After a passenger pressed the emergency button, the driver of the train car notified the control station. An MTR staff member got on the carriage to understand the situation. They also called the police. 

The relevant passengers ended the altercation and left the station after the MTR staff member and the police tried to diffuse the situation.

The online portal also managed to get in touch with the woman who uploaded the video. It quoted her as saying she boarded the train car at around 12:35pm on Wednesday and saw the woman in purple scolding a man in a shirt and pants for not giving up his seat for a child. 

The woman said that the man was not sitting in a priority seat, adding that she decided to film the incident as she felt it was too much for the woman in purple to keep scolding the man. 

She also said the woman in yellow looked like she was going to attack her. 

Meanwhile, a Facebook group for Tuen Mun residents posted a statement they claimed came from the mothers involved in the incident, who said they were Taiwanese. 

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“We need to clarify… We are both Taiwanese mothers… and both our husbands are from Hong Kong,” the post reads.

“There is no reason [for us] to be treated like this and this incident has caused strong dissatisfaction among Taiwanese in Hong Kong. I really don’t want to cause a rift between Taiwan and Hong Kong because of misunderstandings.

The Facebook post also included details of the incident circulating in a group for Taiwanese mothers.

It said the mothers were worried they could not take care of their children, so they used English to politely ask someone sitting in the priority seat if he or she could let them have the seat. The person agreed and let them have the seat. 

After that, one of the children asked her mother about priority seats. The mother explained that in Taiwan, they are taught that priority seats are for the old, frail and young, and that people should give up the seats for children too because they are still young, and there is the fear that they will fall and get injured. 

The post added that some of the unrelated Hongkongers heard the mother teaching the child in Mandarin, and started lecturing her for saying how people must give up seats for children and filming the mothers and children. 

“The mothers did not want to make a fuss at first, but as you can see in the video, that person deliberately went to film the children. Please understand the feelings of a parent. I don’t care what you do to me, but why do you want to film my child!?” the post reads. 

“Maybe the definition of priority seats is different in Hong Kong, but the mother did not force anyone to give up his or her seat.” 

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Many netizens believed to be from Hong Kong said they did not think there is a need to give up seats for children. 

“I will definitely give up seats to the old, frail, unwell and disabled, as well as pregnant women and those carrying infants, but not children,” said one internet user.

“It’s not like I got you pregnant.”

One mother said she teaches her daughter how she might not get a seat on the MTR, unlike taking a taxi or uber. 

“It’s a training for her to stand. It is a favor that someone is giving up the seat for you, but it’s not a given. What about children definitely getting a seat? They are not infants!” she said. 

“When I was younger, I would throw a tantrum about wanting to sit down. Even when passengers would give up their seats for me, my mother would decline the offer and alight with me at the next station. She would say I could not go back to the train if I did not stop crying. I think my mum is so cool,” one netizen recalled how he or she was brought up.

Some adult netizens also pointed out it is very tiring for them after a long day at work, so it is normal for them to want to get a seat. 

But some were more sympathetic to the Taiwanese mothers’ plight. 

“No matter what, you should never take pictures of children,” said an internet user. 

“Moreover, the passenger gave up the seat after [the mothers] politely asked… Is it fair to the mothers and children to take these behaviors out of context?”

“No mother can bear having her child filmed and not go crazy… The mothers only got agitated after they realized their children were being filmed close up!” said another.