S'pore woman, 24, in remission for leukaemia, dons lanyard low-key requesting, 'May I have a seat, please?'

She has an invisible condition and could really use a seat.

Belmont Lay | May 05, 2021, 12:10 PM

The ‘May I have a Seat, please?’ initiative in Singapore originally started out using stickers when it began in October 2019.

As it has proven beneficial for many commuters, the sticker has since been replaced with a reusable lanyard and card with customisable designs.

This latest development was brought to the public's attention by outgoing transport minister Ong Ye Kung in social media posts on May 5, 2021.

Invisible health conditions

Ong wrote about a 24-year-old woman, Samantha, who has benefited from the initiative.

She appears outwardly able-bodied and not in need of a seat on public transportation, but she is in remission for leukaemia, and has other long-term conditions, such as atrial septal defect, a condition also known as hole in the heart, as well as flat foot.

"But you can’t tell by looking at her. All these 'invisible' conditions make it tough for her to stand or walk for long," Ong wrote.

Lanyard makes it easier

For people who are too shy to ask for a seat or when the train is too crowded, which makes it more difficult to request for one, the ‘May I have a Seat, please?’ lanyard will come in handy.

Ong wrote that commuters like Samantha can ask for a seat on public transport more easily and even be offered one without having to ask, as the lanyard signals to fellow commuters that there is someone else in need of a seat.

The latest lanyard also incorporates the user's own design for a more personalised touch.

In Samantha's case, her lanyard features her favourite colours and cartoon characters.

How to get lanyard

Commuters who require the lanyard and card can approach Passenger Service Centres and Ticket Offices to obtain one.

How initiative started

The initiative was started by the Land Transport Authority in October 2019 to make public transport commutes better and to promote a caring and gracious commuting culture.

It was initially called "Excuse me, may I have a seat please?" and utilised stickers provided to commuters who needed a seat on public transport due to health conditions or disabilities that may not be outwardly visible.

The stickers could then be prominently displayed by commuters who utilise them.

In February 2020, Ong said commuters who have used the stickers over the past few months provided feedback that they found them helpful, and he added that others could contribute their own designs and ideas.

He added then that there had been a suggestion that LTA change the sticker to something that can be reused for every trip, such as a lanyard, and that it should have a "suitable and prominent design".

According to LTA's October 2019 press release on the initiative, commuters requesting for the sticker can show their medical certificates or doctors' letters to the service staff to support their request "if comfortable".

Top photo via Ong Ye Kung Facebook