Anger Mounts Against using Tissue Packets to “Chope” Seats at Food Courts and Hawker Centres

It appears that more sections of the public are fed up with what’s possibly a “Uniquely Singapore” style of making reservations at food courts and hawker centres – putting tissue packets on tables to “chope” seats.

The action is perhaps best described by local makan expert KF Seetoh, who described it as such:

“The first thing chope master artists do is to hone in on an empty table and mark their turf — by putting the cheapest or most useless personal item they have on them, usually a half used tissue pack, a cheap ball point pen or even a worthless bargain stall umbrella on the seat. That, in mod-Singapore street food speak, means “lay off, she’s taken,” or in local vernacular called Singlish “Chope, this seat mine”

Upping the stakes, some diners go so far as to leave personal items such as handphones, car keys, umbrellas, work files on empty tables to mark their spot.

Granted, our Singapore “chope” methods are child’s play compared to this woman in Malaysia who used her kid to chope a parking spot, but it’s still annoying many who find it difficult to find a spot to enjoy their makan.

Said Ronald Lee:

“This practice is common among the lunchtime office crowd. For instance, tables for five or six are reserved with tissue paper, depriving single customers of a seat. It is also not uncommon for a group of diners to stay on at the table after eating, chatting, playing games on their mobile phones, surfing the Internet or returning calls, oblivious to others who are looking for a seat. The Hawker Centre 3.0 Committee has to look into this reservation practice. It is not amusing when elderly customers are forced to carry trays of food and go around in circles looking for a seat.”

Others like Ho Meng Hee said such actions put Singapore and Singaporeans in a negative light:

“The image of Singaporeans being selfish and self-centred will be etched in the minds of some foreigners. This choping may also pose a danger to other diners. Imagine a poor diner balancing precariously a bowl of very hot noodles on his tray, trying to make his way between rows of seated diners in a crowded hawker centre and having much difficulty looking for a table because of the choped seats. It just makes a mockery of our courtesy campaigns.”

Adding to that, Ms Davi Beschizza said this “Singapore style” of doing things has to go:

“I was recently at a hawker centre, carrying an umbrella, a handbag and a tray with a bowl of very hot soup, and looking for a seat. I saw a young man seated at a table meant for six waiting for his companions who were ordering food. The table was reserved with tissue paper. I asked if all the seats were taken, and was told that they were. I said that it was not fair that the whole table was reserved when he and his companions were taking turns ordering food. After all, I did not have the luxury of having a companion to reserve a space for me. He proceeded to say that “it is Singapore style” and argued with me, using a lot of expletives.”

Time for a change in our makan culture?



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