Thursday, October 29, 2009

Young children in Singapore

Which parent does not want his or her young children to grow tall and healthy? Of late, I have started to observe a guideline in Singapore, which may be quite discriminatory to young tall children as well as their parents.

Called it the ‘0.9 metre’ guideline, basically this guideline in effect at places like restaurants and MRT stations stipulates that young children of height 0.9 metre and above must pay for taking of train rides or for buffet dinner whereas their shorter counterparts enjoy these for free.

On what basis is this guideline founded upon? A group of children who develop healthily and reach 0.9 metre very fast should be congratulated. However in Singapore, it seems that growing too tall that early may not be a good thing at all for parents of the young children as they would have to incur more expenses when bringing their charges to public places and using public transport; in a way growing tall too fast for children may hence become a penalty!

In my opinion, I believe this guideline comes about as 0.9 metre may be the average height of a grown-up child and this guideline conveniently eliminates the service staff to manually check for verification proof of the age of all children should they decide to implement a pay fee structure based on age: e.g, free for children below 10 years old. Just take a simple case of MRT staff checking on the age of all young children amidst the throngs of everyday crowds at MRT stations to ascertain their eligibility for free rides, it would be quite chaotic, inconvenient and it may be also impossible as Singaporeans obtain their Identification Cards (ICs) only upon attaining the age of 12.

But to base a guideline on man’s biological development is also unfair as it is to the detriment of fast boomers. So how should we decide the benchmark if we were to replace this “ 0.9 metre system”?

One possible way is to accord all Singaporeans with a card at a very young age, which combines the respective function of their Identification Card, EZ link card, NETs etc all within the card. Young children can use these cards on MRT entry gadgets upon entry and with their birth details recorded on these cards, the entry system is able to either charge or grant free access to these children. These cards can be applicable in restaurant settings too in similar cases.

Just my two cents worth of thought.

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