Singapore responds to major crime at Starbucks

A travesty has occurred at Starbucks. This huge, life-changing event shakes me to the core each time I think about it. The Straits Times did their civic duty and gave the topic the recognition it deserves as one of the top stories under Editor’s Pick, above superfluous articles about crime and education. What is this monumental incident I’m talking about? Seat-hogging, in Starbucks.

On Oct. 26, a student from Millenia Institute was studying with her friends at the Citylink Mall Starbucks. When she exited the cafe to take a 30 minute study break, she left her things on a chair and table. I, for one, am horrified to think that such an outward display of selfishness could happen in Singapore.

Photo by Jay Cross (Creative Commons license)

Upon her return, the student noticed that her belongings had been moved by a member of the staff. The student later took to Starbuck’s Singapore Facebook page, complaining about what had happened. This post, understandably, went viral. I mean, with something as novel as a teenage girl being upset at a Starbucks, how could it not gain Internet fame?

The complaint elicited over 11,000 comments.


Many commenters were infuriated by this student’s blatant disregard of morals, social etiquette and human decency. One even wrote this logical and appropriate response to the problem: “It should be clear to all students that they will be expelled by [their] school if they study in a cafe/restaurant.”

Others were confused, and wondered: “Is [seat hogging] a unique situation that only happens in Singapore? Does Starbucks face similar situations elsewhere in the world?’

In response to the plethora of comments, a Straits Times poll was created to gauge whether or not citizens believed Starbucks was justified in its decision to move the girl’s bags and books.

Enraged Singaporeans took to the poll. In the end, 96% of the people who voted agreed that Starbucks was right to have moved the student’s things.

Photo by Craig ONeal (Creative Commons license)

Thankfully, the school got involved. After counseling her to do so, the student apologized for her atrocious actions. Thank goodness for the school’s direction, such a dramatic series of events set off by one of their own students most certainly demanded their attention. Millenia Institute’s principal, Mrs. Tan Wan Yu, said, “The school has engaged the student and her parents to provide counseling and support to help her reflect on her actions.”

I pray that Singapore will never again be plagued with such a distasteful attack on its values. In the wake of this disaster, I’m optimistic that the land of the Merlion and home of the Chicken Rice will be able to come together as a country, nay, as humans, to find a solution to the epidemic that is seat-hogging. I only hope that in the future, in the midst of crises such as Ebola and ISIS, The Straits Times will continue to be brave and report equally devastating events occurring right here in Singapore. Hashtag #stopseathogging, #dontsitatStarbucks and #sitfor5minutes to support our country in the fight against studying at Starbucks.

Author: Emma Gammons

Emma Gammons is the Design Editor and Website Manager for the SAS Eye Online. This is her fourth year at SAS and her first year as part of The Eye staff. Outside school Emma likes making her friends guess her movie references and finding good places to eat. She can be reached at

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