SINGAPORE: A woman is earning both support and brickbats from Singaporeans online after she complained about strangers cooing over and touching her baby affectionately, while they are out in public.

 

Kate Lee Young, a fragrance and beauty influencer, took to TikTok to express her displeasure. The mother of two, who appears to be married to a Singaporean, said she was shopping in Takashimaya in Orchard when a lady approached her, and started “playing with” and touching her baby boy.

 

Mimicking the stranger’s accent, she recounted: “Chinese la! Husband Chinese ah! So pretty la! So cute la! So handsome la!”

 

Kate rolled her eyes and continued: “Yes,my babies are half Asian. So? Get over it! You cannot touching my baby without asking!”

 

She then sought opinions from her followers on whether it was “rude” and “weird” for strangers to engage with other people’s children in this manner.

Respect personal space, some argue

Kate’s video has received mixed reactions from Singaporeans online. A significant number of netizens agreed with her, emphasizing respect for personal boundaries and hygiene concerns.

One mother, Facebook user Zurrid Love, shared her perspective and said that while she appreciates compliments and playful gestures towards her baby, touching crosses a line.

She added, “I will either close the pram cover, or hug the baby towards my chest when I feel uncomfortable. No need to talk because some strangers are defensive.”

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“This is normal in Singapore”

Others felt Kate overreacted and failed to appreciate the cultural nuances in Singapore.

Facebook user Parzival CT said: “Let me explain it in a way you understand. Auntie touching your baby is akin to giving your baby picture post a like emoji. It’s their way of saying he’s cute and adorable and deserving of their attention. You, on the other hand…”

Asserting that Kate could have “kindly and respectfully” asked the stranger to back off, Facebook user Ariespief Ariespief said: “Some aunties in Singapore will have the tendencies to commend, praise AND touch babies when they find them adorable and cute. If u are not comfortable about it, do communicate how u feel in a non-intimidating manner. Most aunties will understand”

Facebook user Doudou Lim explained: “The old generation has this urge to touch babies, in a form of adoring as in Sayang, to show liking and indirect form of praising the baby’s parent, so don’t take it too hard.”

Calling this a “generational gap,” Lim advised that asking the stranger to refrain from touching the baby could cause “an embarrassing situation when that person has good intents, especially being smitten by your baby.”

Asserting that it is healthy for babies to be exposed to different elements, Lim added: “To me, and may be some parents, we are proud when this happens, especially a stranger does it, because we asians do not commonly approach strangers, and it means that takes quite a lot of baby power to make it happen.”

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“Why so rude?”

A number of netizens were harsher. Many called the mother a “Karen” and slammed her for bringing up her concerns in such an “arrogant” way.

Some commenters even told her off and asked her to go back to her country if she cannot deal with local norms.

A commenter going by the handle Porky America said: “It’s normal in Singapore. Tell her if you don’t like. You are even ruder to complain here? No?”

Another netizen, Shaik Amina, said: “You Are in Spore and being fussy instead of thankful just say can see no touch pls”

Other commenters invoked the principle of adapting to local norms, suggesting that Kate should either embrace the cultural differences or consider relocating if she finds them intolerable.

Facebook user Michael Norris remarked: “Yes, it’s totally OK. When in Rome (as they say)…Embrace the culture…Move on. End of story.”

Another commenter, Ronnie Theva, said: This is Singapore. That’s how Aunties/Uncle’s behave. You not happy bring your baby back to your country, Karen.”

Some critics felt that direct communication would have been more appropriate than public complaining.

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Facebook user Hwahwa Lee remarked: “…you don’t like, just tell them face to face. Dont make a scene here.”

Another commenter said rather aggressively: “You are in our country. Our aunties don’t ask for much and by comparison, MOST of our aunties go so MANY EXTRA MILES to give and host you expats generously!!…Show and learn some bloody respect for the LOCALS!”

Several commenters came to Kate’s defense and called out the xenophobic comments, asserting that her concerns remain valid no matter whether she is Singaporean or not.

Some, however, argued that the criticism is not about whether her concerns are valid but more about the “rude” way she put her views forth.

Facebook user Steven Cheam criticised: “If you are so sensitive about it, just say thanks and stop them from touching. Use your brains too. It’s your own property. You have the right to stop them. Worst is u allowed them to touch and rant here?”

Going viral across social media and messaging platforms, Kate’s video has sparked a broader conversation about cultural etiquette, personal boundaries, and the integration of differing social norms in Singapore.

While opinions remain divided, the incident reveals the need for respectful dialogue and understanding in navigating cultural differences, especially in a multicultural society like Singapore.

TISG/