Why we need to stop chope-ing seats with tissue paper

Why we need to stop chope-ing seats with tissue paper

The phenomenon of chope-ing seats with tissue is a unique Singaporean tradition. But is it one to be proud of or should it be eradicated?

The humble tissue paper is getting a bad rep in Singapore, since it’s being used as a weapon to claim food court tables during peak periods. This phenomenon known as choosing seats is a unique and Singaporean issue.

Tissue, tissue everywhere

The argument of chope-ing seats with tissue has been raging online receiving more and more feedback from both camps. One side claims it is ridiculous and rude while the other defends it.

Yet a quick look around the CBD food courts at lunchtime show how the issue is far from resolved, especially with the many packets of tissue still being placed on tables all over the food court.

The question then is why has this become an accepted tradition in Singapore?


Chope-ing seats with tissue is the act of placing packets of tissue on empty tables to reserve seats while you go grab your food. This act while seemingly harmless has met the ire of many Singaporeans who consider it rude.

Firstly, it deprives people who have already gotten their food and are desperately looking for a seat to eat their lunch, as well as causing a backlog on available seats. The latter is especially annoying, since the people who chope seats with tissue paper could be waiting in line for a good fifteen minutes or longer – which is more than enough time for someone to be done with their meal.

chope-ing seats with tissue

The issue of chope-ing seats with tissue has two camps defending each side

A tradition to uphold?

While many may figure chopping seats with tissue as a great tradition to uphold, it seems to play into the kiasu mentality of many Singaporeans, which could have dire consequences as the recent Hello Kitty saga has shown us. Thus, perhaps we should stop looking at this phenomenon as something to be accepted as uniquely Singaporean.

Alternatives to the tissue packet

Short of building more food courts and equipping them with more facilities, lunch time crowds can consider having a ‘jaga’ to chope seats while their friends get the food.

Also, it would be good to practice sharing, especially if you know the food queue will take more than 10 minutes. Such cooperation and consideration will help make everyone’s lunch experience more positive and less stressful.

How do you feel about this unspoken rule of chope-ing seats with tissue? Should it be banned, made illegal or is that too extreme a decision to take? Share with us your thoughts below, especially if you have been chope-ing seats with tissue at the hawker centres. 

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Written by

Wafa Marican

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