In an unexpected turn of events on Christmas Day, a tourist in Singapore found herself accused of theft after taking disposable chopsticks from a stall at Maxwell Food Centre. The incident unfolded when the tourist, accompanied by her boyfriend, visited the popular food court to enjoy a meal.
Got confronted by stall owner
The tourist, who shared her experience on her Xiaohongshu page, explained that she had dined at a neighboring stall that served Hainanese chicken rice with her boyfriend at the time.
Not having utensils, she assumed it was common practice to share disposable cutlery in a manner similar to airport dining areas. To her surprise, the owner of the stall approached them angrily, demanding the return of the chopsticks.
Feeling embarrassed for the misunderstanding, the couple offered to purchase the used chopsticks as a gesture of goodwill. However, the stall owner refused and insisted on reclaiming the items.
Faced with a growing crowd during the lunchtime rush, the tourists suggested buying something from the stall to make up for the mistake, treating it as if they had dined there.
Despite the tourists’ attempt to diffuse the situation, the stall owner escalated the confrontation, raising his voice and threatening to involve the police, accusing the couple of stealing his chopsticks.
The tourist expressed her lack of understanding regarding Singapore’s laws and questioned whether taking disposable chopsticks from a food stall constituted a criminal offense.
Stall owner responds
Speaking to Shin Min Daily News, the owner of the stall, Mr Lin, explained that he was busy serving customers with his wife at the time, when he saw a man take chopsticks from his stall before leaving.
He said that he was infuriated by the man taking the disposable chopsticks from his stall without asking, which he deemed being tantamount to stealing.
He further explained that it’s not the money that left him peeved, but rather, their alleged “rude behaviour”, and that he had approached the couple and told them that the cutleries set out at each stall at the hawker centre, were meant for their own patrons.
Lin also added that the couple allegedly didn’t apologise after that and instead asked him how much was the chopsticks, offering to pay him for it, which he was offended by because he felt insulted, perceiving it as the couple thinking they could solve the problem with money.
Speaking to 8World News, Lin also added that he has had other customers who dined at other stalls but took disposable chopsticks from his stall instead, which he says cut into the operating costs of his business.
In the aftermath, he is considering to set up a notice at his stall to let customers know that their cutleries are only for their own customers.