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Singapore – on chewing gum and caning

Singapore – on chewing gum and caning

All I knew about Singapore before stepping on its grounds was that Singapore is a very small country with the capital of the same name, that you are not allowed chewing gum and that it was an exceptional clean country.

What I didn’t know was that Singapore is actually an island, that it is a one city country of immigrants and that the clean image is sort of a myth. Being welcomed by budget airport (that is its official name) which is an old, dirty,  small and ugly building that could have been a fine example of third world budget shortness, wasn’t very inviting. But the tuna sandwiches at the exit were great and cheap – for 2 S$ it was less than half of what we had to pay at our hostel (not hotel!) for breakfast. Singapore does have two more terminals that look more up to date. But those were my first impressions which were contradicting my prejudice thinking on the spotless country.

Singapore dodgy budget airport

Singapore has a lot of laws and regulations for its people. There is the overly strict chewing gum law, which we accidentally broke by importing chewing gum that was still in my backpack without getting caught, when we arrived in chewing gum free country. And that means that there is no way to buy chewing gum anywhere. Instead there are chewing gum substitutes in form of breath refreshing candy drops of all the regular chewing gum brand names. We refrained from having ours as fines are horrendous.

In Singapore there are signs and stickers with different rules everywhere you go with the fines displayed right underneath it. I asked myself why that is as I haven’t seen that many fine threats and behavior regulations in any other country before. Curious about its whereabouts, I found out, that the anti chewing gum law came about because Singaporians were sticking their chewy leftovers onto any surfaces, placing them underneath tables in restaurants, under seats in buses and trains and annoying public transport, causing delays in trains and buses that were stopped due to chewing gum sensor barricaded doors, which resulted in a major financial cleaning strain. Eventually the government saw no other way as to pass the chewing gum ban.

Then there is the Singaporian consequence for misbehavior: the government officially applies caning to discipline law offenders. So happened to a media famous case of a sixteen year old girl that was caught committing graffiti crime. Caning is used in schools, prisons and is a regarded a general accepted practice at home.

In the end, with all those laws, signs and fines there was as much litter as in any city, in some areas way more than I would expect in such a small, rich and highly developed country. Especially around restaurants, people would throw napkins on the floor, smokers would flick cigarette buds onto the street in the usual all around the world smokers practice, the only difference being that it was right next to the no smoking, no littering signs. Spitting in public is also popular despite a fine threat.

The weirdest law reinforces toilet flushing after use due to serious neglect in that particular toilet procedure! It is now less of a problem, thanks to the infrared sensors that flush by themselves, although I have met unfinished business in restaurant toilets.

It seems that Singapore has its people on a tight leash to keep a desired city appearance. In fact, I would dare to say that cleanness is not Sinagpore’s brightest side and that laws and fines are a desperate attempt to achieve just that. Most of the displayed rules are actually common sense and shouldn’t need to be enforced by law.

Singapore, the fine city. No bicycles. That vehicle is definitely something else.
Singapore laws and fines Singapore laws and fines

 

Maybe there are too many signs to follow them all.

Singapore laws and fines

 

Just a big city with a lot of trash. The worst area to suffer from litter was Geylang, the red light district and gambling heaven.

Singapore laws and fines

 

They should have more of these in Germany (maybe in a smaller size).

Singapore laws and fines

 

Drastic education. Some small scraps still didn’t make it to the bin.

Singapore laws and fines

 

It works when big brother is watching. Didn’t see any trash on that bus.

Singapore laws and fines

 

Top notch fine for a tunnel ride. Apparently worth taking the risk :)

Singapore laws and fines

 

How to wash your hands – displayed in a public toilet.

Singapore laws and fines

 

 How to use traffic lights.  My favorite sign on buildings.
Singapore laws and fines Singapore laws and fines

 

Yes, finally the end of passive smoking! If only people would follow this one.

Singapore laws and fines

 

The most expensive chewing gum was resting in my backpack.

Singapore laws and fines

 

There is no way to go through that jungle
without a machete anyway :)
That truly is a problem on buses and trains.
Singapore laws and fines Singapore laws and fines

 

On the train. I wonder how they control the last one.

Singapore laws and fines

 

Skaters, I feel sorry for you. After experiencing the smell of durian fruit I am totally for that ban.
Singapore laws and fines Singapore laws and fines

 

This sign is literally history.

Singapore laws and fines

 

What a shame.  Singapore is a perfect place to ride a bike.

Singapore laws and fines

 

Was that man breaking the law making bubbles or standing on the lawn?

Singapore laws and fines

 

No loitering in little India. The crime of remaining in any one place with no apparent purpose.

Singapore laws and fines

 

Before boarding the escalator familiarize yourself with the signs. No sitting!

Singapore laws and fines

 

 

 

 

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One Comment

  1. Factual correction: It wasn’t a 16-year-old girl that was caned for vandalism, it was an 18-year-old boy. Females are never caned in Singapore, either judicially or, for that matter, at school. Judicial caning is applied only to males under 50.

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