Singapore is a prosperous country and one of the reasons for this is probably its strict enforcement of the law. While some rules make sense, the others seem a bit much. Like they say, when in Rome do as the Romans do. In this case, when in Singapore, don’t do what Singaporeans don’t do. So here are a few things you shouldn’t be doing if you visit:
- No streaking. Unless you are an exhibitionist this one calls for an eye roll. It seems like an obvious thing to avoid doing. But a quirk of this law is that you also can’t be caught naked even in your home or hotel room. If you are caught by another person, like say, a housekeeper, you can be arrested for indulging in a ‘pornographic act.’ Um, maybe just lock the doors and close the drapes if you plan to parade in your birthday suit in your room?
- No porno and piracy. You may have a fine collection of porn that you are secretly proud of, but keep that pride and your collection at home if you plan to visit Singapore. And while you’re at it, leave those pirated movies behind as well. Unless it is an original copy you’ll be – you guessed it – fined!
- No touchy-touchy. Sure, you love your partner and can’t wait to show them that physically, but do that at home. Homosexuality is still technically illegal here so same sex couples should be extra discreet in public. Unwanted touching (violent or sexual) can get you imprisonment, a fine (obviously) or caning. Yes, caning is a thing here, and it’s considered a perfectly normal form of punishment. So best avoid this unless you have lots of money or a penchant for masochism.
- No food and drink on the commute. Make sure you are well fed and hydrated while commuting. Commuters on the public transport are not allowed to eat, drink or breastfeed. The reason stated by the authorities is to avoid unnecessary spillage and accidents. They don’t want someone to slip on that banana peel you tossed away so callously or for you to reach that interview with crumbs down your shirt. Remember, they fine you because they care.
- No Drugs. This is a high level deal. You can even die (literally, because you can get a death penalty). If you are caught possessing, consuming, manufacturing, trafficking or being otherwise friendly with any controlled substances you can get a death penalty based on the amount of illegal substances in use. If said substances are less in quantity than the mandated requirement to incur a death sentence you can get lifetime imprisonment or a caning up to 24 strokes (or both if you’re lucky :P)
- No vandalism. Writing, destroying, or otherwise defacing any private or public property can incur a fine, along with imprisonment anywhere between a few months to 3 years and some caning as a bonus. If you are over 50 you will be fined or imprisoned but will be exempted from caning (isn’t that sweet) but why you find the need to indulge in vandalism when you are past your prime and probably won’t be able to escape fast enough is beyond me.
- No Littering. This is probably one of the first things you’ll hear when travelling to Singapore. A first offender can be fined up to $1000. Beyond the second offense, you not only have to pay but also have to do some community service and clean the streets whilst sporting a bib that says ‘I’m a litterbug.’ By Singapore standards, if this happens you might as well have a bell ringing while people chant ‘shame, shame, shame.’
- No pee-pee. Singapore has this fun device in the elevators that detects the scent of urine. So tempted as you might be, please don’t take a leak in the elevators. The device is designed to sound an alarm upon detection and lock you in till the police arrives to arrest you. Waiting in a closed elevator, smelling your own pee is probably a good time to contemplate on life choices. Furthermore, you can get fined for not flushing the toilet after using a public restroom (yes, they check). Even if you aren’t going to be fined, just do the decent thing and press that little lever, it won’t take more than a second of your time or a lot of muscle. And while you’ve been practising there make sure you carry the habit back home.
- No chewing gum. You can’t sell or import gum into Singapore. The sale of gum was banned after vandals stuck some in the sensor doors of the SMRT, the public transportation system. The whole billion dollar system came to a halt and peeved the government quite a bit. This was in 1992. Hope you are happy vandals, no gum for anyone in the whole country now thanks to your one act; looks like a single person can change the system.
- No jaywalking. Crossing of streets is allowed only in designated areas, so make sure you look for marked pedestrian lanes while crossing roads.
- No smoking. Smoking is banned in indoor public places and most outdoor public places. Here’s something to mull over – If you are caught dropping your cigarette butt on the street will you be fined for smoking or littering? Knowing Singapore, probably both.
Singapore is a great place. Play by these rules and you’ll be fine. If you don’t, you’ll be fined. The choice is yours.