Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Singapore – a country with many regulations and fines

I actually wanted to write a different post today but as I made my way to the nearest Starbucks to write the post, the inspiration for this post came. You know why after you read it.

Singapore must be the cleanest, safest and most organised city I have ever seen. No wonder, there are regulations for almost everything and fines if those are breached. The running joke is that Singapore is a “fine” city.

You can get fined for those things:

Chewing gum
Don’t chew gum or smuggle gum into Singapore (penalty up to one year in jail and $10,000 fine). Import, sale and possession of chewing gum are banned, also no own consumption. The rule was introduced because of the high cost and difficulty in removing stuck chewing gum from public premises.
On my first trip to Singapore, I discovered some chewing gum in my hand bag after I went through customs. Puh, that was lucky.
No littering. Apparently when anyone is caught littering, they will be issued a Corrective Work Order (CWO). That means having to wear a CWO jacket and being made to sweep public roads or clean up litter as a form of community service plus fines up to $2000.
Jay walking:
Jaywalking across public roads is also not allowed. Surprisingly no one, even the locals, obey this rule. I haven’t seen the traffic police yet.
Eating and drinking in the MRT:
This is my view the most ridiculous regulation. You are not allowed to eat or drink on the MRT (Mass Rapid-Transit. This could be an expensive snack and bottle water – $500 fine.
Here are a few more:
-    Corporal punishment (including the rattan cane) for crimes including drug offences, rape, rioting, extortion and vandalism.
-    Homosexual acts between men, including kissing, are illegal and penalties include imprisonment. (No specific law against homosexual acts between women.)
-     Offences, including offences against 'modesty' (such as men behaving inappropriately towards women, using inappropriate language or singing offensive sporting team songs), can result in corporal punishment (the rattan cane) and/or imprisonment.
-     Adult movies are forbidden in Singapore. Also, you will not see even one boob on TV here. So True Blood is half as good as here and only goes 30 minutes. J
-    Death penalty for murder and drug trafficking. And no there is no public holiday to public execution. Someone told me this myth before I relocated to Singapore. This is Asia light - not Middle East.

But despite all those rules and regulations: There is one thing for which a regulation does not exist yet (!) and which the Singaporean have not worked out yet. Walking on the street

Driving on the left also applies to Singapore so naturally you assume that you have to walk on the left side of the foot path and overtake on the right. Well, that’s where you would be wrong.

Every time I walk to my beloved yoga studio through the busy city, I am so close to throwing a tantrum in public (probably I would be fined for it too).  Everyone (apart from the expats) walks anywhere on the foot path, at a pace where a snail would be able to easily overtake anyone, with no space to overtake on either side. As I make an attempt to overtake on the right, someone strolls from the left in front of me. I jumped to the left, someone from the right cuts me off. 
If someone comes towards you, naturally after 4 years of training in Australia I move to the left. Guess what, that person wouldn’t go its left, no, the person would stay on my left and we almost run into each other. Here, I admit I persistently stay on my side and put my angry face on. Eventually, about two metres in front of me, the person would go to their left with such a surprised look on its face as if it would be news to them that you walk on the left side.

So here are my recommendations to make Singapore even more organised (and to prevent my tantrum):
  1. Underpasses/MRT stations: Have a clearly marked slow lane and fast lane and mark on which side everyone has to walk (the latter already exists at some MRT stations and shopping malls)
  2. Run a workshop and train everyone where to walk
  3. Fine people if they don’t walk on the right, the better word would be "correct", side

Until then, I heavily rely on yoga to calm me down after my walking experience to the yoga studio.

1 comment:

  1. or you could just carry a cattle prod and zap people out of the way ;)