Photo: Flickr/Kristine Konruff
All the recent news surrounding Mayor Bloomberg’s soda ban has left a lot of people talking about an infringement of personal rights. But compared to Singapore’s notorious limitations, our soda law is small potatoes.
Singapore law is full of odd restrictions on personal acts, some of which are comical in their absurdity and others threatening in their limitations.
Unlike odd laws in other countries, some statutes are enforced with extremely strict and often bizarre penalties. Singapore also differs from the United States where penalties are determined by a judge;breaking certain laws in Singapore can come with mandatory decisions that still include cane beatings.
Fines run up to $1000 for littering.
It is illegal to litter in many countries, but the punishments for doing it in Singapore are without comparison.
Not only can you get as much as a $1,000 fine, litterers receive “community work orders” where they are forced to pick up trash in public. The punishment is intended to publicly embarrass convicted litterers.
It is illegal to pee in elevators.
Obviously everyone hates an elevator that smells like urine, but Singapore officials REALLY hates it. Some elevators are equipped with Urine Detection Devices. These UDDs can actually detect urine odor in elevators, which set off an alarm. Once this alarm goes off, the doors of the elevator close until the police arrive and arrest the perpetrator.
Selling chewing gum is forbidden.
The Asian country takes cleanliness very seriously and apparently gum just causes too much of a mess to be sold in the country at all. This doesn’t mean that you can’t bring a little with you, just make sure you don’t spit it on the floor otherwise you can face a hefty fine. However, after strong petitioning by Wrigley, if you get a note from a doctor you can chew certain medicinal gums.
No pornography of any kind is allowed.
There is a lot of censorship in Singapore and this includes the ban on pornography in all forms, from pictures to DVDs. Magazines that discuss sex like Cosmopolitan are allowed, but require special “parental warnings” on their covers.
Gay sex is illegal and comes with a two-year jail term.
Sexual relationships between two members of the same gender are forbidden in Singapore, although the law is not nearly as strictly enforced as some of the other laws on this list. Formerly, oral sex was also illegal until the ban was lifted in 2007.
You can get fined for not flushing public toilets.
There is clearly a trend in Singapore about keeping things clean and this extends to the bathroom as well.
If your caught failing to flush a public toilet after using it you can expect a nice fine of around $150. There do not appear to be detectors like there are for elevator urination, but apparently police officials have been known to check.
It is illegal to walk around your house naked.
Singapore culture is intent on prohibiting many personal rights, the government reason for which is that it creates harmony in a conservative and culturally diverse country.
Thus, you can’t walk around your house naked according to Singapore law, because it is considered a form of pornography. However, it is unclear how a law like this is enforced.
Do not spit anywhere.
Along with throwing cigarette butts on the street, spitting is banned in Singapore. As with similar prohibitions, these laws are in place to maintain Singapore’s reputation for cleanliness.
Both infractions come with significant fines and are routinely enforced.
You can be arrested for taking drugs before entering the country.
Singapore officials have the power to submit anyone to a drug test, whether they are residents of the country or just tourists.
What is really shocking about this law is that officials do not disseminate between drugs taken before or after you come into the country. This is really frightening considering there are mandatory death sentences for certain drug offenses.
If you graffiti you will get caned.
Respect for public property is taken very seriously in Singapore, so it should be no surprise that vandalism is really despised. So much so that if you are caught vandalizing you will receive a mandatory caning.
Singapore’s justice system is different from the U.S., as certain laws can have mandatory sentences. Furthermore, Singapore courts do not have juries, only judges.
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