Aside from the obvious fact that Singapore is a fine city, it also takes a lot of discipline for its government and citizens to make it impeccably clean. The city-state is considered to be the cleanest and greenest metropolis in Asia. But how did this small country achieve that? How did it rise to become an Asian economic tiger and one of the world’s most popular places for business, entertainment, and tourism?
Singapore is filled with signs. There are safety signs everywhere. They intend to keep you—residents and tourists alike—in line. You need to follow Singapore’s rules on a myriad of stuff so that you don’t have to be at the receiving end of the country’s infamous fine system.
A Fine City
If you visit a souvenir shop in the city, you’ll notice shirts, mugs, key chains, and other stuff with the phrase “Singapore: A Fine City.” It has a double meaning, of course, both of which are absolutely true. Singapore is indeed a fine city to travel to and invest in. But it is also a city that fines you for chewing gum or throwing a cigarette butt to the gutter.
That started during the reign of its founding father, Lee Kuan Yew. The former prime minister believed that little things matter. So he would go outside to walk and send personal notes to his ministers when he found something out of place. He reasoned that a clean city would attract investors and tourists. In a bid to make citizens follow his lofty goals, the government imposed fines on smoking, flower picking, bird feeding, spitting, water wasting, etc.
The result is Singapore as you see it now. Tourists are flocking to the city-state. Businessmen are investing huge sums of money. Its port is one of the busiest in the world. Its airport is the best in the world for seven years. Its flag carrier, Singapore Airlines, is second in ranking the best airline in the world.
How Much Are You Going to Be Fined?
It’s important to know that you’re only going to be fined after it has been proven that you committed an offence. Eating and drinking in public places will cost SG$500. For larger offences such as chewing gum, littering, smoking, bird feeding, urinating in public, and spitting, you’ll be fined SG$1,000. Carrying flammable goods will cost SG$5,000.
It’s worth remembering also that these fines are not the only punishment you’re going to get for breaking the law. You’ll have to be detained as well. The duration of your detention will depend on the offence that you have committed.
Remember that these things only become offences once they are done in public. You can, of course, smoke in designated areas. You must check with the premises if they have these areas for you. While chewing gum is frowned upon, you’ll only get in trouble if you throw it improperly. Also, nicotine, therapeutic, and dental chewing gum are okay.
Although you must take extra care of your behaviour when in Singapore, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t visit it. The city-state is one of the most visited countries in the world consistently for years. Many tourists enjoy Singapore so much that some of them decide to stay and work there for good. You just have to be mindful of their laws, and you’ll be fine.