Singapore works like clockwork on a lot of levels, and its laws work very hard to keep everything perfectly in place. As an expat who is new to the environment, you may find that some of the relaxed liberal laws and freedoms you enjoy in your own country are not accepted in Singapore. While certain actions may be considered ‘normal behavior’ back home, in Singapore—it’s deemed penalty-worthy!
To prevent attracting the wrong kind of attention upon moving to Singapore, here are seven wacky laws worth taking note of:
1) Thou shall switch to mints and leave chewing gum behind!
Don’t even bother transporting your gum supplies to Singapore as gum chewers face a hefty fine if caught chewing away! Singapore prohibited the sale of chewing gum after authorities noticed a huge amount of used gum being stuck in subway stations and on public property. Since then, it’s contraband material!
2) Thou shall not leave toilets un-flushed after use, especially public toilets
Toilets are for public use—and if you’re not considerate enough to flush it, you may end up being publicly caned for it! In case you’re wondering how you could get caught and fined for such a private act, some police actually patrol public toilets looking for dirty offenders.
3) Thou shall not be overly affectionate in public
While hugging, kissing and further public displays of affection may be allowed in your home country, you may want to control such affections in Singapore. Being overly amorous in public can be viewed as “outrageous modesty” and land you with a less than welcoming fine, or even a jail sentence.
4) Thou shall not introduce acquaintances to friends and associates
This is odd for many expats; but did you know—introducing an acquaintance to a friend (for work or other business purposes) can get you into prison if he/she commits an offense on the job. You may think it kind to help a friend, but the risk outweighs ‘thoughtfulness’ as you will be held equally liable for making irresponsible introductions.
5) Thou shall not make religiously charged statements that could be offensive to the concerned religion, or to the community that is being spoken about
In Singapore, any comment that is religiously charged and offensive is considered taboo in the eyes of the law. Offenders can end up with massive fines, or find themselves locked behind bars. While in many Western countries, such comments would just go viral on social media and attract public ridicule—in Singapore; the law will also catch up with you!
6) Thou shall not smoke in public
Non-smokers, rejoice. Smokers, beware. Lighting up in public spaces may not only cost you your health in the long-term, but a fine of $USD150 if caught.
7) Thou shall not spit in public
If you think smoking was bad, spitting in public will result in a heftier fine of $USD345. Whatever the case, phlegm over-production or not, do resist spitting in public!
8) Thou shall not walk around your home in your birthday suit
This one (understandably) causes the most confusion among expats. It’s worth noting that if you are caught with your pants down at home, you may end up spending a few nights in the local jail as nudity is an offence in Singapore; one that is dealt with as harshly as pornography.
If you live in Singapore, we’d love to hear whether these laws are indeed enforced (especially some of the stranger ones) and if they’re any others we should add to the list!