• Culture

Controversial Rules The Government Of Singapore Forces Everyone To Follow

List RulesVote up the laws that would make you think twice before going to Singapore.

Singapore is a wealthy, thriving country in southeast Asia, renowned for its strong economy and beautiful sights, but it also has some of the strictest rules in the world. Singapore has a number of controversial laws, from a ban on chewing gum to laws against bad singing. And the punishments are harsh - they can range from fines to jail time or even caning.

As for what it's like to live in Singapore, that depends on how well you follow the rules. Drop a cigarette butt on the street or toss some crumbs to a pigeon and you could be under arrest. Divorced people can get kicked out of their apartments. And wait until you see what happens if you pee in an elevator.

Throughout history there have been many countries with strange laws and places with oppressive governments. But unlike the people who escaped East Germany in a hot air balloon, many Singaporeans don't mind the strict rules. However, though Singapore's stringent set of laws may seem silly on the surface, Amnesty International reported in 2004 that "the small city-state [had] possibly the highest execution rate in the world relative to its population" as result of its codes. This has led some to question the necessity of what they view as Singapore's draconian legal system. But are these controversial laws one of the reasons Singapore is so stable and beautiful? In 2018, CNBC reported that the laws in Singapore are so effective retail stores don't even lock their doors when closed. In fact, a Starbucks in Singapore doesn't even have doors at all; it has ropes that get pulled across entrances to indicate that it's closed. Anyone could walk in and take merchandise off the shells, but in Singapore, people don't.

Located at the southernmost tip of Malaysia, the first description of Singapore appears in a 3rd-Century Chinese text, and the earliest-known settlements there were established in 1298 CE. In the 14th Century, legend has it that a prince visiting the island named it "Singapura," which is taken from the Sanskrit words for lion, "simha," and city, "pura." Later, in the 19th Century, the British Empire established a trading post on Singapore, which was followed by the Japanese invasion of the island nearly a century later during Word War II. Though the Japanese ceded control of the island in 1945, it reverted to British control in 1946. It wasn't until 1959 that the island had its own election for self-governance, electing Lee Kuan Yew as the first Prime Minister of Singapore. Though initially part of the then newly formed Malaysia, Singapore only remained a part of the larger block for two years, splitting off as its own sovereign nation officially in 1965. Though its history may suggest a lot of control turnover, now Singapore is known for two things: its laws and its wealth. Both of these are attributed to the trailblazing first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew.

  • 5
    178 VOTES

    Street Musicians Should Be Careful

    Photo: Terence Ong / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

    Singapore's laws warn that “Any person who makes any noise by any instrument or other means in such a manner as to cause or be likely to cause annoyance or inconvenience … shall be guilty of an offense and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $1,000.”

    That's a pretty harsh punishment for street musicians - but the intent of the law is to ban the singing of obscene songs. Still, street musicians should be careful not to annoy anyone in Singapore.

    Is this extreme?
  • 6
    215 VOTES

    Dog Owners, Watch Out

    Photo: 889083 / Pixabay / Public Domain

    When it comes to pets, Singapore doesn't just ban leaving dog poop on the sidewalk, like most other countries. Dog owners are also liable if they allow their pet "to injure any tree or plant, or fence round any tree or plant." Dogs who like to dig are in big trouble.

    On top of that, it's illegal to let your animal graze on the side of a public road. And it gets even worse if your animal strays onto a public road or state land. Any of these offenses carry a fine of up to $1,000.

    Is this extreme?
  • 7
    206 VOTES

    Don't Feed The Birds

    Photo: MishuHanda / Pixabay / Public Domain

    The government of Singapore doesn't want a bunch of pigeons mucking up the country. As a result, pigeons are tightly regulated by the law - there's an entire list of rules for pigeons in the Animals and Birds Act. First off, it's illegal to feed pigeons in public, but it's also difficult to own pigeons, which requires a license, and it's against the law to "release or liberate pigeons in any place within Singapore."

    Pigeons in public are breaking the law, and "any pigeon found in any public place" may be seized, destroyed, or impounded. And fees for encouraging scofflaw pigeons aren't light: tossing crumbs to a bird comes with a $500 fine.

    Is this extreme?
  • 8
    201 VOTES

    No Bathing In Public

    Photo: Lizzyliz / Pixabay / Public Domain

    Improper bathing is a major concern in Singaporean law. When it comes to public property, "no person shall bathe, wade, wash, swim, fish in... any pond or lake." The same goes for public roads, reservoirs, and pretty much any body of water. Even some Friends-style antics in a fountain could earn you a fine in Singapore. 

    On the other hand, it's also illegal to inconvenience someone bathing at a designated bathing location. At least Singapore is consistent: keep your bathing in designated locations. Just don't let anyone see you nude as you walk to your shower.

    Is this extreme?