Singapore: a ‘fine’ city
Singapore has a great reputation for being a safe, clean city, but with strict laws you’re not far away from picking up a fine if you stray from the rules. We invited Desmond Chow, Managing Director, from Asia Expat Guides to share some insight and top tips about keeping your money in your pocket.
To many people who have visited Singapore, it is indeed a fine city. It is an almost utopia with ultra-cleanliness and orderliness. However, the word ‘fine’ carries a double meaning in Singapore as there are many unusual regulations that can get you fined; even for doing things that are considered normal in your home country.
Here are just some of the ‘unusual’ things that are forbidden in the Lion City.
No chewing gums
Singapore takes cleanliness very seriously and gum just causes too much of a mess to be sold in the country at all. If you can't live without it, just bring a little with you before your trip to Singapore, make sure to keep it in your mouth and stick it at the trash can afterwards. Bringing chewing gums in large amount and spitting it on the floor can cause you to pay a hefty fine.
Don’t connect to unsecured wi-fi hotspots
Don't think about connecting to an unsecured network of your neighbour. If you are caught logging on, it is considered "hacking" and offenders can be fined for stealing, even facing charges punishable by up to three years imprisonment. If you don’t have internet connection at home, go to a coffee shop offering free wi-fi or an internet cafe.
Remember to flush the toilets
In Singapore, everything has to be kept clean and this of course includes bathroom. If you are caught failing to flush a public toilet after using it, you can expect a fine. Beware: police officials have been known to check.
It is illegal to litter in many countries, but the punishments for doing so in Singapore are without comparison. Not only can you get a seriously hefty 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.
Ask for permission before hugging
Ask for permission before hugging people in Singapore, otherwise you can be charged for “outraging the modesty of another person”. In addition, when you haven’t seen your loved ones for a long time, make sure you are not over affectionate with them when meeting in a public space, as this is a similar crime.
Culture shock is one of the most common problems faced by expats, and some unusual regulations can just add to the complexity of relocating to a new country. A little bit of knowledge, however, goes a long way. It’s an easy place to feel at home.
Desmond Chow runs Asia Expat Guides, which offer a range of support services to new expats from relocation advice and finding a home, to familiarisation tours of the city.
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Good luck with your new adventure! We'd love to hear how you are getting on.
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