If I must be honest, I have to admit that I still get amused looks from my fellow North American family members and friends when I tell them of my decision to settle down here after having plied my trade here in this sunny part of the world for almost twelve years. I started out as the lead engineer for an American tech company before I was relocated to Singapore and tasked to spearhead the team for the Asia-Pacific region. it was during this time that I fell in love with sunny Singapore.
Most of my mates tend to spit off the same remarks, like how I must be crazy and deluded to move to a country where chewing gum or spitting in public spaces is can be considered a crime. It is easy to pick on these petty instances but surely, these seemingly petty policies and regulations are decreed for a reason, and I am pretty sure every nation has its fair share of “peculiar” set of laws, at least through the eyes of the outsiders. However, these sort of interactions that I have between my mates always leaves me thinking about how gullible some people are of not wanting to take the extra step of understanding or read up on what the norms and cultures of other places are like before jumping to a conclusion.
Don’t get me wrong — I love North America and I still do. The place that I grew up in had a good mix of free-thinking Americans, which is refreshing to be around with, and I have always enjoyed their company. Such people, especially in that amount of large numbers, are hard to come by anywhere else in the world. However, as political entities, free-thinking nations such as the United States and Canada are on a rapid decline — which is, in essence. the basis of my mates’ arguments: why give up the company that you enjoy being with, for a stricter and more conservative one?
They do have a valid point, but in all honesty, I strongly feel that if we were to wrap our heads around and convince our minds with facts that alter and steers our actions to what we deem is easy in the short term may lead to lop-sided, long-term negative consequences. Certain laws and regulations that are in place may be considered petty to some, but in essence, these policies lay the foundation of the clean and green, safe and secure country that Singapore is today.
Yes, the sale of gum is banned in Singapore but here’s the thing I found out first-hand — the authorities do not have any issues with you consuming it for personal leisure. It is alright to chew gum in Singapore, but not to supply or sell them. It is also an open secret that some Singaporeans are bringing in chewing gum from their neighbouring countries for personal consumption ( with a limit of 2 packs per person). However, if you spit your spent gum on the sidewalk instead of getting rid of it in the correct manner, which translates into the litter bins, the authorities can penalise you heavily for littering, and rightly so.
Same goes for spitting — imagine a city littered with gums and covered in spit. It does not take rocket science to tell you the impact it’s going to have on the economy. Lesser tourists and increased public maintenance costs do not exactly equate to healthy economic growth.
Curfew on Alcohol
Drinking of alcoholic beverages is legal in Singapore but consuming your favourite bottle of Jack’s in a public space or a non-licensed premise is restricted from 2230 hours to 0700 hours. The same restriction is imposed on the sale of alcoholic products in convenience stores and supermarkets, coffee shops and some places for food, whereby you purchase the alcohol to in the form of taking it away. This regulation took effect after the 2013 Little India riot which resulted in the death of a 33-year-old Indian construction worker. He was run over and killed on the spot by a private bus at a junction in the heart of Little India.
Singapore boasts one of the world’s most powerful passport and, in my opinion, offers some of the best advantageous, particularly if you are always on the move for business trips or have an expensive hobby of travelling around the world during your spare time. Personally, due to my frequent business travels, the Singapore passport has granted me visa-free travels to places where even Western passports need visas, like China and Japan. In addition, given that Singapore does not get itself implicated in imperialistic exploits, its passport offers higher safety as well — a fact that will go down very well with the Muslims and the Christians.