Street interview: what do Singaporeans think of their strict laws?

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It’s a lovely country to live in. I never had any issues, and no one I know has had any issues with these supposedly “Draconian” laws.


Blink twice if Singaporean authorities are monitoring your internet comments…



None of those laws sound too bad to me. The fine for being naked in your own house sounded odd so I looked it up and the fine is for when you are naked and people in a public space can see you.


I’m the kind of non-gum-chewing, toilet-flushing person who’d probably never run afoul of Singapore’s many quality of life laws.* However, I am also a politically aware person so the low intensity authoritarianism and demands for conformity have little appeal for me. Nice place to visit, wouldn’t want to live there.

[* ok, as a former NYer breaking the jaywalking habit would be hard and I do like being naked in my apartment with sunlight flooding in, but I could easily adjust]


Uneven enforcement is a problem in of itself: no one ever has a problem with these silly laws… until they piss off the wrong person and the police go fishing into their big bag of acceptable reasons to send you to jail for 6 months.

But mostly, the fact that something is worth banning outright because it might be annoying (especially to the government) shows that the process begins and ends with the bureaucrats, not with people. You know what most countries do to keep gum off train doors? Fine people who you catch leaving gum, then accept that the world and its people are not perfect and pay someone to clean up the rest. It’s easier to ban gum, but the easy way is almost never the right way.


I’ve spent quite a bit of time in Singapore, and never found the regulations oppressive (although I was once stopped in a train station for having a bunch of crazy wires poking out of my backpack.)

A more interesting question would be: are these regulations enforced equally for all language groups, skin tones, and political affiliations? Are the penalties generally financial rather than (U.S.-style) summary execution or pointless years-long imprisonment?

If the answers are ‘yes’ and ‘mostly just fines’ then, sure, go ahead and outlaw gum chewing, who cares?


How are you supposed to get changed? Do Singaporeans just layer on clothes throughout their lives? How do they wash?


As @Headache pointed out, it’s about being naked in your house in a way that the public can see you. You comply by pulling down the blinds if your windows face the street, a park, a building across the way where the neighbourhood voyeur can see you without the aid of binoculars, etc.

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gum-chewers, for a start. But by that logic, you can and should outlaw almost everything. Perfume, for example, is a pollutant, and allergen, and general nuisance; why not outlaw that? How about bathtubs, which use more water – a valuable public resource – to fill than are expended in a perfectly reasonable shower. Outlaw them. How about windows, which apparently always run the risk of exposing a naked person to the outside world. We have electric lights now, so who needs them? Outlaw 'em.

Where does it stop? Wherever some petty bureaucrat feels like it should. It’s petty oligarchy disguised as rule of law.

If we’re going to pretend to live a country that values individual liberties – and not all of them do – then the bar to outlaw a practice must be something a little bit higher than that it’s sometimes annoying but you don’t need to do it.


Hehe, no. Not anymore. (:


If you can’t be naked in your own house, how do they make more Singaporeans?


It sounds like a dystopian hellscape to me. Are folks there allowed to have emotions? Are they allowed to have subversive thoughts? At least for now…

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in the US you can end up on a sex offender list if a minor happens to see you. I’d take the $1000 fine over that!


I’m pretty sure that is already outlawed. I believe there is a fine if you wear heavy perfume on a train or bus.

Get some curtains. It’s illegal in the US as well to expose yourself through a window, despite being in your own home.

In a constitutional democratic republic like our own, we still make laws that enforce morale codes. Some of the laws lasted for quite some time before being struck down as unconstitutional. Often the laws had popular support at the time. (ex: Communications Decency Act of 1996; Comics Code Authority (CCA) from the 1950’s to 1980’s)


Just a reminder that Singapore had the second highest capital punishment rate per capita in the word between 1994 and 1998. Most executions are for people selling drugs. To put that in a rational perspective, they are murdering people over a prohibition. Obviously, the sale and use of any drug is only illegal due to a law and not because the practice is inherently wrong or evil. A civilized nation would not take away your freedom for violating a simple prohibition and any nation that would end your life over it’s objection to what you put in your body should not even be considered a modern one.
Take the amazing and unprecedented powers of the prosecutor for example. If you get caught with drugs, it is the prosecutor who decides if they will issue a Certificate of Cooperation (COC) which commutes your sentence from death to life in prison and caning. That’s right, the courts don’t hold the power of life and death, the prosecutor does.
This is not a nation that values human life or at least not as much as it values authoritarianism.


Okay, that law right there means Singapore is a ‘no go’ for me. If I’m going to risk death for a joint, fuck that. There are many other places to go visit.

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I think you’re just affirming that the harsh punishments work as a deterrent.

Add Malaysia and Indonesia to that list. Also, though they might be less likely to kill you outright, the UAE and practically anywhere in the Middle East would be happy to let you rot in jail for a while for traces of cannabis residue on your shoes.

Or, leave the weed back in Colorado/Oregon/California/etc., and buy new shoes and clothes for the trip.


Gum and gum chewing is not illegal. The import of gum for sale is forbidden. So, if you have gum that you are bringing when you visit, chew away! Just make sure you dispose of it properly or you’ll have your lips ripped off and fed to rhinoceros (may not be accurate).

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