Friday, June 8, 2012

Little Glimpse of Singaporean Law

Singapore values order and obedience. The government controls many aspects of its residents' personal lives to ensure the country is safe, livable, and prosperous (which it definitely is). For example, chewing gum is illegal to keep streets looking immaculate. Any possession of illegal drugs can be punishable by death. Popular pornography sites are banned. To keep pollution down, a car here is only affordable for the wealthy- a $15,000 Jetta in the US will cost you almost $100,000 in Singapore after taxes and fees.

Yesterday, in the Wall Street Journal, there were three stories on Singapore.

1. Sticker Lady - A woman was been detained after being caught putting up stickers around Singapore. Graffiti is illegal (like many other countries) and her public display of art is not being appreciated by the government. She has been released on bail and whether she will be filed with charges is still up in the air. I personally think her stickers are adorable. Singapore shouldn't be afraid to get a little creative and weird.
2. Singapore Bans More Locals from Casinos - Singapore only has two casinos and they are less than two years old. They are already bringing in more revenue than Las Vegas. This is amazing news since many Singaporeans are banned from entering and if they aren't banned then they have to pay a large fee to play for the day. The government wants to control any social problems that arise from gambling, so individuals that are low-income, unemployed, on subsidized housing, have declared bankruptcy, or receive long-term financial aid are not allowed in the casinos. I went to Sentosa the other week but was unable to get in because I didn't have my passport on me. Do you think these types of restrictions would ever pass through legislation in the US?

3. Singapore Official Charged in Rare Corruption Case - Singapore is constantly ranked among the highest for the least-corrupt nations. Unfortunately, this government official accepted sexual favors from women with ulterior motives. The government has a zero-tolerance approach to corruption- so the official has already been removed from his position, but what now? One of the country's unique punishments is caning - you can be caned if you are a male less than 50 years old.

There's also the death penalty... I was introduced to a book the other day by a local Singaporean. "Once a Jolly Hangman - Singapore Justice in the Dock" is banned in Singapore. It's based on interviews with one of the country's hangmen and other government officials about death-penalty cases of the last decade. I'll be getting this on my iPad once I finish reading World War Z.

Singapore is a safe, clean, and wealthy environment thanks to the government's influence. I have heard Singapore described as Disneyland with a death penalty.

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