Singapore … A ‘fine’ city

Urban legend … a form of modern folklore consisting of stories usually believed by their tellers to be true

A lot of what we “know” to be true can sometimes turn out to be no more than an ‘urban legend’ .So what you you reckon to the claims below … fact or fiction ?

Chewing gum is a controlled substance in Singapore

It’s annoying isn’t it, when you’re on the Tube and grasp the handrail, only to have your fingers close on a revolting old piece of gum stuck to the underside In such moments, it would be great if you could just outlaw chewing gum altogether.


TRUE : In 1992 that’s exactly what Singapore did, partly due to the authorities’ general annoyance at the cleaning costs and partly due to specific concerns around chewing gum interfering with automatic sensors on the train doors of the city’s Mass Rapid Transit system. An outright ban remained in place for twelve years, and affected ‘the substance usually known as chewing gum, bubble gum or dental chewing gum, or any like substance prepared from a gum base of vegetable or synthetic origin and intended for chewing’.

The legislation was backed up by some pretty tough fines. If you don’t have a licence to sell gum for hygiene or dental reasons then you can be fined up to S$2,000 (in the region of £700 or US$1,300) for selling or advertising chewing gum.

In Singapore it’s illegal to eat and drink in public.

Don’t you just hate it when you see litter or McDonalds wrappers and food being eaten in the street … but surely you can’t ban this most basic of freedoms … can you?.


TRUE : Eating and drinking in pubic is prohibited. This was the law, much to my chagrin, I inadvertently broke whilst on a Singaporean bus. The bus driver who had a camera to watch the top deck saw me taking an innocent swig from my can of coke and then announced to everyone that it was illegal to eat and drink in public , even for tourists , and that a fine of S$500 (about £250) would apply.

Needless to say I put the can down and didn’t touch it again until we’d reached our destination!


Spitting in public in Singapore is prohibited

Spitting in the public is a pretty disgusting habit … at least to our western sensibilities. However in China, for example, it’s pretty common place.

Spitting is considered by the Chinese as a healthy act. The idea being that the fluids/humours are not in balance (too much/not enough ie yin/yang.) and that the spitting, (rather than swallowing, the excess stuff is a way of getting rid of that imbalance.


TRUE : The authorities decided that the Singaporeans who had this habit of spitting in the public were uncivilized, and Singapore, a country well-known for its cleanliness, therefore passed a law that spitting will be considered an chargeable offence. If you want to spit, do it in the toilet …

FINE: S$500