Saturday, January 14, 2012

Crime and Punishment in Singapore

Julius received his visa by email yesterday. He didn't even have to go to the embassy! He just has to print it out and put it in his passport. Apparently Singapore works on the "honor system" when it comes to entry visas. Maybe this works because everyone's too afraid of doing something wrong as the punishment is so severe. The crime rate in Singapore is one of the lowest in the world, but they also have a very high incarceration rate.

There are quite a few fairly harmless activities that are considered crimes in Singapore (from wikipedia):
  • chewing gum (it's expensive to remove from the sidewalks)
  • spitting (many men from other neighboring countries spit in public, and I think it's a disgusting habit, so I couldn't be happier about this)
  • jaywalking (this reminds me of Irvine, CA)
  • failing to flush the toilet after use (This sounds too crazy to be true)
Punishment may take the form of caning and a jail sentence, or an outrageously high fine. Caning is generally reserved only for men under 50 years of age. They also use capital punishment in the form of hanging for offenses such as murder, kidnapping and drug trafficking.

Here's an example of a sign found in the mass rapid transit system (MRT), which is the metro of Singapore:

I especially like the "No durians" bit, and anyone who's smelled a durian would know why. Quick side note: Durian is a type of fruit that to many Westerners smells of old stinky cheese or dirty gym socks. For Singaporeans and Malaysians, it's considered "fragrant" and is extremely popular.

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