Singapore is a fantastic city which has a global reputation for strict laws and the many signs dictating exactly what happens if you follow the rules. Here are some ways to get arrested in Singapore.
Importing chewing gum (that’s not for health reasons)
There is a quirky law in Singapore that bans chewing gum which most people have heard about. The law has since been loosened slightly to allow for the sale of chewing gum for health-related or dental purposes though. For anyone found importing chewing gum for any other purpose is still considered breaking the law. Importing chewing gum for purposes other than medical is still considered illegal. One could be fined $100,000 or given two years in jail if they break this law.
For those general gum chewers out there – you are not likely to have any issues if you are carrying a pack or two through immigration. Generally, enforcement is not usually very strict for personal consumption.
Close your curtains if you like wandering around in the buff at home. You could actually get arrested for public nudity if someone spots you in the buff even while you’re in your own home. Any type of public nudity considered an offence to public decency and you could face a fine of up to $2,000 or a jail term of up to three months. Local police have the right to invade your house (without permission) to place you under arrest if necessary.
Inciting religious or racial hate
In Singapore religious and racial harmony is taken very seriously. Anything seen as racist or racially insensitive in a public forum can land you with a large fine. You could also end up in jail for up to three years. There have been plenty of examples of both individuals and media personalities in Singapore being fined or arrested. The viral nature of social media has made it easy for officials to go after offenders. Other offences punishable under this law include defiling a place of worship or burial ground, drunken and disorderly behaviour near a place of religious worship or disrupting a religious assembly.
Busking without a licence
Street artists and performers like to busk along the local streets to make some quick cash in many cities. In Singapore busking is illegal without a licence granted by the National Arts Council. You could receive a fine of up to $20,000 if you are caught. Street performances and busking is highly regulated in Singapore. Busking can only be done in specifically designated locations and licences have to be renewed annually.
Imagining the death of the President
Many countries hold their politicians in high regard. In Singapore however, to even begin thinking about harming the Singaporean President is an actual offence. The harshest punishment for breaking this law is death. If you are convicted about thinking poorly of other members of government, you could face life in prison.
Obscenity in Singapore is defined as an act with a tendency to ‘deprave and corrupt persons’. It is quite a broad and vague term. Singing, performing or saying something considered obscene could get you locked up for up to three months.
Singapore has outlawed all e-cigarettes and vaporisers completely. In many countries e-cigarettes are considered a less harmful alternative to smoking tobacco by the Health Ministry’s position is that it easier for people to start and get addicted to smoking with these products. Breaking this law carries a fine of up to $2,000, and possibly an additional jail term.
Smoking regular tobacco cigarettes is still allowed in Singapore. Do check where you are allowed to smoke as there are a rapidly decreasing number of public spots where you can do so freely.
Carrying durian in public transport
Durian is fruit unique to the region and is a bit of an acquired taste to say the least. The smell of this fruit is very pungent and it also tends to linger for some time. This is why it’s not allowed to carry durians in public transport. You could face a fine of $500. If you find the smell of lingering durian on your hands, pour water into the empty shell, and then pour that water over your hands.
Trafficking or consuming drugs
Singapore takes drugs very seriously. It is one of the first warnings you hear as your plane is coming in to land. Sentences for drug offences typically encompass several years in jail, heavy fines and a few strokes of a cane. Some heavy offences may result in a death sentence.
Leaving your mark on public property without permission
Cleanliness is paramount in Singapore and vandalism is severely frowned upon. Breaking this law can bring you a fine of up to S$2,000 per act, a jail term of up to three years, and even caning from three to eight strokes. A small street art scene in Singapore does exist and it is mostly driven by the popularity of large-scale public murals.
Singapore imposed heavy fines from $2,000-$10,000 for anyone caught littering. Those who break this law may receive a Corrective Work Order on top of the fine, where they are sent to clean the public streets in a bright identifying vest.
Chinese holidays such as Chinese New Year used to be popular for fireworks. The loud pops are thought to scare away evil spirits. Firecrackers became so popular in Singapore that they were lit up for just about any festival. Many fires broke out and injuries were caused as well so now it is completely banned. The best time to catch a fireworks display in Singapore is on National Day in August.
Feeding a flock of pigeons in a main square seems like such a cliched thing to do but we see people doing it in many cities worldwide. Feeding pigeons in Singapore has been banned since 1973 because of the fears of spreading diseases. Those caught going against the rules are fined up to $500.