Thirteen Things You Didn’t Know About Singapore
Singapore is a clean, safe, modern, and expensive city/state with well-educated, polite, and moderately friendly inhabitants – any guidebook will tell you that. During my Feb 2015 visit, I observed or learned the following less known tidbits:
1) Warning: Death For Drug Traffickers Under Singapore Law is printed prominently on visitor documents, and they mean it. In the past 20 years, 420 people have been executed, mostly for drug trafficking. That’s over seven times the rate for Texas in the same time period.
2) Chewing gum is not available for sale.
3) There’s a shopping center at every subway stop, or so it seems.
4) I observed few homeless, bicycles, dogs/cats, sneakers, high heels, business suits, hats, tattoos, black people, or old cars (see below.)
5) Where are all the insects? Perhaps they spray too many poisons. Even in the extensive botanical gardens, I saw some butterflies but no ants, beetles, flies, or mosquitos. Same in the night zoo. Heavy fines for anyone with standing water on their property would account for some mosquito control, but …
6) People in the subway queue up and enter politely only after passengers leave, and they yield seats to the elderly (like me.)
7) $750 fine for jaywalking or smoking outdoors where not permitted (e.g. within 100 ft. of a bus stop.) Push emergency stop on train when there’s no emergency and the fine is $3750.
8) What? No Knives? Place settings in Asian restaurants include only chopsticks or forks and spoons.
9) In a city of mostly high rise apartments with thousands of balconies, you’ll be hard pressed to find any plants on them. Following an accident in which a planter fell off and killed someone, the government passed laws making it extremely difficult to keep plants on balconies.
10) Wet laundry is hung from bamboo poles which protrude from balconies like elongated semaphores. Dripping water is a constant source of annoyance to occupants who hang their clothes from lower floors.
11) Apartments house over 90% of the population. Each apartment complex maintains a balanced quota representing the major ethnic groups –74% Chinese, 13% Malay, 9% Indian. The government mandated this to break up isolated ethnic enclaves.
12) One can only buy a new car, but first one must buy a Certificate of Entitlement (COE). The price fluctuates, the highest recent amount (Sept. 2013) was $72,000. This expires after 10 years, then the car is turned in to the government, which gives back a percentage of the COE. The government regulates the refurbishing and marketing of these cars to nearby countries, including Malaysia, Indonesia, and the Philippines, to keep old cars off Singapore’s roads. Add the import duty of 300% and a small Toyota ends up costing well over $100,000.
13) While nominally a democracy, for the past 50+ years, Singapore has been controlled by the Lee family. So far, it has been a benevolent dictatorship.
Also, from The Straits Times: 12 things you might not know you could be punished for in Singapore. http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/12-things-you-might-not-know-you-could-be-punished-for-in-singapore
Weather: There is no weather in Singapore; it’s the same every day. Sitting at the southern tip of Malaysia, one degree north of the Equator, it’s a of High 87ᵒF. Low 75ᵒF. Humidity 84%. Sunshine 5 hours/day. Rain 15 days @ month—a lot of rain.
Data: Singapore is the 190th biggest country in the world, occupying 278 sq. mi. It’s only twenty eight miles across at its widest. Population: 5.5 million. One of the highest GDPs in the world and highest % of über-rich.