A guide to Singapore’s wackiest laws

Our love affair with Singapore goes way back. The island country’s fascinating brew of Chinese, Indian and Muslim-Malaysian culture makes for a charming travel destination. We love Haji Lane’s trendy shops, Orchard Road’s fashion emporiums, Chinatown’s antique stores, Little India’s art galleries, and the list goes on. One thing we’re not so enamoured with is Singapore’s weird and wacky laws. Here’s a few of our favourites:

1. Flush the toilet or face a public caning
It seems nothing is sacred these days. In Singapore, you can’t even pee in private. Apparently, police officers do random checks to make sure public toilets are flushed after use. Note to self, must flush the toilet!

2. Litter bugs pay big time
There’s a reason why the streets of Singapore are almost glistening with cleanliness. A litter law dating from 1968 means litter bugs can be fined $1,000 for the first conviction and $5,000 for repeat convictions. On top of that, you’ll be forced to do community labour. And if you offend three times, you’ll have to wear a lovely sign, which states, “I am a litter lout”.

3. Selling chewing gum is forbidden
Gum chewers, beware – put your chewed gum in the bin or you could face a hefty fine. Singapore prohibited the sale of gum after authorities noticed a prolific amount of chewed gum being stuck in subway stations and on cars. Mints might be the safer option if you have a case of garlic breath.

4. Don’t walk around your house naked
In Singapore, pornography is illegal, and anything to do with it may result in imprisonment or big fines. Along the same lines, the country thinks that nudity has to do with pornography, so better close the curtains when you dress for bed.

5. No hugging in public without permission
Haven’t seen your loved one for a long time? Make sure you ask their permission before giving them a hug in public or you could land yourself in gaol. True story. If you’re lucky, it’s just a fine.

6. No poking adverse comments at religion
If you’re agnostic or atheist, keep it under wraps because in Singapore it’s a highly serious matter and you can be cited for sedition. Ouch.

7. Stranger danger
If you’re introducing a stranger as your good friend and speak well of him and it proves to be false, you’ll be convicted for abetment.

8. Connecting on unsecured Wi-Fi hotspots means hacking
Need to check emails? Better go to an internet cafe rather than logging in on an unsecured network. In Singapore, it’s called hacking and you could end up in gaol or face a big fine.

49 Comments for "A guide to Singapore’s wackiest laws"

c. farrell says on January 25th, 2010 at 11:51 am:

Some of this is nonsense. Failing to flush the toilet is not a caning offense. And there is no “public caning”. All caning in Singapore is carried out privately in prison.

Terence says on January 26th, 2010 at 8:52 am:

What rubbish?! It’s never against the law not to flush the toilet in S’pore – although stickers that say ‘please flush afer use’ are common to encourage people to flush the toilet after use as a matter of good manners. And no, the police has got better things to do then check if toilets are flushed! The author has probably not been to S’pore or has an extremely good imagination.

Matt Henricksen says on January 27th, 2010 at 1:50 am:

Bunch of junk. I’ve lived in Singapore for 3 years, and while the essence of what you say is true, you are pulling an angle on it. Intent has everything to do with the few cases where people were in trouble for being nude in their own houses; logging onto unsecured network, etc.

Richard says on January 27th, 2010 at 1:49 pm:

The 8 weird laws in Singapore posted here are not entirely correct.
1) the government don’t cane you for not flushing the toilet
2) you only pay a fine of less than $100 the first time you are caught for littering. It’s the habitual litterbug that will get fine “BIG TIME”
3) The chewing gum law is correct
4) This is true. You won’t want your neighbour nake & showing off his thing to your kids, do you?
5) I’m sure you won’t want just anybody to hug your girlfriend or wife without permission, do you?
6) I think this law is found in most countries, no government wants to start a civil war or riots jus because some idiots don’t show respect for other people’s religion
7) The 7 law is not true. Unless you are proven to be an accomplice in crime, you will not be punish. This is universal.
8) it’s not an offence to log onto unsecure network. It’s when you try to obtain information from others network that is illegal.

I hope I had clarify the laws in Singapore.

Michael says on February 9th, 2010 at 2:29 am:

Yep, I remember number 3. I was chewing away like no tomorrow while I was there. Trying to quit smoking you see. Oh, you can smoke anywhere, except designated ‘No Smoking’ areas but just don’t litter. Bummer, part of the fun was flicking the butt! Also, if you get phlegm from all that smoking, don’t spit – you’ll get fined.

scenicviews says on February 12th, 2010 at 3:13 pm:

Yes, especially for no.8. Singapore is probably one of countries that provides wi-fi connection (almost) everywhere :-D. And yes, Singapore is always be a pleasure trip for me.

Arvind Singh says on May 7th, 2010 at 1:42 pm:

Even though these laws are weird, they have more to do with common sense. The Singapore government has their unusual way to prohibit you from doing something against their country’s interests and so far, it has proved quite effective.

Isiekx says on July 13th, 2010 at 1:09 pm:

The author is obviously American. No doubts about that.

raildcjr209 says on November 11th, 2010 at 4:18 pm:

They need to have some of these same laws in the US! No wonder Singapore is such a beautiful city. Walk around the streets of L.A. or NYC and all you see is trash. And.. People SHOULD flush the toilet. Not flushing the toilet is gross and RUDE for the next person having to use it! This is simply a country that has CONSEQUENCES for laziness, sloppiness and bad morals and I happen to like it!

Damon says on December 21st, 2010 at 11:07 pm:

No wonder our beautiful country is respected less every day. It’s just another cigarette butt when millions of others “flick their butt” every day eh? Michael…I don’t know what to say. No respect.

jerry marshall says on June 10th, 2012 at 9:16 pm:

i like the idea of caning to a degree, its a physical reinforcement to the fact that whatever one did to deserve it was wrong.

Rod M says on June 11th, 2012 at 3:26 am:

I would like to cane a few people that did not flush the toilet, including some people at work.

Melvin Cownzowfsky says on June 18th, 2012 at 7:29 am:

I happen to think that strong anti-litter and common sense/common courtesy laws are more helpful than harmful. I live in Israel where doggie poop is (or at least at one time was) almost ubiquitous on the streets and sidewalks. There are laws here against such as this, but they are not very often enforced. Smoking abuses (in non-smoking designated areas) and sheer inconsideration for others is the norm here rather than the exception. I don’t know if it’s really possible to legislate ethics and/or morals, but, I wouldn’t object at all to the Singaporean type laws being implemented and ENFORCED here in Israel. God knows the country would be a much more pleasant place to live/visit if they were.

shahidul says on June 18th, 2012 at 8:23 am:

I do really appreciate such good Singapore laws…. rightly enacted as well as respected by its citizens. That makes it what it is today. Keep it up.

Opochot Kedondong says on June 19th, 2012 at 5:54 am:

Ok, this needs to be emphasized that the Malays of Singapore have nothing to do with Malaysia. While the Chinese and Indians are of migrant stock, the Malays are native. We didn’t migrate from anywhere to Singapore. So the saying that Singapore is a nation of immigrants is simply wrong – the Malays were already here long before Raffles.

David dutta says on June 19th, 2012 at 7:03 am:

most of this is correct and is true ,as its in its laws,this is not nonsense and not rubbish,this is true about Singapore,
if you got caught doing any of these and if u are black skin
you have to pay!!

John says on June 24th, 2012 at 7:12 am:

I lived in Singapore for almost 10 years. All I can say is Singapore is the most beautiful place i have been to. It’s incomparable to L.A or New York (where i lived for 6 yrs). There’s no place like Singapore. With their very excellent transport system, almost all places are accessible and you can get to work on time. Unless you really intend to be late :). Their laws are completely common sense. If you can’t follow it then you don’t have it ! that simple :). But law no. 8 is exaggerated, Not true at all. I completely vouch for Singapore. 2 thumbs up.

domlanic says on June 26th, 2012 at 9:27 am:

Pity we need laws to combat human pig-ignorance and laziness but it’s a fact; Americans might call this behaviour ‘freedom of expression’ but fail to admit freedoms carry responsibilities.
I wish we had some of these laws in Australia; people spitting (or spitting gum) on new expensive paving give me the s**ts.

Angelika says on February 13th, 2013 at 4:46 am:

Actually Singapore is such a beautiful and lovely city, but some laws and the corresponding punishment are just insane, mad and against basic human rights. As long as we all support that, either by continuing to travel to this area, doing business etc. it will always go on like this and tomorrow it could be you who will be arrested for a minor offence and pay a high fine or even be caned. Physical punishment does not belong to modern,
advanced and civilized country of the 21st century as it can cause lots of harm and is a kind of torture according to human rights carta. Actually I think that it cannot prevent or stop crime.

Swee says on May 24th, 2013 at 1:02 pm:

Actually, Singapore has one of the lowest crime rates in the world. So, based on statistics, harsh punishment does make a cut on crime. Whereas, if we look at the US, where physical/harsh punishment is not implemented, the crime rate is like rocket high. I think statistics should get better credit than shear personal intuition.

Lion Heart says on May 29th, 2013 at 4:53 am:

OMG, i’m sure you can find a lot of weird rules anywhere in the world. But from SG myself, i can certainly tell you that most of the above are over exaggerated.

1. Toilet Flush – Not true. No fines or public caning (caning btw, only done in prison, are for those serious offense that requires substantial jail time). And certainly no police for checking on toilets come on thats just ridiculous.

2. Littering – True you may be fined for littering and for repeated offenders, you have to undergo CWO, whereby you have to wear some sort of a “litterbug” vest in public (sort of a community service / public shaming time if you will).

3. Chewing Gum – True you may consume but not stick the gum anywhere in public areas. Once you’re done just dispose of it properly ie in a bin or in your pocket whichever way you prefer.

4. Indecent Exposure – True. But more in line with indecent exposure in public. Nobody cares what you do or don’t wear when you sleep. Materials with nudity will always be subjected to censorship but not all are banned or disallowed after reviewed.

5. Hugging – Not true. Ridiculous. Of course you can hug your loved ones or those you know where it is appropriate. But nobody will approve of strangers or even say a working colleague hugging them for no reason other than to cop a feel right. When that happens, then yes you do have the choice, should you choose to, to file a police report against that someone.

6. Religion Bashing – True. As with any standards guidelines you are subjected to in most forums of discussions, any abrasive remarks without constructive intent are always up for regulation and disciplinary actions if when required.

7. Con-artist? – Not true. Wonder where that came from.

8. Net-access – Not true. There are free Wi-Fi almost everywhere and in place where they don’t, logging into unsecured network is not an offense.

All in all, most of the laws above have wrongly been assumed to be. The ones that are true are mostly in line with common sense and should that not prevail, for its deterrence.

stephen says on June 8th, 2013 at 11:02 am:

Laws is adultery illegal in singapore?

gripen says on July 12th, 2013 at 12:02 am:

I plan to visit it someday, but before I step in, can you pls confirm what items I cannot bring in ?
Light medicine (like aspirin), Mentos chewing gum, lighter, sexy underwear, sewing kits,
water toy gun, baby food that contains animal products, condoms ?

Mai says on July 15th, 2013 at 9:48 pm:

Excuse me guys, please take a look at the laws carefully before commenting this is not true! Failing to wash the toilet and connecting to unsecured Wi-Fi is really true!

Mai says on July 20th, 2013 at 2:11 am:

Oh yes, public caning is non-sense.

bento says on January 5th, 2014 at 3:33 am:

Yes..and during public caning events ,people do bet on that .Singaporeans love to bet and gamble.LOL!!


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