There is a joke in Singapore: Singapore is a fine city.
When I arrived in Singapore (actually, before I had landed) I was greeted by big red letters proclaiming: WARNING DEATH FOR DRUG TRAFFICKERS UNDER SINGAPORE LAW
I imagine that between the death sentence and cainings, Singapore looses its appeal to some travlers. It isn’t that I engage in illegal activities, it’s that the penalties are so high. You start to wonder, if they’ll cain you for spitting gum on the sidewalk, what do they do if you J-walk or sneeze in public. I’m told not to worry, most punishments come in the form of fines; huge fines.
So I’ve gone around taking pictures of some of the signs. I wish I had this idea earilier because there was one sign “Courtesy is our way of life”, which really amused me. There seem to be two themes to the signs, “this is how you should behave”, and “don’t do that, the punishment is this.” What amuses me about the latter is that the punishment is included more often than not. Rather than saying “No Smoking”, signs will say “No Smoking. Fine $5000”. I can’t decide which is better. On one hand, if you shouldn’t be doing it, then you shouldn’t have to worry about what the punishment is, but on the other hand, it’s nice to know what the punishment is rather than be surprised by it in a situation where you didn’t notice the sign.
My understanding of the court system here is that you get a judge, and then you and your accuser argue your case, and a decission is made on the spot, followed by a punishment if you’re found quilty. They like the efficency.
Anyway, not to worry, because I have no intention of exploring the legal system.