Some More Surprisingly Silly Singapore Laws

Nafi Wernsing

As the joke goes, Singapore’s steep penalties make it a “fine” city for gum chewers, litterbugs, and smokers. But while its strict laws on such things are well known, there are other odd restrictions some, like anyone reading this naked at home, may not be familiar with. 

Singing F-bombs (or other obscenities)

Lizzo may be queen of the Grammys but think twice singing her songs in the street. Section 294 of the Penal Code says anyone who “sings recites or utters any obscene words” in public face imprisonment of up to three months plus a fine.

My-Wi-Fi not Ur-Wi-Fi 

Think twice before connecting to someone else’s router as it can cost a whopping S$10,000 (US$7,400) and three months in prison. Photo: Paul Conley Photography

Think twice before connecting to that open Wi-Fi hot spot. It may be free, but the penalty isn’t. The Computer Misuse Act considers the use of someone else’s Wi-Fi as a form of hacking. Such l337 hackers risk a S$10,000 (US$7,358.44) fine and up to three years imprisonment.

Naked at home is a no-no

When everyone lives pressed up to windows across from each other, the home may not actually be a good place to let it all hang out. In Singapore, walking around your own house naked is illegal, especially if you are exposed to public view. Invest in thick curtains and keep them closed if you’re going to go free willy, as violating Section 27A brings a S$2,000 (US$15,000) fine and possible three-month jail term.

Please keep it in the bowl

Law or not, don’t pee in the lifts. Please. Photo: Michael Morse

Not sure who went around Singapore peeing in elevators, but it really must have annoyed people. While urinating in public is a crime, the law for some reason really calls out doing so in elevators. Those living in Singapore may not even look twice at what visitors see as peculiar signs warning that lifts are equipped with “Urine Detection Devices” that set off an alarm and close the door. Fines of S$1,000 (US$740) await those urinating daredevils who scoff at the law.

Flush the toilet after use

If it’s brown flush it down, if it’s yellow don’t keep it mellow. Always check twice before leaving as an unflushed toilet will leave a stink in your wallet of at least S$150 (US$110). Photo: Markus Spiske

Ever walked in on someone’s unflushed business and screamed “There oughta be a law!” Well, there is. Section 16 of the Public Cleansing Act says anyone using a toilet accessible to the public “shall flush the sanitary convenience immediately after using it.”

Swallow don’t spit

Other than strict recycling rules and the ban on chewing gum, Singapore’s legendary cleanliness also relies in part on making spitting or “expelling mucus” a crime. Because what’s grosser than coughing your nasty onto the ground? A S$1,000 (US$740) fine, that’s what.

NOT for the birds

Do not even think about giving a leftover sandwich to that pigeon. Unless the S$500 (US$370) fine is worth it for one happy bird. Photo: Ashithosh U

Don’t even think about inviting a friendly pigeon out for brunch or dinner because, in Singapore, it is illegal to feed pigeons under the Animals and Birds Act. Unless you want to take that special somebird out for the insane fine of S$500 (US$370), at least. 

Can’t cat

Cat slaves living in Housing Development Board flats gotta give up their pet Garfields to do so. It might have been a dog who wrote the board policy, which declares cats as “generally difficult to contain” and “tend to shed fur and defecate or urinate in public areas” while making “caterwauling sounds, which can inconvenience your neighbours.” What anti-cat propaganda.  Although there’s no fine for having an illicit pussy cat, the animals are subject to seizure, which is even worse. Owning a dog is fine, so long as they are of an approved breed. Chins (and whiskers) up, cat people, the Singapore SPCA is fighting to lift the ban.

Garbage grubbing

Poking or rakings bins is illegal. YOU. HAVE. BEEN. WARNED. Photo: Matthis Volquardsen

This is another one that leaves a strange impression: a ban on “raking” or “grubbing” any garbage. Why would anyone poke rubbish? Likely this is aimed at the thousand-or-so homeless Singaporeans., but poking or raking refuse containers will leave your wallet empty. This law is found under section 10 of the Environmental Public Health (Public Cleansing) Act

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This article, Some More Surprisingly Silly Singapore Laws, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!