Friday, March 23, 2012

You can't do that in Singapore

"Everyone" seems to know that you can't chew gum in Singapore, although people are a bit reticent on the details. Is chewing gum illegal? Is buying it illegal? Selling it? Bringing it into the country? Sticking it onto the buttons in the lift? It's not like there are signs posted in Singapore giving you clear guidance.

That is also strange, because there are signs for pretty much everything else. Don't eat mouldy food. Remember to wash your hands after visiting the toilet. Try to behave like a normal human being should be there too, I suppose.

My favourite right now is the insurance-sales-through-guilt campaign, which tells you that when you're gone, your mother will still need looking after. Although that shows an admirable faith in the longevity of Singaporean matriarchs, it also feels like the advertisers are preying on customers' guilt at being neglectful, ungrateful children. I wonder if there's a big sign saying just "BE NICE TO YOUR MUM". Quid pro quo and all that, they should have thought ahead and put up signs twenty years ago saying "Don't alienate your children by constantly scolding them" and then we'd all be happy.

These signs are one thing, but the remarkably unremarked-on sign is the one I see at Raffles Place and City Hall MRT stations, telling you not to bring on oversized parcels, or plasma TVs with screens larger than 32 inches.

I don't understand the need for such specificity. In what universe would a 32 inch plasma television not be considered an oversized package in the confines of a metro train? Was there a spate of people bringing enormous tellies onto the train, and then claiming they weren't parcels because they weren't wrapped up in brown paper and string? Why just plasma TVs? Are LCD screens exempt? What about if I wheel in an enormous back projection TV from the mid-90s? *

And isn't Singapore on the metric system? Shouldn't it be a 82 cm screen that's the limit? Could you get through by saying you're French (give them an inch and they'll take 1.6 kilometres)? What if Apple make really, really big iPads?

If only I had an enormous plasma television - oh, hang on, I do. If you never hear from me after this experiment, you'll know I'm languishing in a jail somewhere, alongside two chewing-gum miscreants and a man who didn't finish up his vegetables before he started on dessert.

* I'll put my back out, that's what will happen.


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