Saturday, December 29, 2007

Law breakers abound in the Fine City

Creative Commons image from synnwang.
Creative Commons image from magnusvk

The world generally thinks all Singaporeans are law-abiding people who would not even cross a deserted road junction before the ‘green man’ appears. But we Singaporeans know better don’t we? From littering to speeding, from illegal parking to soliciting, from buying illegal 4D to feeding monkeys, we live by the army motto; You can do anything; just don’t get caught. This would explain our sudden change of behaviour whenever we cross the causeway into Malaysia (aka Bolehland), where shall we say, the authorities are more tolerant of litter bugs and speedsters.

But back to the tiny red dot. Caught, we seldom are. Everyday you find people writing to the forum pages of our local newspapers lamenting the widespread flouting of our laws. And each time the relevant authority will come back with the standard reply. Oh we take a serious stand against this problem. Last year our enforcement officers issued summons to X thousand offenders. We seek the public’s cooperation to stem out this problem. If you see anyone committing this offence, please call this number.

And the problem persists.

The only time you see some real action from the authorities is when one of the following three things happen.

1) A tragedy occurs and lots of unpleasant publicity is generated.

2) The newspaper reporters take pity on us and decide to do a huge coverage of the problem. The recent reporting about touting by taxi-drivers is a good example.

3) Some big-shot minister complains. Remember how they decided to ban chewing gum because S. Dhanabalan remarked that people who chewed gum looked like cows. (OK lah, I exaggerate a little, but you know what I mean right?)

Let’s take the latest farce for example. Today’s Straits Times carried a big report of a pregnant lady whose plastic bag got snatched by some monkeys at the MacRitchie Reservoir. Much of the blame goes to those baboons who cannot resist feeding their cousins. We see them every time at the reservoir parks. I went to Upper Pierce Reservoir on Christmas day and saw several cars stopped by the roadside and the occupants happily feeding monkeys despite the huge signs threatening a fine of $250 dollars. From the look of it, I think some of those folks went to the park for the specific purpose of feeding the monkeys. And it was a family affair too.

As expected, in the Straits Times report, the Nparks (National Parks Board) appealed to the public to report such offenders if they came across them – as if it was such a rare occurrence. Exactly the same thing happened some months ago with the problem of drivers who left their engines running in the car parks. It appears the traffic police (or should that be the NEA?) did not know that any day of the week, if you go to a multi-storey car park in the HDB heartlands during mid-day, you are sure to see taxi-drivers and truck drivers snoozing away with their car engines and air-cons running.

Anyway, now that the issue has been blown up by the press, the authorities will spring into action over the next few weeks and then guess what will happen? Everything will just go back to the ‘normal’.

I think there are three possible explanations for this strange phenomenon in our country. It could mean that our population is growing too fast and the authorities simply do not have the manpower to cope. Or the ever ‘ting hua’ ( 听话or obedient) Singaporeans are heeding our dear leaders’ exhortation to be more ready to take risks. But I think it’s probably because Singaporeans are getting too rich, and a few hundred dollars is ‘peanuts’ to them - and some have so much peanuts that they simply have to share it with their cousins.


Anonymous said...

I believe many of our anti-social behaviors derived from factors like s fast moving society emphazing on material wealth (namely 5Cs), and productivity. Parents also want their children to pursue academic excellence, and many are job stressed. A limited housing and recreation space put people on the edge. These are problems that cannot be overcome easily. Our previous PM Goh does suggest something meaningful, that is to do small acts kindness first, and that would lead to bigger things to come. Small acts like picking up papers, guiding elderly people across a road, and other small acts - all these will lead to a gracious society eventually.

Anonymous said...

Maybe, with all the blood sucking schemes and the OB markers created by our esteemed whiter than white party, people are exhibiting their small acts of rebellion.

The more they push, the more people will behave as such to "register" their displeasure with the government.

Anonymous said...

there are economic laws imposed for money sake and there are moralistic laws imposed by religious nuts. when the two decided to work together, you end up getting plenty of peanuts for monkeys to annoy humanity.

Anonymous said...

When common people get frustrated for some reasons or another, they vent it on the public properties which I think is not correct. By doing so they are unwittingly throwing rocks on their own feet, because they are the tax-payers going to foot the repair bills for the damages done. As for the highly paid ministers and high government officials they would not be bothered a single bit since their salaries are being paid by the
tax-payers. So who are losers?

Sleepless in Singapore said...

What has all this to do with religion? Even athiestic/communist regimes have 'moralistic laws'. In China they even execute corrupt officials.

Anonymous said...

"small acts of rebellion", unquote, sounds ominous.

Maybe many are unable to suppress their feelings anymore.

Anonymous said...

The communist party in Russia promised equality, freedom, and progress, what happened? eventually collapsed. Communisism in China is presently more capitalistic than most western countries, except clinging on to power. Conclusion - in politics nothing is completely clean. Deng Ziao Peng's words: "It doesn't matter whether the cat is white or black, so long it catches the mouse, it is a good cat". This statement holds water. My belief is if a government can deliver its promises to the people, it is should be considered a good government.

Victor said...

Could the 4th possible explanation to our strange behaviour be "some of us are simply bo chap (couldn't care less)"?

Anonymous said...

There are many countries in the third world, some are not too far from here, where there are prentiful of empty talks (under the heaven) both from governments and their people, but no action being done or too little too late. End results - horrific traffic jams (by the hours), landslides, lawless environment, sunken roads, potholes, poor drainage, mountains of litters (where people dig scraps for a living), people living under the bridges... and the list goes on and on. In short, we need solid action in Singapore not empty talks.

Anonymous said...

In a way we are lucky for not living in a country where a top general on paying a visit to an outlying island which was practically set aflamed by maurauding hordes, sent in by an invisible 'hand' to create havoc. He decided to make a U-turn back to the capital after landing in the island airport. Reason? "Oh when I looked out from the airport I saw the horrific scene. I am too frightened and therefore need to return!" This is what I called solid political wayang kulit.