I really didn’t know what to expect when I visited Singapore, a small island state of approximately 5 million people. I heard all about the westernized high-tech sheen and cleanliness of the city, the anti-litter laws – including the rather steep fines for spitting chewing gum on city streets - and about the torrential downpours during the wet season.
With the exception of torrential downpours - there was absolutely no rain during the brief 4 four days that I was there - everything that I heard about Singapore was true. My conclusion - Singapore is a FINE city!
True, there are many fines to discourage littering - and most of them are very prohibitive - but it works, and that’s the bottom line. I think that is absolutely FINE. A clerk in a local minimart explained to me how it works – the litter police operate undercover, so they blend in with the woodwork. If you’re apprehended by one of the plainclothes police while in the act of littering, you will be issued a ticket on the spot. Fines are strictly enforced.
Walking around the city, I felt very safe and despite the occasional rare trace of litter on the city streets, Singapore has to be the cleanest city I have ever been to. Furthermore, the public transpiration system is marvelous and very efficient; it is very easy to travel to almost any part of the city by a combination of bus and MRT - it is almost impossible to get lost. The MRT operates until 11:45PM and there is a train virtually every 3 minutes.
If every country adopted Singapore’s laws regarding littering, this world would be a lot cleaner and better place. Shortly after arriving at the airport, I had a conversation with a Singapore expat who has lived in Denver, Colorado for the last 20 years - he told me that having been raised in Singapore, the act of not littering is ingrained in his psyche.
It may sound that I am gushing about Singapore being a modern day Utopia; on the other hand I found Singapore to be a bit monotone and boring for my tastes! Excluding the beautiful botanical garden, there are only a few vestiges of greenery and nature on this intensely developed island. Then again, I am not fond of big cities – I like nature, lots of greenery and wild places.