Hong Kong MTR

Be thankful, Hong Kong: five other ways Singapore is stricter

The Hong Kong government sought to justify tougher enforcement of MTR rules on luggage size by saying Singapore's luggage rules were stricter. But a lot of its laws are stricter - you can be fined for taking a photo on a train, and being seen naked in your own flat, for instance

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 15 October, 2015, 2:57pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 15 October, 2015, 2:57pm

If you’re one of the many Hongkongers who think the MTR went off the rails when its staff stopped a schoolgirl at Tai Wai Station for carrying a Chinese musical instrument, and days later followed and interrogated a schoolboy passenger carrying a cello, know that the Hong Kong government thinks you’re overreacting.

In defence of the MTR’s crackdown on passengers breaking its rules by taking “oversized” luggages on trains – a rule some Hongkongers feel seems to apply only to musicians and cyclists and not the throngs of people carrying suitcases of milk powder to the border – Secretary for Transport and Housing Professor Anthony Cheung Bing-leung reasoned that, “when compared with Singapore, the system there is stricter”. 

Well, then, Hongkongers, you heard the man. We should stop protesting and complaining, because the laws to which we must abide are not as harsh as Singapore’s, a city-state totally not known to the rest of the world for its draconian laws and uptightness … right?

In fact, here are five more things that we Hongkongers should thank the government for allowing us to do, because we wouldn’t be able to do these in Singapore.

1. Taking a photo on the MTR

The next time you and your friends take a group pic inside an MTR train, know that you’ve just enjoyed Hong Kong’s wonderful liberties, because Singapore prohibits snapping photos of any kind on train. 

2: Walk around naked in your own flat

Forgot your towel after you’ve finished showering? Want to check the fridge for a bite after sex? You can make that trek across the living room naked and with the curtains open if you choose, because it’s well within your rights as a Hongkonger. Be thankful for that, because in Singapore you would be breaking the law if in public view and could be fined up to S$2,000 (HK$11,245) and thrown in jail for three months. 

3: Not flushing the toilet

If you forget to flush a public toilet in Hong Kong, the worst punishment you’d get is a scolding. Over in Singapore, you’d be committing a crime and could be fined S$150.

4: Littering

We don’t condone littering, of course, but sometimes we can be forgetful and leave behind, say, an empty soda can after a picnic. In Singapore, the first offence would be an instant S$2,000 fine, and the third offence could result in public humiliation: you’d have to clean the streets while wearing a sign that says “I am a litterer”. 

5: Selling gum

Have an afternoon business meeting right after your garlic-heavy lunch? Here, we can buy gum at any 7-11 or market stall for a quick fix on bad breath. But over in the Lion City, you wouldn’t be able to find any, because selling gum is strictly forbidden.

Maybe we should cut the government some slack. In Hong Kong we can walk around the house naked and chew gum. And if we do break laws, at least we won’t get caned like we would in Singapore.