In an effort to sustain the image of an island that is squeaky clean, Singapore has maintained its ban on chewing gum sales, which was first imposed in 1992. Known for its Esplanade and beautiful skyline, Singapore is a city in transition.
The question is: Does this work against the city’s desire to cultivate a more cosmopolitan image in the hopes of attracting more tourists and foreign investment? Singapore opened its first casino last month and began hosting Formula One races in 2008.
There is a method to the seeming madness of the gum ban. It is all meant to provide a means to reduce gum-related litter and vandalism. Punishment for these minor crimes can include canings.
Singapore maintains very strict laws against public demonstrations concerning religion and race, and for major infractions like drug smuggling, hangings are often in order.
“We remain concerned that lifting the ban could result in chewing gum litter resurfacing as a problem. The government stands by its decision to ban chewing gum as the rationale is based on maintaining a clean and comfortable living environment,” says Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman, parliamentary secretary of the national development ministry.
For some, the fact that Singapore is internationally known for its ban on gum sales is rather annoying.
“Let Singaporeans be accountable for the consequences…If Singaporeans were seeking liberty in so many areas and the government does concede in some of these areas, why not liberalize the chewing gum ban,” asks Denise Phua Lay Peng, a member of parliament from the ruling People’s Action Party.
“A clean city is more important than the freedom to chew gum,” argues Mohamad. “Before the ban, gobs of gum had stopped subway doors from closing, creating delays… Our efforts at creating a clean, green and safe living environment have garnered much more international acclaim than criticisms of the ban of chewing gum.”
The ban was modified in 2004 to allow sales of gum that have medicinal value.
Still a very sticky issue.
What do YOU think about this?