January 3, 2017
It may come as a surprise that the one item you can’t find in modern, millennial Singapore is the ubiquitous chewing gum. It has been an object of much attention, especially from visiting tourists. Most of them are unaware why a vibrant city-state would ban something like the chewing gum. The straightforward, one-line answer is cleanliness, but there is more to this interesting tale.
A Sticky Menace
There is nothing wrong or harmful about chewing gum as most of us would testify. The problem, however, arises when a chewed up piece is discarded carelessly. This was an issue that an emerging modern city had to contend with.
Cleanliness has always been a cornerstone of Singapore’s rapid rise and it was this principle that was threatened during the 80s. Miscreants would stick the gum inside mailboxes, on keyholes, and even on lift buttons, causing irritation to the others. Then there was the issue of hygiene as well. No one dared to touch the gums because of its unhygienic nature.
Chewed up gum began to appear on park benches and on the streets as people tried their best to avoid this sticky menace. It was also causing a serious maintenance issue in the high rise HDBs. All in all, the chewing gum was becoming something of a villain, for no fault of its own.
The issue came to a head when the Mass Rapid Transport (MRT) was introduced in the city-state. Being the largest public project of Singapore, there were expectations of a faultless service. These expectations were slightly dented when the chewing gum found its way to the door sensors of the MRT trains.
Miscreants would leave the gum between closing doors to prevent them from functioning. The incidents were few, but cleaning out the sticky gum was an expensive exercise and the culprits were hard to catch. Then in 1992, the ban was formalized and introduced to the city-state.
The ban still remains, but the people don’t seem to miss chewing gum, and the rest of us certainly appreciate the cleanliness of this beautiful island nation.
Other Cleanliness Initiatives
Clean air is a vital, cherished aspect of daily life in Singapore. There has been a host of measures introduced by the civic body to keep the quality of the air as high as possible. The ban on public smoking is one of these measures.
No smoking areas were limited to public areas, but the ban has now been extended. The new areas include public walkways, linkways, bridges, and even common areas in residential buildings such as corridors and staircases.
No Food And Drinks On Public Transport
Singapore has been able to maintain its sobriquet of the cleanest city in the world by preventing consumption of food and drinks on public transport, especially the MRT. Commuters are allowed to carry eatables in sealed containers, but consumption of food items is prohibited. This has resulted in a clean and hygienic environment on public buses and MRTs.
The various initiatives launched by the government has allowed the locals and visiting tourists to enjoy a clean, green, and hygienic environment.