As part of Law Awareness Week, ALN conducted a survey last week on 5 quirky and interesting Singapore Laws.
After asking hundreds of Singaporeans for their opinions, it appears that Singaporeans might not be as legally aware as they think they are on some issues.
The Questions that we asked Singaporeans
Respondents to our survey had to indicate if they thought that the statements posed were true or false. Here were the questions we asked:
- Failing to flush a public toilet after you have used it is an offence
- It is not an offence for a person to be naked in his home while being exposed to the public view
- A pet owner can be charged for his unruly dog’s behaviour to other persons or vehicles
- Tapping into an unsecured network is an offence
- if a person is suspected to be driving while drunk, he is required in all circumstances to submit to a breath analyzer test
Think you know the answer to the questions above? Read on to find out the answer.
Question 1: Failing to Flush a Public Toilet after you have used it is an Offence
About 72% of the Singaporeans surveyed indicated that this statement was false. On first glance, it might be easy to see why those chose this option, since some people do forget to flush the toilet when they are in a hurry. That shouldn’t be a crime, should it?
But unlike what 72% of our respondents indicated, failing to flush a public toilet after use is actually an offence. It appears that a lot of Singaporeans might be unwitting criminals.
According to section 16 of the Environmental Public Health (Public Cleansing) Regulations:
Any person who has urinated or defecated in any sanitary convenience with a flushing system to which the public has access shall flush the sanitary convenience immediately after using it.
Not only is it unhygienic if you forget to flush a toilet, you can also get slapped with a fine. First time offenders can expect to be out of pocket of $1000. If you continue your dirty and disgusting ways, you can get fined up to $2000 the second time and up to $5000 for the third time you’re caught doing this offence.
Question 2: It is not an offence for a person to be naked in his home while being exposed to the public view
89% of the Singaporeans believed that it is an offence for a person to be naked in his own home. Thankfully, for everyone’s sanity and for the purposes of common decency, it is indeed an offence for someone to expose his or her naked body to the public view.
According to Section 27A of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act, any person who is nude in a private place cannot be “exposed to public view”. The punishment for this offence can be a fine up to $2000 or an imprisonment up to 3 months. Interestingly, the act also notes that “nude” also includes people who are dressed in a way that offends public decency and order.
One example of someone who got caught for this is taxi driver Chua Hock. In 2009, he was fined for being naked in his own flat while being in clear view of his neighbours. His neighbours were walking along the common corridor and saw him standing naked in his kitchen through the common corridor windows. Talk about gross.
Question 3: A pet owner can be charged for his unruly dog’s behaviour to other persons or vehicles
For this question, an overwhelming 96% of Singaporeans thought that it was offence. To their credit, Singaporeans really know the law when it comes to their pets. This statement is true.
Dog owners can be liable for a fine up to $1000 if they do not control their pets. According to Section 8 of the Miscellaneous Offences (Public Order and Nuisance) Act
If it is proved to the satisfaction of a Magistrate’s Court that any dog is in the habit of running at persons or at vehicles or bicycles passing along a public road, the owner of the dog shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $1,000.
Pet owners beware. You should keep a close eye on your dogs, especially if they are energetic and hyperactive. You might consider taking your pet for some training classes to be on the correct side of the law.
Question 4: Tapping into an unsecured network is an offence
About 65% of the Singaporeans believed that tapping into an unsecured wireless network is an offence. It seems that in a well-connected country like Singapore, most people would want to protect their wifi and guard against unauthorized personnel. This statement is indeed true.
It is indeed an offence to tap into an unsecured wireless internet network. Under Section 6(1)(a) of the Computer Misuse and Cybersecurity Act, tapping into an unsecured wireless internet network is considered hacking. The punishment for this very strict and you can be fined up to $1000 or jailed up to three years or both. This is definitely not worth the price of wifi.
One example of someone who was punished under this provision was Garyl Tan Jia Luo. He was arrested in 2006 for tapping into his neighbour’s wireless network. He was eventually sentenced to probation and was banned from using the internet for 18 months.
Need wifi desperately? You should stop trying to tap into your neighbour’s wifi and head over to the nearest Starbucks,
Question 5: If a person is suspected to be driving while drunk, he is required in all circumstances to submit to a breath analyzer test
About 85% of Singaporeans surveyed indicated that the statement was true and that they had to submit to a test under all circumstances. While it is certainly heartwarming to hear that Singaporeans are so law abiding, the truth is that there are exceptions to the breath analyzer test.
You do not need to submit to a test in ALL circumstances.
One exception is if you are a hospital patient. Under Section 71 of the Road Traffic Act, a hospital patient is not required to provide a specimen for a breath test. He or she is only required to do so if the medical practitioner in charge of his case authorizes it.
This law has been in place since 1996 and its purpose is to ensure that hospital patients are taken care of properly. If the breath analyzer test is harmful to the treatment of the patient, the medical practitioner in charge may not authorize the test. But seriously, if you’re a hospital patient, you should definitely not be drinking AND driving.
How well do you know Singapore Law?
While these 5 laws are interesting and fun tidbits, the truth is many Singaporeans are not familiar with their rights and might not realize that they have legal recourse for dilemmas and difficult situations.
As the survey shows, we can make mistakes when we rely on intuition or common sense to decide if something is legal or not.
Speak with a lawyer to find out if you have doubts regarding any legal issue. You can do so by scheduling a Quick Consult and talk to an experienced and specialized lawyer for 15 minutes at just $49.
This article is written by Seah Ern Xu from Asia Law Network.
This article does not constitute legal advice or a legal opinion on any matter discussed and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and practice in this area. If you require any advice or information, please speak to practicing lawyer in your jurisdiction. No individual who is a member, partner, shareholder or consultant of, in or to any constituent part of Interstellar Group Pte. Ltd. accepts or assumes responsibility, or has any liability, to any person in respect of this article.