Wednesday, October 22, 2008

No Snoozing? Oh! Fine!

I was dozing off at the East Coast Park on a warm Sunday afternoon. The park ranger came and warned me not to do so. I panicked and woke up ... from a dream. Phew!

I was 'lucky' but Mr Kassim was not. On 1 Sep, he paid a fine of S$200 for sleeping on the bench in the park. His offence - 'misuse of park facility'.

Now, I am perplexed
... what exactly amounts to 'misuse of park facility'? If sleeping does, many other doings would too. I must have committed some kind of offences at one time or another. I have to be mindful the next time I visit the park.

I must not walk on the beach without my shoes so that I will not dirty the beach bench with my sand-coated feet.

I must not use a hammock for I might doze o
ff while gazing at the coconuts above me.

I must not ...

Man! For heaven's sake! I am talking about a relaxing visit to a park? Why should I be laden with so many DOs and DON'Ts? Shucks!

Singapore is well known for being a 'fine' city. Some tourists are amused by the Singapore souvenir T-shirts detailing various 'fines' such as 'No Chewing Gums', 'No Bird Feeding' and 'No Spitting'. While they may have brought home the impression that we 'breath' rules, few tourists can say that they have encountered any kind of 'fine' experience.

We do have many rules but I guess we really just want to be a fine city, literally. The rules are aplenty but they meant well and most are enforced only sparingly. Many of these rules are there to set social boundaries and cues.

Alright. We may have a few 'not so common' DON'Ts such as the infamous 'No Chewing Gum' rule.

But, to me, these rules are far from weird for there are plenty of weirder ones. How about 'No Dogs' in Atlantic City parks? Does that sound more acceptable to you than our bubblegum ban? Just tour around the world and you will find many rules that may rub you on the wrong side or turn on your funny bones:

In Alabama, it is illegal to wear a fake mustache that causes laughter in church.

In Florida, if an elephant is left tied to a parking meter, the parking fee has to be paid just as it would for a vehicle.

In Virginia, chickens cannot lay eggs before 8.00 AM and must be done before 4.00 PM.

In Colorado, a pet cat, if loose, must have a tail-light.

In Australia, it is illegal to roam the streets wearing black clothes, felt shoes and black shoe polish on your face as these items are the tools of a cat burglar.

In France, between the 8AM and 8PM, 70% of the music in the radio must be by French composers and it is illegal to name a pig Napoleon.

In UK, it is illegal to die in the Houses of Parliament.

In Germany, every office must have a view of the sky, however small.

In Israel, if you have been maintaining an illegal radio station for 5 or more years, the station becomes legal.

In Korea, it is illegal to eat stray cats.

In Switzerland, it is illegal to flush the toilet after 10 PM, if you live in an apartment.

This is my favorite: According to a British law passed in 1845, attempting to commit suicide was a capital offense. Offenders could be hanged for trying.

I can go on and on with more examples of 'weird' laws but I have come to a point to accept that no rules are really 'weird'. They are just not applicable or relevant to you.

For each of these 'weird' laws, the lawmakers must have had their reasons for writing them. However, overtime, they may not always remember to undo them once they have become impertinent. If they are left unchecked, these laws becomes a social mismatch and hence 'weird'.

So, there are no 'weird' laws, only outdated ones.

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