|Hey Rooney, better not do that in Singapore publicly. Image: The Week|
In many countries in the world, spitting on the streets is a common sight. This is specially in countries like Myanmar or Taiwan where chewing Betelnut are legal and filling the streets with red stains from the “juice” of the Betelnut. That will be a total different story in Singapore.
As to most of the foreigners, Singapore is well-known for its cleaness on the streets. That was also due to the strict enforcement by the government for such ungracious and unhygienic action. The enforcement was implemented as early as mid-1980s but it becomes more stringent after the 2003 SARs outbreak. National Envoirnment Agency (NEA) stiffened its stand against the spitting habit in public.
Spitting – A Health Threat
From a medical point of view, spitting is not only just a social issue, but poses harmful to the environment. A research was conducted and studies show that coronavirus that is present in phlegm, sputum (mucus) and saliva can survive up to 6 hours in the air and more than 24 hours if the environment condition is optimal for the virus.
Hence, through spitting in the public, people are being exposed to virus that cannot be seen through naked eyes. It increases the risks of people being infected with the similar virus, for example SARs or MERS-CoV.
Stepping Up With The Enforcement
Since late 2012, a voluntary scheme was introduced, called “Community Volunteer Programme” that focus on catching litterbugs. 153 volunteers from five non-governmental organisations like the Public Hygiene Council, Waterways Watch Society, Cat Welfare Society and Singapore Kindness Movement has been trained and authorised to engage litterbugs.
However, in 2014, the Singapore’s authorities looks into increasing the authority not only to litterbugs, but also to offenders whom spit, urinate and smoke in prohibited places. Though there was ongoing discussion for the community volunteers to carry out such duties, the scheme has not yet been finalise.
A similar programme was carried out in UK as well and they have successfully prosecuted two youngsters to pay up 300 pounds for spitting in public.
What Is The Penalty ?
According to Environmental Public Health Act (Chapter 95, Section 113), spitting or expelling mucous from the nose, onto the street or floor which the public has access is liable of a fine not exceeding
- S$ 1,000 for first offence;
- S$ 2,000 for second offence and;
- S$ 5,000 for third and subsequent offence
So Where Should You Spit ?
If you need to spit, it is advisable to spit onto a piece of tissue and throw into the nearby rubbish bin or finding the nearest public toilet to do the dirty job. That will save you hundreds of dollars and why bother to take the risk ? However, spitting into one’s face does not spare you from getting the fine as well, like what Juraimi Kamaludin did.
This article was updated on 12 May 2016.