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F.A.Q.: Frequently Asked Questions - The Law PDF Print E-mail
Frequently Asked Questions - The Law

Question: Are there any strict laws expats should be aware of?

Answer: The laws in Singapore are really no different to the laws you are used to. They are not in any way stricter here than elsewhere, er, except if you are talking about Iraq. In fact, I am pretty sure that during your visit or stay here in Singapore, you will not find that there is anything to worry about insofar as the law is concerned - if you're not into drugs, smuggling, firearms, money laundering, politics and crime, there is nothing to worry about.

Question: What will happen to me if I break the law unknowingly?

Answer: Singapore suffers (yes, suffer is the word) from a reputation of being a stickler for rules. Well, you will know that is not quite the case after you arrive. Otherwise, there will not be that many people who want to come and to stay after they have arrived.

But certainly there are rules and some rules do appear finicky. For example, not flushing the toilet is an offence. But after the initial round where non-flushers were flushed out, the number of people ticketed has fallen. The authorities believe in having a big stick handy.

So you should be wise to note some of these rules. Some of these rules may be considered social etiquette in the West but enforced as law in Singapore. Example, flushing the toilet, anti-littering, and no jaywalking (defined as crossing the road within 50m of a crossing zone). And many rules are sensible both in Singapore and outside.

But some rules are difficult to know and even remember. In particular,traffic rules are tricky. Few Singaporeans know the precise minute when it is legal to enter the bus lanes and when not to. Similarly, some of the Central Business District hours are tricky.

If you are new to Singapore and you have broken some law that you think you could not have known, (or worse, some Singaporean told you was nota rule) you should write a polite letter to the police explaining the situation.Tell them you are new, enclosing the supporting documents and ask for a waiver. (Avoid the temptation to grovel.) Ignorance of the law is never an excuse in any regime but as a newbie in town, you have a better than 50% chance of being waived once. Do not even try it the second time around.Your name would have entered the computer records.

Should you want to contest the summon (or charge), you may have to hire a lawyer. But the fine system is such that it is probably not worth your while. A traffic or parking ticket can vary from as low as S$6 to S$200. Getting the lawyer’s ear for an hour is easily S$200. (The exception could be if a guilty verdict carries a heavy penalty, such as suspension of driving licence.)

Question:  What are the laws regarding gun ownership? Are shooting facilities available and open to the public? Specifically are skeet and sporting clays facilities available? What about private gun/handgun ownership?

Answer:   Gun ownership in Singapore is illegal. There is however a private gun club which provides rifles and ammunition for skeet and trap shooting. Membership costs S$3300 plus S$300 a year.

QuestionIs there a tenancy tribunal board or association in Singapore? Hopefully it won't get to that, but my landlord is refusing to pay for a replacment lock on an external door. I have paid the full amount of $300 to the locksmith, and I am prepared to pay half, but the landlord won't pay anything. And the landlord has even gone as far as to accuse my husband of lying about the reason for having the locked replaced. (lock/handle mechanics ceased up, landlord says we lost the keys) I have kept the lock casing and keys!, and the locksmith can varify the reason for replacement. I feel silly squabbling about $150, but this guy has really upset me; he has also sent a letter of complaint to my husbands HR department. I am laughing and crying at the same time! Am I right to ask him to pay at least half the cost?

Answer:   First things first : in most tenancy agreements, there are the following that should apply. a) The landlord should first be notified about any repairs before they are carried out. If these are legitimate repairs, the landlord is to carry them out at his expense. b) There is the 'Minor Repairs' clause which says that for any repairs of up to a certain amount - usually S$80.00 to S$150.00, the tenant is to bear the cost of such repairs. These are fairly standard clauses to protect the landlord from possible abuse. Otherwise he may end up paying for everything that he could otherwise have repaired at a much lower price or cost. Or be responsible for every minor item of a wear-and-tear nature, including choked plumbing, sewerage, burnt bulbs, etc. I would actually suggest that the cost of the replacement lock be borne by your company, or by yourself if the landlord is not reasonable or is unwilling to pay his share. The landlord in not even willing to compromise will not have many happy tenants. There is no point in fighting it out with the landlord..

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