Opinion

5 Reasons Why Recent Government Changes Make Singapore Even More Boring

Jeff Cuellar

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Nothing exciting ever happens in Singapore right? I mean, Singapore is one of the most insulated and safest places in the world. Other than a major riot, some MRT delays, and occasional flooding – almost nothing bad ever happens in Singapore!

There’s nothing wrong with living in a place where your biggest fear walking around at 1am is not being able to find a taxi. But we all know what the downside to safety and security is right? Life is boring!

Seriously, do you ever feel like the government is a bit too protective sometimes when it comes to certain vices, leisure activities, and side-income activities? Well, then this article is for you!

Here are 5 reasons why recent government changes make Singapore even more boring:

 

#1 You Can’t Make a Few More Bucks on Short-Term Rentals

Apparently, making a few extra bucks on short-term holiday rentals is illegal - and can get you fined or jailed.
Apparently, making a few extra bucks on short-term holiday rentals is illegal – and can get you fined or jailed.

Yes, the government has really been going out of its way to remind you that short-term “holiday” rentals of less than 6 months are illegal in Singapore. However, maybe what should be illegal are outrageously priced hotel fares (seriously, it’s no contest when you compare sites like Airbnb to hotels).

That isn’t to say that you can’t create an account with Airbnb, Roomerama, HomeAway, or VacationRentals.com. These websites aren’t illegal, but the activities that you use these websites for – short-term holiday rentals – IS illegal (go figure that one out).

Short-term rentals are illegal for both public (HDB flats) and private (condominiums) properties. But the penalties are a bit different for each – HDB CAN fine you or repossess your flat if you’re busted (as our recent article covered) and URA can fine you up to $200,000 or jail you up to 1 year.

Those are pretty harsh penalties to pay, but the question is this – if you’re a responsible “landlord” to short-term holiday renters, why can’t you make a few extra bucks renting out your flat?

Perhaps Singapore can consider a new system that allows “responsible” home owners to rent out their flats/condos as long as they pay adhere to certain rules and pay a tax? That’s something to consider.

 

#2 You Can’t Enjoy the Pleasures of E-Cigarettes

The taxed and the banned - side by side.
The taxed and the banned – side by side.

Budget 2014 made a lot of people grumble, especially if your vices include drinking, smoking and gambling – and you probably cried if you regularly partake in all three. Of course, the government’s reason for the increases probably had something do with its multi-billion dollar healthcare initiatives.

Duties on tobacco alone were raised 10%, and that has a lot of people switching to either cheaper cigarettes, or e-cigarettes as a means of bypassing the rising prices.

E-cigarettes are dirt cheap. In fact, you can buy the e-cigarette with numerous flavor cartridges for less than $70.

However, like so many other things in Singapore – e-cigarettes are prohibited under the Tobacco Act.

As to whether e-cigarettes are as just as dangerous regular tobacco cigarettes, or present a safer alternative to smoking… well, that’s still up for debate in the rest of the world. But in Singapore, there’s no debate – it’s illegal.

Well, it just seems a bit odd that the government will allow shisha but it won’t allow e-cigarettes – especially since they both have similar components and function in more or less the same way.

 

#3 Your Expensive Pint of Beer is Becoming Even More Expensive

How much do you think a night out like this will cost a year or two from now?
How much do you think a night out like this will cost a year or two from now?

Perhaps the biggest shock of Budget 2014 wasn’t the Pioneer Generation – but the 25% tax hike the government levied on alcohol.

At that moment the biggest concern among every beer loving individual in Singapore was this all-important question – how much more will I need to pay for my after work pint?

Thankfully, the answer to that question was that most of costs were borne by distributors and business owners, which reduced the markup on the average pint of beer to about $.50 (although some businesses blatantly raised their prices by $1.00 or more!).

Restaurateur Howard Lo and beer hawker innovator Daniel Goh both chimed in on the issue to say that many good business owners were taking a loss in profits due to the tax with only a minimal increase being passed on to consumers.

However, this recent tax hike makes you wonder – what will happen if the government raises the alcohol tax again next year?

 

#4 Your Visits to the Pirate Bay Will Soon Be Blocked

I'm sure Singaporeans will find a way to board the "Pirate Ship" once more.
I’m sure Singaporeans will find a way to board the “Pirate Ship” once more.

For years, you’ve been able to download and torrent “pirated” content with relative impunity. Then again, piracy is part of being Singaporean – except that instead of pillaging helpless trading ships in the Strait of Malacca (that’s so 1800s anyway), you’re now ravaging rich record companies, movie studios, and software companies by downloading pirated content.

However, on 8 July 2014, Parliament passed an amendment to the Copyright Act that makes it VERY easy for copyright owners to have sites blocked by your network service provider – whether it’s StinkTel, StealHub, or anyone else that provides you with internet service.

As of now, it seems like your torrenting days are numbered. Soon, no more downloading of Game of Thrones, The Walking Dead, Breaking Bad, or any other TV show or movie through the Pirate Bay or similar sites will be had.

Of course, this is being done to “boost” Singapore’s “creative” sector according to the Senior Minister of State for Law and Education. Yeah, I didn’t know Singapore had a “creative” sector either.

 

#5 You Can’t Be Trusted to Have a Sense of Humor

I wonder what MDA found so objectionable about South Park: The Stick of Truth?
I wonder what MDA found so objectionable about South Park: The Stick of Truth?

This is probably the biggest travesty of all – the government’s banning of a certain video game that has been branded by “Amazing” by the Harvard of video game reviews – IGN.

I’m talking about South Park: The Stick of Truth!

For months I patiently awaited MDA’s ruling on whether it would allow this gem of video game art to hit the shelves of Qisahn – but it was banned. Now, all I have to look forward to is this sorry explanation.

This isn’t a personal crusade – it’s not just “I” but thousands of Singaporeans out there who appreciate the satirical, scatological, sagacious humor coming from the bowels of Matt Stone and Trey Parker’s combined genius!

Yeah, the government could have made a few ah, “edits” to the game’s content the same way that Australia did. But, I guess such a task was just too much for MDA’s resources and expertise.

 

Do you think the government should lighten up on some of its prohibitions, or are they justified? Share your thoughts with us on Facebook! For even more useful information on everything personal finance, visit MoneySmart today!

Images:

Bagogames, John Picken Photography, Tom Harrington, Aleksandr Zykov

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Jeff Cuellar

I'm known by many titles: copywriter, published author, literary connoisseur, ex- U.S. Army intelligence analyst, and Champion of Capua.