Singapore crime fact of the day

by on January 17, 2018 at 1:50 am in Current Affairs, Data Source, Law | Permalink

In 2016, the island nation’s police reported 135 total days without any crimes including snatch-theft, house break-ins and robbery. That low crime rate means many small businesses enjoy little concern about shoplifting.

In fact, as CNBC recently observed, many local businesses take few precautions when closing shop at night.

For instance, in the ground floor lobby of a mixed-use building in the downtown business district, many shops don’t have windows, locks — or even doors.

Here is the full story.

1 clockwork_prior January 17, 2018 at 2:05 am

A dedicated surveillance state which uses whipping and execution as penalties does not have to worry much about crime? Well, yes.

And a state that practices effective suppression of critics will also present a facade that many will take at face value – ‘Since the reforms were introduced, Singaporean authorities have also increasingly cracked down on those voicing dissent against the use of the death penalty, in particular lawyers and other activists. A new law introduced in 2016 has tightened already severe restrictions on the ability of human rights defenders and others to criticise court decisions.

In August 2017, for example, the High Court fined one lawyer who represented a death row convict SD6,000 (USD4,400) after he made a Facebook post critical of the judiciary hours before his client was due to be executed.

“Singaporean authorities have never had much time for the right to freedom of expression, and they are now increasingly seeking to silence debate on the use of capital punishment. This deliberate pattern of harassing those advocating for the right to life must end immediately,” said Chiara Sangiorgio.’ https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/10/singapore-executions-continue-in-flawed-attempt-to-tackle-drug-crime/

2 dan1111 January 17, 2018 at 2:40 am

+1, this is an important corrective.

3 Artimus January 17, 2018 at 3:21 am

Have you two been to Singapore?

4 Jamesb January 17, 2018 at 3:30 am

I have, many times. Nice people. Nice looking ladies. Prosperity. These two are somehow asserting I guess that low crime is bad and caused by oppression while rampant crime is somehow good. It’s a good bet that there is low crime because citizens would beat the hell out of any criminal they were able to catch. Also the people don’t have victim mentalities. There are plenty of high crime places with oppressive govts. Usually their agents are in or doing it. Explain that fellows.

5 clockwork_prior January 17, 2018 at 4:17 am

‘These two are somehow asserting I guess that low crime is bad’

Nope, just asserting that surveillance states – East Germany for example – have always had considerably lower crime rates. It is often held up as one of the advantages of such states by the defenders of such systems.

‘There are plenty of high crime places with oppressive govts. … Explain that fellows.’

An oppressive government can be oppressive without using the tools of a modern surveillance state. It is the effective use of surveillance that leads to lower crime rates, not oppression itself. It really isn’t that hard to understand, though apparently, it needs to be explained over and over..

6 dude January 17, 2018 at 10:46 am

Is living in Singapore like living in East Germany? It doesn’t seem like it from the outside, but I am admittedly uninformed.

I will say that I would rather be caned than spend a few years in an American prison.

7 albatross January 17, 2018 at 5:21 pm

Do most people in Singapore feel like they’re living under an oppressive state?

8 Mark Brophy January 19, 2018 at 10:55 am

Many foreigners such as Jim Rogers and Eduardo Saverin move to Singapore because being oppressed is great fun or at least less oppressive than the United States, Europe, or Asia.

9 clockwork_prior January 17, 2018 at 3:53 am

Nope – been to East Germany though, which was a considerably less effective surveillance state. And Switzerland, which is also a place noted for tidiness – and citizens that pay attention to everything (though without the same governmental framework as Singapore). Of course, Singapore is really a city state, which is something a bit different, especially as it is a single party city state.

And Canada, where (certainly in the past) it was true that Canadians would leave their house doors unlocked (specifically Nova Scotia – no idea of whether that applies to any major Canadian city).

But no fears – American technological prowess in surveillance instruments is up to the challenge of matching Singapore when collecting as much information as possible of a citizenry that seemingly approves of such measures. And unlike in most places, the American surveillance system runs on the profit motive, ensuring an abundance of information is collected without needing citizens to be taxed or otherwise coerced into providing detailed personal data.

Though who knows when Americans will replace their convenient E-ZPass to go through camera equipped checkpoints with a Multipass – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eV_eGm1qgGs

10 Artimus January 17, 2018 at 5:22 am

Well since you’re commenting on a city you have never been before let me correct your misconceptions. Singapore hardly compares to an oppressive communist surveillance state. Having been there dozens of time I find it quite enjoyable as do the majority of the locals. In my opinion it is vastly superior to many of the sprawled out, polluted and dirty asian cities filled with huksters and petty criminals. In Singapore you don’t have to worry about taxi drivers scamming you, snatch and grabs by motorcyclists and most everything is very efficient.

11 clockwork_prior January 17, 2018 at 5:30 am

‘Singapore hardly compares to an oppressive communist surveillance state. ‘

Neither does Switzerland.

‘Having been there dozens of time I find it quite enjoyable as do the majority of the locals.’

Most people enjoy Switzerland too.

12 Anonymous January 17, 2018 at 9:29 am

“Have you two been to Singapore?”

I have, twenty plus years ago. The first morning there I read the newspaper. It told three stories of arrest. “After being interviewed by the police, the suspect confessed.” “After being interviewed by the police, the suspect led them to his confederates.” “After being interviewed by the police, the suspect led them to the stolen goods.”

I put my coffee down and said to myself, “wow, if there is one thing I don’t want to do while I am here it is be interviewed by the police.”

(I was later told by my Singaporean friend that confessions are common, because i avoided the death penalty for things like drug dealing.)

13 Artimus January 17, 2018 at 9:56 am

Perhaps it was different twenty plus years ago. Now I comsider it a quite desirable place to live.

14 Anonymous January 17, 2018 at 10:02 am

“desirable” is in the eye of the beholder, but I don’t think there is a doubt that Singapore has a different approach to civil liberties than the US.

Are Jehovah’s Witnesses still banned?

That’s the kind of thing some might weigh in “desirable places to live,” deepening of whether you want that sort of freedom day to day, or just have the “out” to hop on a plane back to America.

15 Anon7 January 17, 2018 at 3:53 am

Singapore is just like that socialist hellhole Germany (among many other sh–holes) in silencing debate. American exceptionalism in this regard is a wonderful thing.

16 clockwork_prior January 17, 2018 at 4:10 am

When it comes to silencing denial about the Holocaust or other Nazi crimes, the Germans are just following the model first introduced by the Allies. Specifically, a policy that forced Germans to see – in person, in pictures, or on film – what happened in concentration camps, so that it would be impossible for lies to be told about Nazi genocide.

So, a quick overview – ‘Denazification (German: Entnazifizierung) was an Allied initiative to rid German and Austrian society, culture, press, economy, judiciary, and politics of any remnants of the National Socialist ideology (Nazism). It was carried out specifically by removing from positions of power and influence those who had been Nazi Party members and by disbanding or rendering impotent the organizations associated with Nazism. The program of denazification was launched after the end of the Second World War and was solidified by the Potsdam Agreement.’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denazification

No slippery slopes in Germany – after being responsible for the death of millions and the destruction of (not only) Germany, no one in Germany feels any need to tolerate such an ideology ever having even a chance of returning to power. Strangely, just about everyone else is equally in favor of the German not repeating their 1933-45 crimes, apart from the sort of people willing to chant ‘blood and soil’ by torchlight.

17 Anon7 January 17, 2018 at 4:27 am

Of course you neglected to include the following part: “The American government soon came to view the program as ineffective and counterproductive.”

And there’s no slippery slope only if you ignore AfD. Germany seems to be consigned to a thousand years of being a socialist hellhole of one sort or another.

18 clockwork_prior January 17, 2018 at 5:27 am

‘Of course you neglected to include the following part’

And you conveniently left out the sentence that precedes your cite – ‘Very soon after the program started, due to the emergence of the Cold War, the western powers and the United States in particular began to lose interest in the program, and it was carried out in an increasingly lenient and lukewarm way until being officially abolished in 1951.’ That the western powers and the United States in particular trusted those who had been involved in ruling Germany from 1933 to 1945 to be reliably anti-communist is beyond question.

‘And there’s no slippery slope only if you ignore AfD’

Who is ignoring the AfD? Especially as they continue to show how utterly incompetent they are when elected to office. You really cannot have it both ways, first complaining that Germany is ‘silencing debate’ then complain that the AfD is not being silenced enough.

‘Germany seems to be consigned to a thousand years of being a socialist hellhole of one sort or another.’

Strangely, the two Christian parties – you know, the ones in power for most of Germany’s post war history – just might disagree with summation.

19 Anon7 January 17, 2018 at 6:31 pm

You totally ignored the point about the program being ineffective and counterproductive.

I’m not saying that the AfD should be silenced. On the contrary, they should not be censored or outlawed. What it demonstrates is how feeble and incompetent the “mainstream” socialists are in combating them. How’s that new and even more pathetic grand coalition of socialists coming along?

20 Jim January 17, 2018 at 6:25 am

Criticizing blacks in the US is a lot more dangerous than criticizing judges in Singapore.

Further, seems to me that the major restrictions on freedom of speech in Singapore is not that you cannot criticize judges, but rather are, as in America, restrictions on crticizing bad behavior by gays, transexuals, underperforming racial groups, women, and so forth.

21 Thompson January 17, 2018 at 7:21 am

“Criticizing blacks in the US is a lot more dangerous than criticizing judges in Singapore.”
Is there any exotic dictatorship the right will not hink is bettet than America? Hitler knew how to get things done. Pinochet was a pilar of the Christdom. The Argentinian generals were saints before attacking the Falklands. The Mujahideen were saving Christianism from Soviet atheism. The Saudis are our friends. Now, Singapore. Seriously, is there any dictatorship (except the Castros’) a far-rightist can dislike?

22 Trump Fan January 17, 2018 at 8:26 am

“Pinochet was a pilar[sic] of the Christdom[sic].”

He was better than the communist alternative.

“The Mujahideen were saving Christianism from Soviet atheism.”

The Mujahideen were ‘saving’ Afghanistan from Soviet atheism, no idea where you got the idea that they were protectors of “Christianism.”

“The Saudis are our friends.”

Moreso than anyone else who would realistically rule the country. Would you rather have the radical Islamists? Or the Arab nationalists?

23 Charbes A. January 17, 2018 at 8:32 am

Sorry, I thought the Saudi regime was radical Islamist, with persecuting Christians and 9/11 and allowing anti-American preaching and funding terrorism. My bad.
So that’s why Chile was a fascist regime between 1973 and 1990: Communism.
So, we were trying to save Islam from Soviet atheism. We are so great.

24 Anon January 17, 2018 at 8:34 am

“Seriously, is there any dictatorship (except the Castros’) a far-rightist can dislike?”

I’m not “far right”, but I’d imagine they wouldn’t care for any of the numerous Communist dictatorships.

I’m defending Pinochet because he put to rest an important scientific question and proved once and for all that Communists do not know how to fly.

25 Charbes A. January 17, 2018 at 9:12 am

“I’m not “far right”, but I’d imagine they wouldn’t care for any of the numerous Communist dictatorships.”
I do not know. When Ceaușescu started annoying the Soviets, the American right started warming to him.
“I’m defending Pinochet because he put to rest an important scientific question and proved once and for all that Communists do not know how to fly.”
Actually, politicians do not know how to fly. The Soviets had proved it already: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jan_Masaryk#Death

26 clockwork_prior January 17, 2018 at 7:29 am

‘but rather are, as in America, restrictions on crticizing bad behavior by gays, transexuals, underperforming racial groups, women, and so forth’

And yet, the 1st Amendment remains law in the U.S., and absolutely no government penalty or fine or restriction is attached to criticizing anyone you wish, for any reason you wish (acknowledging that defamation, among other things, is not protected speech).

Unlike in Singapore.

27 Steve January 17, 2018 at 10:03 am

“Criticizing blacks in the US is a lot more dangerous than criticizing judges in Singapore.”

…no, it isn’t? This is a ludicrous assertion. I’m all for the extending the moral principle of free speech beyond its legal boundaries, but the fact that we have those legal boundaries is a huge point in favor of America that shouldn’t be overlooked.

28 Anonymous January 17, 2018 at 10:05 am

Jim, you would just loooooove Singapore.

The Sedition Act of the Statutes of Singapore aims to retain political stability as well as racial and ethnic harmony. Any acts, tendencies, or statements which can be construed as a threat to the government, such as inciting criticism, rioting, or an affront against the multiracial and multiethnic Singaporean population, are punishable under this act. With its history of race riots and political turbulence, it is easy to see why such an act could be considered necessary.

29 RafaelR January 17, 2018 at 3:37 pm

All cultures have restrictions on what type of speech is considered socially acceptable however there is huge difference between legal restrictions and what is socially acceptable.

30 Anon. January 17, 2018 at 11:53 am

prior, what is your view on governments that have the ability to prevent crime and choose not to? Given they are (supposed to) maintain a monopoly on violence for the benefit of all, are they not then responsible for the effects of the crime that they choose to tolerate?

31 clockwork_prior January 17, 2018 at 2:40 pm

‘what is your view on governments that have the ability to prevent crime and choose not to’

Do you have any example, outside of corruption of course, where that happens? And what is meant by ‘prevent crime’? Plus, you are aware of a German concept called ‘Duldung,’ which might be translated as ‘tolerance.’ For example, in the U.S. prostitution is illegal virtually everywhere, and many local governments expend a fair amount of resources combating that particular crime. Without, obviously, being able to completely prevent it, and also ending up with a certain amount of accompanying corruption in trying to prevent prostitution. In places like the Netherlands or Germany, the government and voters basically ‘tolerate’ the crime of prostitution as long as the business remains within certain limits – such as no violence, or establishments being located in certain areas where official oversight is possible – such as by public health authorities. (Currently, prostitution is fully legal in Germany, with prostitutes being fully able to use the courts to ensure they are paid for their services, for example.)

‘are they not then responsible for the effects of the crime that they choose to tolerate’

Well, the specific example above is intended to show that the crime that is tolerated is intended to reduce the harm associated with behavior that will never be completely eliminated. In other words, by tolerating prostitution, the government’s resources are spent in other ways than enforcement of laws that will never be fully successfully enforced, and avoids the expensive imprisonment of people engaged in such activities.

32 albatross January 17, 2018 at 5:25 pm

You’re talking about a tradeoff. We can get lower crime rates by making the punishments harsher, or by giving the police more powers and accepting some loss in civil liberties. Whether this is a good tradeoff is something that comes down to your values, but also to how safe the surrounding society is. In a society where there are dead bodies turning up on the streets all the time and nobody dares leave home after dark, you’re likely to be willing to trade away a lot of civil liberties for accused criminals in order to bring that back into control; in a society where things are pretty safe, you may prefer to make the tradeoff the other direction.

33 Viking January 17, 2018 at 3:31 pm

Hi, I like your good argument.

This means public housing projects could be equipped with Singapore/Britain style surveillance, and achieve good cost efficiency without accepting the dystopic conditions that were used as arguments against large public housing projects.

34 Brett January 17, 2018 at 2:12 am

A combination of effective law enforcement and heavy surveillance has its virtues, although places with high social trust have gotten conditions like that before without those. IIRC There used to be honor system farm stands in parts of the Midwest and Great Lakes states. You’d just fill up your basket at the roadside stand, and drop the money in a box to be picked up later.

35 dan1111 January 17, 2018 at 2:57 am

Yes, I have seen this even in Connecticut, which I wouldn’t consider a particularly high social trust part of the country.

However, I wonder if this has more to do with the fact that, logistically, stealing a whole bunch of produce and then turning it to profit doesn’t seem very feasible. It’s bulky for its value, spoils quickly, and can’t be easily resold.

36 Slocum January 17, 2018 at 7:11 am

Those aren’t a thing of the past — I see those here and there in the summer. More common are honor-system stands selling bundles of firewood near parks and campgrounds.

37 Floccina January 17, 2018 at 10:38 am

You can buy watermelons and honey that way around here.

BTW I grew up in Providence RI and we never locked our doors.

38 Floccina January 17, 2018 at 10:39 am

Oh and here is Gainesville FL.

39 JWatts January 17, 2018 at 11:45 am

There are two of those within a few miles of me in middle Tennessee.

40 Phil January 17, 2018 at 2:13 pm

I lived in Lancaster, PA and roadside stands of fruits and vegetables were commonplace. No one took the basket of money nor the food. Everyone respected one another. And this was only an hour outside of Philly.
I am also a stamp collector – this is a community of people who will mail valuable items to one another on approval: take what you want, return what you rejected with a check for the things you kept. It is 100% based on trust.
Both are communities with norms of behavior that everyone subscribes to because they recognize the common good of doing so. Given the tight-knit culture, we should not be startled that Singapore is such a community, and it is not necessary to search out evil reasons (surveillance state, suppression, death penalties) as reasons.

41 mkt42 January 18, 2018 at 1:16 am

It’s not just rural places or places in the distant past. _Freakonomics_ has a whole section where a bagel or donut seller in a big city describes how he uses the honor system by leaving boxes of bagels in offices with a jar or can for people to put cash in.

(He has the advantage of market forces and competition among buyers; if an office is paying too little he can stop leaving his bagels there and find another office.)

42 GHQ January 17, 2018 at 2:17 am

Still done in some smaller cities in Japan. But seems mostly for low cost items items that the seller grew in a home garden and doesn’t have any need for.

43 Anonymous January 17, 2018 at 6:14 am

I have seen honor system produce stands in near-Tokyo suburbs many times.

44 Todd K January 17, 2018 at 6:31 am

20 years ago there was a funny TV show in Japan that first looked at how people used the honor system in different countries for taking a free apple, orange, etc but no more. If I recall, the baskets of oranges quickly disappeared in Russia.

Tokyo and Osaka were also compared using baskets of hard boiled eggs left in baskets on tables in front of train stations with a sign that read: “Please take just one per person.” Those in Tokyo took just one egg but the grandmas in Osaka would sometimes take two or three or even better, start stuffing their shirts with eggs.

45 Alistair January 17, 2018 at 7:18 am

Even in the UK, in remote rural areas, farmhouses may run this system. And I’ve seen it done for museum and site entry in remote areas too. Judging the jingle of the falling coin in the box, enough people pay.

But Tyler won’t talk about Social Trust as a factor in economic growth or performance….ever. Because he can’t admit that monocultures do it better.

46 Thompson January 17, 2018 at 7:34 am

I blame Italian for ruining America.

47 Trump Fan January 17, 2018 at 8:31 am

“I blame Italian for ruining America.”

The mafia was a real thing, and it was a real pain in the ass in its heyday. And, yes, it was entirely preventable.

48 Thompson January 17, 2018 at 8:34 am

I am not talking about petty gangsters and a killing or two. I am talking about ruining the fabric of our society with their pizzas.

49 D January 17, 2018 at 3:01 am

Rather surprised at the high rank of Chicago on the list.

50 khc January 17, 2018 at 3:18 am

“For instance, in the ground floor lobby of a mixed-use building in the downtown business district, many shops don’t have windows, locks — or even doors.”

The picture looks like a mall and it’s probably locked after hours

51 clockwork_prior January 17, 2018 at 4:26 am

Shh – details get in the way of the big picture.

52 SI January 17, 2018 at 5:00 am

Changi airport actually.

But that does not make the statement in the article untrue. I live in the city and work in the business district and businesses are fairly relaxed about not needing locks or doors etc.

53 clockwork_prior January 17, 2018 at 5:40 am

Are they open 24 hours a day? That is not a trivial detail. And a few seconds of video does not provide any reasonable way to rate how many people whose job is security are around. Not in the sense of armed guards standing every few meters, but simply a person or two whose job it is to pay attention to what is happening – including in the room where the CC video feeds are recorded.

And since you may have some knowledge – jewelry stores do have safes, right? Nothing in that tiny clip seemed particularly worth stealing, at least from a typical middle class perspective. Lots of European stores have fairly large amounts of merchandise outside on the street/sidewalk at least while the store is open (produce, clothing, various seasonal items, etc.), and there is little apparent attention paid to it during the day by employees. Yet it seems as if remarkably little of such easily stolen merchandise is actually stolen – possibly because there is just not that much to be gained by stealing it in the first place.

54 SI January 17, 2018 at 11:09 am

Yup, you’re not going to find jewelry stores without guards/locks etc. The shops referred to in the article will typically be selling clothes or food/groceries. Most malls will be accessible 24 hours and you don’t usually find security patrolling in the malls. Your assessment is probably right – with very efficient police and cameras everywhere, getting away with theft is hard and is probably not worth the risk given the relatively meager rewards.

I do encourage you to visit though. Your comments above do not seem reflective of the experience that a majority of people here will have and in general, the government has struck a reasonable balance between individual and collective rights.

55 clockwork_prior January 17, 2018 at 2:49 pm

‘the government has struck a reasonable balance between individual and collective rights’

We may agree to disagree, particularly as my knowledge is most definitely not first hand. And it does not really matter – we are all heading to a world where massive surveillance is backed up by explicit government power anyways. It is just that most people will not be lucky enough to live in a place like Singapore, which does seem to have struck a reasonable balance in the main, as long as one accepts the basic precepts involved.

56 Andao January 17, 2018 at 3:30 pm

“the government has struck a reasonable balance between individual and collective right”

An unnecessary balance. Is Australia that much more dangerous than Singapore? Is Canada? Taiwan? And yet all three are much freer countries. Too bad Singaporeans aren’t given a say in the matter. Many would probably choose a small uptick in petty crime in exchange for a wide array of new civil and political liberties.

57 sundhara January 17, 2018 at 3:29 am

hmm…i live in singapore and it is safer than most places i’ve been to. it’s safe because of the laws and law enforcement. but in my observation, people are not that trustworthy.

58 Alistair January 17, 2018 at 7:20 am

Law-obedience and rigorous enforcement is a cultural thing. Not all cultures can do it.

59 Jan January 17, 2018 at 10:51 am

No it’s not and yes they can.

60 JWatts January 17, 2018 at 11:51 am

It seems to correlate heavily with culture, so I lean towards it being loosely cultural.

61 XVO January 17, 2018 at 1:53 pm

Why don’t shithole countries have rigorous law enforcement?

62 vin January 17, 2018 at 8:09 pm

it’s cultural in my opinion. but i also believe it can be changed with time and the right incentives.
Singapore is a very clean city. In my initial years in SG I used to think the people are like that, they don’t litter or spit everywhere. But over time I have seen beyond working hours of the cleaning staffs, the people just trash the whole place be it in the university I studied or on prime areas like orchard road. But the next day morning, the place will be spick and span!

63 Alistair January 18, 2018 at 6:24 am

Sure, it can be changed.

Takes time and serious shift in incentives though, especially if you have to move the culture out of a bad equilibrium.

64 Sam January 18, 2018 at 12:55 am

I agree. Singapore is about law enforcement and surveillance. The people here are not law abiding. People litter, jay-walk, jump lights, and engage in activities like tax avoidance etc when they feel reasonably safe that they can get away with it. At places where they’re aware that they’re being watched or highly likely to be watched, then they follow the law. They also live in the fear of the government, the ones who have anything critical to say or do. There is paranoia that 80% of cops are in plain clothes. People never criticize the government in a place where they feel like there could be some recording device or a bug. This is in contrast to Japan where, many of the little powerless people do the “right” thing even if nobody is watching.

Having said that, Singapore is super super super safe, especially for women, because of being a panopticon. The only people who can rape or assault you are your friends, family, dates, partners, and employers (in the case of maids or office workers). You don’t face the threat from strangers that you would in other countries, simply because of law enforcement and surveillance. I could walk around drunk, wearing whatever, juggling my purse at 4AM down a random dark alley and there is a 99..9% chance that nobody will molest me. Many people are happy to trade their freedoms for safety (especially if they lack any constitution to be political or revolutionary or lack any intellectual capacity to be dissenting) and some are not.

65 vin January 18, 2018 at 2:09 am

Completely agree with you.
I have been to Tokyo and some surrounding areas a few times. It is supremely clean and there are almost no garbage bins around! Most days I had to carry them around all day and finally get to dispose in my hotel room.
I had an embarrassing incident once…i had some tissue with me which I wanted to dispose but couldn’t find any bins around. This was late night. Finally I spotted a pile of garbage bags all tied up to be cleared later. I threw the tissue I holding on this pile of bags. I got admonished by my Japanese colleague for it and he went on to open one of the garbage bags, put my tissue in it and tied it up.

66 Brandon Berg January 17, 2018 at 3:29 am

As we know, crime is caused by income inequality. From this we can infer that Singapore’s Gini index must be among the world’s lowest.

67 Jamesb January 17, 2018 at 3:33 am

Indeed. As well, the people are repressed, not allowed to prey on others. This would make them sad.

68 stasi January 17, 2018 at 4:18 am

Very droll Brandon, in fact Singapore has a high Gini index, even higher than Jamaica, which has a horrendous crime rate. Perhaps the difference is that Jamaica used to be a colony.

69 Anonymous January 17, 2018 at 6:16 am

And what did Singapore use to be? An Ancient Greek polis? LOL.

70 stasi January 17, 2018 at 6:46 am

oh well spotted … so it must be something else …

71 Peldrigal January 17, 2018 at 7:24 am

Singapore was a British colony too

72 Anonymous January 17, 2018 at 9:35 am

The main difference between Singapore and Jamaica is in transshipment volumes.

Singapore is actually the most active transshipment port in the world.

http://www.industreams.com/singapore-port-here-today-gone-tomorrow/

73 JWatts January 17, 2018 at 11:52 am

And entirely different cultures with vastly different values and history.

74 Anonymous January 17, 2018 at 12:01 pm

Maybe at the margin, but anyone who doesn’t understand the specific business advantage of being a small country at a nexus of east-west shipping is never going to understand Singapore.

You see all these people comparing Singapore to *any* small country off trade routes. Forget it. It’s not going to work.

I suppose you could compare them to Panama though.

75 Anonymous January 17, 2018 at 12:22 pm

If this link works it will show a real time marine traffic map centered on Singapore:

https://www.marinetraffic.com/en/ais/home/centerx:103.4/centery:4.3/zoom:6

76 Alistair January 18, 2018 at 6:26 am

Would it be crass to note the…..ethnic composition….of the two states?

77 Floccina January 17, 2018 at 10:41 am

+1

78 Walt January 17, 2018 at 4:25 am

Great video from last year featuring Singapore’s Deputy PM being interviewed by a smug and idiotic BBC journalist:
https://youtu.be/YOtlNZN2ZVg
For example at 12:30, where the DPM replies to some of the interviewer’s predictably simple-minded criticisms: “The freest possible media is not the only liberty we aspire to,” as there is also the “liberty of being able to walk the streets freely, particularly if you’re a woman, or a child, at any time of the night.” I’ll take safe streets over cable news any day of the week. Also great bits on Singapore’s fair housing policies, and its unique (and to me inspiring) take on making multiculturalism work. Plus it’s fun to watch a self-important IQ-120 trying to “grill” an IQ-145+, which never works.

79 Alistair January 17, 2018 at 7:24 am

>Plus it’s fun to watch a self-important IQ-120 trying to “grill” an IQ-145+, which never works.

+1.

Yes, it’s the “smart-but-not-smart-enough-to-conceive-of-someone-smarter” effect. I really don’t get why many liberal are that way.

80 Jan January 17, 2018 at 10:53 am

It’s obviously the cultural DNA of liberal culture that requires they be low IQ and often of unfavorable minority groups. Cultural DNA trumps all.

81 JWatts January 17, 2018 at 11:57 am

LOL, way to strawman the post.

The reporter is referred to as IQ-120 and smart. Then you reply with “the cultural DNA of liberal culture that requires they be low IQ “

82 Borjigid January 17, 2018 at 1:04 pm

In what way(s) are safe streets and cable news in tension?

83 Al January 18, 2018 at 1:43 am

That was tremendous fun. Could not be happier watching the self important lib say time and again how his feels were important and then the deputy PM would take a dump on his face,

Thank you.

84 So Much For Subtlety January 17, 2018 at 4:56 am

Let’s not forget that the Civil Rights movement has a death toll. When you struggle to protect people from due process, you are by and large protecting criminals. Miranda is all very well and nice – I would certainly appreciate it if I were arrested – but it does mean that more criminals will get out and commit more crimes. We shackle the police and expect them to do an outstanding job. Well that is not the way it works.

Singapore executes. They do not have juries. Most crime is committed by a relatively small number of recidivists. Is it any surprise they do not have much of a crime problem?

We should think more carefully about the trade offs we all make. I am not sure they are worth it.

85 Alistair January 17, 2018 at 7:28 am

>> Let’s not forget that the Civil Rights movement has a death toll. When you struggle to protect people from due process, you are by and large protecting criminals

That’s a good point. There’s a trade-off of different types of errors/failures. You can catch more criminals, at the expense of more miscarriages of justice. Once you’ve optimised the system, where do you want to be on the curve?

However, I suspect that Singapore has very high good base of social capital and it’s crime rate would be unexceptional even _with_ US liberties.

86 Alistair January 17, 2018 at 7:28 am

>> Let’s not forget that the Civil Rights movement has a death toll. When you struggle to protect people from due process, you are by and large protecting criminals

That’s a good point. There’s a trade-off of different types of errors/failures. You can catch more criminals, at the expense of more miscarriages of justice. Once you’ve optimised the system, where do you want to be on the curve?

However, I suspect that Singapore has very high base of social capital and it’s crime rate would be unexceptional even _with_ US liberties.

87 Charbes A. January 17, 2018 at 8:38 am

So that’s it. We must do away with the jury. Any other lessons Americans should learn from Asian despotism??

88 carlospln January 17, 2018 at 2:43 pm

“Most crime is committed by a relatively small number of recidivists. Is it any surprise they do not have much of a crime problem?”

How would you know? You’ve never even BEEN to Singapore.

ANOTHER ‘Making shit up’ SMFS post.

89 So Much For Subtlety January 17, 2018 at 6:48 pm

Actually that comment applied to all societies generally. It was not referring to Singapore specifically.

But you are claiming I have never been to Singapore? How would you know? You don’t. I could be Lee Kwan-yu’s half-Indian love child for all you know. Because you are, as you so clearly project, making sh!t up.

90 msgkings January 17, 2018 at 9:54 pm

And yet, for all that, you’ve never been to Singapore.

91 So Much For Subtlety January 18, 2018 at 1:16 am

Good to see you there MSG. You should do better though.

92 Axa January 17, 2018 at 5:16 am

“police reported 135 total days without any crimes”. This sentences is not specific at all.

It could mean: a) days where the police does not receive reports, b) days where no crime was reported to occur, c) straight 135 days without crime. The first one is the most probable, considering there are 52 Sundays or 104 weekend days per year the number is less impressive. Perhaps there are even more pacific places on Earth, but they don’t boast about it.

93 stasi January 17, 2018 at 5:23 am

wow savage take down man

94 Rabscuttle January 17, 2018 at 6:25 am

I think the key to low crime, as shown by Singapore, is not just an authoritarian state, but creating a true Libertarian paradise where 80 of the households live in public housing.

http://www.singstat.gov.sg/statistics/visualising-data/infographics/population#reshhla

95 Charbes A. January 17, 2018 at 8:39 am

How can it be libertarian when the government controls the press and owns the land.

96 Anon. January 17, 2018 at 12:15 pm

You’ve got it backwards. It is only because the government of Singapore, unlike that of the US, can maintain public safety that good public housing is possible. When the US tried to do the same thing, you ended up with Cabrini–Green because the state knowingly tolerates criminality.

97 rayward January 17, 2018 at 8:25 am

These comments reveal differing points of view about the meaning of crime. What is crime? I suspect everyone would agree that stealing merchandise from a store is a crime. But what about a store that sells defective merchandise, is that a crime? I reside in a rapidly-growing area with mostly very expensive homes, expensive but very poorly constructed. Is it a crime to build and sell a poorly constructed house? The most active developer in the area was once charged with a crime for building and selling houses that were very poorly constructed (houses built in a large metropolitan area not in my area). He sued and won a very large award for libel and malicious prosecution, and then moved on to my area to perpetrate the same non-crime, his non-crime being pervasive and accepted practice in the area. This being part of the Bible Belt, the non-criminals regularly attend church and even make generous donations to church, using the profits generated from the sale of the poorly constructed homes. Sometimes crime is a win, win. It is in my area. What about yours?

98 TMC January 17, 2018 at 10:50 am

Would that not be a civil case? If he built a home not to code the owner could sue for damages to have it fixed. Was the homes not to code? ‘poorly constructed homes’ is rather arbitrary

99 rayward January 17, 2018 at 2:00 pm

That’s the point: the houses were so poorly constructed, the prosecutor considered it a crime (there is the crime of fraud). I’m aware of how poorly constructed his houses are in my area (my contractor friend stays busy repairing his almost new houses), but no prosecutor here believes it is a crime. If he were to steal a bicycle from someone, he would be prosecuted for a crime, but “stealing” from unsuspecting purchasers of his poorly constructed houses, costing hundreds of thousands if not millions to repair, is not. From comments by those familiar with Singapore, I have the impression that “crime” may be similarly defined: what’s the point of stealing from the local store if one can “steal” from those one does business with with impunity. Singapore is much like many parts of America.

100 Paul January 18, 2018 at 3:46 pm

3rd generation builder. People buy volume, not quality. In older markets there are good builders, in many cases building ridiculous high quality homes, but these are builders with many decades relations to high quality sub contractors and customers planning to bequeath their homes to the next generation.
In a new fast growing area, you just don’t have enough customers like that, nor old established sub contractors with long time craftsman. So you most likely can’t at any price get that, unless you can cut a check to bring in a supervisor and coordinate, and bribe out subs, many of whom will be reluctant to leave the easier slap dash money stream.

101 B.B. January 17, 2018 at 9:15 am

Two observations.

First, there seems to be a moral hazard problem here. The government cracks down and reduces crime. And people take fewer security precautions. The Peltzman Effect. To keep crime low, they need people to be more careful.

Second, this sheds light on the drug issue. In the US, libertarians and liberals argue that tough drug laws fill the prisons and cause gangsterism. But Singapore has maybe the toughest drug laws on the planet; drug dealing can be a capital offense. So despite the tough drug laws, Singapore has low crime. (Fox Butterfield, call home!) The libertarians have some explaining to do.

102 Kris January 17, 2018 at 10:01 am

1) Universal housing provided by government, and 2) low taxes: it turns out this is all that is needed to keep most people contented and unwilling to rock the boat.

103 Rob January 17, 2018 at 10:02 am

I went to a small liberal arts school in the south east United States with a strict student regulated honor code. It enforced the norms the population valued strongly (theft, cheating and ungentlemanly behavior were among the most taboo), but it did not do a good job preventing drunk driving or date rape. I have been meaning to read Culture Of Honor: The Psychology Of Violence In The South (https://www.amazon.com/dp/0813319935/_encoding=UTF8?coliid=I6TS0DO6Q5K00&colid=YGBN5XSKTKZQ&psc=0), and if anybody has a review, I would greatly appreciate it.

One of my fondest memories of undergrad is leaving my cell phone on a table outside of a math class for over a week. Ah, the sweet days of flip phones when we were not addicted to apps. I came back a week and a day later to find it in the exact same spot. The math building was open to the public 24/7 and hundreds of students must have walked past it on their way to class. Perhaps this is the result of being in a small, homogeneous, rural community. Perhaps it is the strongly enforced honor code. Perhaps is the unique culture of the American south. Probably, it is some combination of these three or more things that reinforce one another.

104 Alistair January 18, 2018 at 6:32 am

+1. Social Trust with small in-groups can be very large and very positive.

Didn’t we have an article a bit back on the Amsterdam diamond trade?

105 mkt42 January 18, 2018 at 6:14 pm

I recall reading an essay by a graduate of the University of the South (aka Sewanee) who told a story about when his family came to visit him on campus. IIRC they were going to leave some of their stuff in his dorm room while they toured the campus and asked him about the key to his room. He had not locked the door to his room for such a long time that he’d actually lost his key. But since he never used it he didn’t miss it.

I don’t know if Sewanee has an honor code or not. It does have an extra-unique geography: while Stanford has a huge campus at 8,000 acres, Sewanee has an unimaginable 13,000 acres — with an enrollment of around 1,400 students. So instead of calling it the quad or the campus or the village they call it The Domain. The college basically sits atop its own mountain. For people who fit into the community it must be heaven. But for those who do not, probably a good idea to discover this soon and move out because there’s nothing else for miles around.

106 asdf January 17, 2018 at 10:49 am

Lot of people that haven’t been to Singapore compare it to some kind of police state. It’s wildly off the mark. You don’t get any impression of that when your there. It seems to mainly be the only excuse one can come up with for why your society sucks compared to Singapore.

The free speech stuff is also overblown. You can criticize the government, you just can’t demagogue and whip up resentments without facts and reasonable reforms to propose. You can practice freedom of religion, you just can’t walk into a Mosque with a mini skirt while chugging liquor. This stuff is such basic common sense that if this is what we mean by “police state” its lost all meaning.

Bottom line is this. As someone remarked, you have more effective freedom of speech in China (including both public and private pressure) then you do in the USA. And Singapore is way freer then China on that topic.

Or sometimes they just get petty and say something like “I’m not allowed to litter” as if that is some holy libertarian right to throw your trash on the ground in public. BTW, you do occasionally see litter in Singapore. It’s not like they have cops everywhere checking for the stuff. And you don’t get thrown in jail, you get a fine. Most jurisdictions in the US have similar fines for littering on the books, they just don’t enforce them.

We just need to admit the Asian pragmatism works. Freedom requires common sense.

107 Charbes A. January 17, 2018 at 11:44 am

“Freedom requires common sense.” For example, the government controls the Press. Also, evangelicals are persecuted.

“As someone remarked, you have more effective freedom of speech in China (including both public and private pressure) then you do in the USA.”
Does anyone have any doubt that, at this point, the right-wing is just money worhipping? Imagine if someone said that about, say, Cuba. But a totaliatarian regime, with as much of a controlled press and political repression as Cuba, like China or Singapore, is, as long as it yields good profits, awesome.

108 albatross January 17, 2018 at 5:32 pm

Which direction are the border guards’ guns pointed in Singapore? That’s a pretty powerful indicator of whether the country is seen by its residents and prospective residents as oppressive or not.

109 Alistair January 18, 2018 at 6:32 am

+1

110 Charbes A. January 17, 2018 at 11:47 am

“You can criticize the government, you just can’t demagogue and whip up resentments without facts and reasonable reforms to propose.”

Neither you could in he Soviet Union or cn in Cub and Iran.Who decides who is a demagogue? The gkvernment of course.

111 asdf January 17, 2018 at 12:37 pm

There is always an Overton Window. And that Overton Window is always determined by High Status People. Some of High Status People work in the public sector. Some work in the private sector. This is true for all societies.

The High Status People in Singapore are mature and wise enough to separate the wheat form the chaff by using common sense. Their Overton Window is wider and better then ours.

112 clockwork_prior January 17, 2018 at 2:58 pm

‘Lot of people that haven’t been to Singapore compare it to some kind of police state’

Or Switzerland.

‘You can criticize the government, you just can’t demagogue and whip up resentments without facts and reasonable reforms to propose’

And one guess as to who gets to determine that. The 1st Amendment remains one of America’s greatest strengths, in part because you can just demagogue and whip up resentments without facts and reasonable reforms to propose. And when that is rejected by voters, you cannot whine that it is the government preventing you from speaking. As a bunch of torch light protesters charmingly chanting ‘blood and soil’ discovered. It was their fellow citizens that showed them what such behavior earns, not the government.

‘As someone remarked, you have more effective freedom of speech in China (including both public and private pressure) then you do in the USA.’

The American government does not imprison people for speech directly opposing the American government.

113 asdf January 17, 2018 at 4:21 pm

Singapore doesn’t arrest anyone for speech unless they are going to spark an imminent riot.

But you can get sued for libel in court, and if it turns out your demagoguery was full of lies and slander you can end up paying civil fines.

It’s like the Third Reich!!!

114 Charbes A. January 17, 2018 at 1:11 pm

So, that is it what we need in America. A police state where the government owns he land, controls the press, say who can run for president and persecutes the Church. But al least the money is good

115 Bob January 17, 2018 at 1:26 pm

The American prison system is rife with brutal violence and predatory sodomy. Being punished by America’s judicial system means being subjected to physical brutality and sodomy. Caning is pretty soft and quaint by comparison.

116 Bob January 17, 2018 at 1:34 pm

It’s strange how Americans make a big fuss about caning while gleefully musing about prisoners in America getting brutally sodomized.

“Americans’ complicity in the prison rape crisis
The target of jokes and indifference, sexual assault has become part of the American prison experience”

http://america.aljazeera.com/opinions/2014/4/united-states-prisonrapesexualassaultovercrowdedprisons.html

“Rape and sexual assault are as basic to the American prison experience as bars and bunk beds. The statistics are not entirely reliable, but in 2011 alone, the Justice Department estimates, roughly 200,000 inmates were sexually abused in detention facilities by prison staff or fellow inmates. Some were forced to perform sexual acts in exchange for sanitary supplies or to avoid punishment, while others were attacked, and submitted out of sheer powerlessness. The majority of these rape victims are men, leading some to ask whether the U.S. is the only country in the world where more men are raped than women. The prison rape epidemic is part of a broader human rights crisis. Home to less than 5 percent of the world’s population, the U.S. houses roughly a quarter of the world’s prisoners. Many are nonviolent offenders and suffer from drug addiction, mental illness or crushing poverty. “

117 sort_of_knowledgable January 17, 2018 at 2:38 pm

The Americans who make a big fuss about caning are probably separate from those gleefully musing about prisoners in America getting brutally sodomized. There are millions who voted from Hillary who probably fall in the first category and not the second and millions who voted for Trump who probably fall in the second category and not the first.

118 albatross January 17, 2018 at 5:33 pm

How would we determine whether the average lot of, say, a convicted burglar is worse in Singapore or in the US?

119 Paul January 17, 2018 at 5:59 pm

One size doesn’t fit all. Singapore has a different history from the USA. Or the other former British colonies. Or Switzerland The racial mix for one thing. Occupation by Japan. Also geography – it doesn’t have a nice ring of mountains protecting it. Or oceans on each side. Or smaller less populous countries to the north and south.

120 Careless January 18, 2018 at 12:05 am

Well, while Singapore seems pretty nice and normal in general, when you’re with a couple of Singaporeans and you accidentally drop a small piece of trash wrapper, the way they freak out is pretty interesting

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