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Saturday, February 11, 2006

SINGAPORE: To chew or not to chew..

Since arriving in Singapore last week, I’ve found myself displaying great caution in performing everyday practices which otherwise I would instinctively carry out without much contemplation. My senses being heightened by Donna and others ongoing reminder of the American that was caned for spraying graffiti many years ago. Singapore’s reputation does bellow to all visitors, that control and authority proudly evokes the discipline and punishment that has successfully sustained its thriving economy and “safe city” brand to the rest of the world. Indeed the country boast an impressively low crime rate unequaled by any other major city. And it is true that the panoptic nature of this society along with the consequences of playing outside its rules act as tremendous deterrents.

I continue to enjoy my conversations about public policy with taxi drivers who always get around to proudly stating that the ban on chewing gum is good thing. They all seem very aware that the state’s enforcement is for their own good in creating a cleaner, “better” quality of life. As it is my first week here, I am hesitant to make uninformed remarks about the society at this point. Instead, I will just have to wait and see whether the instruments of Foucault’s arguments as practiced through the state laws have indeed succeeded in creating a homogenous culture. So far, that doesn’t appear to be the case and maybe Singapore is indeed an exception to the rule. A question I will hopefully be able to answer with time.


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