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Fifty Years of My Life (1939 - 1990)
A Memoir by Jeff R. Noordermeer

Law-enforcement in Singapore

We spent most of our first day in Singapore around the house and taking cat naps to get over the jet lag from our flight from Hawaii to Singapore. You could really feel the time difference.

Altogether we spent three weeks in Singapore and it turned out to be one of our favorite cities in Asia. We enjoyed its climate, cleanliness and efficiency. Many American cities could learn a lot from this well organized administrative system. The laws of this city are well respected by their citizens whether they agree with them or not.

Singapore Fines 

During a drive in Pete's car a police patrol car pulled Pete over for a traffic violation. The policeman gave Pete a traffic violation ticket. Pete thought that the policeman made a mistake. I asked Pete why he didn't protest. Pete told me that you could not do this to a policeman on the street in Singapore. If you disagree with the policeman's decision you can only protest in the police station where you have to pay your violation ticket. The streets in Singapore are very clean. No wonder — if a policeman saw you smoking a cigarette and after saw you throw the cigarette butt on the street he would fine you fifty Singaporean dollars. The same thing was, for if you were caught spitting on the street, and if you are a visitor and entering Singapore you better have a decent haircut, otherwise you are not allowed to enter the city of Singapore. I was always in favor for strict law enforcements and it showed all around Singapore that it works. Singapore has many laborers from Malaysia. I noticed that most of the street cleaners early in the morning were Malaysians. they were very hard working people. The reason that they were so conscientious about their work is because the employer who has hired them has to turn in an evaluation report to the Singaporean Government. If the employer feels that the employee he hired from Malaysia is not productive, the Singaporean Government will not hesitate to send him back to Malaysia again.

I always thought that Holland was very clean, but what I saw in Singapore beats the Dutch. What Singapore showed me is, that if laws are enforced, people will obey. Singapore was never that way before, but under the leadership of the government of President Lee Kuan Yew, sanitation became a top priority. Singapore has become a very modern city. Most of the old part of Singapore has been rebuilt to a very modern atmosphere of high rise apartment buildings. Singapore has the same problems as Holland — it needs land. They are filling up the ocean with blown-up rocks from the mountains so that they can add property to this densely populated city. This program must have been copied from the Dutch, as it is well known that President Lee Kuan Yew traveled to many industrial countries of the West. Holland has been adding land to it for years, and it's called the "Delta Plan".

During our stay in Singapore with the Bones, Pete drove us around and showed us all the interesting sights of this city. Pete lived with his wife and two children in his mother's house. Since his father had passed away from a severe heart attack he didn't want his mother to live by herself in this big house. Pete had an interior decoration business and his office was in a very modern high rise office building in downtown Singapore. Each morning Pete would go to his office and check to see that the day's work was done. Then he would tell his secretary what to do for the day, and then would come home again to take us around for sightseeing. Singapore is a paradise for buying things. The shopping centers are very modern and the prices are very reasonable. In smaller markets you can bargain for certain items.

We went to see 'Tiger Balm Gardens' which is very interesting with all the ancient Chinese historians and philosophers' statues surrounded by all the beautiful flowers. Lu Lu tired very quickly from sightseeing so we took her home. It seemed to me that Lu Lu was much happier if she could stay home and spend her day with Pete's mother in the house and talk about the old days in Burma. After that Pete and I would go on our own. Pete knew this city like the back of his hand and took me to the best places. Pete had many business associates and he would call them and we would meet them in one of their favorite hotel restaurants. I must admit, the places Pete took me to were very impressive. I noticed that Pete knew all the places where the good looking dames are. He told me that several of those good looking dames were his friends. He said there was nothing serious going on, but after a hard days' work that's the way they would unwind before they went home. He said whatever you see just keep to myself and don't say anything about it in the house. I just went along with Pete, enjoyed myself and kept my mouth shut. Whenever we came home a little late I let Pete do all the talking.

CONTINUED: Singapore Nightlife
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© Copyright  - Antonio Zamora

- Foreword
- Old Rotterdam
- World War II
- After the War
- Coming to America
- Washington, D.C.
- Southeast Asia
- Philosophy of Life

- Book Index