Majority versus Minority rights?


Today | Voices | Over five years, 24,213 tickets issued for smoking in prohibited places (14/4/12)

WE REFER to the letter “Enforcement key to smokers‘ compliance” (March 29).

With the progressive extension of the smoking ban to more public places over the years, the National Environment Agency (NEA) has steadily stepped up patrols and enforcement at prohibited places as well as smoking hotspots.

A total of 24,213 tickets were issued from 2007 to last year. For the upcoming extension of the ban to housing estates, the NEA will continue to raise awareness of the new non-smoking areas and take action when necessary against those who flout the ban.

Smokers should be considerate to non-smokers to reduce the impact of second-hand smoke.

Smoking is prohibited in markets. Those who smoke in markets are liable to a maximum court fine of S$1,000.

Food handlers who smoke in their market or food stalls while selling or preparing food are liable to a maximum court fine of S$2,000 and would accumulate four demerit points.

The NEA has taken note of the feedback and has stepped up enforcement at Lorong Ah Soo and other hotspots where feedback was received.

Members of the public who spot people smoking in prohibited places can provide feedback via our 24-hour NEA Call Centre at 1800-CALL NEA (1800-2255 632) or NEA’s mobile app, myENV, for our investigation.

We thank the writer for the feedback.

This morning, I was at Blk 58 New Upp Changi Rd Food Centre. I was there for my usual morning breakfast. I used to have my meals there.

Usually there are few tables reserved for the smoking public. Now it’s banned. An interesting phenomenon is happening at this hawker centre and all others. I notice people at standing at the edge of the premises smoking even though the hawker centre is quite empty.

If you go to any hawker centre in the late afternoon or at night when it’s off peak meaning not many stalls are open, people are smoking at the perimeter of the premises even though it’s quite empty inside.

Those people smoking on the fringes of the hawker centre do not want to be summoned for smoking inside the premises. The fine could be from $200 to $1,000!


This morning I met the coffee stall owner. He was very pissed off. Like so many others, he was smoking at he edge of the hawker centre. He knows me cuz I’m his regular customer. He was relating how he got summoned by NEA officer.

Like today, he was smoking outside the hawker centre when someone ordered a cup of coffee. He left his cigarette on the edge of a pillar to take the order. This was followed by another order.

When he delivered the second cup of coffee to the customer, he was stopped by an NEA officer. That officer demanded his NRIC cuz he wanted to summon him for ‘littering!’ The hawker was accused of littering cigarette.


The coffee stall hawker explained that he left his cigarette there cuz he had customers. He left it there. He did not litter. He was not given a chance to pick his cigarette cuz it was blown away by the wind. It had landed on the floor. It’s his half smoked cigarette and not cigarette butt.

The NEA officer – typical of this regime – refused to listen to his explanation. He insisted that he had littered and a ticket was issued to him.

Then why didn’t he appeal to his MP or NEA office? He said he got to operate his stall from 6am to 8pm daily. He was not free to make the trip. It’s just pure bad luck and had no choice but to pay up via the conveniently located AXA machine nearby.

That guy is a Singaporean. He is just an honest hard working citizen like many others in the hawker centre working his butt out just to eke out a decent living. He told me there are few others like him smoking at the edge of the hawker centre also got book. It must be far away and not underneath any structure or covered walkway. He just like the others are treated like ‘criminals’ in our unforgiving society.

Those guys learnt it the hard expensive way. They got booked and paid hefty fines. They thought that not smoking inside the hawker centre was safe. They stood at the side and was still booked. They cursed and swear. They paid the fines contributing to the government coffers.

They dared not argue with NEA officers cuz they are worried of being marked. They say if NEA officers marked them then it would be difficult to do business. They would ‘disturb’ them by checking on their stalls for hygiene or any other reasons they could think of. Better not to offend those little ‘gods’ or their life would be miserable!

But those are citizens who vote. They have already made up their mind who to vote. Definitely not this government they say. They feel that it’s just a pretext to get more money out of them. That’s how they felt.

There are all kinds of people in a society. There are gays, lesbians, smokers, drinkers, gamblers etc. They deserve their rights and dignity just like all others. ‘Holy than thou’ attitude or policy won’t bode well with minorities.

I challenge you to do a survey on those minorities living a life of misery devoid of any rights or dignity when in fact they commit no crimes or harm anybody. They just want their little space. To ‘kill’ or obliterate them in a cold blooded manner as succinctly captured in the Chinese saying ‘对这些公民有必要这麽赶尽杀绝吗?’

English translation here.

Is it necessary? Is it over killed? Will it benefit the ruling regime? To rake in more fines and revenues out of the commoners?

This government is losing support from all groups of people ranging from the poor bottom 20% to car owners due to crazy COEs, bikers due to ERP parking system where it used to be $0.65 cts coupon for whole day, smokers, shark fins lovers, butt lovers etc etc

Truth be told that that it’s not a happy situation when the majority go all out to impose and obliterate others’ rights without giving the latter just a bit of space to stand and breathe. If animals are forced to the wall or the edge of a cliff what will happen? It will counter attack ferociously! People with common sense know that. But some just don’t get it.



About Gintai_昇泰

I'm a Chinese Singaporean living in the Eastern part of Singapore. I tweet on current affairs & inspirational quotes. I blog on issues or events if they interest me. I write for pleasure. I also write mainly for my family and friends.
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16 Responses to Majority versus Minority rights?

  1. patriot says:

    Me has been smoking for over 50 years since the Day my Camel Brand Cigarette was selling at $0.90 (ninety cents). In the older days, cigarette was a great complement for respect, diplomacy and business. Every groom to be be had to be armed with a tin of cigarettes and offered them to the relatives and guests he was inviting. He got to provide the light to the invitees as well.

    At any funeral wake, there will be cigarettes without fail too. On the said two occasions, if there was no cigarette, then it was considered ill mannered or not sincere. Just to detour a little; today wedding dinner invitation can come in the form of phone call, sms, email and letter etc. It is indeed devoid of basic courtesy and sincerity no matter how busy one is.

    Those days when me was staying in the village(kampong/countryside/outback), most male adults and even teenagers smoked. Most of the old folks lived over 70 years old and few had Cancer though Tuberculosis was quite common(not smoking related) and some cases of Leprosy. Now, many non-smokers had died and are dying from Cancer, some female ex-colleagues of mine died of Breast Cancers and almost all did not smoke. There were also some ex-male colleagues that died of Cancers, however, the number of male were about oni half of the female victims.

    Both my father and mother were heavy smokers, my Dad passed on at 88 and had no Cancer and Lung Problem. My Mum at 97 is still hale, hearty and fierce, she bathes, eats and sleeps with little needs of help.

    At this point in time, me suspects that cigarette manufacturers, the medical fraternities and regimes throughout the World are conspiring to make money out of smokers. Paradoxically, the decryings and claims of cigarette smoking killing smokers and non smokers have allowed all the Three so-called good reasons to inflate the price of cigarette beyond any reason and make piles of money. For the Excise Dept, it is plain easy money without any effort required, for the manufacturers and traders, it is legalized profittering. All the Organizations involved are victimizing smokers without any substantive or concrete proof of damage caused by smoking.

    In the case of Singapore, smokers may indeed have to show the Authority that they cannot stand the measures taken against unsubstantiated claims, abstract proof and make-belief arguments to penalize smokers. Indeed if the evidences are proven, then me suggests that cigarette, broadcast/telecommunication, motor vehicle, arms and any life threatening items be all banned.

    Who is not exposed to radio wave/micowave(radiation), ultra-violet and carbon monoxide caused effects???


  2. kinjioleaf says:

    I don’t encourage anyone to smoke although I’m a smoker as well.

    Indeed, there has been more and more restriction imposed. I don’t mind restrictions imposed at confined, publicly accessible places, including staircase, common corridors or sheltered walkway. However, I hope they don’t restrict void decks.

  3. kinjioleaf says:

    An excellent article I came across about imposing majority over minority rights. From yawningbread.

    I don’t encourage anyone to smoke although I’m a smoker as well.

    Indeed, there has been more and more restriction imposed. I don’t mind restrictions imposed at confined, publicly accessible places, including staircase, common corridors or sheltered walkway. However, I hope they don’t restrict void decks.

  4. Gentlemen,

    Thank you for your participation. I do agree with Patriot that in those good old days offering cigarettes to elders and frens on weddings and funeral was a mark of respect. Alas times have changed. Today it is considered dangerous and cancerous. It kills even though there are so many other things that kill us in this modern society besides cigarettes’ smoke. No one is against restrictions placed on smokers. But the way they are doing it is getting out of hands! Its getting crazy. I suggest that they round up all smokers and send them to prison or better still shot them dead! This is the kind of intolerence we are inculcating in our society. We have become a selfish and self righteous society in the process. Is it healthy? It is surely very divisive right.

    To summon and bully those helpless uneducated or lowly educated hawkers is way too much. It is uncivilised behaviour. It is like you put a tissue paper on the table to order some food only to find that the NEA officer booked you for littering when it was blown to the floor! How would you feel if it was you at the receiving end? Using the law to bully and terrorise the public?

    Yes I read the piece by yawning bread. Thks banana leaf for the link. It’s sad that we can’t also tolerate gays when in the US and UK it is legalised. Like I say we are far far behind those liberal societies in the west. We can’t even lift a candle to them.

    We will have to live with such blatant abuse of our own individual rights in our lifetime. We seem to be going back to the dark ages where witches and heretics were burnt and victimised!

    PS: I would like to thank Patriot for pointing out the correct Chinese written form Jin 尽 and some typo errors.

  5. Pingback: Daily SG: 16 Apr 2012 « The Singapore Daily

  6. Dan says:

    I am not a smoker and I try to tolerate a smoker as much as I can. I just hope that smokers here can take a cue from those in Japan as to how they conduct their smoking habits. Most litter bugs here in S’pore are smokers, it confirms very clearly with the amount of cigaretter butts that you see on the floor. In Japan, smokers will keep to their “designated” areas to smoke, they generally do not smoke and walk, they have personal “ashtrays” to contain ash and cigarette butt, they even have smoking rooms in food courts. I had my fair share of smokers here who have no qualms about blowing 2nd hand smoke straight into my face and have almost come to blows with them. While I respect that smokers have their likes, please consider those of non smokers as well.

    • z says:

      Very well put.

      I try to tolerate smokers as well, but it’s more often that I meet selfish ones who doesn’t care about non-smokers’ rights. They smoke while walking, bring the stench onto air-con buses, smoke at stairways where everybody uses. And online you hear arguments such as “don’t like it then move away lah” and many more self-centered opinions (and a lot of victim mentality). You feel suppressed as a minority, really? Accuse the system if you want to, for being unforgiving and money-minded. But blaming it on the majority? The ‘majority’ non-smokers wouldn’t care whether you smoked if you are a responsible smoker like the kind Dan described.

  7. Alan says:

    As far as smokers’ rights Vs non-smoker rights are concerned, we know our Govt ‘s has been trying to act like a saint. But if second hand cigarette smoke is indeed so harmful to anyone’s health, why does our Govt allow the smokers in casinos to continue harming the health of the casino staff workers ?

    If we have laws to protect the non-smokers, why are the casino workers not accorded equal protection under our laws ? Is it because our money-faced Govt considers revenue from casinos as far more important in priority than the health being of the minority casino workers ?

    Is this then not some kind of hypocrisy on the part of our Govt ?

  8. patriot says:

    Do allow me a personal take on the effect of cigarette smoke and for those younger generation not exposed to the old days; bear with me, as most will really not be able to relate to my observation and ‘opinion’.

    As i have said in the First Comment, smoking was far more common in the old days. Smoking in the bus, cinema, in airconditioned places and airplanes was the norm and hardly anyone will object or point an accusing finger. Newborn babies too were exposed to cigarette fume as their fathers were likely smokers! This begs the question why there were not many suffering from CANCER then?

    May I have the audacity to say the older generations though more exposed to cigarette smoke
    were having much more fresh air and oxygen produced by the lush greenery everywhere. People then were also much less hygienic but took lots of fresh foods as few had fridges at home and or at foodstalls, so much of the ingredients used then were freshly obtained and used.

    Yes, there are many smokers who are not conscientious and because of this; smokers are smacked with restrictions on top of penalties like fine, corrective work order when they are found smoking at non-smoking area and littering with cigarette butt. Another penalty not directly link to anti-smoking is smoking contraband cigarette. Why do smokers resort to buying contraband cigarettes? Oni one simple answer; cigarette price is way too high. I will even suspect that many teen smokers could have resort to crimes just so that they can have cigarettes.

    Liked Gintai said, money does wonders, for the sake of money, smoking law does not work in casinos. For money, cigarette is not banned like chewing gum. So, me leaves it to others to conclude what is what, BUT PLEASE DO NOT MAKE CLAIMS THAT ARE NOT PROVEN.


  9. agongkia says:

    Those so claim experts say every stick you smoke,your life will be shorten by few minutes.
    They say smoking causes lung cancer and all the craps.Indirectly smoking should be seen as attempted suicide to me.Attempted suicide is punishable under the law.As such smoking should be consider as attempted suicide and as such all smokers should be punished for attempted suicide.With so many healthy conscious people around who breathe in second hand smoke,they are causing annoyance and should also be punished for that.

    But why are we allowing the sales of tobacco if smoking is harmful?
    In my view ,there is nothing harmful.Smokers help to create jobs for cleaners ,enforcers,APOs,Court staff….and they pay tobacco tax without much complaint. We should be grateful to smokers instead of penalising or discriminating them.

    As for those who complain about litter bugs,ask yourself honestly,are there enough bin being provided?Maybe providing lesser bin means lesser cleaner required for clearing the bin.But is it fair to punish or complain someone littering when he cannot find a bin.I use to keep litter in my pocket till I find a bin to dispose.But how can I expect everyone to be like me.
    Lets be more tolerant to smokers and live graciously.

    Oops………………..where is my hoonkee?Paiseh,I oso smoke.

  10. wef says:

    you know, the best solution for those individual smokers is really, to just quit smoking.

  11. patriot says:

    Though me am a heavily addicted smoker,
    i sincerely agree with wef Above.
    So, let us be the First Country in the World
    to ban tobacco altogether. No more sales of
    any tobacco products. Our land will be cleaner
    and the inhabitants will be healthy. Our
    Healthcare and Medical facilities will be less
    congested and hopefully will become cheaper
    and faster.


    • Patriot,
      It is already banned in Bhutan if you just goggle. Bhutan is the only country that banned tobacco. It is also the only country that measures its GDP on happiness of the people!

  12. patriot says:

    Though me am a heavily addicted smoker for a long time, I sincerely agree with wef Above. So, the Authority MUST ban the sales of all tobacco products and we will be safe from harm. Our land will also be cleaner and the health of the inhabitant protected. Our Health, Medical Facilities and expenditures will also be greatly reduced.



  13. Patriot,
    Let me share with you a Chinese saying …


  14. patriot says:

    That is the reason why I am telling those people
    not to speak nonsense and used them as reason to
    rip the smokers.
    They are clearly EXPLOITING THE SMOKERS to make
    their pile. Sinful People.


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