World News

Fake phone law dupes many in Singapore, but wins support too

FILE PHOTO: A woman uses her phone on an observation deck as the skyline, shrouded by haze, is seen in Singapore September 13, 2019. REUTERS/Feline Lim/File Photo

SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Asian city-state Singapore is well known for its strict rules: fines can be doled out for everything from feeding birds to forgetting to flush a public toilet.

But this week Singapore police had to clarify that using a phone while crossing the road was not illegal after rumours circulated online that doing so could result in a S$1,000 ($733) fine under revised rules.

“There is a message circulating online which claims erroneously that pedestrians who use their mobile phones while crossing the roads may be fined up to $1,000, from 1 December 2019. This is false,” Singapore police said in a statement on Facebook.

“However, we advise pedestrians to avoid using such devices when crossing the road, as such usage would distract them from the road conditions and the movement of vehicles around them.”

All major domestic media outlets including broadcaster Channel NewsAsia and the Straits Times newspaper carried the police clarification.

But some people said such a law would be a good idea.

“Please make this an offence, simply because people who do this have no regards for other people’s safety, and many a time at the traffic lights vehicles have to wait for them to finish crossing even when the lights are not in their favour,” reader Alan Kiong commented on the Straits Times’ Facebook page.

“Time to look into the matter. No to zombie world,” said another Facebook user, I’sha Md Eusuff.

People in Singapore spend more than 12 hours a day on gadgets - such as mobile phones, tablets, computers and video game consoles - according to a 2017 study by consultancy Ernst & Young.

Reporting by John Geddie and Fathin Ungku; Editing by Robert Birsel