Singapore Bites the Chiclet

LINDA L. S. SCHULTE

May 05, 1992|By LINDA L.S. SCHULTE

At last, a country has stepped to the forefront and stated that it places great value on the lives of its countrymen. Singapore it was that announced tightened entrance restrictions and a tougher gum-control law.

I say it's about time.

Mandating gum control (as we know so well in this country) is a difficult subject.

It hits at the very heart of individual taste.

It hits almost every citizen right in their pockets (or in some cases) purses.

I personally was brought up knowing how to handle gum. I've always respected it and felt that if someone was taught the basics of handling a stick properly, then people could live safely with gums of all kinds.

I also believed that if the law took gum away from people then only criminals would have gum. The only way to keep me away from my gum (I'd say) is to pry my sticky, pink fingers from it.

I carry gum in my briefcase, keep it in my bedside stand, in the glove compartment of my car and locked away from innocent kids at home. It is my individual right to carry gum.

But a substantial case has been made in Singapore for better control. A few people have been hurt as a result of the nation's transit systems being virtually sabotaged by gum users. Thousands of dollars have been spent to keep those systems working and free of gum-slingers. Commuter schedules have been held up by gum-wielders.

The value of one life, says Singapore, is greater than the individual's right to chews.

Public mastication has become more than a misdemeanor.

I can see now that this is a law that people will just have to swallow for the safety of their fellow citizens.

Singapore has looked at us in this great country for all these years and wondered aloud how we could be so short-sighted, tight-lipped and single-minded about gum control.

So do I.

Linda L.S. Schulte parks her gum on a bedpost in Laurel.

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