Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fined $200 for sleeping

This takes the cake, it really does. Make us a laughing stock too. The worst kind of law is the one filled with loopholes and inconsistencies, and so it proves.

A man was fined $200 for snoozing at Sun Plaza Park. It was raining at the time and I guess he was just waiting it out. As you know, there really is no better time to sleep when it is raining. And so he did, on a sheltered bench. Two NParks officials came along, told him to get up, and here's where the story gets complicated.

The officials claim he didn't obey; the man claims he did. Regardless of that, they both agree that it was the man's first 'offence', if you can call it that.

Some of this may sound reminiscent of Mr Murali's excellent editorial, but I guess great minds think alike.

If it's his first offence (undisputed fact), why the heavy-handedness. Wouldn't a verbal warning or (harshly) warning letter suffice?

Besides, at no place in the park was there a sign prohibiting a snooze. In their great esteem, NParks couldn't find it either, and helpfully informed us that it wasn't on their website, but that the public could read about the offence in the Parks Act or something like that.

Hmmm, let's picture this:
Child: Hey Dad, let's go to the park!
Dad: I know, wait. Let me read the latest edition of the Park Act first, in case flying a kite that looks like a hammer is illegal. Might look like Workers' Party.
Child: Oh I see. Where do you find that Act? Maybe the NParks website?
Dad: Nope, not there.
Child: Ministry of Environment?
Dad: Nope.
Child: Google Parks Act?
And so on.

Next time you go to the funfair, better check the Funfair Act first. Sekali you drink water while on the ferris wheel and get fined for drinking at the wheel.

Moreover, motorists are fined relative pittances for putting motorists and pedestrians in danger, like by parking along double yellow lines, speeding etc. The message? Sleeping on a bench is a greater sin than hogging a busy road. Tsk. Just imagine the number of people he inconvenienced while sleeping - all those people walking in the park while it was raining - all two of them. Oh wait, those were the officials.

The biggest loser in the whole sordid affair must be NParks and its lawmaking. Forget Henderson Waves and all its good work. One PR disaster and all the public sees is a ponderous, heavy-handed government body bound with red tape that bullies tired people.

All this proves that laws are useless unless you have civil servants with the initiative and common sense to implement them.

Another conundrum: The law against homosexuals is loosely applied but this is not. What is a matter of greater importance then? People sleeping on the wrong bench or people sleeping with the wrong sex?

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