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Singapore pushes the boundaries

Singapore is also allowing 24-hour bars and bartop dancing.
Singapore is also allowing 24-hour bars and bartop dancing.

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(CNN) -- In a bid to loosen up Singapore's notoriously strict grip on society, residents will be allowed to jump -- bungee-jump that is -- and even chew "therapeutic" gum, but not without a doctor's prescription.

Singapore's Prime Minister Goh Chok Tong said the lifting of the bungee jump ban reflects a new mindset in the Asian city-state.

"In fact, so changed is our mindset that we will even allow reverse bungee jumping, which shoots you upwards into the sky," Goh said before the Remaking Singapore Committee.

In an apparent attempt to silence critics, Goh set up the committee to come up with suggestions on how to ease Singapore's rigid social order.

Goh said his government will study the committee's proposals -- which the prime minister described as "realistic and practical, and at the same time, push the boundaries" -- and respond over the next few months.

Also Saturday, the Ministry of Trade informed the public that it would allow the sale of "chewing gum with therapeutic value," but noted "the provision is not intended to overturn the ban on chewing gum."

"Under the U.S.-Singapore Free Trade Agreement, Singapore agreed to allow the importation of chewing gum with therapeutic value for sale and supply," the ministry's statement said.

Pharmacists will sell the "therapeutic gum" to those with a prescription from their doctor or dentist.

After U.S.-based William Wrigley Jr. Co. applied for some of its products to be sold over the counter, Singapore agreed to sell Wrigley's Orbit and Orbit White without a prescription, "subject to the condition that the buyers' particulars are recorded."

Singapore adopted a ban on the sticky stuff to make sure the municipality remains neat and tidy. To ensure that doesn't change after the ease on its chewing gum restrictions, Singapore will implement stiffer penalties for those who litter their used gum.

A trade and arts center of Southeast Asia, Singapore is known for its high standard of living and its tight grip on social order.

Its strict laws received worldwide attention in 1994 when an 18-year-old American, Michael Fay, was sentenced to a cane-lashing for vandalizing cars with eggs and spray-paint.

"If Singapore is to become a place where people can fulfill their aspirations , where they can explore many different things, it will no longer make sense for the government to always control and regulate every activity," Goh said.


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