Counterfeit Goods in Singapore

Prior to just a few weeks ago, I had no idea there was a counterfeit goods market in Singapore at all.  During my trip to Kuala Lumpur I saw plenty of counterfeit goods that looked great.  When I used to think of counterfeit, or “bootleg” items, I always thought of cheap quality, or of something that didn’t look quite right.  The things we saw in Kuala Lumpur were near matches though.  You wouldn’t be able to tell they were fake at all.  The same could be said of most of the counterfeit items I saw in the Philippines.

Shortly after returning from Kuala Lumpur I stumbled across an article on a blog that was talking about how large the counterfeit goods market is in Singapore.  I can’t remember the link for it anymore, though I did find another site called “Havocscope: Global Illicit Markets Indexes” that had the value of the counterfeit market in Singapore pegged at $136.2 million dollars.  Who knew?

According to the article I’d originally read, the Singapore government does its best to keep counterfeit items out of stores that are in the downtown, touristy areas.  It stated that most counterfeit items are found in the outlying areas.

Now, I’m not entirely sure that what this guy is selling is counterfeit, but the slim, plastic packaging wrapping those DVDs looks very familiar.  I’ve seen a lot of counterfeit DVD stalls in Kuala Lumpur and especially in the Philippines.  I wasn’t really surprised that he had them, or that he was selling them.  What shocked me was that this guy was selling them by the Citibank at Tampines MRT station, along a crowded area where people transferring from the bus to the train pass through.  That seems a little dangerous for him.

What do you think?

3 Days in Kuala Lumpur: Part 8: Jalan Petaling’s Night Time Street Fair

During the day, Jalan Petaling is already a busy place. It’s packed with tourists and locals as well as people trying to make sales on everything from PS3s to bootleg DVDs. As you walk down the street, you’ll hear “hey sir!” and “hey boss!” and “cheap deal here!” coming at you from every angle. At night, when the street is filled with portable, makeshift stalls, that madness is doubled.

As you can see from the picture, it’s a really big change. Almost every inch of space along the short stretch of Jalan Petaling is packed tight with street stalls. At these stalls, you can find all sorts of souvenirs, clothes, jewelry and toys. As you walk down the narrow paths the people running each shop will call out to you, making offers, and trying to pull you in.

The whole thing is loud, exciting, and fun, and if you know how to haggle you might be able to get a good deal. Before going, a friend of mine who’s been there before warned us that the initial prices being offered are meant to be a starting point. You can argue the price down a bit, and then if you’re not satisfied you can start to walk away from the stall and they will call out lower prices to you, hoping you’ll turn back and make a purchase. It happened exactly the way he said it would. The one time we stopped to look at something and asked how much it was, the guy’s opening price was 180 ringgit. We never intended to buy it and only asked out of curiosity, but as we smiled and walked away he called out “170! 150! Ok! 130, good deal for you!” Of course we kept going since we never intended to buy it in the first place, but it really illustrated my friend’s point perfectly. According to him, if you can get a price down to about 50-60% of the original asking price, you’re paying a reasonable price, or getting a good deal. If you’re not interested in making any purchases at all, the only thing I can say is look quick, keep moving, double back to look again if you have to, but don’t stop, and don’t make eye contact. Don’t Make Eye Contact! As soon as you do they come rushing towards you with offers, asking you what you want, asking if you’re interested in half a dozen things.  That can be very tiresome.

These stalls get set up around 6 pm and then get taken down around 11 pm, and I really recommend that anyone stopping by check it out at least once.