Powdered Deodorant Leads To Arrest At W Hotel Singapore

Filed Under: Hotels, Marriott

Talk about getting Bonvoyed…

Singapore is known for having some of the strongest anti-drug laws in the world, so what happens when you combine that with a philosophy of “if you see something, say something?”

As reported by Mothership, someone shared their experience staying at the W Hotel Singapore Sentosa Cove from November 9-10, 2019, and it sounds like the stay didn’t go great, to put it mildly. She wrote a TripAdvisor review, and also documented the incident on Instagram.

The guest was staying at the hotel for her birthday, and apparently there was a problem with the bathroom door in her room, where it wouldn’t open at around 2AM when there were two friends stuck inside of it (which raises a lot of other questions, none of which should cause police involvement, though). She called the hotel for help, and they sent someone up.

I guess the person being sent up was being extra observant, because before they knew it the police showed up at their room, handcuffed them, and detained them at the police station for 14 hours.

What happened? The guest had brought a powdered deodorant called Tawas, and the hotel staff member who showed up in the room noticed it, thinking she was hosting a drug party.

Obviously it’s completely unacceptable that she was detained for 14 hours due to this. If the cause of this alarm was the powder, you’d think the police showing up and inspecting the powder would be enough.

At the same time, I also understand why the hotel wouldn’t confront her directly about it, because if they do suspect it’s a drug party then it’s over their head at that point, especially in a place like Singapore.

It would be stupid to confront someone directly about drugs, as if they’d likely never admit they were using drugs in Singapore.

Still, everything about the way this ended up seems completely ridiculous.

While it’s in no way this woman’s fault that this happened, perhaps another lesson here is that if you’re going to pack a white powder deodorant, maybe keep it in the original packaging?

What do you make of this situation — did the hotel staff do the wrong thing by reporting this, was the real problem that it took 14 hours to resolve this, or what?

(Tip of the hat to Jeff)

  1. Singapore is a fascist dictatorship with some of the most arcane and restrictive laws on the books. That’s completely ridiculous.

  2. Agree with Ray. Singapore is fascist, it’s long overdue for real democratic reform. Cocaine shouldn’t land you in jail here in the US or in Singapore but unfortunately their culture responds even worse than ours to perceived offenses.

  3. Your big takeaway is that she should’ve used different packaging? JFC, when did everyone become so socially inept? This is a situation where the hotel employee would’ve been completely justified in taking a confrontational approach. Get the facts then escalate if needed.

  4. What is wrong with all you ‘Democracy’ shills?
    Singapore, Qatar and China are the most successful countries by nearly all metrics nowadays. And that is exactly because they are not outdated, legacy-style ‘Democracies’. Take a look at the state of ‘Democracy’ in the US and all the European countries. Societies are disintegrating quickly there.

  5. “Societies are disintegrating quickly there.”

    Yeah…their governments are becoming more and more like those of Singapore, Qatar, and China.

  6. Sorry, not in any shape or form agreeing with the way the hotel handled this situation but why on earth would someone bring whatever white powder inside a Ziplock bag into countries like Singapore or Indonesia? Also, two friends stuck inside her bathroom at 2am and when the hotel staff opens the door they see a little bag with white powder on it? I don’t think the hotel staff was wrong to be suspicious. She was lucky it happened in Singapore since if it was in Indonesia I don’t think she would have had time to write the story yet.

  7. Very presumptuous of a hotel employee to bother to assume, or even suspect, that a white powder was drugs, and then to report up the line. A white powder could be many things, talcum powder, salt, cornstarch, baking soda, powdered sugar, or a specialized deodorant–any of which might conceivably be in a traveler’s possession. It’s not unlike someone getting a glimpse of a partially exposed travel-sized boot horn in a valise and then reporting that a guest appears to be inappropriately occupying the hotel carrying a large knife or machete. The hotel employee was way out of line, as were the Singaporean police for an overzealous and outsized reaction (and very unprofessional for not carrying and using a drug “field test kit”)! It could be a Singaporean culture where everybody watches everybody else for suspected transgressions, and then let the police sort out any received reports. I would opine a very sad and pathetic commentary on a country and especially a culture.

  8. @Julia only in regards of increasing surveillance. But not in the important regards such as giving the people a common goal, a vision for the future where most people happily help working towards it.
    Take a look at China, they have risen from a poor country where people have been starving to death to the technologically most advanced nation in no time. And you can bet that the Chinese are inclined to stay ahead and not get lazy/start attacking each other like in the west.
    They are also some of the most effective in combating Islamic terrorism and the ideology behind it.
    What does the West do? Just retreating, importing more potential terrorists and hiding their own Christmas Markets behind concrete barriers.

  9. @max – all is good until they target something you like or feel it shouldn’t be banned – typical republican empathy gap.

    Nazi German was also very successful for a while…

    Pretty stupid metric you’re using (which is not surprising).

  10. Two people got locked in the bathroom at that time of night? It was probably cocaine and the powdered deodorant was a decoy. Oldest trick in the book.

  11. @Max: One of the main reasons why countries like Singapore have been so effective in combating terrorism is because of their gun laws – civilians aren’t allowed to own or possess guns.

  12. How do you expect the police to confirm in the spot? Take a hit themselves. Substances have to be sent to the lab for analysis, especially if there is no original packaging. . It’s fairly routine to detain the suspect while awaiting results due to flight risk. Remember the guy who was detained for months due to the honey? 16 hours is pretty good.

  13. Liberals showed their intelligence again, and which is much lower than It thought.

    Attacking Singapore?
    Please open the windows of your apartment looking at shabby streets where you live.

  14. You have to laugh at some of the clearly biased comments here. No appreciation that the police operate in different ways in different countries.

    If any police are subject to “an overzealous and outsized reaction” you need to look at various US based police forces and perhaps if some of their reactions were less “outsized” you’d have fewer deaths of innocent people on your hands.

    Also just because the Singapore police don’t carry drug test kits does not make them unprofessional.

  15. Santastico & Worldtraveler303, it takes literally 5 minutes for the police to do a drug test and rule out the powder as cocaine or anything illegal. Or haven’t you seen Airport Security on NatGeo? It would seem Colombia have a leg up over Singapore on this…

  16. ChrisC, it’s one thing not to carry a drug kit on them, it’s a completely different thing not to quickly perform the test once they’ve taken them to the police station. You know, so they can clear up any conceivable misunderstanding in 5 minutes, like the powder being deodorant, before keeping tourists in a holding pen for 14 hours for breaking no laws.

  17. It really should take shorter time to analyze the White powder… I feel for her. Having just visited Singapore, I would say I’m not in a hurry to go back. Beautiful country, very clean and fantastic food. However, one can’t help but feel it lacks personality. As for the strict drug law, maybe other countries should try it sometimes especially the West. Drug problems will never go away but at least it wouldn’t be so rampant!

  18. People are idiots. We are doomed.

    That pretty much covers it, from the facts reported, to the blog’s presentation of them, to the comments here.

    So much evidence above.

  19. @Mike

    it takes as long as it takes.

    I’m assumign there is more to this that she wrote about in her trip adviser rant.

  20. Very Sad times we are living in. Ben asked a simple question regarding a powder deodorant being mistaken for Cocaine in Singapore.

    75% of the responses are of a political nature.

  21. Yikes. 14 hours is too long. But it’s their laws that keep that country crime free. Unlike the USA which is too lenient. It encourages theft and burglary since there’s no punishment.

  22. Just in case folks don’t understand Max’s post above, the three parenthesis around “puppet masters” is a common white nationalist way to refer to Jews.

    For some context on how seriously to take those posts.

  23. In Singapore signs say:

    (drugs = capital punishment)

    Singapore is the crossroads for Asian drug trafficking, mostly ship to ship in the harbour. And they don’t want any ashore.

    I don’t understand how bloggers think drug use should be tolerated. I guess that explains why there are so many drug related problems in weak societies (eg USA)

    The hotel employee had no choice in this matter. To not report the incident would make him criminally responsible if anything untoward was happening.

    Unfortunately the guest and friends, perhaps through incredible ignorance, put themselves at risk.

    There probably is more to this story as we are reading one version.

    The 14 hours of incarceration seems excessive but not unusual.

    In Singapore don’t chew gum, spit on the street or carry bags of white powder that look like heroin.

  24. “….when there were two friends stuck inside of it (which raises a lot of other questions, none of which should cause police involvement, though)”

    Two friends can share a bathroom. One taking a shower, the other doing make up or both and the same time. What are the questions raised here?

  25. @Max re: guns per capita in Switzerland and Estonia. Sorry but this is bs. Neither one has more guns per capita than the US. At least Switzerland does have a high number of them, but Estonia?! 🙂

    Traveling across international borders with white powder in a ziplock bag is plainly stupid. She clearly didnt buy it in Singapore. I hope she learned her lesson

  26. When you enter Singapore, the immigration card points out in bold red writing that there is only one potential sentence for trafficking drugs into Singapore: death! Singapore has even executed foreign nationals in spite of their home country’s protests. It is a dictatorship, but arguably the safest and most prosperous country in the world per capita. This woman is a complete idiot to bring a substance into any country in this format and should realize the consequences. The staff and police acted appropriately, and only entitled Westerners would think otherwise.

  27. @West Coast Guy;
    Guns and ammo are illegal in Mexico. How’s that working out for law-abiding Mexicans?

  28. AlanD: At least Singapore has a developed legal system that still utilizes the British Table of Long Drops to determine the length of rope necessary to hang the condemned.

  29. There is likely more to this as the story makes little sense. Singapore police is well trained and professional. The arm pit powder would have been identified in minutes. Quite likely there is another unmentioned reason why this whole thing took 14 hours.
    In any case the girls were lucky not to be in the US where police is extremely violent, trigger happy and no doubt would have stormed into the room heavily armed.

  30. These girls are Indonesian, they lucky this happened in Singapore and not in their home country where the body powder can miracously turned into heroin

  31. Hello Everyone, I can’t believe that I’m adding a comment here, but after a while of LMAO after reading some of the “politicized” comments, I’m truly wondering if we’re really world travelers here… and I’m further wondering if poor Lucky thinks his beloved OMAAT has been hijacked by “InfoWars”. HaHa.

    As 90% of us should already know, you’ve gotta RESPECT (please repeat after me) RESPECT the rules and laws of any country you visit! And if someone doesn’t, they are totally at their own risk!! We can grimace when we hear that you will get in some very serious trouble if you “publicly canoodle” (love that word!) in Dubai… or suffer far worse in Sharjah for merely registering together at a hotel if not proven as married! Yet what is the difference when one of our brethren here calls the cops on (and presses for an arrest of) a French woman who goes topless at the beach… yet who is merely doing what everyone in their own country does on any normal day! Everyone must be cognizant, be careful, be smart, and be aware of the rules of where we are. Otherwise your evening meal will be local PB&J (as in Jail-style), instead of some great Singaporean Chicken-Rice from your favorite Hawker stand of excellence there!! True? Pleeeease!!

  32. some many pro-coke clowns commenting….btw…no one ended up in jail…i see no problem in the enforcement process…they rightfully hang all these idiots that feel the overwhelming need to partake in coke.

  33. The person in question is actually a resident of Singapore. “Staycations” at Sentosa and other hotels are fairly common in Singapore. It is interesting to note that this has not been reported by CNA or Straits time (at this time) – nor is it an item of discussion in any of the expat forums. Lastly SPF (Singapore Police Force) are quite active on social media and have not commented on the incident (and they have made comment on other incidents in the past). I am guessing there is more to this story.

  34. @Mike: if you read my comment you will see I say nothing about the police and I agree they could have tested the powder. I am talking about the way the hotel reacted and I think they did the right thing. Two women locked inside a bathroom at 2am and when they open there is a Ziplock bag full of a white powder? How would you expect they reacted? Nobody would first think it was powder deodorant. Very stupid of this guest to even enter a country like Singapore with any type of white powder.

  35. Megan, as you say, the girl (I won’t call her a woman; she’s only 19) is an Indonesian who stays in Singapore. Currently I’m studying in Singapore (I’m Indian), and, while not getting political, I can say for sure that Singaporeans have built a system of trust in public institutions, even if the punishments are always going to be death of some sort. (As the Queen of Hearts would say, ‘Off with their head!’ for everything.)

    The girl and her friends got off lightly here, which is to say that they were not in the wrong (and therefore lived to tell the tale), but the police and hotel officials should have checked the powder beforehand before jumping to conclusions and detaining them in such a situation. On her part, the girl should have been cautious to bring a deodorant that would not raise eyebrows in a country like Singapore.

  36. Hi I am from Singapore. The Singapore law is actually “guilty until proven otherwise” and NOT “innocent unless proven guilty” so 14hrs is considered a pretty good timing considering the police need to run test on the substance. I personally think the hotel is at fault. How can you go through a client’s personal effects? And also if it’s really cocaine, why would anyone be so stupid to leave it outside and let you see it?

  37. @Max
    “…China … They are also some of the most effective in combating Islamic terrorism and the ideology behind it.”

    Reports emerging this weekend that China has now incarcerated *one million* of their own Muslim citizens, just for being the “wrong” religion / ethnicity:

    That’s “effective”?

    Still, I suppose you also think the US policy of locking up young black men is “effective” (and the US has over 2 million people In total in jails right now. 2 *million*); just like the War on Drugs is being won (it’ll probably be finished by Christmas); and the occupation of Iraq has led to a strong and stable liberal democracy…

  38. Everytime I travel, I take a ziplock with OMO clothes washing powder, along with several other personal hygiene products, not in their original large packaging. One of the reasons is that travel authorities are so restrictive with the package sizes that can pass through airport security scans. The other is that if you only need to wash your clothes a few times, then why take 1Kg of the powder when you only need 50gms. The world is going crazy, but this Singaporean Hotel takes the cake.

  39. So they learned from America’s ‘see something say something’ policy?
    And apprently lots of (stupid) Americans are criticizing them for that.
    As a poster noted, lucky for them they were not in America as they are dark-skinned and just would have been shot

  40. Typical biased comments.

    Singapore needs reform, but compared to most if not all of the cities in the USA, it is far more habitable.

    The laws and justice system in the US are a joke. American exceptions indeed.

  41. Hey, i am specialist for lab equipment. its too dump if they strictly defend again drug but lack in testing device , simple method only need 1 minute by portable device, to know what is it. its very easy and very clear !!. I they should have portable device to make sure any white suspect powder. If by portable device its clear not drug but they want more detail analysis, they can make it in one h.

    So stupid only to know white powder need 14 h .

  42. I travel to Asia often including Singapore. Everything I bring is in original packaging, even prescription drugs. These folks ma be travel newbies but that is no reason to be victimized by the W or the cops. I used to read about people being caned there for simple littering offenses.

    I’m out! I’ll connect home via any other gateway, HKG PVG, BKK, etc. SIN can keep its clean streets. I’d rather be in a place I feel safe (from the government).

    Oh, I hope this poor woman got her 500 Bonvoy points as a “we’re sorry” gift. This is not political, it’s predatory. Dumb on the cops part and dumber on W.

  43. my husband got detained for a pocket knife at the airport. luckily she got just a formal warning (she’d be arrested next time). we were “2nd in line” at the holding office where the man in front of us, a pilot, was detained for bring a pack of cigarettes in. singapore don’t play.

  44. @Max apparently you have been drinking the corporate media’s omissions and koolaid. Even though this is a far deviation from the subject at hand (Singapore heavy-handed police), your understanding of “Islamic terrorism” is tell-tale of either your ignorance or spreading hateful propaganda. Islamic terrorism (if it’s even related to Islam) has been a Western tool for decades now, cases in point:

    – Al Qaeda: was established by the CIA to combat the Soviet presence in Afghanistan as early as the 1980s. Currently, in Syria, we not only supply AQ-affiliated groups (Al-Nusra Front, Tahrir al-Sham, and others), we also protect them.

    – ISIS: established in the power-vacuum after WE took down the secular dictatorship in Iraq and mainly to fight the Assad regime who refuses to sign a surrender treaty with Israel.

    – 9/11 atrocities were perpetrated by people from mostly the medieval KSA. Last time I checked, the KSA is “our” ally and our Orangeman Cheetos is chummy-chummy with their thuggish MBS. Not pushing a conspiracy theory here, but a reasonable person has to question who (which “state”?) really benefited from the 9/11 atrocities!

    – Our ally Israel has propped up and helped establish of Hezbollah and Hamas to counter and as a distraction to the more secular Arafat and his PLO.

    So, this so-called ugly giant “Islamic Terrorism” was awakened by our failed policies by politicians who are we still in power and control the narrative …

  45. sadstateofourN ur a brainwashed liberal..bringing left wing politics into everything the hate is strong with all of you

  46. @Kalboz: thanks for sharing this not only very well presented but definitely extremely sensible opinion. Indeed playing the sorcerer’s apprentice may not be productive in the long term… and for people that anyway mainly focus on the short term… well…

  47. @Kalboz of course I know who is behind all of this and pulls the strings. My comment about that got unfortunately deleted as it may offend people and educate others. Solely some stupid backward thinking people alone would not suffice to cause all these atrocities. But they are used as a tool. And China is smart enough to not enable these tools to be used by foreign powers, unlike the West.

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