Less than a week ago, there were a flurry of news reports, including by the Straits Times, reminding people to fold up their flags for the year – or risk being fined $1000. Here’s some good news for those who haven’t done so.
It appears that nobody has ever been fined for displaying the national flag beyond the allotted time period.
In an article published by Today Online yesterday, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth and Second Minister for Law, Edwin Tong assured the nation that the law was not put in place to punish Singaporeans who are proud to display the flag. He explained that the Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem (SAFNA) Act is meant to “safeguard the dignity” of the flag. Further, he stated that he does not know of a single person who has been fined for leaving their flags out.
In a Straits Times article published on 27 September, Tin Pei Ling, who is a MP for MacPherson SMC, said that while the flag should be displayed in accordance with the guidelines, “Our love for Singapore cannot be measured by months. I think Singaporeans should have the choice to express our love for Singapore… ”
In the same statement, MP Tin Pei Ling also referenced the pandemic and how the national flag could act as a symbol of solidarity and a reminder of national values.
The shared values, by the way, were formalised by the Singapore government in January 1991. You might remember seeing them printed on the back of one of your primary or secondary school exercise books. There are five of them in total. They are as follows: nation before community and society above self, family as the basic unit of society, community support and respect for the individual, consensus not conflict, and finally, racial and religious harmony.
Have you noticed any changes in your neighbourhood regarding the display of flags? Have your neighbours been moved to fold up their flags or are they still out there, rippling and stirring in the wind?