SINGAPORE – Singaporeans may be able to display the national flag on occasions other than National Day without falling foul of the law, as the Government moves to change the rules governing how national symbols here are used.
This comes several months after a citizens’ work group issued a report in July that called for the authorities to relook at how people can more creatively use national symbols such as the national anthem and flag, while preventing abuse.
In its formal response on Friday (Oct 29), the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) said it will look into amending the Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem (Safna) Act in the coming months.
These proposed changes will be shared with the public some time next year before they are finalised.
The legislative review may, among other things, allow households to display the Singapore flag on more occasions while mitigating the risk of potential neglect and disrespectful use, MCCY said.
Every year, the national flag can be displayed outside a building or in an open space without a flagpole only between July 1 and Sept 30.
There is a fine of up to $1,000 for those who flout this rule, but Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong previously said no one has ever been penalised for this.
MCCY said it has seen several significant occasions over the past five years where Singaporeans have expressed a desire to fly the flag outside the National Day period, most recently during the eight-week circuit breaker period between April to May last year.
“The display of the flag in such instances is appropriate as a sign of solidarity,” it added.
The Government had extended the duration of when the flag could be displayed last year so it could serve as a rallying symbol during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
MCCY said it will also revise the rules and guidelines on the artistic applications of national symbols, as well as clarify and simplify public guidelines on the respectful treatment of these symbols.
“MCCY is heartened that our local artists and designers are keen to incorporate (national) symbols in their work. We agree with the work group that expanding the scope for artistic use of the symbols would encourage greater ownership through personal expressions of national pride and identity,” it said.
The ministry will also look into enhancing public education efforts and improve access to information about the national symbols.
This could include clarifying regulatory processes by publishing a comprehensive guide on the use of the symbols, including digital use, and enhancing current feedback channels for reporting misuse.
MCCY will refresh its plans on how the national symbols are promoted as well.
Some ideas include one-for-one exchanges of worn-out national flags, which has already been implemented, collaborations with the community and celebrating national symbols at key anniversaries.
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