A controversial post by the Member of Parliament (MP) for Sengkang West single-member constituency (SMC), Lam Pin Min, seems to have been hidden from his timeline on his Facebook page.
The display had roused criticisms among members of the public for the inappropriate use of the national emblem to form the numerical figure “50”, to mark Singapore’s 50th year of independence.
Some of the flags were formed upside-down or hung vertically, which are not allowed under the “Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem Rules” in the Singapore Statutes.
The rules also forbid the national flag from being used as decoration.
Dr Lam, who is also the Minister of State for Health, had announced on 17 July on his Facebook page that the display had been put up, “after two months of planning and preparation” by grassroots leaders and volunteers.
He also posted some photos of the preparation and display, with one photo showing the flags being laid on the ground.
Under Singapore’s laws, the national flag is not allowed to touch the floor.
Soon after the display, questions were raised about the appropriate use of the national flag for such a display, and many posted on Dr Lam’s Facebook page querying him, with some asking him to remove the display as it was disrespectful of the flag.
Dr Lam’s post and those comments have since been apparently hidden from the main page of his Facebook account – when a visitor visits his Facebook page, they no longer see the post on the main page.
The photos of the preparation and the final display of the flags are still on Dr Lam’s page.
But the display in Sengkang West is not the only one using the national flag in a possibly inappropriate manner.
Over at Tampines Street 41, there is also a similar display of the national flag in the numerical figure of “50”, which also calls into question if the flag can be used for decoration in such a manner:
Under clause 9 of the “Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem Rules”, it states:
9.—(1) No person shall use or apply the Flag or any image thereof… as or as part of any furnishing, decoration, covering or receptacle, except in such circumstances as may be approved by the Minister, being circumstances wherein there is no disrespect for the Flag.
And over at Bishan, the national flags are tied on strings in a series.
But according to the rules:
“[The] Flag shall be hung against a vertical wall or other vertical flat surface”.
There are very specific prohibition and conditions in the “Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem Rules” about the display of the flag, and these include:
1. The flag must not be used as decoration.
2. The flag must be displayed against a vertical flat surface, or on a proper pole.
3. The flag, if displayed overnight, must be illuminated.
4. The crescent and stars must always be at the top left position when viewed by any person.
5. The flag must not touch the floor.
The flags displays in Sengkang West, Tampines and Bishan seem to contravene these rules.
Silence from authorities and Dr Lam
This writer had written to the authorities – namely the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) and the National Heritage Board (NHB) – and Dr Lam himself to ask for clarification but have so far received none.
After receiving no response to a feedback form which this writer had submitted to the MCCY on 19 July, a call was made to the ministry on 23 July whereupon an officer over the phone promised to get the officer-in-charge to return the call on the day itself or the next day.
No such calls have been received thus far.
An email query was sent to the NHB on 21 July about the use of the state flags in Sengkang West.
After again receiving no response at all, another reminder email was sent on the 24th of July – but there has been no response till date.
Dr Lam, too, has not responded to the email sent to him on 20 July.
Indeed, Dr Lam has totally ignored all the comments on his Facebook page.
The flags display in his constituency remains in place when last verified on Wednesday morning, 29 July.