by Augustine Low
You are familiar by now with the logo or symbol of the People’s Action Party.
The PAP logo is known as the “Flash and Circle,” symbolised by a lightning bolt surrounded by a circle.
Unknown to many, the earliest and most well-known such symbol was adopted by the British Union of Fascists (BUF), a right-wing British political party formed in 1932 by Sir Oswald Mosley. The party became notorious for embracing Nazi-style anti-semitism, or deep-seated racism and hostility to Jews.
By 1940, the BUF was banned by the British government and Mosley, along with 740 other fascists, were interned for much of the Second World War.
So the symbol of a lightning bolt within a circle has an infamous association, to begin with.
For the PAP, the lightning represents action while the ring encircling it represents unity.
This, by the way, was the same rationale expounded by the BUF for its symbol.
No doubt the PAP has been all-powerful and quick to take action, so the symbol does it a measure of justice.
But let’s not forget that lightning is also merciless. It has no empathy and it strikes at will.
Woe betide the ones who are at the mercy of a lightning strike.
Can anyone of us raise our hands and declare that we have never been at the receiving end of a lightning strike?
Metaphorically, we are struck by lightning ever so often.
This month alone, there are hefty increases in water and electricity prices, along with more punitive property curbs. On the cards are higher Medishield premiums, higher GST, higher MRT fares, higher airport taxes and satellite ERP, just to name a few.
The beauty of it is that people don’t even know what struck them because it all comes like a bolt from out of nowhere.
So take a good hard look at the PAP logo.
Does it have a sinister connotation? Has it lived up to its promise of being powerful and quick as lightning?
Excerpt from “Singapore Struggle for Success” by John Drysdal:
Even the party’s symbol – a flash in lightning in a circle – is claimed to be a copy of the symbol used by pre-war Facist leader in Great Britain, Sir Oswald Mosley. LKY said that the circle was taken from the Olympics symbol of unity. When asked why the flash had the same slant as Mosley’s, Lee replied with characteristic quick-wittedness: “What else can a right-handed man produce?” The lighting, Lee said, stood for “action” and red for “courage”. The circle represented the unity of the peoples of Malaysia, Blue signified faith and white stood for honesty and purity.
We choose our symbol because we believe the people of Malaya have become sick of dishonest politicians, disunited political parties and talkative but ineffectual politicians. it is gratifying to know that even Sir Oswald Mosley knew that a flash of lighting is an expression of action.