Reading the article: “Does the lack of national flags at HDB estates serve as a litmus test as to PAP government’s performance?” gave me an interesting perspective. The writer suggests that less flags is a sign of the silent protest that citizens are carrying out against the failures of the current government. This may well be true but if that is the case, then Singaporeans have a worrying misconception that the Peoples’ Action Party (PAP) is equivalent to the country of Singapore.
Our flag represents our country. The PAP party, on the other hand, is just a political party. Whether or not they continue to rule is separate to the existence of Singapore as a sovereign state. We should (theoretically) display our flags in the lead up to national day because we are proud of our country and want to celebrate our independence. This desire to celebrate our country should in principle have absolutely nothing to do with the PAP government or its performance. But perhaps, the PAP has governed in a way to blur the lines between state and party which makes this difference difficult to delineate.
Until reading the article, I had assumed that the lack of flags had to do with feeling more and more alien to the country in which we live. It just seems like no matter how much we try to take ownership and raise our views, nothing ever gets done. I see the absence of flags as a sign of giving up. It is futile anyway, might as well just “live my life and see how”.
If the reduced flags are indeed the sign of a silent protest, then I am heartened as it shows that people still care – that there is still a sense of belonging and unity. However, as we mark this 53rd year of our independence, it is important to remember that the PAP government is not and should never be equated as the state of Singapore. They are an elected government. While they are the current government, there is no saying whether or not they will remain so. Yet, the nation of Singapore and its flag should endure whoever the government is.
If Singaporeans are not happy with the current government, the place to voice it is via the ballot box. A display of flags or lack thereof will not affect the outcome of any election or effect any change to our current situation (apart from reducing the celebratory vibe). With this in mind, Happy National Day (not Happy PAP Day).