Minister for Culture, Community & Youth Edwin Tong took to his Facebook on Wednesday (30 Sep) to assure the general public that “no one has ever been fined” for continue displaying the national flag after 30 September, adding that the Government is not planning to do so.
“There’s been some concern raised after certain media reported that those who continue to fly the flags after Sep 30 will be fined. Let me assure you: as far as I know, no one has ever been fined for this, nor do we plan to do so,” Mr Tong, who is also the Second Minister for Law, wrote in his post.
Earlier, it was reported that Singaporean residents will have to take in all the national flags that are on display outside their homes before the end of September or risk a fine of up to S$1,000 under the Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem (SAFNA) rules.
The announcement had sparked a public outcry, with many questioning the Government’s move for imposing such a harsh rule which may deter some from displaying the national flag in the future.
In response, Mr Tong stressed that the Government will take action in cases of deliberate disrespect against the flag in any way, adding that the SAFNA rules “are meant to safeguard the dignity of our flag”.
“There’s no reason to ‘punish’ those who treat it with respect and dignity, and are proud to showcase the Singapore spirit. Patriotism is not just a right, it’s simply right,” he added.
Mr Tong also revealed that the Ministry of Culture, Community & Youth (MCCY) had initiated a review of the SAFNA rules to look into a number of issues, including to allow more occasions in which the national flags can be displayed “while always protecting its dignity from extended display or neglect”.
He encouraged members of the public to submit their suggestions on how everyone can continue to use the national flag to express Singaporeans’ pride and identity. Link to the survey can be found here.
“Singaporeans have shown incredible grit and resilience during this testing period. While the Singapore flag remains a symbol of everything we stand for, I ask that you also never, ever wave a white flag when it comes to standing up for our nation and fellow Singaporeans,” he remarked.