From ‘Police investigate woman over China flag hung outside HDB’, 26 July 2012, article in asiaone.com
A 54-year-old Chinese Singaporean woman is being investigated for an offence under the National Emblems (Control of Display) Act. It is believed that the offence is related to a China flag that was hung over the parapet of a Hougang HDB block, right next to a Singapore flag.
The news first made headlines when photographs were taken of the flag and posted on citizen journalism website Stomp. They have since gone viral, with several concerned citizens asking if it is allowed. In a statement posted on their Facebook page, the police clarified that the public display of state flags of any nation other than Singapore is “generally disallowed,” unless an exception is catered for.
If convicted, the offender may be fined up to $500, imprisoned for up to 6 months, or both.
According to the National Emblems (Control of Display) Act, only diplomats, members of the Commonwealth, anyone granted ‘immunities and privileges’ or ships may bear flags. As for Chinese holidays, the closest one falls on 1 Aug and is ominously called ‘ARMY DAY’, while Chinese National Day occurs on 1 Oct. The archaic law (last updated in 1987) only applies to displays that may be viewed in a generally public place from a road, street, footway, passage etc. You may, however, still walk about with a Union Jack painted on your face or wear a Japanese Banzai headband without being hauled up for investigations. Football fans throng pubs in World Cup jerseys, flashing national banners in support of their teams. Harley Davidson uncles don Stars and Stripes bandanas while chugging around on their bikes. Swedish flags grace the aisles and cafeterias of Ikea. We’re a bustling bazaar of international emblems, some of which, like the USA flag, have become ubiquitous logos. Yet, we only catch a glimpse of the five stars and a moon decorating our flats once a year. Most of us who complain about eyesore China flags don’t even know what Majulah Singapura means. No one notices the mattress draped over the Singapore flag in the most telling manner above.
Despite a recent wave of anti-xenophobic crusades by the internet community to promote acceptance of our immigrants and their cultural baggage, we cry foul and NIMBY over a China flag hanging over a parapet, which for whatever reason it was put up in the first place, has come to symbolise the sinister beginnings of a hostile takeover. Our table tennis team, for example, all once swore allegiance the Chinese flag. Even our homegrown singing pastors are paying tribute to ‘China Wine’. We Singaporeans, on the other hand, wrap our side mirrors with images of flag, flip it the wrong way or upside down, cover it with laundry or bedlinen, wear it around our crotch or use it as a mat for some serious teenage hanky-panky. At least someone is treating a flag the way it should be treated.
This isn’t the first time, though, that China or other national flags have been making an insurgence into the heartlands. The richest source for such sightings, unfortunately, comes from STOMP, which is of course, a troll haven for anyone with Photoshop skills and a NIMBY agenda.
- Philippines flag outside door after Independence Day
- China flag in Kopitiam
- China flag on China’s National Day
- China flag outside NTU hostel
- Vietnamese flag totted around as part of a tour group
- Swiss flag outside HDB
- Indonesian flag outside HDB. On closer inspection it’s actually a faded Singapore flag. HUNG IN REVERSE.
That being said, I wonder if anyone would bring an American to task for putting up the Stars and Stripes on the 4th of July.