Penny’s all time NDP Low

From ‘MP checks phone during national anthem’, 10 Aug 2011, article in

…Member of Parliament (MP) Penny Low was spotted being occupied with her phone during the singing of the national anthem at the National Day Parade (NDP) yesterday.

…A netizen “UptheToon” said, “Shows even the MP don’t really care about Singapore or our songs.”

Other netizens defend the MP, suggesting that she may be checking that her phone is on silent mode. There are also suggestions that Ms Low may have dropped her phone. Kenneth Jeyaretnam, secretary general of the Reform Party, posted his take of the matter on his Facebook page.

He commented on a picture of MP Penny Low looking down at her mobile phone, “HP addiction is an illness. She needs help and treatment not punishment.”

Malu Lah Singapura

According to the Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem Rules, 2004 (too many ‘ands’ for a title of a legal statute perhaps?):

Respect for National Anthem

12. When the National Anthem is performed or sung, every person present shall stand up as a mark of respect.

13.—(1) Any person performing or singing the National Anthem shall perform or sing the National Anthem according to the official arrangement in the Third Schedule or any other arrangement permitted under paragraph (2).

…(3) Any person who sings the National Anthem —

(a) shall follow the official lyrics in the Third Schedule; and (b) shall not sing any translation of those lyrics.

…(3) Any person who knowingly performs or sings the National Anthem in contravention of rule 13 (1) or (3) shall be guilty of an offence and shall be liable on conviction to a fine not exceeding $1,000.

Technically, this means those of us who have been singing berseru instead of bersatu have been contravening rule 13 (3) part a and should have been fined $1000 for not following the official lyrics of Majulah Singapura. As for rule 12, it doesn’t specify the radius from the source of the anthem within which every person ‘shall stand up as a mark of respect’. It also doesn’t say if it’s illegal to stand but turn your back against the direction of the flag (if there’s one being raised), that you have to sing the anthem while standing, to talk to a friend while it’s being played, to yawn, close your eyes, giggle, chew gum, or in Penny Low’s case, stealing a quick glance at your handphone instead of belting out the empathic chorus of our anthem with hand-on-heart gusto and feeling.

Any MP who does so much as scratch an itch, tap his feet, doze off or fumble a lyric during a very pivotal moment in any NDP would be subject to the same online shaming. Penny Low was an unlucky victim of an untimely camera pan, yet nobody cares about the behaviour of the other spectators during NDP (I’m sure there must be at least ONE person out there SITTING down and clearly infringing the law), whether our army contingents march in sync,  or  of perennial host Gurmit Singh telling Singapore to ‘make some noise’ again and again.   The whole reason why people still watch the NDP is to capture our leaders in gaffes like these, have it catch on like wildfire and tsk-tsk away at work for some fun office bonding, when a more useful topic of discussion would be to question what volunteers dressed up as milk and cookies and dancing has to do with the Singapore story.   It’s Majulah, I thought, not Disney’s Fantasia.

It would have been fine with Ms Low just left it as that; we don’t want to know what you’re doing with your handphone. But instead we get this justification in her  Facebook post:

(Penny Low): I was so caught up in the wonderful NDP 2011 and felt so proud of being a Singaporean, that i wanted to capture that moment of pride, at the very tail end of the anthem, to share on FB with my residents. If in my enthusiasm i offended anyone, please accept my apologies. NDP is a time to unite not divide. Majulah Singapura!

A few things. An MP should never use pride in the nation as an excuse for getting carried away from what’s basic courtesy and decorum. It’s like texting your spouse or girlfriend while you’re having lunch with your boss because you can’t help LOVING her so much. Next, just because the anthem is at its tail end doesn’t mean you can slack off. For a true blue Singaporean, pausing at the climatic drumroll of Majulah Singapura is like choking during the crescendo of an orgasm.  Thirdly, your ‘residents’ don’t care about your Facebook uploads when they can watch the parade live from all camera angles on Channel 5.  Lastly, the crafty line ‘a time to unite not divide’ i.e don’t slam me because it’s National Day is cocky blame-shifting. Here’s what happened, Penny: You are hooked on Facebook and you just had to post something because you just didn’t have the patience to hang on till the end of the National Anthem.  Still think politicians and social media go well together? Kenneth Jeyaretnam is right, Penny Low needs medical attention stat.  Fellow MP Tin Pei Ling may have a good doctor to recommend for such compulsive behaviour.


2 Responses

  1. […] Me To The Fish: How Dare You, Penny? – Molitics: Cool Women in White – Everything Also Complain: Penny’s all time NDP Low – Small steps for Social PR: How to apologise to the Nation of […]

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