S'pore national flag treated like 'piece of rag' at foreign music festival, defaced in group photo

Submitted by Stomper Ger

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The Singapore flag is our national symbol and should be treated with respect.

But two recent incidents suggest that this may not always be the case.

Stomper Ger found it unacceptable that some National University of Singapore (NUS) students in the Netherlands were treating the flag "like a piece of rag" at a music festival.

He said: "I came across an Instagram account that shows the misconduct by a group of NUS students. I believe they are currently on an exchange programme in Maastricht University in the Netherlands.

"They were seen partying in a music festival with the Singapore flag, which I think is illegal and reflects the poor conduct of the NUS students and Singaporeans in general.

"The students can have their fun, but treating the Singapore flag like a piece of rag is totally unacceptable."

A video that the Stomper shared shows people at a club jumping and chanting to the dance beat, and waving the Singapore flag above their heads until it became twisted and looked like it was torn.

Stomp has contacted NUS for more info.

The National Heritage Board (NHB) has guidelines for use of the flag in different scenarios and the closest one to this case is at sporting events:

  1. May I wave the flag during sports events to support the home team?
    Yes, as long as the flag is treated with dignity and respect. The flag should not touch the ground at any time.
  2. I have seen athletes do a victory lap holding the flag after winning a game. Is this allowed?
    There are no objections in such instances, as long as the flag is treated with dignity and respect. For example, the flag should not touch the ground at any time. Please do note though that it is considered disrespectful to wrap the flag around one’s body (like a coat or a sarong).

In a separate incident, a Singapore flag was misused in a group photo taken at what appears to be a wedding reception.

In the photo, Mister Singapore Sean Nicholas Sutiono was posing with nine other people and holding a flag with the words "Mister International" across the middle and about 40 signatures scrawled on the bottom white half of the flag

The photo was shared on Reddit on Tuesday (Nov 1) with the title: "Err, is this for real?"

While netizens acknowledged that defacing the flag is illegal, many thought it was not a big issue.

In response to a Stomp query, an NHB spokesman said: "We take a serious view of any misuse of the Singapore flag and are currently looking into these cases.

"We would like to take this opportunity to remind all to use and display the flag responsibly and respectfully."

A greater controversy for Mr Sutiono was posing in black shorts and boots and holding a Singapore flag behind him as his national costume for the Mister International competition.

One netizen commented: "No budget? Flag also never iron?"

The Mister International competition was held in Manila on Sunday (Oct 30) and won by Mister Dominican Republic.

In September, the National Symbols Act was passed in Parliament to replace the existing Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem (Safna) Act.

Among other changes, the Act provides for harsher penalties for the misuse of national symbols as offenders may be fined up to $30,000 or jailed for up to six months, or both.

Under the Safna Act previously, the penalty was a fine of up to $1,000.