National Day 2020: Singapore's Flag Used to Look Really Different - and Other Random Facts About the Flag
A trip down memory lane.
Received your National Day funpack (also known as the NDP Singapore Together Pack)? Then you’ve probably received a full-sized national flag, perfect for displaying your national pride.
But before you rush ahead with turning it into your newest accessory, there are a few things you should know about our iconic red-white Singapore flag.
It didn’t always look this way
It didn’t even have the iconic crescent-and-star look to it in the first place.
Designer of the flag, then-Deputy Prime Minister Toh Chin Chye, had revealed an early prototype of the flag. It sported the signature bi-colour look to it, but the top half only had three stars, meant to represent democracy, justice and equality.
“I was a bit anxious that… [it] would lead to uneasiness among some people, because the Malayan Communist Party also had three stars. Because of this, we added two more stars to represent prosperity and peace,” Dr Toh said back then.
The crescent moon represented a newly independent country but was also designed to assure the Malays and Muslims that “we’re not a Chinese state”, he had explained.
And thus, the flag we know today was born.
Households weren’t always allowed to display it.
Not even during the National Day period.
It was only in 1986, 21 years after Singapore became independent, that the deputy director of psychological defence at the Ministry of Communications and Information by the name of Richard Wong came up with the idea of adding eyelets to the flag in order to allow for it to be displayed at every flat.
“Fortunately for me, the HDB readily agreed,” he shared with CNA. “They quoted a budget of $320,000, and they post-fitted [the eyelets]. And that has become a standard feature of all newly built HDB flats.”
With this privilege granted to the public, what exactly are the Do’s and Don’ts to displaying the flag?
Do: Place it in a position of honour
In Singapore, the national flag takes precedence over other flags.
If it were to be displayed alongside other flags, it should be placed on the tallest flagpole. If the flagpoles are all of the same height, one should ensure the flag is placed on the leftmost pole, as seen from a spectator facing the premises and flagpoles.
In cases where it is the only flag displayed, the National Heritage Board recommends displaying it from the middle flagpole.
Don’t: Display it in the dark
Unless illuminated by a spotlight, the national flag should not be displayed in the dark as flying a flag in the dark is considered disrespectful. Where possible, the flag should be lowered before sunset, and raised only after sunrise.
Alternatively, one could consider investing in a spotlight.
Do: Display it in front of a building
When the flag is to be displayed outside a building, it must be displayed on or in front of the building.
Don’t: Use it for commercial purposes
While the guidelines for the use of the flag are relaxed during the National Day celebrations period, you are not permitted to use the flag for any form of commercial or advertising purposes outside this period of time, unless with approval.
Such approval is only offered on a case-by-case basis too.
Do: Ensure it is kept clean
A flag should not be displayed during bad weather as it is considered disrespectful. Whenever possible, the flag should be lowered before the start of the bad weather.
Under circumstances where the flag needs to be washed, it should not be hung out to dry together with other laundry.
Don’t: Bin it inappropriately
Torn and worn-out flags should no longer be displayed. When disposing of the flag, it should be packed into a sealed black trash bag.
Do: Be proud
Feel free to display the flag!
Not only is it a symbol of national pride, it also serves as a powerful symbol of solidarity and lifts spirits during this trying time.
Amid the pandemic, numerous members of the public have written to the authorities hoping to display the flag as a demonstration of unity, as well as to thank and pay respects to those working hard at the frontline, and to those staying at home for the country.
This article was first published on AsiaOne and republished on theAsianparent with permission.