leekuanyew

No to flag displays on home fronts, okay to carry it at procession

IT IS no go for a call to allow Singaporeans to display the national flag in front of their homes tomorrow, when the state funeral of Singapore's first Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew is held.

Mr Lawrence Wong, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, has turned down the suggestion from a group of East Coast GRC grassroots volunteers, following public feedback that the move may not set "the right tone" for the day of the state funeral.

But members of the public can carry the flag along the procession route, said Mr Wong, noting that this was allowed under current rules.

Displays of the Singapore flag in front of homes are allowed only during the National Day period, from July 1 to Sept 30, according to guidelines in the Singapore statutes and the National Heritage Board's website. At other times, the national flag must be flown from a flagpole and illuminated at night. The Straits Times understands that the guidelines are to protect the integrity of the flag, a national symbol, and make sure it is cared for.

In a Facebook post yesterday, Mr Wong commended the spirit of the grassroots volunteers who had suggested displaying flags in front of homes tomorrow to express national unity and confidence in Singapore's future. "I think it's very good to have such ground-up initiatives and I strongly encourage this spirit of expression to pay tribute to Mr Lee," he said. "At the same time, I've received feedback from several members of the public that having flags displayed all over our HDB blocks may not be the right tone for the day of the state funeral."

Academic Yusuf Ali, 36, one of the grassroots leaders who mooted the initiative, was disappointed, but "respected the decision".

"The funeral procession will not pass by many places like East Coast or the north. It would have been nice to express confidence in the future by flying the flag all over Singapore and everybody gets involved," he said. "At the same time, there are those who think that this might be inappropriate and that view needs to be considered too."

IT services manager Calin Tan, 34, thought the long lines at Parliament House already said it all.

"Expressing grief and unity is important. But look at the queues for Parliament House, that is the ultimate expression of our appreciation for Mr Lee," said Ms Tan, who will be standing along the procession route tomorrow.

As for wearing black or white tomorrow, a matter of some discussion online, Mr Wong said: "We all express our emotions in different ways. And we all want to say our final farewells to a great man in our own ways. So I encourage Singaporeans to be inclusive and embrace these different actions. Amid our diversity, let us all come together as one to honour Mr Lee's spirit and legacy."

kashc@sph.com.sg