Singapore citizens can join workgroup to review rules on use of national symbols

From Nov 30 till Dec 24, Singaporeans aged 15 and above can apply to join the Citizens' Workgroup for National Symbols. PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - Singapore citizens can apply to join a new workgroup to weigh in on the rules governing the use and display of national symbols such as the Singapore flag and crest.

This was announced by Minister for Culture, Community and Youth Edwin Tong in a post on Facebook on Monday (Nov 30).

"The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY) has recently initiated a review of the Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem Rules. As part of the review, we are inviting Singaporeans to join a citizens' workgroup to discuss how our national symbols should be used," he said.

"Our national symbols represent the values we believe in, and reflect our aspirations for Singapore. Join us in discussing how they should be used in a respectful manner," he added.

From Monday (Nov 30) till Dec 24, Singaporeans aged 15 and above can apply to join the Citizens' Workgroup for National Symbols.

Fifty citizens from diverse backgrounds will be selected, according to an information sheet posted on a Singapore government website. Participants will attend six half-day sessions from January to April 2021.

Applicants are asked to choose three options from a list of topics they would like to discuss. The list includes topics such as "responsibilities and rights of citizens in using the symbols" and "perceptions of barriers to use".

The intention of the review is to "culminate in an Amendment Bill to Parliament" with regard to the Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem (Safna) Act, and "corresponding revisions to the regulatory processes", said MCCY in a statement on Monday.

On Sept 29, MCCY announced that it would be reviewing Safna, the legislature which governs the usage of national symbols. This includes the law forbidding the display of the Singapore flag outside homes past Sept 30 every year, an action that carries a fine of $1,000 under the Act.

The time frame for the legal display of flags outside homes is usually July 1 to Sept 30. It was changed this year to run from April 25 to Sept 30 to allow Singaporeans to display the flag as a symbol of national solidarity during the coronavirus pandemic.

Following this extension, a member of the public, Mr Dhevarajan Devadas, wrote in to The Straits Times Forum, asking if MCCY would consider allowing the flag to be displayed outside homes throughout the year.

In a Facebook post on Sept 30, Mr Tong said that despite concern from citizens about being fined for flying flags after the legal time frame, the law is not actively enforced. "No one has ever been fined for this, nor do we plan to do so," he added.

Singaporeans interested to join the workgroup can access the form here.

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