Where’s the National Day Spirit?

Do you guys notice something different about this year’s National Day decorations? From what I saw so far, the designs on this year’s buntings that hang from the street lamps are missing the large photos of the MPs in white. I may be wrong as I didn’t check every corner of Singapore, but from the roads that I have seen, I noticed that this year’s street buntings are filled with photos of everyday people instead of the MPs. And the grassroots organisations’ and CDCs’ logos are also much smaller unlike last year when they were really large.

I had written a commentary last year questioning the horrendous abuse of our National Day’s decorations as the buntings and billboards were being used to promote the PAP MPs with large photos of their faces plastered on them whilst the Singapore flag was barely visible in contrast. I am glad someone up there finally noted the imbalance in the decorations which were probably put up by over zealous grassroots supporters.

But IMHO, I think our National Day street decorations have room for improvement as they seem to be lacking heart and soul somehow. For one, I still hardly see our Singapore flag in the design on the street buntings. Instead I am seeing a bunch of faces of people I don’t really relate to and the designs seem similar in different localities.

And if you go along the prime shopping belt of Orchard Road, it gets more puzzling as the buntings decorating the road are pretty insipid. It shows some faces with the words NDP2012 emblazoned across the design, the NDP slogan “Loving Singapore, Our Home”  and some logos at the bottom of the design.

Orchard Road is a happening place packed with locals, tourists and foreigners working here. Isn’t this a great place to shout out loud with pride that we are celebrating our National Day? Why are the words NDP 2012 dominating the design? How many people know what NDP stands for? For those who don’t know, it stands for National Day Parade.

I think that whoever is in charge of whipping up the spirit of National Day doesn’t quite understand human psyche and is unclear about the objectives of these buntings.  Take those in Orchard Road for example, are they a mere decoration? Are they to inform the world that we are celebrating National Day? Is it to create the right mood among Singaporeans for the celebration? Or is it to promote the National Day Parade?

If it is the last objective then I have to object because if lots of tax payers funds are spent on the decorations, then it should be about the people and not the parade isn’t it? After all, only a tiny segment of Singaporeans get to see the parade. To me, money well spent is when the organisers achieve a key objective of whipping up a mood that stirs our patriotism across the country. But it does seem like an inordinate amount of time and money is spent on the parade at Marina Bay. Sure it is important to some extent to create a focal point of rah-rah , but hey please don’t forget the rest of Singapore.

Right now, I am not feeling the mood nor the lurvvve from the people (nor from the organisers). The street decorations are dull and lack a creative and emotive quality. And again I have to ask – where is the Singapore flag with its crescent moon and stars? I see them being put up at condominiums and at some buildings and institutions and in sporadic parts of the heartlands, mostly by the resident committees. But the flag is not as visible as it should be during this most important time of the year for our nation.

The Government can take the lead in this since many people are still reticent about flying the flag (a situation that should be analysed as to the reasons why). Just imagine for example, wouldn’t it be lovely if the entire stretch of Orchard Road were decorated by a continuous stream of the red and white flags flying proudly in the wind? Sure, it may look nationalistic but heck it IS our National Day celebration after all.

While I am on this topic, I have been wanting to ask why are the laws so strict on how and when we can fly our nation’s flag? I mean, does  it matter so long as we treat the flag with respect and honour?  Under the Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem Act, we can only fly the Singapore flag at Housing Board blocks during the National Day period from July to September. It used to be only in the month of August but the period was extended after the rules were amended in 2007. And there is a long list of dos and don’ts of flying our flag. http://app.www.sg/data/usermedia/documents/Singapore_Arms_and_Flag_and_Nation_Anthem%28Amendment%29Rules2007.pdf

I just don’t get it. In many other countries, the proud citizens happily display their nation’s flag throughout the year and in various manners from wrapping themselves in it at football matches to sticking it on their cars.  In stark contrast, we face so much restriction here. But then again, most Singaporeans don’t even fly it during the national day period.  How sad is that?

From what I read online, it appears that there are even fewer flags being hung and flown this year in the housing estates and the key reason it is said is because many Singaporeans are refusing to do so as a form of protest against the Government.

Now that is really sad if true. How did this come to pass? Is it because the PAP has succeeded too well in confusing the people that the PAP is the Government and the Government = PAP? And how did flying our flag equate to supporting the Government or  the PAP? That is just plain wrong as the Flag represents our country. Period.

Could it be that many Singaporeans are not flying the flag because they are currently not feeling very proud of being Singaporeans? There is indeed much palpable anger over several hot button issues that have surfaced over the past couple of years.  But it will be tragic if this anger continues to dilute the love for our country.

Now that the Government has reorganised three of its key ministries including  one (or is it 2?) that is supposed to look into building stronger bonds between the people and Singapore, I do hope they will seriously look into how to address the deep cracks that have appeared and how to bond the people with the nation.  I hope they will look at the solutions not from the perspective of preserving their power base but from the people’s point of view.  Heal this nation for the love of the people and for our nation’s long-term happiness.

The day that we witness a sea of red and white flags being hung and flown all over this little island,  voluntarily and with deep pride and joy, will be such a wondrous sight. I am truly looking forward to that day.

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One Response to Where’s the National Day Spirit?

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