A few weeks back, I heard that some residents living in the western part of Singapore refused to fly their national flag at their HDB blocks because they did not want to be associated with their Residents’ Committee (RC), and by extension, the PAP government.
While I understand where these residents’ sentiments are coming from, I feel their reactions may be somewhat misplaced.
Singapore is bigger than the PAP, as former top civil servant Ngiam Tong Dow pointed out several years ago. It is not easy to internalise this fact, especially for those of us who have lived all our lives in Singapore and have been told—through subliminal and not-so-subliminal messages—that the PAP, the government and Singapore are synonymous.
Indeed they are not. One can disagree with the party in power, and yet still be a loyal citizen and a patriot. From my interactions with a cross section of Singaporeans, I am glad to note that most agree with this distinction on an intellectual level.
The national ideals represented by our flag—democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality—cut across political, racial and religious boundaries. I believe we would all do well to reflect a bit more on all of these ideals (not just the second and third one), especially in the area of policymaking.
With that, I urge everyone for whom Singapore is home to fly our national flag proudly this National Day.
I wish all Singaporeans a very Happy 47th National Day!