Sunday, August 13, 2006

And this is a surprise how...?

Aug 12, 2006
How could spectators not respect state flag?

SINGAPORE celebrated its 41st birthday on Wednesday. I was one of the lucky 60,000 who managed to get a ticket to the National Day Parade held at the National Stadium.

Spirits were high throughout the celebration, especially during the fireworks display, with the song One People, One Nation, One Singapore roaring in the background.

During the finale we said the Pledge out loud, sang the National Anthem with much pride, and felt wonderful to be 'Singaporean'.

Unfortunately, when the party was over, a disgusting sight began to unfold before my eyes. Numerous small state flags were discarded and lay torn, broken and soiled.

The state flag, despite its size, should be treated with great respect as it symbolises the nation. These might be miniature flags placed in the fun pack; however, they deserve the same treatment as the one we salute when the National Anthem is sung.

Picking up some of the mangled flags along the way to the bus queue, I could not help but wonder how the 'one people, one nation', who called themselves 'Singaporean' a few minutes earlier, had the heart to trample on their dignity with their own feet, then conveniently walk away, leaving behind a sea of garbage.

Anne Koh Yean Yah (Ms)

Perhaps one should wonder how Singaporeans got so callous about disposing of sentimentality so easily and I guess it's pretty easy to find the root cause. Bloggers have blogged about it. Playwrights have expressed it on stage. We've all griped about it in one way or another. It's rather simply this: We live in a society with a throwaway culture. It's been ingrained into us and I think that while it's all postmodernic and very admirable that Singaporeans can uproot themselves and infest another country, a la the indestructible cockroach, it's also created a sense of non-belonging and non-sentimentality to that which does not serve our needs.

After all, isn't that drilled into our heads with the callous destruction (all in the name of progress mind you) of national landmarks that mean something to people? Or in the blatant disregard of public opinion? Doesn't that send a signal that:

a) We don't really have all that space for sentimentality if it doesn't earn us anything.
b) This nation isn't really your own.

So is it a surprise that at the end of an occasion when people get together to get all the patriotic "kumbayas" out of their system, the national flag which no longer serves its purpose (having something to wave around while entertaining oneself in the patriotic fervour) is dumped like a $2 hooker? After all, NDP isn't an occasion for Singaporeans to show how much we "love our country". It's a party that people want to get invited to so that they can tell their friends how much fun it all was. It allows Singaporeans to show how much they care for their country but at the end of the day, the flag, like culturally erased memories, is just a 50 cent piece of sentimentality that can be tossed casually away.

It's a lesson, whether intended or not, that has been taught too well.

And like good sheep, we've lapped it up. Every putrid spoonful.


Blogger Caleb said...

Samuel Johnson said it best: "Patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel".

Wed Jun 20, 04:56:00 pm 2007  

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