S’poreans not uptight but upright about Pinoy I-Day event

I refer to the 21 Apr 2014 TR article “Pinoy I-Day event: Why are S’poreans so uptight?” by Mr Be Happy.

Mr Happy posted a video of the 115th Philippine Independence Day celebration in Hong Kong last year to show the broadmindedness of the Hong Kong people and to shame and to disgrace Singaporeans.

The video clearly shows several Philippine flags raised and a march past by people wearing military uniform. All these are to be expected of an Independence Day celebration. However, the raising of the Philippine flag in public contravenes Singapore’s National Emblems (Control of Display) Act Chapter 196 which states that:

• No person shall display in public or at or within any school any national emblem.

• An emblem shall be deemed to be displayed in public if it is displayed in any road, street, bridge, passage, footway or place over which the public or any class of the public has a right of way or to which the public has access, whether on payment or otherwise, or if it is displayed in such manner as to be visible from any such road, street, bridge, passage, footway or place by any member of the public using the same or being therein.

Nevertheless, the act provides for the following exceptions:

• any person duly accredited as a diplomatic representative of a foreign power or as a consular representative of a foreign power to Singapore to whom an exequatur or provisional or other authorisation has been granted by the Government

• any person in the service of a Commonwealth Government or the government of any British dependency or possession or of the Republic of Ireland and officially recognised as representing that government in Singapore

• any person upon whom the immunities and privileges referred to in Part II or Part III of the Schedule to the International Organisations (Immunities and Privileges) Act (Cap. 145) have been conferred under that Act

• the display of any national emblem on any ship or aircraft.

If the organizers are neither diplomats nor representatives of Commonwealth governments nor granted international immunities, they would necessarily contravene the Singapore law with any such activity. The law clearly serves to uphold Singapore sovereignty in our own land. To contravene this law is to disregard Singapore sovereignty. Singaporeans are not being uptight but upright in pushing to uphold our sovereignty.

Nevertheless, the act also provides for the following exemptions:

• The Minister may, by order published in the Gazette or by a permit in writing, exempt from section 3 the display of any national emblem specified in the order or permit, and that order or permit may regulate the manner of that display and the period during which that display may be permitted.

The government can thus legalise this celebration with or without the blessings of Singaporeans. It can override laws guaranteeing our sovereignty and institute a level of sovereignty lower than desired by Singaporeans.

Finally, Hong Kong doesn’t possess its own sovereignty whereas Singapore does. Hong Kong doesn’t own itself, Hong Kong is owned by China. Singapore used to be owned by Britain and then Malaysia. But now Singapore owns itself. That is an important distinction Mr Happy should be aware of.

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