Penalty for violations of Singapore’s national symbols enhanced

A closeup view of the Singapore flag in an HDB neighbourhood.
A closeup view of the Singapore flag. (PHOTO: Getty Images)

SINGAPORE — The penalty for violations related to Singapore’s national symbols will be enhanced following the passing of a new Bill in Parliament.

Under the National Symbol Bill, which replaces the Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem (Safna) Act 1959, offenders will face a maximum fine of $30,000 or a jail term of up to six months or both. More serious offences, such as the burning or desecration of the national flag, would attract higher penalties.

Previously, the penalty for offences under the Safna Act was a fine of up to $1,000, which was enacted in 1959.

Speaking in Parliament during the second reading of the Bill, Minister of State for Culture, Community and Youth Low Yen Ling said respect for the symbol is part of the morality of the nation.

“Any affront to our national sovereignty and pride, as represented by our symbols, must be dealt with seriously. We should not allow the symbols to be wilfully brought into contempt, ridicule or hatred,” Low added.

The Bill also updates the symbols of Singapore and regulates their use.

In addition to the use of the state crest, the national flag and the national anthem under the Safna Act, the Bill includes the national pledge, the national flower Vanda Miss Joaquim, the lion head symbol and the public seal as national symbols.

The Bill also grants protection to the presidential standard, the presidential crest and the presidential seal as presidential symbols.

There will also be greater flexibility on the respectful use of national symbols under certain conditions. Low cited the use of the Singapore flag outside the National Day period.

“For instance, we envisage that the new regulations could take a more permissive stance to allow greater artistic and creative use of an image of the Singapore flag and to permit the use of the image of the national flag on attire outside the National Day period without requiring approval, provided such use is non-commercial, and such use is respectful,” she said.

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