By Gwendolene Ng
THE Singapore flag may have been flown proudly by many this month to celebrate National Day, but there are also cases of people abusing it.
For instance, a recent post on citizen-journalism website Stomp showed photos of a couple lying on the national flag.
Stomper Woo said he caught the couple red-handed, making out at the staircase landing in a Woodlands HDB block on Wednesday morning.
|Couple makes out on S'pore flag
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The post has drawn 9,175 views since it was posted yesterday. This is not the first time the flag has been misused.
Other Stompers also spotted the Singapore flag being used as a curtain, and even as a covering for a shoe rack.
Though some netizens felt there was no need to get the police involved in such cases, lawyers my paper spoke to said that under the Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem Act, it is an offence to "treat the flag with disrespect".
Convicted individuals are liable to pay a fine not exceeding $1,000.
Lawyer Josephus Tan said that he does not know of any reported cases of desecration of the state flag.
It is important to handle the flag with care as it is a state symbol.
Mr Tan pointed out that even allowing the flag to touch the ground - even when lowering the flag from a flagpole - is against the law.
So, acts such as using a faded national flag as a rag or stomping on the flag all constitute disrespect, said lawyer Lee Terk Yang.
The Singapore Infomap website carries the National Flag Usage Guidelines.
Singaporeans and government and non-government organisations may display or fly the national flag to identify with the nation. But there are also strictures against the improper use of the flag. These include using it for commercial purposes, or for the means or purposes of advertisement.
Want the flag to be part of your home? Well, do not think about using it as a tablecloth.
The Act clearly states that the flag cannot be used as part of any furnishings or decorations.
Nor can you use it as a covering or as a receptacle.
Thinking of incorporating the flag as part of a costume or your attire? Forget about it - this is also not allowed.
Nor can one produce or display a flag which bears graphics or words superimposed on its design.
While Singaporeans are encouraged to display the flag during occasions of national celebration, it is important that the flag should be clean, not faded or damaged.
After washing, the flag should not be hung out to dry together with other laundry items.
Stompers have posted photos of clothes and even undergarments being draped over the Singapore flag.
Even when disposing of a torn or worn-out flag, one has to be careful. Simply tossing it into a dustbin is a big no-no.
The flag should be packed in a sealed black trash bag before being disposed.
Damaged flags can also be handed over to residents' committees and community centres for proper disposal.
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