Sunday 7 August 2011

How old is that flag outside your window?

Dear fourth-storey flag-hanger of Block 672A, Choa Chu Kang Crescent,

We’ve never met. I don’t know what you look like. I have no idea who you are.

All I know is that you live on the fourth storey and there’s a Singapore flag hanging outside your window.

I notice this flag every day as I walk home to my block nearby.

Even though National Day is coming, yours is one of only three flags at your block as of yesterday. The other flags are on higher floors.

Not that I’m accusing the rest of your neighbours of being unpatriotic. I don't display a flag myself.

I’m simply too lazy to put up something just to take it down a few weeks later.

But that doesn't mean I'm any less proud to be Singaporean, especially since we recently beat Malaysia in the World Cup qualifiers.

That’s what they get for kicking us out of their federation 46 years ago and making our Prime Minister's father cry.

Anyway, whenever I see a block adorned with rows and rows of flags for National Day, I assume it’s the work of the Residents’ Committee and not the people actually living there.

It’s more meaningful to see a flag like yours because then I know it’s a genuine act of national pride by an individual rather than planned by committee.

But the problem is this: Your flag has been there since last National Day!

I remember seeing it in September last year and thinking it was about time you removed it since National Day was long over.

I thought the same thing on Hari Raya Puasa, Deepavali, Hari Raya Haji, Christmas Day, Chinese New Year, Good Friday, Vesak Day and throughout the Great Singapore Sale.

Isn’t there a law against this?

Maybe you just forgot to take it down. Or you’re too lazy (I can relate to that).

Or maybe you love Singapore so much, you want to show it all year round. The whole month of August just isn't enough for you.

You’ve managed to leave the flag up there for so long that like Planet Of The Apes, it’s back in fashion again.

As they say, even a broken clock is right twice a day.

But compared to the other (newly-hung) flags at your block, yours is now so weather-worn and faded that it’s no longer red and white, but puce and somewhat off-white. Your patriotism has become an eye sore.

So I’m begging you, come September, after the National Day celebrations are over, please, please, please take it down for good.

I thank you.

The other residents of Choa Chu Kang Crescent thank you.

Singapore thanks you.

I look forward to seeing a brand new flag outside your window a year from now in glorious red and white.

S M Ong

- Published in The New Paper, 7 August 2011

UPDATE: The day after this column was published, the faded flag was replaced by a brand new one. Will it still be there by Christmas?

UPDATE UPDATE: On 9 October, I noticed the flags were removed. Finally!