- The Citizens’ Workgroup for National Symbols has submitted a report “Our Symbols, Our Spirit, Our Singapore” to the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (MCCY). This report contains the Workgroup’s findings and recommendations and is the culmination of four months of citizen-led dialogue and deliberations to review the legislation and guidelines governing the use of our National Symbols.
- With the aim of answering the central questions – “What do our National Symbols mean to Singaporeans?” and “How can we better use these Symbols to strengthen their meaning for Singaporeans while guarding against misuse?”, the Workgroup uncovered interesting findings about Singaporeans’ views towards our National Symbols. They outlined their recommendations along four key themes: (1) spark lively dialogues, (2) reimagine shared experiences, (3) redefine creative and responsible use, and (4) enhance prominence in the everyday. These include suggestions on how we can deepen Singaporeans’ appreciation of the history of our Symbols and the values underpinning them, and how we can facilitate regular discussions about our Symbols among various community groups. Some highlights of their findings and recommendations can be found at www.go.gov.sg/cwns.
Citizens’ Workgroup for National Symbols
- In December 2020, MCCY made a public call inviting Singaporeans to join the Citizens’ Workgroup for National Symbols. About 100 members of the public responded to the call. The Citizens’ Workgroup comprising 47 Singaporeans from diverse backgrounds , convened its first session on 30 January 2021. A total of six sessions totalling 24 hours were conducted. Members spent many more hours in their own time between sessions to have deeper group discussions and conduct further research into their topic.
- The Workgroup members grouped themselves according to their chosen Symbol(s) of interest – the National Flag, the National Anthem, the State Crest and National Pledge, the National Flower and Lion Head Symbol. One group also explored the need for a new Symbol.
- It was a fully digital journey for Workgroup members – sessions were held virtually via Zoom, with digital discussion tools such as Padlet and Mentimeter. Dedicated helplines were established to render technical support and provide guidance for all Workgroup members.
Engaging the wider public
- As part of their deliberations, the Workgroup members designed a public survey in March 2021 to gather views from the wider public. Almost 1,500 members of the public responded to the survey, reflecting the diversity of views across Singapore’s population. Members also conducted their own field research, including focus group discussions and interviews with educators and musicians among others , to better understand how Singaporeans use and feel about the Symbols.
- The recommendations from the Citizens’ Workgroup form an important set of input for the government’s legislative review of the Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem (SAFNA) Act and Rules, as well as of non-legislative measures such as improvements to regulatory processes and better public education on using the National Symbols respectfully.
The spirit of Singapore Together
- Commenting on the Workgroup’s report, Minister for Culture, Community and Youth & Second Minister for Law Mr Edwin Tong said, “Our National Symbols reflect our aspirations for Singapore, and represent the values we uphold. The symbols unite us and stir our pride as Singaporeans. I want to thank the Citizens’ Workgroup participants for coming forward to partner us in our endeavour to deepen the connection and meaning of our Symbols to Singaporeans. I have met the members of the workgroup, and they are a group of thoughtful Singaporeans united by their deep love for Singapore. Their efforts will be of great help to our review, and we will give serious consideration to the recommendations.”
- MCCY will be issuing its response to the Workgroup’s report by September 2021. MCCY will also take in the views of other stakeholders (e.g. art and design practitioners, overseas Singaporeans) and consult other government agencies on the proposed changes to the SAFNA Act and Rules, and other non-legislative guidelines. This is expected to culminate in an Amendment Bill to Parliament in 2022.
- To find out more about the Citizens’ Workgroup and view their report, visit www.go.gov.sg/cwns. The public can also send in their ideas to RED@mccy.gov.sg and look out for opportunities to contribute on MCCY’s and OurSG’s social media platforms.
Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth
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Mr Sean Liu
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