Introduction of the National Symbols Bill
The National Symbols Bill was introduced in Parliament on 2 August 2022 to replace the Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem Act. It seeks to provide formal statutory recognition to our National Symbols and Presidential Symbols, and will provide a framework to promote appropriate use of the National Symbols while allowing for their wider use by Singaporeans to express national pride and solidarity.
02 August 2022
- The National Symbols Bill was introduced in Parliament on 2 August 2022 to replace the Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem (“SAFNA”) Act. The National Symbols Bill seeks to provide formal statutory recognition to our National Symbols and Presidential Symbols (collectively referred to as “the Symbols”). It will provide a framework to promote appropriate use of the National Symbols, while allowing for their wider use by Singaporeans to express national pride and solidarity.
Public Suggestions and Feedback Instrumental in Informing Legislative Changes
- The introduction of the National Symbols Bill marks the culmination of a series of public engagements to review the SAFNA Act and Rules. The Citizens’ Workgroup for National Symbols was one such engagement, in which 47 Singaporeans, from January to April 2021, discussed how we might strengthen Singaporeans’ connections with the National Symbols, even exploring the possibility of new National Symbols. A key Workgroup recommendation was the easing of guidelines to allow for wider use of the National Symbols, while also encouraging respectful use to honour and protect their significance.
- Most recently, the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth (“MCCY”) conducted a public consultation via REACH from 13 June to 8 July 2022 on the proposed National Symbols Regulations, which will replace the SAFNA Rules. A summary of the main comments received, together with MCCY’s response, has been published on REACH’s website.
- The discussions and specific suggestions from the engagements have been instrumental in informing the proposed changes to legislation. MCCY thanks all who contributed their views to this review. MCCY will continue to explore ways to put into effect suggestions from the various public engagements through legislative and non-legislative means.
Formal Statutory Recognition for Symbols Introduced After 1959
- In addition to the State Crest, National Flag and National Anthem which are currently covered by the SAFNA Act, the National Symbols Bill seeks to provide formal statutory recognition for National Symbols that were introduced after 1959. This includes the National Pledge, Public Seal, Lion Head symbol and National Flower. The Bill also formally recognises the Presidential Crest, Presidential Standard, and Presidential Seal as Presidential Symbols.
- The regulations governing the Symbols will be enacted after the Bill is passed, taking into account feedback received from the REACH consultation conducted from 13 June to 8 July 2022. No new regulations will be introduced for the National Flower and Lion Head symbol.
Greater Flexibility for Approval
- The Bill provides for a prescribed person – such as the Minister – to permit or prohibit the use of the Symbols under the regulations. For instance, an exception can be made by the prescribed person to allow the display of the National Flag outside the National Day period, which is currently fixed from July to September annually. Under the SAFNA Act and Rules, any changes to the display period requires the legislation to be amended.
- This change is in response to an increasing number of calls from the public to allow the flying of the National Flag outside the National Day period during significant occasions such as the Olympics, as a way to express national pride and solidarity. The Citizens’ Workgroup also echoed this, suggesting that the rules “permit special display periods as a symbol of solidarity in difficult times”, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Updated Penalties for Misuse of the Symbols
- In parallel with moves to provide more flexibility in the usage of the National Symbols, we will strengthen safeguards to prevent disrespectful use. Under the Bill, offenders may face a maximum fine of $30,000 or a maximum of six months’ imprisonment or both. The current penalty under the SAFNA Act is a maximum fine of $1,000, which was set in 1959.
- The new penalty is similar to existing penalties for defacing a national monument under the Preservation of Monuments Act 2009. The precise penalties for individual offences will be calibrated in the regulations depending on the severity of the offence.
- 11 Public feedback received over recent years calling for greater use of the National Symbols were also accompanied by requests for more public education efforts and penalties for deliberate misuse. In addition to updating the penalties, MCCY will continue to raise public awareness of appropriate use, including issuing clear guidelines.
Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth
Last updated on 02 August 2022