Saturday, August 13, 2005

Pulp Fiction #0908-1965 State Flag (completely baseless)

A short hello to readers. hello.
Today I am going to expound on the hows and whys that resulted in our stupendous State flag:

This is the State flag of Singapore.
Let me first give a brief description of the flag (ok, ok, I got it from the Singapore Infomap website):

The national flag is Singapore's most visible symbol of statehood, symbolising our sovereignty, pride and honour. It reflects the ideals, beliefs and values that we stand by as a nation amidst our rich and diverse make-up. It forms a crucial element of our national identity. As such, the national flag is to be treated with dignity and honour.

Its Origin
The national flag was unveiled on 3 December 1959, together with the state crest and the national anthem, at the installation of the new Head of State, the Yang di-Pertuan Negara - Yusof bin Ishak. It was created by a committee led by then Deputy Prime Minister, Dr Toh Chin Chye. It replaced the Union Jack, which had flown over Singapore for 140 years (1819-1959). Upon Singapore's independence in 1965, it was adopted as Singapore's national flag.

Its Meaning
The flag consists of two equal horizontal sections, red above white. In the upper left section are a white crescent moon, and five white stars forming a circle. Each feature of the flag has its own distinctive meaning and significance. Red symbolises universal brotherhood and equality of man. White signifies pervading and everlasting purity and virtue. The crescent moon represents a young nation on the ascendant. The five stars stand for the nation's ideals of democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality.

Great Britain's flag is the Union Jack. USA's flag is the Stars and Stripes or the less used Old Glory. France's got Le drapeau tricolore. Indonesia has got merah dan putih. We can have our own ang kark pek (red and white in hokkien).

Anyway, what I wanted to do was to reveal the real meaning behind the State flag. By real I actually mean in my warped world it is real lah. I have engaged two local actors to partake in my attempt to shed light on how and why the State flag looks the way it looks.

Let's call them Stars and Moon. They were sitting at the corner kopi tiam. Stars was drinking his tiao hee (tea bag) and Moon was drinking his tak giu peng (iced milo). National Day was just round the corner so their conversation inadvertently led to discussions about how on 9th August, the garlermen will let off hundreds of thousands worth of fireworks in the already light-polluted night sky of Singapore, how dumb silliporeans continue to hang their flag wrong way wrong, how it will be okay if Indonesians did the same because it will still be the look like the Indonesian flag.....

However if they hang it upside down, they will become Polish. So Indonesia flags are resistant to low IQ silliporeans who hang Singapore flags wrongly. Also they couldn't understand how is it that when SAF vehicles move through the heartlands of the island state, it doesn't seem as communistic as when we see news clips of People Liberation Army's marching in Tiananmen Square?

Well, their banter led to Moon asking Stars if he knew how did our State flag came into being. Stars knew that it was back in 1959 when it was first flown. But how the design came about was something he had never put any serious thought into.

Moon: So you know what our flag looks like right?

Stars: Yah, red over white, one crescent and 5 stars.

Moon: So you know how it came about?

Stars: Not too sure man. But I know the red stands for universal brotherhood and white is pure and vaginal.

Moon: Virginal.

Stars: Yah. Virginal. And the crescent is new nation on the rise and five stars represent the five ideals: democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality.

Moon: Wah, steady phoon pi pi, you remember everything by heart. If got patriotic quiz you sure win.

Stars: They drill it into us what. Back in primary school.

Moon: But they never told the truth.

Stars: Huh? Don't talk cock sing song leh.

Moon: I'm not. The official meaning of the symbols used in the flag was just a cover up for a flag that was meant to please everyone.

Stars: Please everyone?

Moon: Yes, everyone. Like Carrefour.

Stars: Like Carrefour?

Moon: Yah, you know how Carrefour overstock all sorts of goods so that father, mother, ah mah, ah gong, children, maids, bangla, ang moh, everybody will love it. So one shop stop to let everybody in the family be happy.

Stars: So our flag like Carrefour.

Moon: In a way.

Stars: Explain.

Moon: You must remember firstly that back in 1959, singapore was facing a number of threats and situations. The pending merger with Malaysia, trouble bubbling that will burst into the Konfrontasi, the rise of communism in the region, being the only predominantly chinese state in the whole of the malay peninsular and indonesian archipelago.

Stars: So?

Moon: So, when we had to design a flag for ourselves, we had to have a design that can align ourselves with as many of these elements as possible so as to appease everyone around us.

Stars: Where got?

Moon: It should be rather obvious that our flag looks like the Indonesian flag.

Stars: Ya, so does Poland's flag what.

Moon: That's in Europe. Anyway, there are elements from the Malaysian flag as well, the crescent and the stars.

Stars: Like this also can?

Moon: Of course! I mean, how can we use a symbol on our State flag to indicate that we are a young nation. What happens 100 years down the road? We still young nation? How do we know the crescent moon is waxing and hence ascendant and not waning, hence on the decline?

Stars: Why not?

Moon: It's just not right. Imagine Backstreet Boys or Boyzone. Thirty years down the road, they will still be called boys because they included them into their bands' name. They can't be boys forever right?

Stars: It does sound a little silly.

Moon: Similarly for the crescent. And we all know that crescents are muslim symbols.

Stars: So we are trying to tell people we are muslim state?

Moon: yes and no. because we are trying to tell people that we are communist as well.

Stars: Seow ding dong. where got.

Moon: How many countries you know got red background with stars?

Stars: China, Vietnam, Cuba, former Soviet Union...I am starting to scare myself.

Moon: You do see a pattern right?

Stars: Yah, they all don't like USA. But we like leh. USA is like our friend.

Moon: They are communist countries lah.

Stars: Oh.

Moon: So Singapore too has got stars on a red background and red has always traditionally been a communistic colour; little red book, red flag, red scarves...

Stars: But please who in Singapore?

Moon: At that time, there was a wide sphere of influence by the communist over this region, particularly the chinese who still saw China as the motherland.

Stars: Now Singaporeans see china differently liao leh.

Moon: Anyway, you see in our flag, we have managed to please Indonesians with the colour scheme, please our neighbours up north with a similar crescent moon on the left, stars on red background for the communists.

Stars: So the flag got no meaning besides wanting to please everyone?

Moon: Of course the meaning can be applied later lah.

Stars: You mean like abstract art? Like they dunno how to draw properly so they give their messing about some profound meaning?

Moon: I guess you can say that.

Stars: So the democracy,peace,progress,justice and peace all bluff one?

Moon: Not that they are bluff, but they are as they are suppose to be, ideals.

Stars: So?

Moon: Meaning we can never get there.

Stars: How come?

Moon: Imagine this, who is your ideal woman?

Stars: Scarlett Johansson + Natalie Portman + Fiona Xie

Moon: Is there such a woman?

Stars: No, of course not.

Moon: Exactly! Ideals are not real. They don't exist.

Stars: But Fiona Xie is close to ideal leh.

Moon: But she isn't right?

Stars: Yah, I think if she got Scarlett's height would be great. Or Natalie's brains. Wow, she macam like Bigfuck or as he is now known, Rambutan, I mean Rambo Tan. Got degree in Psychology from Havard and now still studying for her graduate studies at Hebrew University in Israel.

Moon: Who is big fuck and rambutan?

Stars: Some guy who blogs.

Moon: What is with this blogging thing anyway? Suddenly everybody like into blogging.

Stars: I also dunno. Eh, so Singapore got no democracy,peace, progress, justice and equality?

Moon: Have some of everything but in unequal amounts lah.

Stars: So which one we have more which one we have less?

Moon: It's not good to have too much of a good thing.

Stars: How come leh?

Moon: Imagine again your three separate women who will make up your ideal. If you mix the best parts of the three of them, do you really think the ideal woman will turn out perfect?

Stars: I dunno.

Moon: Exactly. Nobody knows. Anyway, got to go liao. Gonna hang my flag once I get home.

Stars: Huh? You also hang? What for, you say the flag got fake meaning what.

Moon: Aiyah, you believe everything I say meh? Wah lau, you don't hang, later the Gestapo people will note down your address one.

Stars: Is it? really? I better go home and hang also....

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