There are several lessons we can take away from this episode.
1. Do not assume. When in doubt, always seek official approval. Creativity needs Approval too. There are clear guidelines on the use of state flag, crest and even Merlion symbol owned by Singapore Tourism Board.
2. The brand identity can be expressed in many ways. On national day, people paint their faces with our state flag and it is totally acceptable as part of the celebration. Showing patriotism is great as long as it is at the right places (no pun intended)
3. Let’s be practical, these wonderful swimming trunk of the Water polo team will be a collector’s item now. They should auction it for public funding in 2011. How often do you get to keep a set of items with National identity and yet deemed inappropriate?
4. Body anatomy. Are our private parts more inferior to our faces? After all both are just parts of the body. why is it that we can paint it and not wear it? A thailand’s journalist wrote “The red and white trunks feature elements of Singapore’s national flag, five stars and a crescent moon jutting up from the groin, leaving a somewhat unfortunate impression.” What if I paint our state flag on my face and frown the whole time, will this also constitute a “unfortunate impression”?
Singapore Polo Team’s Trunks “Inappropriate”
Reported : Friday, 26-November-2010
Singapore rebuked its national water polo team for wearing swim trunks that feature an “inappropriate” likeness of the city-state’s flag.
The trunks, which were designed by members of the men’s team currently competing in the Asian Games in Guangzhou, China, show the flag’s white crescent moon jutting up from the groin area with five stars to the side on a red background.
“Unfortunately the team did not seek our advice on the use of the crescent moon and stars when they designed their swim trunks,” the Information Ministry said in a statement Thursday. “We would have told them that their design is inappropriate as we want elements of the flag to be treated with dignity.”
The ministry, which normally evaluates the use of the flag on uniforms on a case-by-case basis, declined to specify which part of the design was objectionable.
The trunks sparked a controversy in the local media and on Internet message boards, with some offended by the use of the national flag while others were amused at the furor.
Asian Games rules stipulate that a team’s uniform cannot be changed in the middle of the tournament, so the government will allow the water polo players to wear the trunks when they play Kuwait on Thursday for fifth place. The team apologized and said it would retire the trunks after the Asian Games.
“We didn’t have the slightest intention to do anything funny on our trunks to insult Singapore,” team manager Samuel Wong, who helped design the trunks, told the Straits Times.