Local activist warns FT that he will burn the flag of India outside the Indian embassy if he defaces the Singapore flag again

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Local activist Gilbert Goh has warned the Indian national who shared an image showing the Singapore flag being ripped up online, that he will “personally burn your national flag in front of your embassy here to show you that we are as patriotic as you in defending our sovereignty even if the police will be called in to arrest me.”

Sharing an image of the Indian flag with the caption, “Say NO To 6.9 Million Population White Paper,” Goh wrote an open letter to the Indian national – DBS Singapore employee, Avijit Das Patnaik – and said:

“To the person who disfigured our national flag, this is my message to you – you live in our country, work in our bank and earn a good salary which you will never get back home because of the CECA treaty – please show us some respect.
“It is not right to step on someone else to make your point known – how will you feel if I did the same thing to your national flag?
“Singaporeans are by nature peace loving and we try to avoid any conflict with anyone else.
“If you decide to repeat your act again in future, I will personally burn your national flag in front of your embassy here to show you that we are as patriotic as you in defending our sovereignty even if the police will be called in to arrest me.
“If you know me well enough, I am one who have walk the talk and will do what I say. I have being to the war and earthquake zone and have got nothing to lose but you are a young man with a bright future ahead of you.
“We just need you to show more respect to our country.”

Goh’s letter comes days after Patnaik shared an image of a Singapore flag being ripped up to reveal an Indian flag underneath on 11,000 member-strong Facebook group ‘Singapore Indians & Expats’ on the occasion of India’s 72nd Independence Day on 15 Aug 2018.

In his post, Patnaik wrote “Phir bhi dil hai…” – a term which refers to the title of a 2000 Hindi movie, Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani, which translates into “Still my heart is Indian”.

The backlash against Patnaik was so severe, with the police getting involved as well since treating the Singapore flag with disrespect is an offence here. Patnaik’s employer, DBS Singapore, later revealed that it has “counselled” Patnaik. The Singaporean lender said:

“In celebrating India’s Independence Day, which takes place on 15 August, the employee wanted to show that even as he’s in Singapore, he remains Indian at heart. Upon realising the graphic was offensive, he took it down immediately. DBS takes this very seriously and has counselled the employee who is deeply sorry for the distress caused.”

DBS Singapore’s response has failed to assuage Singaporeans who have blasted the bank for not taking harsher action against Patnaik. Several locals have also opined that they are planning to close the bank accounts they have with DBS.

To the person who disfigured our national flag, this is my message to you – you live in our country, work in our bank…

Posted by Gilbert Goh on Monday, 20 August 2018