One Indian expat has landed himself in a deep trouble after he posted a torn flag of Singapore on a T-shirt to express his patriotism for India. The offensive Facebook post by Avijit Das Patnaik has turned into a full-blown controversy now since the Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem Act states that no person shall treat the flag with disrespect. The penalty is a maximum fine of SGD 10,000.
According to a report by PTI, the image, which is believed to have first surfaced on 14 August, on the eve of Independence Day, was widely shared online when it was posted on the Singapore Indians & Expats page by Patnaik. The Facebook, where Patnaik originally posted the image has more than 11,000 members.
Patnaik, who has reportedly been living in Singapore for over 10 years, wrote with the photo, “Phir Bhi Dil Hai Hindustani (After all heart remains Indian.)” This is a popular line from a hit Bollywood film by Shah Rukh Khan.
The image evoked angry reactions from social media users, who said that showing the graphic Singapore flag being ripped by a pair of hands to shreds was deeply offensive. One user wrote on a blog forum, “This is why PAP must be kicked out and CECA policy reversed!!! The image depicts the mindset of these Foreign Indians. They are slowly invading the country and making it theirs…from corporates to condos to country….” Another user wrote, “Isn’t it clear none of them belong here? Like trump says, they need to go back!”
Although Patnaik appears to have deleted the post, the local police said that they had launched a probe and the guilty would face the wrath.
Aware of the consequences, Patnaik, a PR at DBS bank, has apologised and said that he did not mean to offend anyone.
“I did not design the image and had already seen it being circulated widely, which is why ii assumed it was okay for me to post the image.. I love Singapore deeply and am always signing praises about this country, so my intention was never to cause so much grievance. I just felt that the image represented that deep inside, the heart also beats for our motherland,” he was quoted as saying.
DBS Bank, Patnaik’s employer, also commented in a Facebook post that it was looking into the matter. Patnaik may also face sacking by his employer and possibly be deported back to India, say local officials.