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Last Updated: Saturday, 3 January, 2004, 16:52 GMT
Singaporeans urged to fly the flag
Singapore's national flag
Singaporeans may now display their flag when they please
The Singaporean Government says it will allow its people to fly the national flag whenever they want, without seeking permission.

A statement said the law was being relaxed to promote solidarity and allow people to express their patriotism.

Citizens of the tightly-controlled city state will now be able to fly the flag throughout the year, not just on Singaporean National Day on 9 August.

The statement also said other national symbols should be used more often.

The new rules took effect from 1 January, but some restrictions would remain in force, the statement said.

'Rallying symbols'

"The national flag, national anthem and Singapore lion head - are our most visible symbols of our sovereignty, pride and honour," the statement from Singapore's Ministry of Information and the Arts said.

Postcard from Singapore's
Singapore has been trying to lure tourists back

It urged Singaporeans to use those "rallying" symbols to "identify with the nation".

The statement also said that "when the national anthem is played, everyone is encouraged to sing it".

However, several restrictions would still apply.

The flag must be flown from a flagpole, it must be illuminated when displayed at night, and it must always take precedence over other flags, the statement said.

The government did not say why it decided to relax the rules, but officials have recently been trying to rally patriotic sentiments dampened by economic woes, correspondents say.

In 2003, unemployment in Singapore - one of the world's most affluent nation of some four million people - reached a 17-year-high of 5.9%.

The Sars respiratory epidemic which swept across East Asia last year devastated the island's tourist trade and pushed its flagship airline into the red for the first time.

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