Country Flags Banned At ZoukOut 2018: How Will Visitor Experience Be Affected?

For the first time, there will be a no-country flag rule at a music festival in Singapore.

At ZoukOut 2018, happening 1 December 2018 at Siloso Beach, it will be illegal for festival-goers to bring in and/or display any country flag.

People are already infuriated by this new ban. Check out the comments in the Instagram post by ZoukOut Official:

Interestingly, this law that bans the display of country flags has actually been around in Singapore since 1985, but with little to no enforcement at sports and entertainment events until now.

According to the National Emblems (Control of Display) Act by the Government of Singapore, national emblems (including national flags) cannot be displayed in public except by certain people, such as diplomats.

This act states that police officers may “arrest any person whom he has reasonable cause to believe has committed or is committing an offence”. If guilty, the person may face a $500 fine, or up to 6 months’ imprisonment, or both.

But before you freak out and start keeping all your country flags, let’s take a trip around the world to understand why people bring country flags to music festivals.

Some of the world’s most popular festivals like Tomorrowland, Burning Man and Ultra Music Festival tend to see various country flags being brought by festival goers from all over the world.

This boosts national pride and visitor experience for tourists visiting these events (including Singaporeans who bring the Singapore flag!) as they get to represent which part of the world they have travelled from.

However, like ZoukOut this year, there are music festivals like Glastonbury and Reading and Leeds that have banned flags due to various reasons, the most common being because it blocks the views of the people.

At home, there have been complains about the undesirable display of flags at music festivals, including this post of two girls at Ultra Singapore sitting on the Singapore flag as reported by All Singapore Stuff.

Here are some sentiments on the ground by festival-goers in Singapore and around the world on how the ban will affect their festival experience at ZoukOut 2018:

Shaun, a 25 year-old Singaporean who attends several music festivals a year, says:

Overall, I don’t think the vibes will be very much affected. But then again, you won’t be able to get the feeling where you are partying with people from all around the world. Perhaps it compromises on the feeling of international unity?

Thomas, 32, a Swede in Singapore who will be attending his second ZoukOut this year:

Definitely was looking forward to bring my flag. Been doing so at other music festivals and events in Singapore, not sure what’s the deal this time round!

Venus from Singapore, who attends Ultra Singapore and ZoukOut regularly, commented:

It’ll definitely make the festival a little less vibrant – what’s a festival without a beautiful sea of country flags! However I don’t think it’ll exactly affect my festival experience, since it also means a lot less sweaty armpits being aired.

Tourists come to Singapore and some fly in specifically for ZoukOut which is known to be an international festival on a scale that far exceeds the country’s size. I do think that it will be a slight disappointment, but the show (or rather, the rave) goes on!

Aby, a 21-year-old Indonesian says that the aspect which gives music festivals the character it has will be lost.

It’s quite thrilling to bring your country’s flag over to another country, it’s being given the opportunity to rep(present) your nation. With a ban, the aspect which gives music festivals the character it has will be lost.

Nikhil, Singaporean and 19, questions the need for the ban:

Bringing the flag is a celebration of your national identity. People from all over the world come together to celebrate each other and the music they listen to – it’s by no means seditious and such a harmless thing to do!”

Zai, 28 from Singapore, asks about the ban’s severity:

Will people get arrested? Then soccer matches can bring flag anot?

On the bright side, you’ll still be able to bring non-country flags to ZoukOut without getting into trouble with the popo.


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