After the COVID-19 pandemic struck down with a mighty force, international borders were forcibly closed to contain the spread of the virus and its mutable variants.
Of course, coronavirus gave all humans and government task forces the “I am inevitable” treatment—except it was less purple and shiny like Thanos—and proved itself to be an equally formidable opponent, because it has been making rounds for almost two years, and we haven’t defeated it so much as we’re living with it.
Since we’ve all been trapped in the country, most of us didn’t see the point in getting our passports renewed when it expired, since it’s not like we’re going to use it anyway.
Even if the expiry date has been extended from five year to ten, it will still be shortened down to eight years of validity if you had renewed it in 2020.
Hence, with the official re-opening of the borders in April, the Immigrations and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) is forced to deal with a torrent of passport renewal requests, to the point where the government agency could probably drown themselves in the flood of paperwork.
I would never wish such a thing upon an enemy’s industrial printer, let alone a respectable government agency.
“Congratulations on Renewing Your Passport” Cake
A local bakery by the name of The Pine Garden, however, decided to make some fun out of the ICA’s distress by creating a custom passport cake.
For someone’s birthday apparently, which also serves as a good reminder to anyone who hasn’t gotten their official documents renewed.
Although the sweet confectionary is liberally slathered with red and white frosting, with the State Crest meticulously piped on the surface to look like a cake, it’s actually a one kilogram brownie.
According to Pine Garden, it costs $88 nett, and you can select other flavours, though it might result in a thicker “book” at around 3 to 3.5 inches.
That’s a lot of brownie to consume, that’s for sure.
That being said, the spokesperson of The Pine Garden said that it would be preferable if orders are kept to the original flavour to maintain the usual 1.5-inch design, mostly because it would look more realistic.
Additionally, since it is a custom design, the cake will be available indefinitely, but it needs to be ordered three days in advance before it can be collected.
Bakery Meets Authority
Alas, the joke didn’t last long.
The Passport Cake proceeded to garner a lot of attention on social media platforms, only propagated further when the Mothership covered it in an article, but this also meant that the local authorities caught wind of it faster too.
Shortly after its debut, The Pine Garden was ordered to take the passport cake off the shelves immediately, since it was a violation of the law.
Under the Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem Rules, of which includes the National Coat of Arms featured on our passports, no individual or entity is allowed to “print, publish, manufacture, sell or offer for sale” anything that resembles the National Arms, or may be mistaken for the Arms.
In response to Shin Min Daily News’ inquiry, a spokesperson for the National Heritage Board said, “Only government agencies are allowed to use the national emblem, and it is also illegal to sell any items related to the national emblem to earn commercial revenue.”
That’s a huge whoopsie-daisy for The Pine Garden.
The National Heritage Board had contacted The Pine Garden through the Ministry of Culture, Community & Youth, informing them to stop using the national emblem design on its products and to delete the images containing the National Arms from its company’s promotional materials.
Upon checking The Pine Garden’s social media platforms, like their Instagram and Facebook pages, it is evident that they have taken the warning seriously and took down those posts.
Frankly speaking, The Pine Garden has gotten off the hook lightly; anyone who knowingly contravenes the rules and makes use of the National Arms can be fined up to $1,000.
Getting told off is akin to a light slap on the wrist.
The Chinese newspaper reporters later reached out to the Ministry of Culture, Community & Youth (MCCY) for their comment on this matter.
The Ministry responded that the decree stipulates the boundaries of use where the National Arms is concerned. Without the explicit approval from a Minister or authorised officer, it’s prohibited to use the national emblem in any commercial product or advertisement.
However, MCCY is currently exploring if there’s a need to change the Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem rules and other guidelines.
Over the past year, the MCCY has conducted numerous public consultations including and notwithstanding the Citizens’ Workgroup for National Symbols, other beneficiaries and relevant parties, such as artists, designers, and Singaporeans who are abroad, while deliberating over the topic with other government agencies.
The amendments will be introduced to the Parliament later this year after hearing and considering the views of the citizens and stakeholders from different backgrounds.
The amendments will also be shared publicly for feedback before it is officially presented to the Parliament.
The spokesperson said, “When reviewing the rules for the commercial use of the National Emblem, a key consideration is maintaining the respect for the National Coat of Arms and its dignity.”
Which is understandable, because the Arms represents our sovereignty as a nation, and it shouldn’t be used in an arbitrary manner that may come off as offensive or derogatory.
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