Thursday, August 11, 2011

MP sorry for using phone during Anthem

MEMBER of Parliament Penny Low apologised yesterday after she was caught on camera fiddling with her mobile phone while the National Anthem was being sung. The Pasir Ris-Punggol GRC MP explained that she had merely 'wanted to capture that moment of pride'. She has been criticised after screenshots of her using her phone at the National Day Parade were recorded in a live telecast and later circulated online. By Huang Lijie Many Internet users were disappointed that she did not stand to attention during the Anthem, saying she set a poor example as a parliamentarian. There was also speculation about why she was using her phone during the Anthem and netizens who defended her suggested she might have had to attend to an extremely urgent matter. The furore spilled onto her Facebook account, where she posted the apology. She wrote: 'I was so caught up in the wonderful NDP 2011 and felt so proud of being a Singaporean, that I wanted to capture that moment of pride, at the very tail end of the Anthem, to share on Facebook with my residents. If in my enthusiasm I offended anyone, please accept my apologies. NDP is a time to unite not divide. Majulah Singapura!' Her apology attracted more than 290 comments on her Facebook page. Some were sympathetic, while others questioned her sincerity. The National Anthem was sung twice during the parade - once at 7.03pm when the Chinook helicopter flew the state flag across The Float@Marina Bay and again at 8.13pm during the finale where fireworks lit up the sky. Ms Low was shown using her phone during the finale and her Facebook account has a picture of the fireworks display posted around that time. The Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem Rules state that when the National Anthem is performed or sung, everyone present shall stand up as a mark of respect. Civil servant K.H. Ang, 37, who was at the parade ground, was sympathetic to Ms Low. He said: 'I can understand why she did it because I also snapped a picture or two during the Anthem. In fact, many others around me did the same because it was such an exciting moment. 'And it doesn't mean that because we snapped a photo during the Anthem, we don't love or respect the country.' Despite Ms Low's apology, some remain unhappy about her behaviour. Staff nurse Vasanthi Velu, 41, who was a spectator at The Float@Marina Bay, said: 'I saw other people snapping away during the Anthem but they are members of the public, not people we look up to as role models.' Public relations consultant S.K. Ho said: 'Her intention may have been good, I wouldn't doubt it. But what she did was not appropriate for a figure in the public eye.' The 47-year-old added: 'I was at home watching the parade with friends and even we stood at attention during the Anthem.' But safety office Suppiah Anba, 44, is ready to forgive and forget. He said: 'It was a small mistake and I believe her apology is sincere. People need to move on.'