There is an old adage that goes – in Rome, do as Romans do. This extends to immigrants, for whom respecting the culture and National identities of host nations is expected. Of course, this is just common sense too since immigrating to a foreign land is a privileged one shouldn’t take lightly.
Most immigrants, however, struggle to come to grips with dual identities – one of their country of birth where they may have spent their formative years, and the other that of their adopted homelands. Case in point is the story of Avijit Das Patnaik, an Indian who migrated to Singapore a decade ago.
On 14 August 2008, Mr. Patnaik posted a picture on the Facebook page of the Singapore Indians & Expats group with about 11,000 members. That graphic apparently showed a Singaporean flag on a T-shirt being ripped to reveal an Indian flag underneath. Along with the image, Mr. Patnaik posted a caption reading ‘Phir Bhi dil hai hindustani’ (Still my heart heart is Indian), picking the phrase from a popular Bollywood song.
The message was self-explanatory; Mr. Patnaik, like many first-generation immigrants still identified himself as an Indian. However, the post did not go well with fellow Singaporeans and other digirati who found it “offensive” and “insulting to Singapore”. The post was quickly taken down and Mr. Patnaik’s employer, the Singapore-headquartered DBS Bank got involved.
The Bank released a statement on its Facebook page saying that Patnaik was no longer its employee.
“Since the incident, a disciplinary committee has been convened and as of 24 August, he is no longer with the bank.
DBS strongly disapproves of such actions by our employees. At the same time, it is fair and right that all employees are given the benefit of due process.”
This is not the end of Patnaik’s troubles. According media accounts, police have filed a report and investigations are underway. According to the Singapore Arms and Flag National Anthem Act, any person that treats the flag with disrespect may be fined a maximum of 1,000 Singapore dollar.
There are obvious lessons for immigrants here: in Rome, do as Romans do… and when in Rome, don’t offend Roman sentiments.
Other news source: Netizens call on Govt to revoke Indian national’s PR for defacing Singapore flag, even after he loses DBS job – The Independent