What is Rag & Flag?
Rag & Flag was started in 1959 in National University of Singapore (NUS) as a way raise funds for a charitable cause. Selling flags refers to the tin cans NUS students used to solicit donations from the public. ‘Rag’ refers to the parade of dance performances and floats, built out of recycled materials, to drum up publicity and support, and to thank the public for their donations. At present, this tradition has evolved into an annual staple on the NUS calendar during Freshmen Orientation Week, with hundreds of students and tens of thousands of dollars consistently being involved in a colourful day long affair.
Intrigued by how Rag & Flag elicits reactions that range from extreme passion to simple indifference and even utter distaste, a group of NUS students set out to discover the origins of this NUS tradition. But dwelling deeper into the present-day microcosm of Rag & Flag, the controversy behind this annual event becomes apparent. From vicious inter-hall and inter-faculty rivalry to escalating costs afflicting all parties, interviews with key participants paint a stark picture of a tradition gone astray and evolving out of proportions.
Digging through dusty archives and interviewing participants who ranged from the ordinary Ragger to key leaders, and even an alumni member who oversaw the event’s birth, this documentary is a journey to rediscover the genesis and original purpose of Rag & Flag; uncover its present-day allure, controversies and dilemmas; and to examine its future.