Mr Justin Lee Chee Kong, 39 year-old artist, painted an image of the Singapore flag, but instead of a plain red half, he introduced various red images of the Chinese characters for double happiness.

The Singapore law does not allow the flag to be defaced or altered in any circumstances. The Media Development Authority (MDA) informed the artist that he would not be able to display the painting, named Double Happiness - A Fantasy In Red, at his South Bridge Road exhibition at Utterly Art.

The request was rejected as the National Flag is a national symbol and no words or graphics should be superimposed on it.

Under the Vandalism Act of Singapore, anyone who alters the image of the national flag with any word, slogan, caricature, drawing, mark, symbol or in any other way can be fined up to $2,000, jailed for up to three years, and punished by up to eight strokes of the cane.

Lee requested for the piece to be 'treated as an artistic and complimentary interpretation of a national icon'.

Lee says the work is simply a display of one's love for one's country and an expression of joy at Singapore's success. He said the Chinese words in his painting, often used at weddings, signifies the marriage between our Asian roots and Western lifestyle. The boundary between red and white echoes the Singapore skyline. A contribution to his country from a proud citizen.

Lee referred to the well-known mainland Chinese America-based artist Gu Wen Da's installation, consisting of all the flags of the nations in the world composed of human hair that was exhibited recently to a large public view at The Esplanade.

Lee felt the use of hair to create the nation's flag was distasteful and felt that the MDA had 'double standards'.