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History of Singapore’s National Flower
Singapore’s national flower is an orchid, whose species name is called the Vanda Miss Joaquim var. Agnes. The flower was appointed as the botanical representative of the country back in April 15, 1981, as part of a nationwide effort to create and boost Singaporean identity and pride.
The Vanda Miss Joaquim orchid is a hybrid between the Vanda teres and Vanda hookeriana species; and Singapore is the only country country that uses a hybrid as its national flower. The orchid is named after Miss Agnes Joaquim, an experienced Armenian horticulturalist, who is recognized for having bred the flower in her Tanjong Pagar garden. Miss Agnes was part of Singapore’s small Armenian community back then, and was known for her love of gardening.
Regardless, many people think that having an orchid to represent Singapore is suitable because among the thousands of other flowers in the world, orchids have long been associated with the country. Vanda Miss Joaquim was selected out of 40 flowers, 30 of which were also orchids.
The Agnes variety was chosen back then for its specific properties: resilience, hardiness, and vibrant colors; which were believed to be reflective of the Singaporean character. This hybrid orchid was also chosen because many believed back then that it was representative of the unique personality of Singapore: a country where people of many different ethnicities live together harmoniously.
Since 1891, the Vanda Miss Joaquim has received international recognition: the orchid is available via flower delivery from many locations, and it was propagated in other countries including Malaysia, Hawaii, the Dutch East Indies, the Philippines, and many other tropical countries. It was even used as a crest to represent the Malayan Orchid Society during 1957. Today, the Vanda Miss Joaquim is considered one of the most common flowering plants; she is found in many of Singapore’s gardens and botanical areas; there are even Vanda Miss Joaquim Parks located around the country.
Should the National Flower Be Changed?
Despite the popularity and widespread appeal of the Vanda Miss Joaquim orchid as the national flower of Singapore, many think that it’s about time it should be changed. Singapore today is not the same as Singapore back in 1891, which clearly had different influences and values. Perhaps it’s about time to change the national flower of Singapore and give another beautiful plant the opportunity to represent the Singaporean nation of today.
The Singapore that we know today is in a state of flux; while a significant percentage of the population is English-educated and influenced by Western culture, there is no doubt that Chinese traditions over rule the way of life. Traditional Chinese culture is most dominant in Singapore, even though it’s still a largely cosmopolitan country where hundreds of nationalities come to find greener pastures, live, work, and raise their families.
Perhaps it would be more fitting to choose a new flower to represent the varied people of Singapore, and celebrate their unique nature today. Some of the many modern qualities that are exhibited by the diverse residents of Singapore today could include:
- Greed: Many foreigners who come to Singapore find the local culture greedy, especially in the corporate world. Singapore may be considered one of the best places to climb the corporate ladder, but if you don’t do well and adapt fast, someone can easily take your place. Additionally, for a significant percentage of Singaporean residents, status and success are best represented through material goods: owning sports cars, yachts, and luxury brand name goods are a sign that you’ve made it to the top in this extremely competitive country, which can also be a sign of material greed and selfishness.
- Love and Passion: It can easily be said that people who live in Singapore, whether locals or expats, are passionate about something. Whether they are passionate about their work, money, travel, wellness, or other things in life. The Vanda Miss Joaquim does not represent love or passion at all.
- Innovation: Singapore is one of the world’s most advanced countries; paving the way in innovation, technology, and many other areas. It is in Singapore where some of the world’s best hospitals, doctors, nurses, financial headquarters, restaurants, and many more are found. These are things that local Singaporeans strive to emulate day in and day out – produce something noteworthy and innovative; be ahead of the rest due to their competitive nature.
The Vanda Miss Joaquim was voted the national flower of Singapore for reasons which are outdated. Perhaps it could be changed to better suit the new identity of the people today, whose values are much more different than how it was back in 1891.
Do you think our national flower should be changed?