SOMETIMES I wonder why some people and even organisations do not seem concerned about the condition of the Jalur Gemilang they fly. Some leave the flag hanging outside until its colours are faded or the fabric is frayed.
How can anyone treat the symbol of our nation in this way?
Having a flag is very important for every country and their subjects are willing to do anything to protect it.
Just look at the Palestinians. They know the importance of having their own national flag. Without it, the Israelis could easily wipe them out of the world map and deny their existence altogether. As such, it is the sacred duty of each Palestinian not only to protect their national flag but also to honour and respect it.
The Jalur Gemilang has been the symbol of our nation’s stateliness and sovereignty since we declared our independence in 1957.
The Government encourages the flying of the Jalur Gemilang particularly during the months of August and September as an expression of love, loyalty and pride for the country in conjunction with National Day and Malaysia Day. However, I feel that people should fly the flag every day.
Though there is no specific rule on how our flag should be used, the Prime Minister’s Department did issue clear and comprehensive guidelines on how it should not be used, for example as a cushion or table cover, and it should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored in such a manner as to permit it to be easily torn, soiled or damaged in any way.
Legal action can be taken on those who show disrespect towards the national flag under the Penal Code (Act 574), Sedition Act 1948 (Act 15) and the Emblems & Names (Prevention of Control of Improper Use) 1963 (Act 193).
Last year, Malaysians were shocked by the circulation on social media of photographs depicting several foreign men wearing underwear sporting the Malaysian flag. Such disrespectful action drew angry responses from netizens who urged the authorities to take action because they felt the behaviour of the men was tantamount to insulting the country.
If we do not show respect for our own flag, how do we expect foreigners to do so? Turning the country’s flag into something which can clearly be considered embarrassing, like underwear, or leaving it out until it is tattered should be strictly avoided and prohibited.
Though we already have laws that can be used against those who dishonour the flag, more should be done to protect our country’s main symbol. This includes imposing heavier penalties on the offender.
DR MUZAFFAR SYAH MALLOW
Faculty of Syariah & Law
Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia