Take pride in Jalur Gemilang
Take pride in Jalur Gemilang

Take pride in Jalur Gemilang

Faded or tattered flags must be removed, as sign of respect

HOISTING the Jalur Gemilang during the Merdeka month is about patriotism and national pride.

Malaysians will raise the flag in their homes and offices, with some going the extra mile by decorating their surroundings or vehicles to show their love for the country.

In some places, the Jalur Gemilang, including miniatures, are put up in the hundreds if not thousands in a show of solidarity and loyalty as Malaysians celebrate National Day and Malaysia Day.

But like most countries, Malaysia has laws on the right etiquette of displaying the national flag.

Those failing to abide by these regulations may find themselves being hauled to court.

A regular Jalur Gemilang, for example, can only be hung horizontally. Hanging it upside down or sideways is prohibited.

However, if it is in the form of a bunting, the right way to display it is by hanging it vertically.

There are other do’s and don’ts too.

There are generally three legislations governing the display of flags – Section 504 of the Penal Code, Section 14 of Minor Offences Act 1955 and Section 233 of Communications and Multimedia Act 1998.

Those convicted for intentional insult with intent to provoke a breach of the peace under Section 504 of the Penal Code, for example, can be jailed for up to two years, fined or both.

This brings to mind the case of 27-year-old Bangladeshi Hosin Md Diplap who was slapped with a RM3,500 fine by the Klang Magistrate’s Court in December 2022 for intentionally hoisting the Jalur Gemilang upside down.

Under the Minor Offences Act 1955, the offence of displaying the national flag upside down carries a fine not exceeding RM100 while those mocking the national flag and spreading the act online or through other means can be fined up to RM50,000 or jailed up to one year, or both, under Section 233 (1) of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1988.

There is also the Emblems and Names (Prevention of Improper Use) Act 1963 which states that any individual who does not treat the national flag respectfully can be fined up to RM20,000 or jailed for up to three years, or both.

So, how is it that people who raise the flag with pride hardly bat an eyelid when the flags become torn and tattered after being left to the elements?

Many of us ignore faded, frayed and sometimes threadbare Jalur Gemilang that we come across in our neighbourhoods.

We are guilty of driving past these weather-beaten flags, which would beg to be brought down if they could speak.

It is now April and one can still see torn-to-shreds Jalur Gemilang which were probably put up during National Day last year.

The number of Malaysians, namely the authorities and ordinary folk, who forget to bring the flags down once the celebrations are over is mind-boggling.

Can we still claim to be patriotic if we let our national flags wither in unforgiving weather?

Unfortunately, there is hardly any discussion on the topic be it in the news media or social media.

Even so-called patriots who urge their fellow Malaysians to display the flag during the national month are silent on this.

In my book, the desecration of the national flag is an affront to our pride and sovereignty.

It is time for strict action and the authorities should lead the way by ensuring that the Jalur Gemilang is treated with utmost respect.

I believe those wishing to raise the national flag in public places must seek approval from local councils before doing so.

Every flag must be given a permit so the authorities know who to look for in the event the flags are incorrectly displayed.

For example, residents associations must be responsible for national flags placed in neighbourhoods while local councils should govern those in public places.

Building management committees should be hauled up if a national flag is incorrectly displayed in their area.

The same applies to owners of buildings, businesses and even homes in ensuring our Jalur Gemilang is respected.

There has to be accountability if the authorities are serious about putting a stop to the disrespect of the Jalur Gemilang.

There have been calls to respectfully bring down our national flags after Malaysia Day to prevent them from succumbing to the elements.

Maybe we should take a page from our neighbours across the Causeway.

Previously, individuals and businesses were required to seek approval from Singapore’s minister for culture, community and youth to display their country’s national flag outside the national day period from July 1 to Sept 30.

But this was relaxed last year to encourage a show of national pride and solidarity.

Under Singapore’s new legislation known as National Symbols Act 2022, which came into force on Aug 1 last year, the minister in charge can declare a period for the display of the flag at homes whenever there is a national celebration or other important events.

It replaced the Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem (Safna) Act 1959, where anyone violating its provisions can be fined up to S$30,000 (RM105,000) or jailed for up to six months, or both.

The penalties are higher for more serious offences such as burning or desecration of the national flag.

Under Safna, the penalty for offences relating to the national flag was a fine of up to S$1,000.

Malaysian authorities could consider coming up with a law providing a time limit for displaying the Jalur Gemilang, especially in open areas.

Information on individuals or companies who put them up should be printed on every flag for reference.

This has to be done immediately or these worn out Jalur Gemilang will remain a permanent feature in our midst.

If we take pride in being Malaysian, then it is our responsibility to respect and honour our national flag, and this means taking good care of it.

Sila Baca Juga

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