UNEXPECTEDLY, the number of Jalur Gemilang being displayed to mark Merdeka and Malaysia Day is still very low.
It is really regrettable that National Day has for quite some time now become identified with the ruling government instead of the nation.
Governments will come and go but the nation is permanent and we owe allegiance more to the nation and less to the government of the day.
Since 2018, there have been four Prime Ministers (PMs) and four changes of administration. Many Malaysians continue to be confused with this concept.
It is high time that the people understand that the national flag represents the nation and not the government.
For the past couple of years, fewer homes, offices and commercial premises displayed the flag as many were opposing the government; not flying the flag was seen as a sign of protest.
Now the Opposition which has morphed into the unity government is ruling the country. So why are these people not enthusiastically displaying the flag? What are they waiting for?
In fact, this year should see the largest number of flags in the country especially in the urban areas as the unity government is now in power since November 2022.
In rural areas, there are always a strong presence of the Jalur Gemilang whatever the political situation is. The flags are quite cheap – ranging from RM5 to RM10 depending on their sizes – and almost all of us can afford them.
Another issue I would like to highlight is the presence of state flags alongside the Jalur Gemilang especially in Selangor. This is not appropriate for the occasion.
For Merdeka and Malaysia Day, only the federation flag should be flown. The Selangor flag can be displayed to mark the birthday of HRH Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah or can be used for any function special to Selangor and attended by the ruler, Menteri Besar or the Selangor state administration.
Flags should be lowered down and neatly folded, and can be re-used in the future. One can observe that many flags which are exposed to the elements of nature would eventually become tattered and discoloured. This is a mark of disrespect for the federation or state flags.
In many countries, the national flag is accorded due honour and reverence. The enforcement personnel of the local authority should act on this matter.
The flag raising ceremony on Merdeka Day and Malaysia Day can be made livelier and vibrant nationwide if residential areas such as housing estates, kampung, new villages or low-cost housing schemes can meaningfully participate in it.
All residents’ association need to be registered with the local authorities who could provide an allowance or allocation of RM1,000 or more to hold activities related to Merdeka Day- celebration.
They need not have to register with the Registrar of Societies (ROS) which is a more complicated process. In fact, for the federal or state government to hand over a small allocation on an annual basis is not going to bankrupt them.
Incidentally, I want to comment on the national patriotic songs aired on RTM TV channels and radio. I feel that in addition to the “Malaysia Madani” song, melodic patriotic songs of yesteryears such as Malaysia Kita Sudah Berjaya, Setia, Tanggal 31 Ogos, Bahasa Jiwa Bangsa and others should also be aired from Aug 15 to Sept 16 every year.
In conclusion, I have penned a short poem that depicts the current situation in Malaysia with the hope that things will get better in the days to come:
“Whither our beloved country?
A polarised nation we have become
The cry of Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka! sounds hollow to some
People, politicians and leaders are to blame
For the goodwill and harmony long gone
East and West Malaysia together are one
Yet to our neighbours we are lukewarm!
Our beloved country like this cannot go on
It is time to restore unity in our homeland.” – Aug 30, 2023
V. Thomas is a reader of Focus Malaysia.
The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.