A flag is supposed to symbolise the country and one that unites the country. It is also supposed to be one that is held with pride.
Thus, when nine drunk Australian men at the Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang on Sunday showed off their briefs with Malaysia’s national flag imprinted on their behinds, most were flabbergasted and said they deserved to be arrested.
Although they were really intoxicated and drinking from their shoes, it was obviously a premeditated affair which was thought out when they were sober, as they were all wearing the same type of brief, brought over from Australia.
Sepang police chief Abdul Aziz Ali said the men in custody are now being investigated under Section 504 which is to intentionally disrupt peace and under Section 14 which covers behaviour at a public place. They are now under remand.
Most Malaysians too thought that it was very improper and rude for the Australians to have stripped themselves and not respected the flag of their host country by wearing them as briefs.
However, some said that it is sad that the Jalur Gemilang is now only being defended when it is only worn as undies by these foreigners, when all this while, Jalur Gemilang has not been given its due role.
Former Suhakam commissioner and veteran civil state servant Tan Sri Simon Sipaun says the Malaysian flag has stayed merely as a symbol than as the pride of the country and does not really unite the nation, as flags are supposed to do.
“My comments are biased if you ask me as I don’t think the government is actually serious in defending the country’s unity.
“Our history including the national anthem and the country’s name has been distorted by the government – even the actual age of Malaysia is incorrect.
“The children today may just follow whatever that is being taught in school, but I lived through those times, and I can tell what has been distorted,” he says.
Sipaun explains that if the government was serious in keeping the people united, defending the flag is not enough to keep the country together.
“Even Merdeka celebrations do not reflect the country’s independence. It is Malaya that got freedom, not Malaysia. It is all about Malaya.
“If they (government) are really serious, for those who know how we got our national anthem, we need a new national anthem!” says Sipaun.
He pointed out that another example that the government is not serious in preserving history is recognising Sabah’s independence.
“Why after 40 over years only they (government) decided to recognise Sabah and Sarawak’s independence day?
“How would you feel if you were Sabahan like me?
“Stop distorting history, that is what I am asking for the government to do because acting on the flag incident does not help better unity among Malaysians,” he says.
In responding to the Australians who wore the underwear made with the Malaysian flag imprint, although the flag is merely a symbol, they are in Malaysia and they should respect local practices.
“When in Rome, do what the Romans do,” he adds.
And Romans here do not wear Jalur Gemilang as briefs.
Soo Wern Jun