Happy Merdeka! Now, go fly your flag!
You know our National Day or Hari Kemerdekaan is just round the corner when you get the following message (reminder? threat?) from the government in the mainstream paper:-
The STAR, Saturday 29 July 2006 (page N16)
FLY JALUR GEMILANG, OR HAVE UNINVITED GUESTS TURNING UP
KUALA LUMPUR: Corporate organisations and rich homes in the Klang Valley have been told to fly the Jalur Gemilang during the National Day celebrations or "someone may pay them a surprise visit."
"Last year, many corporate buildings and well-heeled buildings and well-heeled houses failed to raise the flag. But this year, we are going to take action," said National Day organising committee chairman Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim.
"Even though the action is only by means of turning up at their doorsteps to enquire why they have failed to display the flag, it can be humiliating for them," he told reporters after the committee met the respective state secretaries at the Malaysia Handicraft Complex here yesterday.
"If the committee members receive any information on corporation organisations and well-heeled houses failing to raise the national flag during the one-month celebration, they will not hesitate to take action," added Dr Rais, who is Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister.
There was no reason for Malaysians not to fly the Jalur Gemilang as a show of patriotism, he said, adding that all state representatives were also told to encourage villagers and Felda settlers to fly the national flag. ...
(Emphasis in bold is mine.)
Tsk, tsk ...
I distinctly remember talking about this obsession with forcing our people to fly the national flag each time the subject of organizing the Merdeka Day celebrations crop up. In my maiden post on this blog titled Merdeka 48 and our "batik" society a year ago, I wrote:-
" ... Today's major newspapers, as usual, carry lovely colourful pictures of the parade and the multi-racial crowd mingling peacefully and waving the requisite flags.
It seems to me that the papers took great pains to interview as many non-bumiputra revellers just so to show that these people are REALLY patriotic, in spite of what is actually happening in our country. Why the need to show proof?
I guess it is because year in and year out, we have a Minister of Information who had to scold and chide the public for not displaying our Jalur Gemilang in our houses, cars, offices, what nots. Seems to me that, just as it is with our society which paid great value on appearances as proof of your religious and moral convictions, the same goes to our BIG BROTHER that you are less patriotic if you do not fly the national flag come Merdeka Day.
Never mind that some of the biggest flag fliers are tax defaulters, corruptors, racists, etc."
Nothing much has changed since last year, eh?
But I guess Big Brother is getting serious about this issue. So serious that they will even take the time and trouble to pay you a visit and maybe, if you're lucky, present you with a complimentary flag so that you will have no excuse whatsoever of not hoisting one out of your window during Merdeka month.
Don't you think this is utterly pathetic?
I don't know about you, but such public pronouncements embarrass me as a Malaysian citizen.
What is the worth of this "show" of loyalty if it is obtained through force and subtle threats? Similarly, what is the worth of our "show" of unity if it is also obtained through doctored images and cowed subservience?
At the end of the day, we will be left wondering exactly how many of those flag fliers did it out of their own free will.
Labels: BN politics