Monday, July 24, 2006

Does Raising The National Flag Indicate Patriotism?

Without fail, around this time every year, the authorities urge the public to raise the national flag. It seems as if in their minds that somehow the very act of doing this shows your 'loyalty', 'patriotism' and 'love' for the country! How simplistic and naive.

This year is no exception to this annual exhortation. Prior to his retirement from active politics it was former information minister Datuk Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir who used to be at the forefront of this `Jalur Gemilang' Flag Raising Campaign. The initiative this year has been taken over by Deputy Information Minister Datuk Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who said that all strata of society must be proactive in building up sentiment in conjunction with the 50th National Day celebrations next year. He also hoped that the Jalur Gemilang flag raising campaign would not be as dull as last year where many people failed to raise the Malaysian flag in conjunction with the National Day celebrations.

He hoped the local authorities would be more active in monitoring the raising of the Jalur Gemilang on buildings owned by the private sector.

Frankly I fail to see the link between patriotism and raising the flag. Apart from being a rather public display and claim of loyalty and love for the nation, however patently false that claim may be, it serves no purpose other than to make a few people feel good. I wish the authorities will leave it to the decision and good sense of the public whether they wish to indulge in this symbolic yet public expression of 'patriotism'. To force the issue is to propagate a falsehood.

By raising the flag none of us are going to feel any better and the dissatisfaction that we have will in no way be lessened. That requires something more substantial, like reforms that are just and fair, and not some simple gimmick like this. Forcing people to raise the flag will only aggravate the resentment.


Blogger walski69 said...

Webster's Online Dictionary defines patriotism as "Love of country and willingness to sacrifice for it".

Country, and NOT Government of the day, or party/coalition in power.

I've noticed in recent years that the true idea of patriotism has changed. It has become love for the government regardless of what bad (or good) it has done for the country. This has become the new patriotic paradigm, it seems.

Not to say the government hasn't done any good - but it could have, and still can, do better.

And perhaps it is because of this shift in paradigm, and the altered generally understood meaning of patriotism, that many are reluctant to raise the flag for the occassion.

As you rightly stated, forcing someone to fly the Jalur Gemilang is not going to make one feel more patriotic.

It promotes parrotism, maybe, and perhaps flags in large numbers gives the powers that be a sense of false comfort that they're doing a good job...

2:12 PM GMT+8  
Blogger The Malaysian. said...

You've explained it much better than I have . Thanks Walski.

2:44 PM GMT+8  
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Anonymous Ho said...

I agree with walski69.

Nowadays,it becomes demands for loyalty to the government (Yes, I'm talking about BN here).

It seems like government expects people become "Yes-Man" - never question whether or not they are doing the right things.

Loyalty must arouse from the bottom of the heart. Raising the nation flag indicates patriosm is nonsense.

11:47 AM GMT+8  
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