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You are not a patriot just because you fly a flag

August 7, 2017

Patriotism goes beyond superficial feelings and expresssions.

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PatriotikI refer to the Aug 5 Bernama report “KL folks are unpatriotic, Tengku Adnan says”.

Speaking after the opening of “Jom Bantu Rakyat” (Let’s Help the people) Cheerful Community Carnival, Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor expressed disappointment with Kuala Lumpur residents for not flying the national flag as a show of love for the nation ahead of the National Day celebration on Aug 31.

He urged Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) to reduce giving out free national flags, saying: “The city folks are seen as unappreciative of the gift from DBKL. Better to reduce the number given out free rather than to waste them.”

To the minister, those who fly the national flag are patriotic while those who don’t, lack patriotism. But I beg to differ as I measure patriotism in many other ways.

Let me start with our national flag. It should be flown proudly on flag poles, not as ornamental pieces placed flat on government buildings or on fences. Miniature ones should not be stuck on vehicles, as they could break loose and be rolled over by passing vehicles.

Many people belt out “Negaraku” with gusto and reverberate with pride. But those who are corrupt are anything but patriotic, and likewise for those who park indiscriminately to join flag-raising ceremonies or litter.

Patriotism is beyond superficial feelings. If fanatical support for clubs or state teams qualifies as patriotism, then football fans could easily qualify as among the most patriotic.

Ultranationalists and supremacists are not patriots as they are only interested in putting others down. They not only cause harm to others but contribute nothing to the nation.

On the other hand, true patriots are those who study or work hard, are efficient and productive, contribute to the economy, pay taxes, and are law-abiding and courteous on the road and wherever they go.

They contribute to society with their money, time or talent to various degrees, and are careful not to pollute the earth or cause environmental damage.

Those who truly believe in God do not segregate people by race, and Malaysians who embrace universal values are more acceptable to the entire human race.

Great patriots are recognised not just by their own citizens, but by nationalities everywhere. Our greatest patriots emerged in time of crises during the Malayan Emergency from 1948 to 1960, and during the early years of independence and formation of Malaysia.

Many of the unsung heroes were Special Branch officers working undercover, so discreetly that even their families did not know. They certainly did not wear patriotism on their sleeves.

YS Chan is an FMT reader.

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