You can’t force patriotism, Lipis district council told

PETALING JAYA: A veteran of the fight against communist terrorists has denounced what he calls a “dictatorial directive” requiring business owners in Pahang’s Lipis district to fly the Jalur Gemilang at their premises.

Speaking to FMT, Lt Col (Rtd) Zulkifli Tahir questioned the wisdom of compelling citizens to prove their patriotism.

“You cannot pretend to be patriotic if you just don’t feel it deep in your heart,” he said.

Lt Col (Rtd) Zulkifli Tahir

The Lipis district council (MDL) has said any business owner disobeying the directive risks losing his business licence.

Zulkifli said he considered the directive dictatorial since non-compliance would result in severe repercussions.

“It is wrong because one should not force others to hoist the flag just to prove patriotism,” he said. “Patriotism means more than waving Jalur Gemilang and singing patriotic songs.”

But Zulkifli, who lost his right leg after stepping on a booby trap in 1986, also said the level of patriotism among Malaysians today was low.

He said it was easier for the older generation to be patriotic because they fought for their country.

“We made sacrifices to uphold and protect our sovereignty. The younger generation did not experience this, which is why it is hard for them to be patriotic. In fact, they ask what the country can do for them instead.”

Social activist Chandra Muzaffar agreed with Zulkifli that patriotism could not be instilled through coercion.

“The key is to do it through persuasion and setting an example instead of through enforcement,” he said.

Chandra said MDL should encourage everyone and not just business owners to hoist the flag through education and awareness campaigns.

Late last month, MDL issued a letter to business owners ordering them to hoist the national and state flags from Aug 1 to Sept 16 to celebrate the anniversary of Malaysian independence from British rule.

The letter said failure to comply with the directive would be deemed as disloyalty to the country. “MDL reserves the right to revoke the business licence without notice,” it added.

A spokesman for MDL told FMT this had been standard practice in Lipis “for years” and that enforcement officers would conduct checks to ensure compliance.

“So far, MDL has not revoked any business licence,” she said.