Wednesday, May 27

Patriotism begins at home, not in cinemas

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SO you are all set for a night at the movies, and you have chosen to watch a blast ‘em up action flick which involves guns, explosions and some really out of this world stunts.

Something like ‘The Expendables’ perhaps?

But just as you are sinking into the theatre’s chair, popcorn in hand and all ready to watch a bunch of old geezers blow up buildings and deliver joint-cracking martial arts moves, an all too familiar tune comes on and you leap up to stand in respect of the national anthem.

The decision to play ‘Negaraku’ in cinemas nationwide before the screening of films from Aug 28 to Sept 3 has received mixed reactions.

While some applaud the Communication and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek’s move to instil patriotism, others are worried that such a move may make a mockery of the national anthem.

In addition to the national anthem being played before movies, two independence promotional video clips would also be screened along with the national anthem.

As a matter of fact, before the directive was even issued, several parties had actually called for the national anthem to be played in cinemas before movie screenings in order to create a greater sense of patriotism among Malaysians.

However, Deputy Home Minister Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaffar is one of those who voiced concern that some movie fans might make fun of the whole thing – not so much the national anthem, rather, the directive itself.

So the Eye did some digging. Apparently some states in India, for example Tamil Nadu, direct cinemas to play the national anthem before movies.  Because of difficulty in monitoring the cinemas, not all cinema operators adhere to it. And not all Indian nationals find the playing of the national anthem appropriate for cinemas.

Wan Junaidi said one cannot force patriotism. He is right. First of all, the playing of the national anthem before the screening of movies, just does not seem appropriate, especially not before horror and action flicks.

There is a time and place for everything and the playing of the national anthem should be done at these appropriate times, such as the launch of initiatives that will bring good improvements for the people, before we head out to compete in various sports, or to signify that we have achieved something.

You do not want overkill by playing the national anthem at every little venue because it will eventually get to the point where people stand up, just for the sake of standing up, or just mouth the words without any feeling of pride towards their country.

The same goes for the Communication and Multimedia Ministry’s proposal to introduce a law to make it compulsory for every premises or building to fly the Jalur Gemilang throughout Merdeka month.

The minister is of the opinion that a law is necessary because he feels many owners of private organisations do not understand the need or importance of flying the Jalur Gemilang to show their love for the nation.

‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ the age old adage goes.

Who are we to say that these organisations do not understand the need to fly the national flag to show their love for the nation? Wouldn’t the work done by the organisation, in some way, have contributed to the nation? If it is a business, it contributes to the nation’s wealth, does it not?

If the organisation did not at least have some love for the nation, it could have easily carried out its business elsewhere.

When there is a law to dictate the compulsory flying of the national or state flags, it will not necessarily mean that patriotism is being shown. Again, it would be done just to comply with a law and the true meaning or reason behind it would be lost.

Assistant Minister of Youth Development Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah  has also said that patriotism should not be forced.

Instead, he said, love and patriotism for the country should come from the heart and not under the compulsion of a law.

Patriotism is not merely about displaying a flag or singing the national anthem.

Patriotism is really about how citizens of all walks of life come together to work hand in hand to improve the country socio-economically.

Patriotism is about having a sense of belonging and responsibility towards a nation’s development, and pride for what the nation has achieved. Where instilling patriotism is concerned, it begins at home and in schools and not in cinemas, nor by the compulsion of a law.

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