Saturday, July 4

Punishment alone not sufficient for altering national symbols — Expert

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KUALA LUMPUR: Punishment alone is not sufficient for those who alter national symbols, including the latest incident of altering the country’s coat-of-arms (Jata Negara), Principal Fellow of Ethnic Studies Institute (KITA) at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Prof Datuk Dr Teo Kok Seong said. According to him, such cases have become more rampant as though no lessons were learnt from punishment meted out in previous cases.

“Before this, we saw how our national flag was flown with other designs and Negaraku was sung in a different language other than the official language, while an official statement of a ministry was issued in other languages.

“The question is where is the lesson learnt as similar cases continue to occur which aggravates the situation further, and it seems to happen within the same cluster. This is not good, especially for national unity.

“Something needs to be done here, why does it happen continuously and at a constant frequency,” he said when featuring as an online guest on Bernama TV’s Malaysia Petang Ini programme

Recently, a book cover went viral featuring an image which bears a striking resemblance to the country’s coat-of-arms, displaying a naked child on the moon and star while the image of two tigers was altered apart from adding a crocodile at the bottom which usually carries the national motto “Unity is Strength”.

The publisher of the controversial book entitled “Rebirth: Reformasi, Resistance, And Hope in New Malaysia” said the company did not intend to insult the national symbol and it was not done on purpose.

Speaking further, Teo said it is not wrong for anyone to express their disappointment, but the frustrations should not be vented on national symbols.

“Dissatisfactions, frustrations must be with basis and not be callous. Every piece of writing in the book, the sharp criticism, stern rebuke, I think it is enough and the dissatisfactions cannot be shown on the Jata Negara.

“It is about time we are able to control our emotions, maybe we are astute intellectually but not emotionally,” he added.

Teo stressed the coat-of-arms and other national symbols cannot be altered for whatever reasons.

“It is sacred, must be respected and placed at a very high level as it represents the country, it symbolises the sovereignty of the country.

“For me, it cannot be tampered with even for the sake of creativity,”  he stressed. — Bernama