Foreign minister: Stop racialising flag, Malaysian citizens are Malaysian citizens

Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah says Malaysians should stop racialising the national flag blunder made during a recent basketball game. — Picture by Choo Choy May
Foreign Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah says Malaysians should stop racialising the national flag blunder made during a recent basketball game. — Picture by Choo Choy May

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 27 ― Malaysians should stop racialising the national flag blunder made during a recent basketball game, Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said today.

The foreign minister pointed out the severity of the mistake and called for investigation and stern action to be taken, but said making the issue a racial matter was a separate matter and “is not the right thing”.

“Raising the wrong Malaysian flag is an offence. I repeat: it must be investigated and firm action must be taken. There are laws for this. But to turn this into a racial issue is not the right thing.

“Malaysian citizens are Malaysian citizens,” he tweeted in response to earlier posts by a lawyer and the Perlis mufti.

On November 25, the Malaysian Basketball Association (MABA) had displayed a flag with a five-pointed star and 10 red-and-white stripes instead of a 14-pointed star with 14 red-and-white stripes at the opening ceremony of the 28th MABA Milo Lum Mun Chak Cup.

The 1.42-second video went viral on the internet and received condemnation and backlash from Malaysians throughout the country.

Mufti Datuk Seri Mohd Asri Zainul Abidin had denounced the incident and demanded action to be taken for the insult shown to the national flag against “those made citizens”.

“The people can see the extent of how firm the government can be over those made citizens but end up insulting it. If they escape (justice), this shows that the government is not serious in tackling this issue or it can be insulted.

“Both are not good for a sovereign nation. We demand strict action by the government on this,” he wrote on both Twitter and Facebook.

Lawyer Lim Wei Jiet called out the Islamic cleric for his suggestive post blaming Chinese Malaysians for putting up the wrong flag.

“Why (are you) suddenly relating MABA's mistakes with the entire Malaysian Chinese community? There has been so much sacrifices from Malaysian Chinese athletes and coaches contributing to sports such as Lee Chong Wei, Tan Cheng Hoe and Ong Kim Swee.

“How disappointing,” Lim posted.

In a later rejoinder to other Twitter users who argued that the mufti had not mentioned Chinese in his post, Lim said it was implied.

MABA has since apologised for the error and said it has terminated the services of the contractor that supplied the digital image.

Police are investigating the incident.

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