M. Kandapan (left) adorning his home in Bandar Seri Alam with the Jalur Gemilang. Pix by Roslan Khamis
A building in Kulaijaya decorated with the Jalur Gemilang to celebrate the nation’s Independence Day. Pic by Omar Ahmad

STOP a youth anywhere and ask him how many stripes are there in the Jalur Gemilang or why is our national flag called the Jalur Gemilang and what do the colours represent.

I doubt many will have the correct answer, let alone be able to answer the question confidently.

When flags are being hoisted in residences and business premises, do they do it with pride and love for the country or are they following the crowd?

You have a flag, so I should also have one.

Are teachers and parents teaching the children about the colours of the Jalur Gemilang, its history, the protocols and etiquette of flying a Jalur Gemilang?

This year, I have yet to come across a tattered or worn-out flag, and I am glad.

I have seen such flags in previous years which is a disgrace.

Flags that are raised should not be faded or dirty.

The same goes for the state flags.

If we truly love our country, we should not be keeping flags that look like rags.

I remember writing in 2010 about a Johor flag which was used to wrap papayas on a tree.

That was an ultimate insult.

I did a search on Google and found out that if a flag is to be flown at a certain spot, the static flag pole must not be less than 6.1m high.

If the flag is used as a decorative piece or flown for a certain period, the pole must be at least 3m high and no part of the flag must be allowed to touch the ground.

Did you know that a static flag is only allowed to be flown from 7am to 7pm, unless there is a floodlight on?

Flags at government departments are to be raised when the offices open in the morning and lowered after office hours.

In schools, the flag is to be raised in the morning and lowered after the last class.

When the national or state flag is flown from houses or shops, it should face the road and be secured on a pole at a 45-degree angle.

If two flags are flown, the Malaysian flag must be on the left side of the premises.

In Johor, the late Sultan Iskandar decreed in 1985 that the Johor flag must be given prominence and flown on the right side of the Jalur Gemilang.

However, on Merdeka Day, the Jalur Gemilang takes precedence and is flown on the right side of the state flag.

If there are three flag poles, the Johor flag is flown in the centre, the Malaysian flag on the right while the departmental, corporate or institutional flag is flown on the left.

On Merdeka Day, the Malaysian flag is raised in the centre and the Johor flag on the right.

During the Merdeka celebrations or official federal events, the Johor flag is raised after every third Malaysian flag is raised.

The cluster of miniature flags on a utility post also follows the same arrangement.

All flags used for decoration are to be removed two weeks after the event.

All the above were taken from a 2010 article.

I think in other countries, like Indonesia, for instance, the Sang Saka Merah-Putih (The Heirloom Red-and-White) or Bendera Merah-Putih (The Red-and-White Flag) is treated with utmost respect by its residents.

The mentality of the Indonesians and Malaysians are poles apart.

I am not sure about patriotism, but the mentality of Indonesians and those of Malaysians really differs when it comes to direct selling.

Allow me to stray a bit from the subject of patriotism.

Indonesians can make more money in a direct-selling entrepreneurship than a local because of the former’s drive, commitment and passion for the brand.

A local direct-selling agent shared this with me recently.

She said her downlines who are Indonesians really showed all the qualities I mentioned earlier, while her local downlines only treat the business like a part-time venture.

“I have been trying to change the people’s mindset for a long time, but the locals, maybe because they have had an easy life, would never go the extra mile to succeed in their direct-selling business,” said my friend.

Now back to patriotism. I believe some rules are not to be followed rigidly.

I am thinking of the family of five which recently dined at an eatery which prohibited guests to bring in outside food.

Four members of the family had ordered food from the restaurant but an elderly member of the family could only eat home-cooked meals, so when the family took out the food container for the senior citizen, they were allegedly asked to leave the eatery.

The nation is turning 57.

Can’t we exercise some common sense or at least courtesy?

And on a last note, please be kind to animals.

It really reflects badly on the nation if an animal’s welfare is not well taken care of.

The recent incident at a Hong Kong subway where a mongrel was killed when a train rammed into it has put the city in a very bad light.

The train commuters and staff of the subway were aware that there was a mongrel that had strayed onto the tracks but no one did anything to save the poor dog.

Our actions reflect our upbringing, our education and our beloved country will be judged by the world at large, now especially in the age of the Internet.

Happy Merdeka, folks!