A national flag symbolises the spirit of patriotism, pride, unity and love for the nation.

ONCE again Malaysians of all races are reminded and encouraged to fly the Jalur Gemilang in conjunction with Malaysia’s 59th Merdeka anniversary.

A national flag symbolises the spirit of patriotism, pride, unity and love for the nation. Under a common flag we attained independence and built our lives harmoniously irrespective of race, colour or creed. Under one flag lies the symbol of unity for all our communities as we strive towards building a united nation in which our future lies.

I have no doubt Malaysians are proud of their flag as it symbolises their patriotic spirit for the nation they call home.

In fact, it should not be just for our Merdeka Day that the Malaysian flag is flown. We should fly the flag on all formal occasions and, if practical, every day. In many countries I have visited, I observed that national flags are flown daily at government and private buildings such as business corporations, schools and community centres.

In Malaysia, with the exception of some, many building owners do not make it a practice to fly the national flag except on Merdeka Day. Even on that important day itself, there are many premises that do not fly the flag.

I wish to call on all building owners to make it a point to fly the Jalur Gemilang and show pride as an independent and sovereign nation to commemorate our 59th Independence anniversary.

What is most important here is to teach our young to love our flag. The future of our nation lies in our youth, so it is essential that we inculcate in them love and pride for the Jalur Gemilang and what it signifies.

Schools should have a daily ceremony to hoist the national flag, besides singing the Negara-ku.

Ensuring our young respect and love the national flag is essential to build future generations of Malaysians imbued with a strong sense of patriotism and national pride.

In this regard, I wish to call on all Malaysians to organise more activities in conjunction with our Merdeka Month and Malaysia Day to embrace diversity and moderation as key to building a united Malaysian nation.

However, I also need to stress here that flying the Jalur Gemilang is not the only way to express one’s patriotism.

Patriotism can come in various forms. When we speak up and defend our country against any form of attacks, it is a patriotic act.

When we refrain from committing acts of vandalism on public property or littering in public places indiscriminately, we are patriotic. When we contribute towards making our community free from crime or protecting and preserving our environment, we are patriotic.

Malaysians can display their patriotism through their words, thoughts and actions in the interest of the country and in nation-building. Being patriotic also means contributing one’s sincere views and opinions in areas that can bring good to the country.

Expressing one’s unbiased and sincere feelings about the affairs of our nation is a right and responsibility that should be practised by all patriotic Malaysians who love the country and want the best for the nation. In this regard, making constructive criticisms in the interest of the nation does not make a person less patriotic.

TAN SRI LEE LAM THYE, Trustee, 1 Malaysia Foundation