Flags, the symbolic pieces of cloth that wave the world over, are designed to unite people, so it’s comes as no surprise that flag mistakes tend to similarly unite people — albeit in indignation and outrage.
Over the last week, two Malaysian basketball associations were plagued by flag mishaps. In one case, a jersey inadvertently featured the Perak state flag upside down, causing some feathers to be ruffled. But it was the inaccurate depiction of the Jalur Gemilang at another event this week that garnered the most attention, and gasps.
For those of you not intimately familiar with the Malaysian flag, it’s not this:
Not only did the flag projected on screens at an under-15 basketball championship appear to get the stripes wrong (there are 14, yo), but it also used the wrong star.
For anyone keeping count, the star on the Malaysian flag has 14 points, each representing one of the country’s states.
(For a closer comparison, take a look at the photo on the left.)
Their Spidey Senses now acutely attuned to flag flubs, Malaysian netizens are now going after an aunnal taekwondo event, the CK Classic International Open Taekwondo Championship, which is feeling the heat over an old photo taken this summer that showed a backdrop that also featured a five-pointed star on the Jalur Gemilang.
However, the competition’s chairman, C.K. Karan, who represents both the CK Classic and Selangor Taekwondo, has clarified that the flag used in their backdrop was in fact a logo they created specifically for the event, and the seemingly inappropriate star was actually a deliberate choice.
He explains that while the stripes paid homage to the Malaysian flag, the star represented the Selangor state flag, and the fact that participants came from five continents.
“The five-pointed star (part of the Selangor flag) was to show the event is being organised by Selangor, and to show that the participants are from five continents. It was an artist’s impression,” Karan said.
“Our main objective to stage this event is for local athletes to compete and gain exposure.”
Acknowledging that the logo had caused more negative publicity than good, he added that he was seeking to “move forward” with the August 2020 event, and will “change the star.”
Eagle-eyed netizens, meanwhile, were quick to capture and upload another offending poster, this one at a Melaka tattoo convention.
This time, however, the outrage appeared to be a bit less clear cut.
The flag depicted on the billboard does indeed appear to have had a out-of-place stripe chucked in for a bit of flair, but it’s hard to say whether the designer had intended it to read as part of the flag itself, or merely as a design element for the billboard.
After all, the Melaka flag also doesn’t have a bunch of people, a random filmstrip, and a little speaker icon on it, either.
So maybe it’s just best if everyone chills about the whole flag thing.
Sure, misrepresenting our flag isn’t cool, but let’s be real: most of the time it’s ignorance at work (or just inattentiveness), not ill-intent.
Besides, let’s not forget that time we couldn’t figure out Indonesia’s flag at the Southeast Asian Games. We love you, Indonesia – sorry someone down the line was asleep in geography class.
This article, Capture the flag: Netizens on high alert over inaccurate Jalur Gemilang depictions, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!