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Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Malaysian Flag “Jalur Gemilang” is in news !!

A flag – is nothing but a piece of fabric generally of rectangular design, used as a symbol, a signalling device or a decorative piece.  All political parties have distinctive flag and are known by the colour and the figure printed on it.

It gets a different connotation when it symbolizes a country – that time lot of sentiment and National interests get attached to it.  It represents the country and needs to be reverred. 

There are also maritime flags – those pieces used on ships, boats, and other water crafts.  Naval flags are considered important at sea and there are stricter rules and regulations in flying them. Ships also fly the flag of the country into whose territorial waters, they are operating.  The flag flown by the ship also symbolizes the country of its registration and the word ‘flag’ itself is construed as a synonym for the country of registration.   Then there is the ‘flag of convenience’  -  which describes the business practice of registration of merchant ship in a Sovereign state different from that of the ship’s owners.  There are countries where there are stringent formalities in granting registration to any vessel and then there are those with lesser formalities.  The term FOC depicts those with not so stronger registration formalities.  Ships get registered in these countries so as to reduce operating costs or to avoid the regulations of the country of the owner.  Ships operate under the laws of the flag state and in an Admiralty case, these laws are followed. 

Malaysia  consisting of 13 states and 3 federal territories is a constitutional monarchy sharing borders with Thailand, Indonesia and Brunei.  The National flag of Malaysia has 14 alternating red and white stripes along the fly and a blue canton bearing a crescent and a 14-point star known as the Bintang Persekutuan (Federal Star).  It is known as Jalur Gemilang (Malay for "Stripes of Glory")

At the Malaysian capita Kuala Lumpur, the Deputy PM blasted the call by DAP’s Kota Alam Shah assemblyman M. Manoharan for the change in  Malaysian flag, terming it  a “crazy” suggestion and  as showing lack of respect for national heritage.  He termed the call as an attempt to change whatever has been accepted as part of heritage and charged the opposition as wanting to change everything if they came to power.  Earlier,  Manoharan was reported to have said that the Jalur Gemilang should be modified as its current design resembled Barisan Nasional’s flag and did not reflect Malaysia. Some other leaders tried to take him to task calling it unpatriotic and disrespectful. 

M. Manoharan is a prominent Malaysian lawyer and currently the State Assemblyman for Kota Alam Shah in the Selangor State Assembly. He is a member of the Democratic Action Party.  Manoharan is more famous for his involvement in the HINDRAF movement. He was the lawyer that represented M. Moorthy's widow, Kaliammal Sinnasamy in a legal tussle over the late Everest conqueror's body.  Manoharan later posted an apology on his Facebook account and took down his earlier posting.

If that was on political front, something spilt in to the sea as well as a foreign ship was  detained for flying the Malaysian flag upside down.  There are reports that flying  the Jalur Gemilang the wrong way turned out to be the undoing of a North Korean ship's crew, which was illegally anchored off Tanjung Piai, Pontian on 17th Sept 2011.  The national flag, which has to be flown by ships plying the country's territorial waters, was flown upside down. This drew the attention of the southern region Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA), which made a check on the ship and later detained it for being illegally anchored in Malaysian waters.

It is learnt that the MT Yong An's crew had inadvertently flown an upside down Jalur Gemilang as they dropped anchor 4.5 nautical miles south-east of Tanjung Piai.  The wrong way of flying the flag prompted the investigation which revealed that the vessel had failed to inform the authorities of its arrival.  The initial reports indicated that the vessel MT Yong An was registered in Wonsan, North Korea. It has 10 Indonesian, a Sri Lankan and a Chinese national as crew members.
With regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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