by Lian Cheng, firstname.lastname@example.org. Posted on August 27, 2013, Tuesday
Deputy minister fears move to play national anthem in cinemas will be made a subject of mockery
Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar
KUCHING: To stand up or not is not the question. The question now is to play or not to play the national anthem.
With one day away from Merdeka Week, which starts from August 28 till September 3, when cinemas are required to play the national anthem and moviegoers must stand up, Deputy Home Minister Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar doubts whether the directive from the Communication and Multimedia Ministry is “practical”.
Agreeing that the whole notion of playing the national anthem in cinemas before showing movies “was a good idea with a noble intention”, he, however, feared it might become a source of mockery if moviegoers refused to stand.
“I am not comfortable with it in the first place,” said Wan Junaidi to The Borneo Post yesterday when asked to comment if there would be enforcement of the directive in cinemas to ensure every moviegoer stands up to show respect.
“People go to cinemas to relax and chitchat with friends. Then suddenly they have to stop and stand up because the national anthem is playing.
“What if some of them refuse to stand? And if I were there and I see these people not responding to it, what can I do?” he asked.
As a former policeman who had fought the communists, he said people like him had been taught to pay respect to the national anthem, but not everyone is like him. And when enforcement has to be applied, to him it is “false compliance”.
“When people are compelled to stand, it is a false compliance,” said the Santubong MP, questioning whether the decision came from the Cabinet.
Wan Junaidi also questioned whether the directive was the best way to educate the people.
To him, the most practical venue to inculcate respect for the national anthem and explain its significance is still in schools and during official functions where it is usually played and sung.
For 57-year-old editor Haroun Abdullah, it would be a trip down memory lane when he had to stand up when the national anthem was played before the movie started.
“I remember when I was still in primary school which was in the late 60s, the national anthem was played before trailers, advertisements and movies started. When it was played, everyone stood up voluntarily until it ended. No question was asked,” he said.
He agreed that the practice should be revived during the Merdeka Week as the young generation “have been taking things for granted”.
“Our young people now have a comfortable life and everything came to them on a silver platter. Playing the national anthem during the week will remind the young people of the hardship that their forefathers had to go through to fight for independence.
“If we don’t respect our national anthem, who else can we expect to respect it?” said Haroun.
Chinese leader Temenggong Lu Kim Yong who had also gone through the phase of standing up for the national anthem before movies started said the directive was right and timely.
“For us, it has become a reflex action to stand up when the national anthem is played. The directive can perhaps inculcate this kind of reaction in our young people.
“Respect for our nation and national anthem should be inherent in all of us. Parents and teachers must show good example first so that our young people will learn it as well,” said Lu.
Under National Anthem Act 1968, all must stand to attention as a mark of respect when the national anthem is played or sung.
According to Section 8.2 of the Act, “Any person who knowingly shows disrespect towards the National Anthem in any public place shall be liable to a fine not exceeding one hundred ringgit or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding one month.”
And anyone showing disrespect can be arrested without warrant as stipulated by Section 9 that says “Any police officer may arrest without warrant any person offending in his sight against Section 8 unless such person gives his name and address and satisfies such officer that he will duly answer any summons or other proceedings that will be taken against him.”