An upside down Malaysia flag may land you up to 2-year jail, RM50k fine! Here's how to correctly hang the Jalur Gemilang

August and September are special months for Malaysians as two of our nation’s most important dates are within this period. Of course, we are talking about Merdeka Day or Independence Day on 31 August and Malaysia Day on 16 September.

Accordingly, Malaysians throughout the globe take the opportunity during this period to showcase their patriotism and national pride. These include proudly displaying our national flag, the Jalur Gemilang.

Speaking of which, there have been several controversial incidents in the past during Merdeka month when individuals negligently or worse, maliciously hang Jalur Gemilang incorrectly. These include displaying a faulty, misprinted national flag or hanging it upside down.

Such actions are actually unlawful in our country and may land an individual in trouble, as there are proper procedures on how to display the national flag. In fact, those who hang the Jalur Gemilang incorrectly may face action under 3 separate Acts, with punishments of up to 2-year jail under the Penal Code or up to RM50,000 fine and up to 1-year jail under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, should they also share and spread photos or recording of the act online.  

Join us below as we elaborate on the relevant laws on the matter and the proper way to display the Jalur Gemilang.

Section 14 of the Minor Offences Act 1955

Firstly, there are actually no specific laws prescribing offences regarding displaying the Jalur Gemilang incorrectly. However, given the status of the national flag as representing our country’s sovereignty, acts that can be deemed as disrespectful or making a mockery of the Jalur Gemilang can be deemed as offences under several legislations.

One of the Acts is the Minor Offences Act 1955, which prescribes the least severe punishment from the 3 relevant legislations mentioned in this article. Specifically, displaying the Jalur Gemilang upside down can be considered an offence under Section 14 of the Act below:

This is because hanging the national flag incorrectly can be deemed as insulting behaviour with the intent to provoke a breach of the peace. In lieu of that, those found guilty under this provision may face up to RM100 fine if convicted.

Section 504 of the Penal Code

Besides that, hanging the Jalur Gemilang upside down is also potentially an offence under Section 504 of the Penal Code for intentional insult with intent to provoke a breach of the peace below:

The above provision considers any intentional insult and provocation which is likely to cause a break in public peace to have committed an offence. For those convicted under Section 504 of the Penal Code, the provision prescribes a punishment of up to 2 years of imprisonment or with a fine or both.

One of the most recent examples of an individual being convicted under this provision for the hoisting of the Jalur Gemilang upside down was in December last year. As reported by The Vibes, a Bangladeshi man, Hoisin Md Diplap was slapped with an RM3,500 fine under Section 504 of the Penal Code for intentionally hoisting the national flag incorrectly.

Section 233 of the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998

Lastly, those who hang the Jalur Gemilang upside down or incorrectly may also be liable under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1988 should they spread the act online or through any other network facilities. Specifically, such an action may be considered an offence under Section 233(1) of the Act for improper use of network facilities or network service below:

Accordingly, Section 233(3) of the same Act prescribes offenders with a punishment of up to 1-year jail or up to RM50,000 fine or both. Furthermore, offenders may also be liable to a further fine of RM1,000 per day during which the offence is continued after conviction.

The proper way to display the Jalur Gemilang

Now that we’ve established the potential punishments for those who hang the national flag incorrectly, let’s delve into the proper guidelines you need to follow when displaying the Jalur Gemilang. Towards that end, two recent social media posts by Berita RTM and the Department of Information Malaysia (JAPEN) respectively provide us with the most concise and easy-to-understand guidelines.

Taking to Twitter, Berita RTM shared a graphic with the dos and don’ts of properly hanging a large quantity of Jalur Gemilangs on a flag line. While flags can be connected in a horizontal position on a flag line, you can’t connect the flags in a vertical position or if the flags are triangle-shaped.

Meanwhile, JAPEN took to Twitter to share a graphic on the proper way and position to hang a singular Jalur Gemilang. If it’s a regular Jalur Gemilang flag, you can only hang it horizontally and not vertically. Hanging it vertically, upside down or sideways are the incorrect way of displaying the national flag.

However, if the Jalur Gemilang is in the form of a bunting, the correct way to display it is by hanging it vertically. Hanging a Jalur Gemilang bunting horizontally is also considered the wrong way of displaying it.

Hopefully, this article can clear up any confusion or misconceptions you’d have regarding the displaying of the Jalur Gemilang. With that in mind, let’s all proudly fly the national flag in the proper manner throughout August, September and beyond!

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