SEA Games: Oops! Malaysia upsets Indonesia with flag blunder

The Indonesian flag printed upside-down in a copy of the souvenir magazine for the Southeast Asian Games. (AFP)
Updated 20 August 2017

SEA Games: Oops! Malaysia upsets Indonesia with flag blunder

KUALA LUMPUR: Indonesia’s president expressed concern on Sunday after Malaysia’s Southeast Asian Games organizers mistakenly published the Indonesian flag upside-down in a commemorative magazine, prompting anger among fans.
Malaysia’s foreign ministry and the Games organizers apologized profusely for the gaffe but it was not enough to quell a wave of complaints online, with #ShameOnYouMalaysia becoming Indonesia’s top trending topic on Twitter.
The blunder came to light at Saturday’s opening ceremony in Kuala Lumpur, where the souvenir magazine was handed out to dignitaries — including Indonesia’s Sports Minister Imam Nahrawi, who tweeted a picture of the offending page.
Indonesia’s flag has a red stripe above a white stripe, but it was printed with the white stripe on top, making it look like the flag of Poland.
Malaysian organizers were quick to apologize and the country’s Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin visited Nahrawi at his hotel to explain in person.
But it was not the only incident, as a SEA Games booklet also mixed up Indonesia and Thailand’s flags in a reprint of the medals table from 2011.
A Malaysian daily newspaper also printed Indonesia’s flag upside-down, while Games organizers were caught using the wrong flag for two Brunei athletes at the synchronized swimming.
The swimmers, Jacqueline Lim and Nur Hafizah Ahmad, were shown next to what appeared to be a flag for Brunei’s armed forces, rather than the national emblem.
SEA Games organizers told Indonesia they “very much regret the mistake” and the foreign ministry also said sorry for the “inadvertent error.”
“We would like to extend our apology to the government and the people of the Republic of Indonesia,” the foreign ministry statement said.
“In this regard, we wish to assure the government of the Republic of Indonesia that all measures have been taken to address this unfortunate situation.”
The incident grabbed attention on the first full day of action at the biennial SEA Games, which mix Olympic sports with Asian favorites like pencak silat and wushu.
Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo said it was a matter of “national pride” for the country, which is the biggest in Southeast Asia with about 260 million people.
“We deeply regret the incident but do not exaggerate it,” he said. “We are waiting for the apology from the Malaysian government because this concerns the national pride of our country.”
Indonesia’s Olympic committee chief, Inter Milan president Erick Thohir, earlier criticized Malaysia’s “negligence.”
“Of course, I am expressing my deep regret on this fault, which shows negligence and absent-mindedness,” he said in a statement.
“Friendship is the greatest legacy in sports, but a mistake in presenting a national identity of a nation is not justified.”
Malaysia’s SEA Games organizers are not alone in making mistakes with competitors’ flags — and receiving strong complaints afterwards.
Last year at the Rio Olympics, China complained bitterly that the flag used at medal ceremonies had its small gold stars pointing at the wrong angle.
At the 2012 Olympics North Korea’s women’s footballers refused to play, delaying the start of their game with Colombia, when they were shown next to the South Korean flag on a stadium screen.


Orange is the new grey for Bangladesh beards

(COMBO) This combination of pictures created on January 24, 2019 shows men with henna-dyed beards in Dhaka on December 24, 2018. (AFP)
Updated 37 min 41 sec ago

Orange is the new grey for Bangladesh beards

  • It is now virtually impossible to walk down a street in a Bangladesh city without seeing a colored beard

DHAKA, BANGLADESH: From shades of startling red to hues of vivid tangerine, brightly colored beards have become a fashion statement on the streets of Bangladesh capital Dhaka.
Facial hair of sunset tones is now the go-to look for older men wanting to take off the years, with an array of henna options available to the style-conscious.
“I have been using it on my hair for the last two months. I like it,” says Mahbubul Bashar, in his 50s, whose smile reflected his joy at his new look.
Abul Mia, a 60-year-old porter at a local vegetable market, agrees that the vibrant coloring can be transformative.
“I love it. My family says I look a lot younger and handsome,” he adds.
While henna has been used widely in the country for decades, it has reached new heights of popularity. It is now virtually impossible to walk down a street in a Bangladesh city without seeing a colored beard.
Orange hair — whether it’s beards, moustaches or on heads — is everywhere, thanks to the popularity of the colored dye produced by the flowering henna plant.
“Putting henna on has become a fashion choice in recent years for elder men,” confirms Didarul Dipu, head fashion journalist at Canvas magazine.
“The powder is easily found in neighborhood stores and easy to put on,” he adds.
But the quest for youth is not the only reason why more and more Dhaka barbers are adding beard and hair coloring to their services.
Top imams also increasingly use henna powder color in what experts say is a move to prove their Muslim credentials as some religious texts say the prophet Mohammed dyed his hair.
In Bangladesh most of the population of 168 million is Muslim.
“I heard from clerics that the prophet Mohammed used henna on his beard. I am just following,” says Dhaka resident Abu Taher.

Henna has long been a tradition at South Asian weddings. Brides and grooms use henna paste to trace intricate patterns on their hands for wedding parties.
It has also long been used in Muslim communities in Asia and the Middle East for beards.
Previously, aficionados created the dye by crushing henna leaves to form a paste. It was messy and time-consuming but modern henna powder is far more user-friendly.
Taher, who goes by one name, believes the dye has given his beard added vigour.
“Look at this growth. Isn’t it strong?” he exclaims pointing to his chin.
“The powder turns the grey hair red but does not change the remaining black hair,” he explains.
Some believe henna powder has health benefits and, as it is natural rather than created using man-made chemicals like some dyes, does not cause any medical issues.
The new trend has also boosted barbers’ fortunes — more men feel compelled to dye their hair and to do it more often at the salons.
“In the past we hardly would get any customers for this,” recalls Shuvo Das, who works at the Mahin Hairdressers in Dhaka’s Shaheenbagh neighborhood.
“But now there are clients who come every week to get their beard dyed,” he says.
“It takes about 40 minutes to make the beard reddish and shiny. It is also cheap. A pack cost only 15 taka (four US cents),” Das explains as he massages the dye mixture — imported from India — into a customer’s beard.
According to Dhaka University sociology professor Monirul Islam Khan, the growing number of henna beards “is a sign of increasing Muslim fervor in Bangladeshi society.”
But, he adds, even those who are not strict followers do it.
He explains: “They want to look younger. Even the women are getting fond of it as it makes their hair glitter.”