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.


Lebanon removes banking secrecy rules to fight corruption

Updated 9 min 52 sec ago

Lebanon removes banking secrecy rules to fight corruption

  • The move opens the way for investigations into bank accounts of current and former officials such as Cabinet ministers

BEIRUT: Lebanon’s parliament approved on Thursday a law to remove decades-old banking secrecy rules in order to better fight rampant corruption that has pushed the country to the edge of economic collapse.
The move opens the way for investigations into bank accounts of current and former officials such as Cabinet ministers, legislators and civil servants, state-run National News Agency reported.
The restoration of stolen public money in the corruption-plagued nation has been a key demand of protesters who have been demonstrating since mid-October against Lebanon’s ruling elite, which they blame for widespread corruption and mismanagement.
The approval of the law came two months after the Cabinet approved a draft resolution to abolish the country’s banking secrecy laws, which have turned tiny Lebanon into the region’s Switzerland, attracting clients from around the Arab world who prized the anonymity its banks offered.
The new law gives powers to National Anti-corruption Commission and a Special Investigative Committee at the central bank to investigate bank account of officials, the report said.
For Thursday’s session, Lebanese lawmakers convened inside a Beirut theater so that they could observe social distancing measures imposed during the pandemic. Dozens of anti-government demonstrators briefly clashed with riot police outside as legislators met.
As lawmakers in face masks arrived at the theater, known as the UNESCO palace, paramedics sprayed them with disinfectant before they entered, one at a time.
Lebanon has been facing its worst economic crisis in decades, with unemployment figures soaring and the local currency losing more than half of its value against the dollar.
After the banking secrecy measure was passed, Parliament Speaker Nabih Berri suspended the session until later in the afternoon when the legislators were to discuss a draft general amnesty law.
The amnesty issue has deeply divided parliamentary blocs, with Christian groups calling for pardoning Lebanese who fled to Israel after it ended its occupation of southern Lebanon in 2000, while former Prime Minister Saad Hariri and others want the release of hundreds of Islamists held as terror suspects.
Lebanon and Israel are at a state of war and some Lebanese who fled to Israel now hold Israeli citizenship. Scores of protesters demonstrated in Beirut and southern Lebanon on Thursday against pardoning those living in Israel.