We did it, guys. We’re probably hosting one of the most memorable SEA Games in our generation—but it won’t be remembered for the number of golds Malaysia is winning this year.
Earlier this month, Indonesia got pretty miffed with us for switching their flag with Poland’s. Our Youth and Sports Minister had to make a special apology, and it even led to some retaliation, particularly by self-proclaimed Indonesian hackers.
After all, Indonesia’s flag had been flip-flopped not once, but twice by us. It seemed like there were inklings of foul play. Was this revenge for 2011’s SEA Games?
As the SEA Games went on, the mistakes kept happening—except to Malaysia.
RTM had to step up and apologise for screwing up a whopping 8 out of 11 flags, as netizens flocked the internet to share more screenshots of Malaysia messing up flags left and right.
As this article from Mothership.sg told it:
“Only one country has seemingly been free from the flag errors: The host country, Malaysia. Understandably so, it is their home country after all.”
We began to wonder, how has the broadcasting flag algorithm not been fixed yet? Once or twice could be excused as a mistake, but with the number of times this has happened, could it actually be sabotage?
After all, Malaysia has been noticeably missing out on the musical chairs of flags action.
Well, we finally played ourselves.
After misattributing so many flags over the weeks-long coverage of the games, Malaysia finally linked Keith Lim Kit Sern with the wrong flag and acronym.
To a certain extent, I can’t help but be relieved.
There was already so much negativity and unhappiness over the flag mixups (and let’s not talk about all the other incidents marring this round of SEA games).
If we can even get our own flag wrong—that we had to draw in primary school basically once a year for Merdeka—then this series of flagrant errors are less about sabotage and more about our amazing incompetence!
If this was truly a mistake, it was a timely one.
In fact, I would argue, with the state of things being what they were, it was almost necessary for us to get our flag wrong, at least once.
Now with this, we can all laugh and say, “Look! We even messed up our own! No harm done, right?”
All this drama has been a disservice to our national athletes who have spent blood, sweat and tears towards the competition.
And while some attention has gone to them, particularly recently with striker N. Thanabalan’s outstanding performance that helped Malaysia reach the finals for football, the coverage of the messups is overshadowing our star performers.
The fact that we might be looking at a record number of medals this year rings a little sour with critical international eyes seeing a tidak apa attitude on an international platform.
Hosting the SEA Games on our tanah air should’ve been an honour, but it feels like we’re going to be watching these other nations leave with with our heads bowed low.
It’s definitely not a great sentiment to have with Merdeka happening in just a few more days.
So what should we do about it?
We can apologise until our mouths run dry, but the fact remains that being known as incompetent instead of malicious isn’t a vast improvement.
This incident should help us reflect on these attitudes within ourselves as well. We can’t be known for our half-heartedness anymore, especially after the results of it has been made dramatically public like this.
Be it in our government, to even our own individual attitude towards the daily hustles, let’s start striving towards more perfectionism in what we do.
Or at the very least, whenever the SEA Games comes back to Malaysia, it probably won’t be a bad idea to hire a flag enthusiast to sign off on any algorithmically-generated flags before they go up on a screen.