MELAKA (Bernama) – Flying the Jalur Gemilang is synonymous with the National Day celebrations and the sight of the red, white, blue and yellow flag waving in the breeze makes one’s heart swell with pride.
However, the task of installing the national flag in certain areas is not as simple as it may seem. It is a job only experienced people can handle to avoid any untoward incident.
Ahmad Syahir Salim, 37, a supervisor at the Melaka River and Coastal Development Corporation’s (PPSPM, which operates the Melaka River Cruise) cleaning and monitoring unit, can attest to that.
PPSPM has installed more than 1,000 Jalur Gemilang along a 4.5-kilometre stretch of the Melaka River, specifically along the Melaka River Cruise’s route starting from the jetty at Taman Rempah to Dataran Sungai Melaka at the river mouth.
“Putting up the flags along this route has its own challenges. The most challenging area is the river mouth as we have to deal with strong winds which sometimes bring heavy rain as well, which exposes us to the risk of falling into the river,” said Ahmad Syahir, who has been installing the national flag along the Melaka River in conjunction with National Day for the last six years.
He said people may think it is easy to fix the flag on the lamp posts located along the river bank right up to Dataran Sungai Melaka.
“But we face all kinds of risks. This is because (some of) the lamp posts are situated very close to the river, so there’s always the danger of us falling into the river (whilst fixing the flag to the pole).
“Some lamp posts are located on narrow platforms and in front of rows of restaurants filled with tables and chairs and these places are often crowded because Sungai Melaka is among the main tourist attractions (in Melaka),” he told Bernama.
Work on installing the flag to mark this year’s National Month celebrations started on July 28.
The task of installing the national flag along the Melaka river may be an arduous one for Ahmad Syahir and his team of 10 but it also fuels their love for their nation.
He said whilst they were busy putting up the flags, tourists often stopped to ask them why they were doing so.
“We became the unofficial spokesmen of the government and told them the flags were being flown in conjunction with Malaysia’s National Day. So, for those of us involved in installing the flags, it is important for us to know the history of our nation’s independence as well as display our patriotic spirit,” he added.
APPRECIATE NATION’S INDEPENDENCE
Meanwhile, PPSPM chief executive officer Datuk Murad Husin said the 1,000 Jalur Gemilang flying along the 4.5-km stretch of the Melaka River will convey the element of independence to all generations of Malaysians, regardless of their race and religion, who go on the river cruise.
“We want to remind Malaysians, especially the younger generation, that the national flag is not just a prop but something that fosters love for the nation,” he said.
He said Melaka River Cruise is also offering various attractive packages and discounts for its services in conjunction with this year’s National Day.
“Sungai Melaka is rich in history and has a thousand and one historical anecdotes, including those pertaining to our independence. We want Malaysians, especially Melaka residents, to appreciate the meaning of independence whilst cruising this river,” he added.
For part-time tuition teacher Joyche Yang, 43, the run-up to National Day never fails to evoke memories of her schooldays when she and her friends proudly hoisted the national flag which they themselves made.
She said she headed a group of students who were entrusted with making and installing the national flag in the school compound.
“There’s a difference between flying a flag that’s given to us free and one that we ourselves made. We felt so proud seeing the flag we ourselves had made… our efforts symbolised our love for our nation in our own way, regardless of race or religion.
“I also remember singing patriotic songs whilst flying the Jalur Gemilang (in our school),” she added.