PETALING JAYA, Malaysia - Several prominent figures have lambasted supporters of the recent Janji Demokrasi rally who "unveiled a new Malaysian flag" and stepped on photographs of the nation's leaders, saying that the action was against the principle of the Rukun Negara (National Principles).
Tan Sri Prof Khoo Kay Kim, one of the co-authors of the Rukun Negara, lamented the lack of understanding among a section of the nation's youth resulting in misguided acts against the accepted national symbols and values.
"I think the problem among some of the youth today is that they treat the flag not as a national symbol but as a joke. They don't realise that the Jalur Gemilang was decided and accepted by the people through democratic process," he said.
He said there was a gross misunderstanding that the national flag was synonymous with the ruling party, in this case the Barisan Nasional led-government.
"Whatever the disagreement that may exist between political parties, there are certain facts that have to be accepted by the rakyat," he said.
He noted that any change to the accepted national institutions and symbols could only be brought about via the ballot box.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, who is in charge of National Unity and Performance Management, said the action was against the tenets of the Rukun Negara.
"These actions go against the fifth principle in the Rukun Negara, "Kesopanan dan Kesusilaan" (Courtesy and Morality)," he said, adding that disrespectful acts were undemocratic and unacceptable.
"The principles in the Rukun Negara must be upheld by all to ensure peace in the country," Koh, who is also Gerakan president, said during the party's Hari Raya open house celebrations.
Malay rights group Perkasa chief Datuk Ibrahim Ali described the acts as "subversive" and a threat to the nation's peace and unity.
"The acts are subversive and we are concerned that their actions had been influenced by both internal and external political elements out to ruin the peace and unity enjoyed by our nation," he said.
He urged the authorities to investigate the incidents with Perkasa lodging a police report against the culprits.
The youth chiefs of MCA and MIC, Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong and T. Mohan, both condemned the acts as an immature gimmick that could cause disunity.
"The flag represents the nation and there are those who have sacrificed their lives defending it. How can they disrespect the flag?," Wee said.
Mohan said the Opposition's repeated calls for change via its slogan "Ubah" could have contributed to the incident.