by Choo Dee Wei
Published November 11, 2018
Negaraku, the national anthem of Malaysia. Growing up, I recall standing tall (well not that tall as puberty had yet to set in) at assembly and singing Negaraku albeit slightly out of tune.
Standing when the national anthem is played is a sign of respect. However, one might be surprised that there exists the National Anthem Act 1968 (revised in 2018) (“NAA”).
Under the NAA, the schedule to the NAA sets the full version of national anthem which consists of the words and music sheet. The National Anthem is described as the National Anthem of Malaysia being the composition consisting of the words and music specified in the Schedule.
From it, there can be the short version and the abridged version (descriptions are set out on how to play the short and abridged version). The abridged version is shorter than the full version while the short version is shorter than the abridged version.
Under the NAA, the full or Royal version of the National Anthem is to played during certain occasions, such as:-
(a) during official parades or other official ceremonial functions;
(b) on all occasions when the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is present in person (including broadcasts by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong); and
(c) when the flag of Malaysia is brought on parades.
For all official receptions to foreign dignitaries at which the salute is given, the full or Royal version of the National Anthem shall be played immediately after the anthem of the country of the visiting dignitary has been played.
In fact, the full or Royal version of the National Anthem may be played in schools for the purpose of teaching pupils to sing the National Anthem.
It must be remembered that On all occasions when the National Anthem is sung, the full or Royal version shall be recited.
As for the abridged version of the National Anthem, that version shall be played as a salute on all official occasions for:-
(a) the Raja Permaisuri Agong; and
(b) the Yang di-Pertua Negeri of Malacca, Penang, Sabah and Sarawak.
And as for the short version of the National Anthem, that version shall be played on any official occasion when the Yang di-Pertuan Agong or his representative is not present. but one of the Rulers of the States is present and it shall be played at the conclusion of the occasion immediately after the relevant State anthem has been played.
With that in mind, the NAA provides that whenever the National Anthem is played, regardless of its version, all persons present shall stand to attention as a mark of respect. The exception to this is where the National Anthem is played or sung in the course of a broadcast or newsreels as part of such broadcast or newsreels.
There are repercussions in not showing respect. A show of disrespect is where:-
(a) a person does not stand to attention whenever the National Anthem is played, regardless of its version, without good and sufficient cause; and
(b) any act or omission which would tend to lower the prestige of the National Anthem in the eyes of the public.
A police officer may arrest without a warrant anyone who contravenes the NAA in the presence of the police officer unless that person gives his name and address and convinces the police officer that he will duly answer any summons or other proceedings that will be taken against him.
The NAA states that any person who knowingly shows disrespect towards the National Anthem in any public place shall, on conviction, be liable to a fine not exceeding RM100.00 or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 1 month. That would not be music to the ears of those convicted.