Indonesia's flag was printed upside down in materials distributed by the organizers of the 2017 Southeast Asian Games in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Saturday (19/08). (Photo courtesy of Imam Nahrawi)

Indonesian Flag Upside Down in Official SEA Games Booklet


AUGUST 20, 2017

Jakarta. Sports Minister Imam Nahrawi on Saturday (19/08) expressed his disappointment over a misprint in the Indonesian flag in the promotional materials distributed at the 2017 Southeast Asian Games opening ceremony in Kuala Lumpur.

"A great opening, but marred by a fatal, very painful negligence. Our flag… [is] Red White…" Imam said on Twitter.

To the tweet the minister attached a photograph of the Kuala Lumpur 2017 Souvenir Special Book, in which the Indonesian flag appears upside down, making it become the national flag of Poland.

Imam's tweet received a prompt response from his Malaysian counterpart, Khairy Jamaluddin, who apologized and said "absolutely no malice was intended."

"Mr. Imam, please accept my sincere apologies for this. There was absolutely no malice intended. I'm very upset by this error. My apologies," Jamaluddin."

As close neighbors, Indonesia and Malaysia have one of the most important bilateral relationships in the region. Over the years, however, relations between the two countries have been strained by various issues, including claims over each other's cultural features and diplomatic frictions due to haze caused by wildfires in Indonesia.

Although a considerably small issue, the Saturday error prompted netizens to voice discontent, with #ShameOnYouMalaysia trending on Twitter.

Netizens were also quick to point out that the same error was made in a local Malaysian newspaper, which the Jakarta Globe identified as Harian Metro.

"I think this was very careless, very sloppy. I think it has tainted the grand ceremony of the 2017 Southeast Asian Games, which was watched by millions," Imam said, as quoted by state news agency Antara.

Imam said Indonesia demands an official apology from the Malaysian government.

The Malaysia SEA Games Organizing Committee (MASOC) apologized "for the inadvertent error of publishing the wrong flag for Indonesia."

Following the incident, the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement released on Sunday that foreign ministers of the two countries have discussed the issue.

The Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur submitted a diplomatic note expressing Indonesia's disappointment, the statement said.

Meanwhile, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo asked Indonesians to remain calm and not to be provoked by the incident.

"Let's not exaggerate this issue and wait for the Malaysian government to officially apologize, as this is a matter of the nation's pride and our national spirit," Jokowi said in Jakarta on Sunday, as quoted on the president's official website.