Malaysians apologize for flag flap in Northfield
Updated: October 7, 2012 7:09AM
NORTHFIELD — When members of the Malaysian Association of Illinois gathered at a local park to celebrate their heritage, they didn’t set out to cause an international incident.
However, when they lowered the American flag and ran up the colors of Malaysia, the scene was captured by the “conservativeBrand,” blog, whose author decried it as a violation of U.S. flag etiquette. The author could not be immediately reached for comment.
The Malaysian Association of Illinois met before noon Saturday at Clarkson Park to celebrate the end of Ramadan and the independence of Malaysia.
Association member Dr. Roslan Jamaludin, who also serves as Director of Education Malaysia Chicago, said the groups celebrated Malaysia’s 55th independence day by lowering the U.S. flag and raising the Malaysian flag on a flag pole in the park.
The Malaysian flag bears a striking resemblance to the American flag, but includes a crescent moon and a 14-point star on a field of blue, with red and white stripes.
The attendees sang the Malaysian national anthem and returned the U.S. flag to the pole shortly after.
“We apologize for the event,” Jamaludin said. “We did put the flag back up. It was not meant to offend anyone.”
Northfield Park District Director George Alexoff said the group has used the facility in the past and had all the proper permits for the weekend event. He said the park district has had no prior issues with the group using their parks.
Alexoff said the park district always displays the American flag at their main facility at 401 Wagner Road and the pole across the street at Clarkson Park sometimes flies the U.S. flag. In winter months, the pole is used to fly red and green flags to let residents know if that facility is open.
“It’s the purpose of why that pole was put up there,” Alexoff said. “I definitely don’t think (their demonstration) was malicious.”
Alexoff said the event was a social gathering where no alcohol was served and called it, “low key,” but added the park district will look at their rental applications to be more specific about situations like these in the future.
Jamaludin said the event was attended by more than 100 people, most of them Malaysian college students studying in the Midwest. As director of Education Malaysia Chicago, Jamaludin looks after these students as they attend school in the U.S.
“Because we are funding this event together, we want to get all of our students to celebrate these two events,” Jamaludin said. He noted that the group flew the Malaysian flag on Friday in Chicago’s Daley Plaza, a practice he says has been going on for a few years.
According to the Northfield Police Department, officers were at the park at 12:13 p.m. to ask the group to move their cars off the lawn. Officers were concerned with the rain that vehicles may get stuck, but added the group did have permission to park there. According to the police, the log book showed no calls received about the flag.