As a livery to most of us outside of Malaysia it appears as a national flag that adorns the newest aircraft in the national airline. It looks very smart, it looks appropriate for an airline. Indeed there are many who say it should indeed be, the national airlines principal livery.
And yet there is another side to it. Malaysia is one of the most politicised societies in the world. Malaysians have a generally high standard of living and they are technically a democracy.
Yet rampant corruption, nepotism and flagrant abuses of power by prime ministers and politicians, a lopsided judiciary and endless political interference in almost every aspect of the economy, make this a very political livery.
It represents national pride, certainly, nobody minds that, we all have pride of some sort in our country, no matter its problems. It’s the flagrant and deliberate aim to stir up nationalism, the word used by the airline and government to describe it I must add, to create nationalist feelings, to raise the political temperature, to remind everyone to put the state first and everything else second.
Nationalism is fashionable right now, but it never does good. It leads to external and internal conflict, racism and cultural divides. Malaysia has enough societal fault lines without its government pushing the airline down a politicised path of accelerating its agenda, just to win the next election.
It’s just another example of how you can never divorce airlines from politics, no matter where they are or where they fly to. Symbolism in a flag is never just about making the livery look good.