|Upside down Cambodian flag at the UN headquarters in New York (Photo: Sovannarith Keo)|
I am compelled to write this letter as I cannot bear witnessing Cambodia’s flag has until this hour of my writing been flying upside down in complete reversed position at the headquarters of the United Nations here in New York City.
Regardless of whatever underlying reasons whether an unintentional protocol flaws as a result of UN staff’s negligence or the carelessness from the Cambodian government side, to me as well as to all Khmer citizens, such act is completely disturbing and embarrassing as Cambodia flag is the only one that has been flying so. It shall thus never be acceptable and allowed since flag can mean a matter of life and death for a nation on the international arena as it represents a nation’s face, prestige, identity, pride, patriotism, nationalism, unity and soul, etc., in particular when Cambodia is chairing the ASEAN Summit.
Does this not imply a disrespect of Cambodia and her people as a whole or is it a flag desecration? Or does it mean a declaration that Cambodia is a nation in distress or emergency situation that deserves immediate international help? Have the Cambodian Ambassador to the UN and his team ever noticed about this? Definitely, a proper explanation is required should the Cambodian government be serious about that.
Although Cambodia flag has been inscribed in the Constitution, it has been noted that not much attention has been paid to the proper use of Cambodia flag domestically or internationally while the country has yet to have any Flag Code or Flag Protocol. Unlike in the US or other nations, the country has never observed a single national Flag Day. In addition, the issue of flag of convenience remains a headache for the Cambodian government. Yet, not many actions have been seen actively taken.
It is time that our government should start thinking about this issue seriously if it really wants to raise Cambodia’s image internationally and does not want to repeat such embarrassing which could imply its weaknesses. While it is widely said that, “We weave the flag, we live under the flag and we also die under flag;” or “A patriot wraps himself around the flag to defend it; a scoundrel wraps it around himself to defend himself,” how far has these ideas been practiced and upheld by Cambodian government and its citizens?