Malaysian man faces six-month imprisonment for display of Israeli flag

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3rd December 2023 – (Kuala Terengganu) A man in Terengganu has been sentenced to a six-month term of incarceration and ordered to pay a RM500 (HK$835) fine. His crime? Publicly displaying the Israeli flag.

Harma Zulfika Deraman, 30, was charged under the National Emblems (Control of Display) Act 1949 for exhibiting the emblem of Israel, with which Malaysia currently has no diplomatic relations. The accused confessed to his actions in the Marang magistrates’ court, with the charge being read out to him by Magistrate Zur Azureen Zainalkefli, according to a report by Harian Metro.

Deraman was alleged to have committed the act at a vehicle accessory shop in Kampung Padang Lebam, Bukit Payung on the 19th of October. His case serves to underline the strict regulations pertaining to the public display of national symbols in Malaysia.

As stated in Section 3(1) of the National Emblems (Control of Display) Act 1949, “no person shall display in public, or at, or within any school, any national emblem”. Violators are liable to face penalties under Section 8(1)(i) of the same act, which stipulates a maximum prison term of six months, a fine of up to RM500, or both upon conviction.

However, the Act does provide room for exceptions. Under Section 5, it is specified that the minister in charge has the power to grant exemptions to the rules outlined in Section 3 for the display of any national emblem, albeit through a gazette or written permit.

Deraman’s sentence will not go into effect immediately. Instead, it will commence upon the completion of a five-year prison term he’s currently serving for a drug-related offence. This conviction, handed down last month, also includes a penalty of one stroke of the rotan.