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Malaysia apologizes for Indonesian flag mistake, reprints regional games guide

Southeast Asian (SEA) Games – Bukit Jalil Stadium, Kuala Lumpur – August 20, 2017 – A copy of the SEA Games opening ceremony guide shows a misprinted Indonesian flag. REUTERS/Edgar Su

KUALA LUMPUR/JAKARTA (Reuters) – Malaysia apologized on Sunday for the reverse printing of the Indonesian flag in the Southeast Asian Games souvenir guide, which authorities said had been removed and reprinted. The error, spotted on Saturday during the opening of the games in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur, sparked an outcry in Indonesia and the hashtag #ShameonyouMalaysia trended on social media. Indonesian President Joko Widodo told reporters in Jakarta that the incident was about “national pride” and demanded an apology. Within hours, Malaysian Foreign Minister Anifah Aman apologized to the Indonesian government and people for the “unintentional error”, saying all measures had been taken “to remedy this unfortunate situation”. Earlier, Malaysian Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the error would be corrected and a new guide sent to officials and guests of the games. “We apologize for damaging the image and reputation of the Republic of Indonesia, because the flag is a symbol of pride,” he said after meeting the Indonesian delegation at the games. The Indonesian flag has two horizontal bands of red at the top and white below. Turning it over, it looks like the flag of Poland. Indonesia’s Minister of Youth and Sports, Imam Nahrawi, acknowledged Khairy’s apology and said he hoped the incident would not happen again. The imam previously expressed his dismay by posting photos of the error on his Twitter account after the games’ opening ceremony. “It was a good opening ceremony but marred by this fatal and very painful negligence,” he said. The flag mistake was the latest in a series of embarrassing incidents at the regional sports meet. Last week, a bus driver transporting the Myanmar women’s soccer team was arrested on suspicion of stealing a watch and not having a driver’s license. (Reporting by Rozanna Latiff in KUALA LUMPUR and Gayatri Suroyo in JAKARTA; editing by Richard Borsuk)