Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Protocol errors at 2nd ASEAN-US Leaders’ Meeting

I'm sure we've all heard the brouhaha about the inverted Philippine flag at the 2nd Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) US Leaders’ Meeting in New York last weekend, erroneously indicating the country is in a state of war. An apology was made. And the same was accepted by the Philippine Government. So let's leave that at that. But note that there are actually two more errors.

First is that the Myanmar flag was inverted as well. I find this quite disconcerting since this was fairly obvious since the blue box with the cogwheel and stars should have been on the upper left and not lower left as in most flags with the same box, the U.S. included. But the U.S. has had a history of inverting flags, including that of its neighbor Canada. Imagine inverting something as obvious as a maple leaf!

Second, the flag of Myanmar follows Brunei's flag. Does the United States still refer to Myanmar as Burma? That's protocol fail number three. In ASEAN meets, the flag of Myanmar always follows Malaysia in alphabetical order.

Just some trivia, Myanmar will have a new constitution, official name and flag this year that will come into force with the first sitting of the parliament to be elected in the November 2010 election. The Union of Myanmar will become the Republic of the Union of Myanmar. And the new flag will adopt the colors of their 1943 to 1945 flag, the first ASEAN country to have the color green in its flag. Notice how all ASEAN flags stick to red, white, blue, yellow or black. The color red is common to all ASEAN flags as well as that of East Timor.

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