A few months ago, I watched on BBC the recent North Korean military parade. An immaculate show of power that symbolizes the country’s firm stance on what it believes, or at least what their leaders believe. When Kim Yong-Il took the stage for his speech, an audience of thousands clapped vivaciously in a simultaneous fashion. The clapping went on for at least 15 minutes, before Kim Yong-Il can start his speech. From what I can see, military personnel monitored the clapping, making sure everybody claps. I can see these armed personnel pointing at weak clappers, shouting in anger.

It reminds me of the Soviet Union’s Revolution Day parade in the 80s. A similar demonstration of power, with thousands of audience lined up along the Red Square, waving the hammer and sickle flag. I can recall seeing a man getting the butt of a Politburo militiaman’s Avtomat Kalashnikova for not waving the red flag. All done in the name of what they (their leaders) believe, communism. Can it be called patriotism?

In the mainstream newspapers today, Rais Yatim said, buildings with no Jalur Gemilang during the 50 years independence celebration will be ridiculed in the media. Utusan wrote, as “punishment”. Rais, are you saying that you withdrew from the Commonwealth secretary-general race just to make statements like this?

Patriotism cannot be forced, no?