Last time, we took you through the interesting history behind the colourful flag of Venezuela. We’re back with another story about the colourful flag of Malaysia, and why it features white, red and blue! Read on to find out…
The flag of Malaysia, which was first raised on 16th September, 1963, originated from the flag of the Federation of Malaya. Before the creation of the national flag, each state in Malaya had its own flag, many of which are unchanged in design till date.
The flag of Malaysia is named ‘Jalur Gemilang’ which means ‘Stripes of Excellence’ or ‘Stripes of Glory’ in Malay. It was named in 1997 by the Prime Minister of that time, Tun Dr. Mahathir bin Mohammad, who declared the name as representing Malaysia’s goal to strive for progress and success.
When the Federation of Malaya replaced the short-lived Malayan Union, the federation government through the Federal Legislative Council called for a design contest for the creation of a new flag. Three flags were forwarded to the public. The first flag featured 11 white stars with two Malay ‘kris’ (daggers) in the middle on a blue backdrop.
The second flag design had a concentric circle of 11 stars around crossed ‘keris’ on a blue field. The third had 11 alternate red and white stripes and a yellow crescent and a five-pointed star on a blue background in the top left hand corner. The star and crescent are traditional symbols of Islam, representing the majority of the Malaysian population. Blue represents the membership of the British Commonwealth and the red and white are believed to be traditional colours of Southeast Asian Malagasy nations. Yellow is the colour of the sultans who rule the nine states of the Malaysian federation.
The third design, by Mohamad Hamzah of the Public Works Department, was declared as the winner through a public poll that was held by The Malay Mail. Since Malaya was fighting the communists during the Malayan Emergency, the five-pointed star had an ironic resemblance to the communists’ symbols. Therefore, the star was modified to accommodate six more points.
After the formation of Malaysia on 16th September, 1963, the design of the Malayan flag was modified to reflect and honour the new states in the federation. Three stripes were added to the existing flag and the star was given 14 points to reflect the federation of the original 11 states in Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore.
We hope you got a glimpse into the interesting history of Malaysia through its flag!