LAST_UPDATETue, 15 May 2018 11am

History Behind the Malaysian Flag

The Malaysian flag which became known as Jalur Gemilang in later years was actually created a few years before independence. According to the history, 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 a new flag.


 Flag of Federated Malay States from 1896 to 1950.



The flag of Malaysia which was first raised on September 16, 1963, originated from the flag of the Federation of Malaya. The idea of having a national flag was mooted after the British started to collectively administer the eleven states of Malaya as a single entity. Prior to that, each state in Malaya had its own flag, many of which are unchanged in design to this day.









The Design


The Committee submitted 373 flag designs to the Federal Legislative Council for consideration and selection on 15 November 1949. Only three designs were shortlisted. The first had 11 white stars with two keris in the middle against a blue backdrop. The second flag concentric circle of 11 stars around crossed keris on a blue field.


The third design, created by architect Johor Public Works Department, Mohamed Hamza, displayed eleven blue and white stripes with white stars the moon on the left side and a choice of a majority assent of the Kings Council Meeting held on February 22 and 23, 1950. It borrowed major design elements from the American flag, such as the red and white stripes, and the idea of the stars representing the Malaysian states.






Before the flag design was made official, there were few amendments that were made to it. This included a proposal by the Sultan of Kedah who asked to change the white crescent to yellow to represent the Malay rulers. On April 19, 1950, the Federal Legislative Council, through the approval of the Council of Malay Rulers, approved the Kedah Sultan’s proposal which was presented to the Acting Chief Secretary to the Government of the Federation of Malaya flag.




Flag of Federation of Malaya from 1950 to 1963.The final design comprised of a field of 14 alternating red and white stripes along the fly and a blue canton bearing a crescent and a 14-point star known as the Bintang Persekutuan (Federal Star). The 14 stripes, of equal width, represent the equal status in the federation of the 13 member states and the federal government, while the 14 points of the star represent the unity between these entities. The crescent represents Islam, the country's official religion; the blue canton symbolises the unity of the Malaysian people; the yellow of the star and crescent is the royal colour of the Malay rulers.



On May 26 in the same year, the flag was flown for the first time at the Palace of the Sultan of Selangor in Kuala Lumpur. It was held at 9:30 am and was attended by representatives of all the Malay rulers representing their respective states.





'Jalur Gemilang'


During the 40th anniversary of the nation’s independence in 1997, and after 47 years of its creation, the flag was christened with the name ‘Jalur Gemilang’ (Glorious Stripes or Stripes of Glory). The name was proposed by the officers of the National Museum and Antiquities Department, namely one Redzuan Tamin in a contest. Redzuan won against 28 other recommendations including ‘Malaysia Raya’, ‘N.U.S.A’, ‘Saga Merah’ and others.



Flag of Malaysia in current use  which also known as Jalur Gemilang.
The newly given name was declared by the then prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, on the night of August 31, 1997 at 11:58pm in Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur. There are meanings behind the term Jalur Gemilang, whereby, Jalur represents its 14 red and white parallel stripes which symbolises a common mission, a common direction and a virtuous path followed by the peoples of all states regardless of creed, race and religion. Meanwhile, ‘Gemilang’ means bright, brilliant, resplendent or excellent.







Jalur Gemilang represents the excellence of the peoples and the nation of Malaysia in every field, be it at national or international level. It also symbolises a nation and peoples who are hard-working, patriotic, strong, courageous and ready to sacrifice for their race, nation and religion.

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