The national flag of Singapore

The national flag of Singapore


The national flag of Singapore was designed by a committee, headed by Toh Chin Chye (Dr). It consists of two equal horizontal sections, red above white, where the red segment has a white crescent moon beside five stars placed in a circle. The national anthem, Majulah Singapura, the state crest and the national flag were incorporated on 3 December 1959 during National Loyalty Week. The flag replaced the Union Jack which had previously flown over Singapore.

Symbolic Meaning
The flag of Singapore consists of two equal horizontal sections, red above white. In the upper left canton is the white crescent moon beside five stars in a circle. The ratio of the width to the length of the flag is two to three.

Red symbolises universal brotherhood and equality of man. White signifies pervading and everlasting purity and virtue. The crescent moon represents a young nation on the ascendant, illuminated by the five ideals as symbolised by the five stars. The five stars represent the ideals of Singapore - democracy, peace, progress, equality and justice.

The committee under the leadership of Toh is credited for designing both the Singapore national flag and the state crest. The process of choosing a state flag began soon after Singapore became a self-governing state in 1959. Toh was then the Deputy Prime Minister when Lee Kuan Yew gave him this special assignment. The design was completed in two months. The key factors in deciding on the design, he noted were the colour of the flag and the emblem that would symbolise some of the beliefs of the new self-governing state.

Initially, Toh had envisaged a background that was totally red, but the Cabinet decided to have a red and white background as red was then regarded as a rallying point for communism.

The national anthem, Majulah Singapura, the state crest and the national flag were incorporated on 3 December 1959 during National Loyalty Week. This was also the day Yusof bin Ishak was installed as Yang di-Pertuan Negara. He was the first Malayan-born Yang di-Pertuan Negara.

The national flag replaced the Union Jack which for 140 years from 1819 to 1959 had flown over Singapore.

Extracted from Guidelines on the Use of National Symbols (The National Flag). (July 1999). Ministry and the Arts.

Guidelines for Use

(1) The flag shall be flown at all head offices of government-owned buildings, Ministries and Statutory Boards, preferably on or in front of the premises.

(2) The flag shall be displayed daily from sunrise to sunset, with the recommended flag-raising and flag-lowering time at 7.00 am and 7.00 pm respectively. If an organisation wishes to fly the flag 24 hours a day, it should ensure that the flag be properly illuminated during the night.

(3) When the flag is flown at official premises, no other flag or emblem can be placed above it or to the left of it. If there are other flags to be flown, these should be positioned to the right of the national flag. The other flags may be smaller, but none may be larger. The national flag is always the first flag raised and the last flag lowered.

(4)When carried in a procession, the flag must be held high with the flagstaff on the right shoulder of the standard bearer leading the procession.

(5) The flag, as the nation's symbol, is to be treated with dignity and respect. The use of the flag for commercial purposes, in advertisements, as a print pattern, or as an adornment is not permissible. No graphics or wordings should be superimposed on the flag. Subject to approval, however, images of the flag can be used for educational or learning purposes.

National Day Celebrations
Most restrictions on the use of the flag are lifted on National Day and other occasions of national rejoicing. The flag may be used in an appropriate and dignified manner in advertisements, prints, as well as decorations during the National Day celebrations period of 1-31 August. During the month, commercial and non-governmental buildings are allowed to fly the national flag.

Proper care and disposal
When the flag has to be cleaned, it should be washed and dried indoors separately, and not together with other laundry.

Torn or worn-out flags should be disposed properly by being packed into a sealed black trash bag. Alternatively, the flag should be handed over to the nearest Residents' Committee (RC) or Community Centre/Club (CC) for proper disposal.

Zaubidah Mohamed


Ministry of Information and the Arts. (1999). The national symbols kit, [kit]. Singapore: Ministry of Information and the Arts.
(Call No.: YRSING 320. 54095957027 NAT)

Singapore. Legislative Assembly. (1959). State arms and flag and national anthem of Singapore. Singapore: Printed at the Govt. Print. Off.
(Call No.: RSING 929.8 SIN)

No conflict, clear-cut symbol of unity. (1981, August 9). The Sunday Times, p. 13.

Ministry of Information, Communication and the Arts. (2002). National symbols. The national flag. Retrieved February 27, 2003, from

Further Readings
Crampton, W. (1992). The world of flags: A pictorial history (p. 88) (Rev.ed.). London: Studio Editions.
(Call no.: R q929.9209 CRA)

Drysdale, J. G. S. (1984). Singapore, struggle for success (p. 237). Singapore: Times Books International.
(Call no.: SING 959.57 DRY)

Bartram, G. (2002). Singapore. World Flag Database. Retrieved December 15, 2004, from§ion=CURR 

The information in this article is valid as at 2003 and correct as far as we are able to ascertain from our sources. It is not intended to be an exhaustive or complete history of the subject. Please contact the Library for further reading materials on the topic.

Politics and Government>>National Symbols
Emblems, National--Singapore
Law and Government>>National development

All Rights Reserved. National Library Board Singapore 2004.