exploringsingapore is exclusive ExplorerSG mini series where we reveal some of the lesser-known places, facts and history of Singapore.
Unveiled on 3 December 1959, the day when Yusof bin Ishak, Singapore’s first Malayan-born Yang di-Pertuan Negara (Malay for “Head of State”) was inaugurated, the national flag of Singapore rose to symbolise the country’s independence and beliefs.
Designed by a committee led by then Deputy Prime Minister Toh Chin Chye, the flag took only two months from conceptualisation to its unveiling.
Unbeknownst to many, the original design did not feature a crescent moon or five star. Instead, it featured only three stars and bear a striking resemblance to the Malayan Communist Party’s (MCP) flag. This prompted an immediate redesign of the flag to avoid any potential political conflict.
Other iterations including an all red flag as well as a blue and white flag were all rejected due to its likeness to the MCP flag and the Union Jack – the national flag of the United Kingdom – respectively.
The national flag we see today was officially adopted as the national flag of Singapore on 9 August 1965.
It reflects the ideals, beliefs and values that we stand for as a nation. The red stands for universal brotherhood and equality of man, while white symbolises pervading and everlasting purity and virtue. The crescent moon represents a young nation on the ascendant, and the five stars depict Singapore’s ideals of democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality.