Here are the 8 different flags Singapore had in our 198 years since we were founded

Of course the last one is the nicest lah.

Joshua Lee | August 2, 2017 @ 01:36 pm

Edit: The previous version of this article missed out on the Rising Sun Flag adopted by the Japanese Imperial Army. We have included this in the list, and edited the article title. 

National Day is approaching, and of course, you’ll see our national flag everywhere. In case you didn’t know, our flag is more than 52 years old.

Singapore’s national flag saw its debut on December 3, 1959 when our first Malaya-born Yang di-Pertuan Negara (Malay for “Head of State”), Yusof Ishak, was inaugurated. 

Before that, however, Singapore flew several different flags throughout our island’s short history since our modern founding in 1819.

Flag of the British East India Company: 1819 – 1826

The British East India Company (EIC) was the quasi-government company that was formed to pursue trade opportunities in the East Indies (South and Southeast Asia). When Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles landed in Malaya, he set up a trading post under the auspices of the EIC.

Flag of the United Kingdom of Great Britain (Union Flag): 1819 – 1826

At the same time, the Union Flag was also flown during that time as a sign of British conquest.


Flag of the Straits Settlements: 1826 – 1942; 1945 – 1946

The Straits Settlements refer to the group of British territories in Southeast Asia – originally Singapore, Malacca, Penang – so named because they are located along the Straits of Malacca.

These three territories were united into one administrative unit in 1826, with the capital situated in Penang, due to rising administrative costs. The capital was then moved to Singapore in 1832 when it became more prominent as a commercial trading port.

Labuan, Cocos-Keeling, and Christmas Islands joined the Straits Settlement after. 

The Straits Settlements were controlled by the British EIC until 1867. After that, they became a Crown Colony which were controlled by Britain directly.

Flag of Japan: 1942 – 1945

World War 2 and the Japanese Occupation saw the flag of Japan flown over Singapore from 1942 to 1945. In order to orientate Singapore towards Japan, Singapore’s time was also moved ahead by one hour and 30 minutes to match Japan’s.

Flag of the Japanese Imperial Army: 1942 – 1945

Image via Wikipedia.

The Japanese Imperial Army adopted the Rising Sun Flag since 1870 until 1945, which saw the end of World War 2 as well as the Japanese Occupation.

Flag of Colony of Singapore: 1946 – 1959

Some time after the Japanese Occupation, the Straits Settlement was dissolved as Penang and Malacca joined the Malayan Union.

Singapore (together with the Cocos-Keeling and Christmas Islands) went back to being a Crown Colony. Labuan joined the North Borneo Crown Colony. 

Flag of Federation of Malaysia: 1963 – 1965

Singapore hoisted the Malaysian flag briefly when she merged with the Federation of Malaysia, to become one of the 14 states of Malaysia on September 16, 1963. Unfortunately, the merger did not last long. Singapore left to become fully independent on August 9, 1965.

Flag of Singapore: 1959 – Present

The Singapore flag was adopted in 1959 when Singapore attained self-governance, and kept the flag through independence in 1965. The purpose of the flag was to give us, the people, a sense of identity as well as provide a visual symbol of early Singaporeans’ hopes and ideals.

These were expressed in the form of the red and white colours (symbolising universal brotherhood and everlasting purity respectively), the crescent moon (a young nation), and five stars (democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality).


All images via flagmakers.co.uk and Wikipedia

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