The flag of Malaysia, also known as the Jalur Gemilang (Malay for "Stripes of Glory"), comprises 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.
In blazon, the Malaysian flag is described as: "A banner Gules, seven bars Argent; the canton Azure charged with decrescent and mullet of fourteen points Or." This means "a red flag with seven horizontal white stripes; the upper-left (hoist) quarter is blue with a yellow waning crescent (i.e. horns pointing to sinister) and a yellow 14-pointed star."
Flag ratio: 1:2. The Flag of Malaya in use from 1950 to 1963.
The flag of Malaysia, which was first raised on 16 September 1963, originated from the flag of the Federation of Malaya. Prior to the creation of the national flag, each state in Malaya had its own flag, many of which are unchanged in design to this day.
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. Three flags were forwarded to the public. The first flag had 11 white stars with two Malay kris (daggers) in the middle against a blue backdrop. The second flag "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 third design - by Mohamad Hamzah of the Public Works Department - was chosen as the winner through a public poll held by The Malay Mail. Since Malaya was fighting the communists during the Malayan Emergency, the five-pointed star had the uncanny resemblance with the communists' symbols. Therefore, the star was modified to accommodate six more points.
The first proposed flag of Malaya.
The second proposed flag of Malaya.
The third proposed flag of Malaya.
The Malayan flag was approved by King George VI on 19 May 1950 and was first raised in front of Istana Selangor on 26 May 1950. On 31 August 1957, it was raised upon independence at Merdeka Square in place of the British Union Flag.
The Malayan flag was designed by Mohamed Hamzah, a 29-year-old architect working for the Public Works Department (JKR) in Johor Baharu, Johore. He entered the Malayan flag design competition in 1947 with two designs which he completed within two weeks. The first design was a green flag with blue kris in the middle, surrounded by 15 white stars. The second design, which was among the three finalists, was similar to the current flag but with a five-pointed star. It borrows major design elements from the East India Company flag, notably the red and white stripes. The competition attracted 373 entries and voting was made by the general public via post. Malayan senior statesman Dato' Onn Jaafar met with Mohamed Hamzah after he won the competition and suggested that the star be changed to an 11-pointed one to represent all the Malayan states.
Mohamed Hamzah died just short of his 75th birthday on 13 February 1993 in Jalan Stulang Baru, Kampung Melayu Majidee, Johor.
Following the formation of Malaysia on 16 September 1963, the design of the Malayan flag was modified to reflect and honour the new states in the federation.
Three additional 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 plus Sabah, Sarawak, and Singapore; this design remained the same even after Singapore's expulsion from the federation two years later. When Kuala Lumpur was designated a Federal Territory on 1 February 1974, the additional stripe and the point in the star were appropriated to represent this new addition to the federation. Eventually, with the addition of two other federal territories — Labuan in 1984 and Putrajaya in 2001 — the fourteenth stripe and point in the star came to be associated with the federal government in general.
In 1997, when Malaysians were invited to name the flag, then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir bin Mohammad picked the name Jalur Gemilang to project the country's onward drive towards continuous growth and success.
The flag anthem is written as dedication and pride of the Malaysian national flag. It is performed on Hari Merdeka, the nation's independence day on 31 August every year. The original anthem Benderaku was written by Malaysian songwriter Tony Fonseka. After the flag was given the name Jalur Gemilang, the flag anthem was updated in 1997 to reflect this change. This was then followed by an introduction of a new flag anthem, with arrangements by Malaysian songwriter Pak Ngah and lyrics by Malaysian songwriter Siso Kopratasa.
Jalur Gemilang by Tony Fonseka
Jalur Gemilang yang gagah perkasa
Merah putih kuning biru warnanya
Berkibar megah penuh bercahaya
Pusaka kita rakyat Malaysia
Jalur Gemilang, oh benderaku
Kupertahankan sepenuh ragaku
Dikaulah lambang negara berpadu
Di bawah naungan Duli Tuanku
Berkibar terus oh benderaku
Kaukan kujunjung sepanjang waktu
Harumlah nama negara yang tercinta
Padamu tempat taat dan setia
Jalur Gemilang, bendera kita
Kemegahan rakyat kita semua
Berkibar berkibar di ruang angkasa
Dirgahayu bendera tercinta!
The Mighty Stripes of Glory
Red, White, Yellow and Blue are the colours
Flying high up in the skies
The legacy of all of us Malaysians
O my flag, The Stripes of Glory
I will defend it with all of my might
The Symbol of a unified nation
Under the patronage of His Royal Highness
Fly high o my flag
I will raise it all the time
O shine up, my beloved nation
To you, I swear my full allegiance
The Stripes of Glory, our flag
The pride of all of us
Fly, fly high up in the skies
Long live our beloved flag!
Jalur Gemilang by Pak Ngah & Siso Kopratasa (Malay)
The flag used by the Malaysian Army has a red background with the Jalur Gemilang in the canton and the army emblem in the fly.
Air Force ensign
The flag used by the Royal Malaysian Air Force has a pale blue background with the Jalur Gemilang in the canton and the Bintang Persekutuan (14-point star) in the fly.
The flag used by the Royal Malaysian Navy has a white background with the Jalur Gemilang in a red-fimbriated canton and an emblem consisting of an anchor and two crossed traditional kris (daggers) in the fly. Naval ships of the Royal Malaysian Navy use this flag as the naval ensign.