The national flag of Singapore was first adopted in 1959, the year Singapore became self-governing within the British Empire. It was reconfirmed as the national flag when the Republic gained independence on 9 August 1965. The design is a horizontal bicolour of red above white, overlaid in the canton (upper-left quadrant) by a white crescent moon facing a pentagon of five small white five-pointed stars. The elements of the flag denote a young nation on the ascendant, universal brotherhood and equality, and national ideals.
Vessels at sea do not use the national flag as an ensign. Merchant vessels and pleasure craft fly a civil ensign of red charged in white with a variant of the crescent and stars emblem in the centre. Non-military government vessels such as coast guard ships fly a state ensign of blue with the national flag in the canton, charged with an eight-pointed red and white compass rose in the lower fly. Naval warships fly a naval ensign similar to the state ensign, but in white with a red compass rose emblem.
Rules defined by the Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem Act govern the use and display of the national flag. These have been relaxed to allow citizens to fly the flag from vehicles during national holidays and from homes at any time of the year.
Singapore was under British rule in the 19th century, having been amalgamated into the Straits Settlements together with Malacca and Penang. The flag that was used to represent the Settlements was a British Blue Ensign containing three gold crowns - one for each settlement - separated by a red inverted pall, which resembles an inverted Y. The Settlement of Singapore had no separate flag, although the city was granted a coat of arms which featured a lion in 1911. During the occupation of Singapore by the Japanese during the Second World War, the Japanese national flag (also called theNisshōki or the Hinomaru) was used on land by the military and during public events. Soon after the Second World War, Singapore became an independent Crown colony and adopted its own flag. It was modified from the Straits Settlements flag to reduce the number of crowns from three to one.
The design of the flag was completed in two months by a committee headed by Toh. He initially wanted the flag's entire background to be red, but theCabinet decided against this, as red was regarded as a rallying point for communism. Also, Indonesia, Poland and Monaco already had plain red and white flags. According to an account given by Lee Kuan Yew, the Chinese population wanted five stars, which were modeled off the flag of the People's Republic of China and the Muslim population wanted a crescent moon. Both of these symbols were combined to create the national flag of Singapore.
On 30 November 1959, the Singapore State Arms and Flag and National Anthem Ordinance 1959 was passed to regulate the use and display of the State Arms and State Flag and the performance of the National Anthem. When presenting the motion to the Legislative Assembly of Singapore on 11 November 1959, Sinnathamby Rajaratnam, the Minister for Culture, stated: "National flags, crest and anthem express symbolically the hopes and ideals of a people... The possession of a national flag and crest is, for a people, symbolic of self-respect." In September 1962, the people of Singapore voted to join the Federation of Malaysia. The process was formally completed on 16 September 1963, when the Malaysian flag was hoisted on Singapore by Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew. The Singapore flag was reconfirmed as the national flag when Singapore became fully independent from Malaysia on 9 August 1965.
The Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem Rules define the flag's composition and the symbolism of its elements: red symbolises "universal brotherhood and equality of man", and white, "pervading and everlasting purity and virtue". The waxing crescent moon "represents a young nation on the ascendant". The five stars "stand for the nation's ideals of democracy, peace, progress, justice and equality". During the second half of the 20th century, the star and crescent symbol came to be recognized as a symbol of Islamism, and Singapore's flag came to be seen in this context by the nation's Muslim activists.
The ratio of the flag is two units high by three units wide. For the manufacturing of flags, the Government of Singapore stated that the shade of red used on the flag is Pantone 032. According to guidelines published by the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA), the flag may be reproduced in any size and displayed at all times, but it must be in its specified proportions and colours. MICA recommends the sizes 915 by 1,370 mm (approx. 36 by 54 in), 1,220 by 1,830 mm (approx. 48 by 72 in), and 1,830 by 2,740 mm (approx. 72 by 108 in). The material that is recommended for the national flag is bunting wool.
Singaporeans are encouraged to display the national flag outside their homes during National Day celebrations, and residents' committees, particularly those of public housing estates, often arrange co-ordinated displays. However, some Singaporeans decline to do so as they associate it with thePeople's Action Party, the ruling party in Parliament, rather than with the nation.
On National Day in 2007 at the Padang, 8,667 volunteers holding up red and white umbrellas formed the largest-ever representation of Singapore's flag at an event organised by Young NTUC, a youth movement associated with the National Trades Union Congress.
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