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National Flag

The Origin

The National Flag, Singapore's most visible symbol of statehood, reflects the ideals, beliefs and values of our nation. The creation of a new National Flag was therefore a vital task for Singapore’s newly elected Cabinet in 1959.

Then Deputy Prime Minister Dr Toh Chin Chye was placed in charge of a committee to create a new flag to replace the British Union Jack, which had flown over the island for nearly 140 years from 1819 to 1959.

Dr Toh had firm ideas about the design of the flag. There were to be five stars, which would stand for the five core principles of democracy, justice, peace, prosperity and equality. A crescent moon would serve to signify Singapore’s status as a young nation.

To ensure that the flag would not be confused with those of other nations, Dr Toh studied the flags of countries represented in the United Nations and showed the Cabinet various designs for their consideration. He was initially not in favour of a red and white colour scheme, as he explained in an oral history interview with the National Archives of Singapore:

"I had produced prototypes with different colours for the Cabinet to decide. I explained to them why we cannot use red and white, white and red. White above red is the flag of Poland. Red above white is the flag of Indonesia."

Dr Toh Chin Chye, 1989

But after careful deliberations, the Legislative Assembly endorsed the red and white flag on 18 November 1959, together with the State Crest and National Anthem.

The National Flag was unveiled on 3 December 1959 at the installation of the first Malayan-born Yang di-Pertuan Negara (Head of State), Encik Yusof bin Ishak. The ceremony was held in the City Hall Chambers. The Flag was publicly unveiled for the first time at the City Hall steps. The Flag was later adopted officially as Singapore’s National Flag upon her independence in 1965.


Meaning

The National Flag consists of two equal horizontal sections, red above white. A white crescent moon occupies the upper left red section. Next to the moon are five white stars arranged in a circle.

Each feature of the Flag bears a unique symbolic meaning. Red stands for universal brotherhood and equality of man. 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.


Guidelines for the Use of the National Flag

The National Flag is Singapore's most visible symbol of statehood. The Flag reflects the ideals, beliefs and values that we stand for as a nation amidst our rich and diverse cultural make-up. It forms a crucial element of our national identity. As such, the National Flag is to be treated with dignity and honour.

Singaporeans, Government and other organisations may display or fly the National Flag to identify with the nation. Singaporeans are especially encouraged to do this during occasions of national celebration or significance. The use and display of the National Flag is governed by the Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem (Amendment) Rules 2007, which came into effect on 16 July 2007.

A primary concern underpinning all the guidelines is that the National Flag must be treated with dignity and respect at all times.

How the National Flag should be used

  1. It may be reproduced in reduced size representations and displayed at all times, but regardless of size, it must be in its true colours and form, which is in the ratio of 3 (length): 2 (breadth). The official colours of the National Flag are Pantone 032 for the red portion and Pantone White for the white portion.
  2. When the Flag is displayed outside a building, it shall be displayed on or in front of the building. Outside the National Day celebrations period (1 July to 30 September), it must be flown only from a flagpole, and if it is displayed or flown at night, it should be properly illuminated.
  3. Within Singapore, it should take precedence over all other flags, subject to international practice. When displayed or flown with another flag, it must be in a position of honour. This means it should be positioned where practicable, either above all other flags or to the left of the other flags, as seen by a person facing the flags.

How the National Flag cannot be used or treated

  1. The Flag cannot be used:
    • in any trademark or for any commercial purpose;
    • as a means, or for the purposes of advertisement;
    • as, or as part of, any furnishings, decoration, covering or receptacle;
    • at any private funeral activity;
    • incorporated or worn as part of any costume or attire; or
    • on any private vehicle.
  2. No person shall produce or display any flag that bears any graphics or word superimposed on the design of the Flag.
  3. The Flag should be cleaned when dirty, and replaced if it has faded. After any washing, it should not be hung out to dry outdoors together with other laundry. Any worn out or damaged Flag should be disposed of properly, and not left visible in dustbins. Torn or worn-out Flags should be packed into a sealed black trash bag before being disposed of.

Use of the National Flag during the National Day Celebrations

In recent years, the Government has taken steps to allow greater flexibility in the use of the National Flag. The Government encourages individuals and businesses to fly the National Flag during the National Day celebrations period from 1 July to 30 September each year. During this period, the Flag may be flown without a flagpole and night illumination.

The business community in Singapore is also encouraged to fly the National Flag outside their buildings throughout the year. This message is not confined to local or Singapore-owned/managed organisations, but also for foreign organisations based here. Foreign organisations are invited to fly the Singapore Flag as a sign of solidarity and friendship with Singapore.

Relaxation of Rules

In line with the amendments to the Rules in the Singapore Arms and Flag and National Anthem (Amendment) Rules 2007, National Flag decals and stickers, posters or other visual images may now be displayed freely.

Additionally, the National Flag may be flown on vehicles (both private and commercial) during the National Day celebrations period. The National Flag may also be displayed on costumes and personal attire during the period with the requirement only that the Flag be treated with respect at all times.


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Frequently Asked Questions

Flag Display Period

  1. When may I display the Flag?

    The Flag may be displayed throughout the year provided if it is displayed from a flagpole. The flag may also be displayed throughout the night, provided that the Flag is illuminated. However, the guidelines on displaying the Flag from a flagpole and on night illumination are relaxed during the National Day celebrations period (1 July – 30 September each year), i.e. the Flag need not be displayed from a flagpole or displayed through the night without night illumination during this period.

  2. When may I display an actual mini Flag on my vehicle?

    Generally, members of the public may not display a mini Flag from their vehicles. However, this guideline is relaxed during the National Day celebrations period (1 July – 30 September each year), with the exception of hearses. Please do affix or fasten the Flag firmly to ensure that it does not come off while driving, as this may cause accidents to occur.

  3. When may I display Flag decals on my vehicle?

    These decals may be displayed throughout the year. However, the primary concern is that the Flag must be treated with dignity and respect. For example, one should not display a decal with words or graphics superimposed on the Flag, nor should the decal be displayed on the exhaust pipe or on the wheels.

  4. When is the National Day celebrations period?

    It takes place from 1 July to 30 September (a period of three months) each year.

  5. What is the significance of the National Day celebrations period?

    During this period, some of the guidelines regarding the use of the Flag are relaxed. They are:
    - Members of the public may incorporate the Flag as part of a costume or attire without seeking prior permission as long as the Flag is treated with dignity and respect.
    - Members of the public may display the Flag on any vehicle, other than a hearse, without seeking prior permission as long as the Flag is treated with dignity and respect.
    - The Flag need not be displayed from a flagpole.
    - The Flag may be displayed throughout the night without proper illumination.
    This relaxation took place because we understand the Flag is an important National Symbol which many Singaporeans wish to use to celebrate their love or patriotism for the country, especially in the period surrounding our National Day on 9 August.

Flag display protocol

  1. I would like to display the Singapore Flag and my corporation’s flags at the flagpoles at my premises. What should the protocol be?

    From the perspective of a passer-by facing the building, the Flag should be displayed to the left to all the other flags. This means that no other flags may be displayed on the left of the National Flag.

  2. I would like to display the Singapore Flag together with a foreign country’s flag at the flagpoles at my premises. What should the protocol be?

    First, please do email the Ministry of Information, Communications and the Arts (MICA) to obtain permission from to display the foreign flags. The contact person from MICA would then advise on how the Singapore Flag should be displayed vis-à-vis the foreign flags.

  3. I wish to display the Flag at the flagpoles (there are more than one) at my premises. The flagpoles are all of the same height. What should the display protocol be?

    Should you wish to display the Flag together with other corporate flags, please refer to Qn 6. If the Flag is the only flag displayed, it may be displayed from any flagpole as long as it is displayed with dignity and respect. Our recommendation however is to display the Flag from the middle flagpole.

  4. I wish to display the Flag from the flagpoles at my office, but one of the flagpoles is taller than the rest. However, this particular flagpole is not the leftmost one. What should the display protocol be?

    The Flag should be displayed from a position of honour, which also includes being above all other flags. As such, you may proceed to display the Flag from the top of the tallest flagpole even though it is not located to the left of all the other flags.

  5. If I do not have a flagpole, may I still display the Flag at my premises?

    In this case, you might wish to purchase a Flag that comes with a stand which can then be displayed on your premises. To purchase such as Flag, please visit the "Banners and Flags" category of the Yellow Pages to obtain a list of suppliers that sell the Flag.

  6. Can I display more than one Flag? For example, I would like to display the Flag from all the flagpoles on the premises.

    Yes, there is no guideline stating that only one Flag should be displayed at the premises.

  7. Should the Flag be displayed during bad weather?

    We do not recommend doing so as it would be disrespectful to do so. Where possible, the Flag should be lowered before the start of bad weather, taking into consideration safety conditions.

  8. May the Flag be displayed at night?

    Yes, if the Flag is properly illuminated at night.

  9. Why is proper illumination needed to display the Flag at night? What do you mean by “proper illumination”?

    This is because flying the Flag in the dark is considered disrespectful. By proper illumination, we refer to spotlights that illuminate the Flag and/or flagpole.

  10. What if I do not have proper illumination?

    As the guidelines state that the Flag may only be displayed at night with illumination, we would suggest that the Flag is raised and lowered daily after sunrise and before sunset respectively. Alternatively, you may wish to install proper lighting.

  11. Can I display the Flag overseas, e.g. at my overseas factory’s premises?

    There are no objections in principle with the display of the Flag overseas. However, permission from the host country must be sought before the Flag is displayed. The authority to write to is normally the host country’s Foreign Affairs or Home Affairs Ministry (or their equivalent).

Flag raising and lowering

  1. When should this be done?

    There is no fixed time when the Flag may be raised or lowered. However, as the Flag may not be displayed in the dark without illumination, the Flag should be raised after sunrise and lowered before sunset.

  2. How should this be done?

    The Flag should be folded neatly before it is brought to the flagpole. The officer shall walk smartly up to the flagpole with the Flag draped across his left forearm. Once he reaches the pole, he shall stand at attention, rest the Flag on his left shoulders and secure the Flag to the halyard.

    The Flag should be raised briskly and lowered slowly and ceremoniously.

    When the Flag is lowered, no part of it should touch the ground or any other object; it should be received by waiting hands and arms. The Flag should be placed on the left shoulder of the officer, while he unties the ends of the Flag from the flagpole. The Flag should be folded neatly and placed on his left forearm when he walks smartly away from the flagpole. The Flag should then be stored properly.

  3. How many times may a flag-raising and/ or flag-lowering ceremony be conducted?

    There is nothing in the rules limiting the number of times such a ceremony may be conducted.

  4. Who may raise or lower the Flag?

    It is not mandated who may or may not raise or lower the Flag, as long as the person conducts himself/ herself in a proper manner and treats the Flag with dignity and respect.

  5. Must everyone in the vicinity stand to attention during the flag raising or flag lowering?

    Should the flag raising and lowering be part of the building’s daily operations, this would be encouraged when practical or feasible, but it is not mandatory. However, it is a requirement to stand to attention during the flag raising or lowering when it conducted as a formal ceremony, e.g. school assemblies.

  6. Must the Anthem be played during a flag raising or flag lowering ceremony?

    It is not mandatory, but we would like to encourage the playing of the Anthem during ceremonies as this adds to the dignity and the significance of the event.

Displaying the Flag at half mast

  1. When should the Flag be displayed at half-mast?

    The Flag is displayed at half-mast during periods of national mourning. Should such a period be declared, a notice will be published in the newspapers stating the duration of the period.

  2. How do I display the Flag at half mast?

    The Flag should be raised all the way to the top of the flagpole before being lowered slowly to the centre of the pole where it is fastened. To lower the flag, the Flag must be raised to the top of the pole before it is fully lowered.

    Please note that when the Flag is at half-mast, the other flags on the same stand of poles should also be at half-mast or should not be flown at all.

Use of the Flag in design

  1. I would like to use the Flag as part of my graphic design (e.g. print advertisements, website, etc). Can I do so?

    The use of the Flag in such instances is approved on a case-by-case basis. Please do email us with the following:
    The reasons why you would like to use the Flag
    Artwork (jpeg, pdf or photo) showing how the Flag will be used on the design and we will get back to you.

  2. I would like to use the Flag as part of my product design which will be sold commercially. Is that possible?

    The use of the Flag in such instances is approved on a case-by-case basis. Please do email us with the following:
    Why you would like to use the Flag
    Details of the product
    Artwork (jpeg, pdf or photo) showing how the Flag will be used on the product and we will get back to you.

    However, please note that products bearing the Flag may normally only be allowed for sale during the National Day celebrations period (1 July to 30 September).

  3. I would like to use the Flag on my attire as I will be representing Singapore overseas. Is that possible?

    The use of the Flag in such instances is approved on a case-by-case basis. Please do email us with the following:
    Details of the event
    The reasons why you would like to use the Flag
    Artwork (jpeg, pdf or photo) showing how the Flag will be used on the attire and we will get back to you.

At sporting events

  1. May I wave the Flag during sports events to support the home team?

    Yes, as long as the Flag is treated with dignity and respect. The Flag should not touch the ground at any time.

  2. I have seen athletes do a victory lap holding the Flag after winning a game. Is this allowed.

    There are no objections in such instances, as long as the Flag is treated with dignity and respect. For example, the Flag should not touch the ground at any time. Please do note though that is it considered disrespectful to wrap the Flag around one’s body (e.g. like a coat or a sarong).

Others

  1. Where can I purchase a Flag?

    Please visit the “Banners and Flags” category of the Yellow Pages (www.yellowpages.sg) to obtain a list of suppliers that sell the Flag.

  2. What material should the Flag be?

    There is no specific guideline on this, although a recommended material is bunting wool.

  3. Is there a specific size that the Flag should be?

    You may purchase or produce a Flag in varying sizes according to your needs as long as the official ratio is kept to, i.e. 3 (length): 2 (width).

  4. How do I fold the Flag up to store it?

    To fold the Flag properly, it is recommended that the Flag should be held with another person so that its surface is parallel to the ground. The steps then are:
    Holding the bottom and top edges securely, fold the Flag lengthwise into half, i.e. fold the white portion of the Flag up. The red portion of the Flag should be seen face-up after it has been folded.
    Next, fold the Flag widthwise into half, with the stars and the crescent showing face-up after it has been folded.
    Lastly, fold the Flag one more time widthwise.

  5. Must flagpoles be vertical? I have seen inclined flagpoles (those angled at 45° and affixed to a building’s façade).

    There are no guidelines as to whether the flagpole must be installed vertically or at an incline. Most flagpoles are commonly installed vertically. However, the Flag, when displayed on a flagpole, should have the crescent and stars on the top left position as seen by any passer-by facing the Flag.

  6. Is there a specific height for flagpoles?

    There are no rules determining the height of the flagpoles.

  7. Is there a specific number of flagpoles that each building must install?

    No. Some buildings have only one flagpole, whereas others have several. You might wish to take into consideration factors like whether other corporate or foreign flags need to be displayed in order to determine the number of flagpoles to install.

  8. I saw a residence or a corporation displaying the Flag improperly. Who should I share this with to rectify the problem?

    Please do email us and we will work with the relevant authorities to rectify it. We would be grateful if you could also share with us the following information in your email:
    - The location of the Flag (e.g. street and block number, whether it was displayed at a residential building or a work site)
    - Photos (if any) of the Flag displayed wrongly


National Symbols Form

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