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State Symbols

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Although Singapore became a Republic only on 9 August 1965, the state symbols – National Flag, Anthem and State Crest were created when Singapore attained self-government in 1959 as recalled by DPM Dr Toh Chin Chye in 1989:

“… although we were self governing it was necessary right from the beginning that we should rally enough different races together as a Singapore nation… apart from the anthem we have to produce the flag and the crest, we insisted that it was a Singapore state flag and should be flown side by side with the Union Jack.” 1

Mr S Rajaratnam, Minister for Culture, when presenting the motion on State Arms and Flag and State National Anthem to the Legislative Assembly on 11 November 1959, said, “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.” PM Lee Kuan Yew also declared that the national anthem is to invoke in the hearts and minds of the people, “feelings of loyalty and unity towards the state of which they are constituent members”.

The Singapore Flag was unveiled on 3 December 1959 after Encik Yusof Ishak took office as the Yang di-Pertuan Negara, during which the national anthem was also officially played.


Source MICA
Dr Toh, in his oral history in 1989, recalled:“The design of the flag of course is well known now. The five stars standing for five principles - democracy, justice, peace, prosperity, equality. And the crescent moon which signifies that we are a new nation”.

 


Source MICA
Dr Toh further elaborated: “In the case of the state crest, again we got the five stars and the new moon… A lion next to the tiger. Tiger of course is a more local animal than the lion. The old City Council had a lion. It did merge with our own ideas of self governing of Singapore”.

 

1 Oral History Interview, Dr Toh Chin Chye, National Archives of Singapore, 1989, Accession No. A1063, Reel 1