Meet The Malaysian Architect Who Designed Our Beloved Jalur Gemilang

In spirit of the upcoming Hari Kebangsaan!

Cover image via Wikipedia & Jabatan Penerangan Malaysia/Warta Oriental

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Every year on 31 August, our Jalur Gemilang flag soars high up in the sky as a sign of our love for the country

Image via GIPHY
Image via Utusan Borneo

It has become our tradition to turn our beautiful Jalur Gemilang into a costume every time Hari Kebangsaan comes around. Often, Malaysians will dress up in creative renditions of the national flag.

If you didn't know and have always wondered, our beloved Malaysian flag is a result of a design competition held in 1949

In 1949, the Conference of Rulers, in collaboration with the Federal Legislative Council, held a competition in their effort to create a new flag to replace the Malayan Union flag. Over 300 artists took part and on 15 November 1949, only three flags were chosen for the finals. 

The winning flag, which is the Jalur Gemilang we have today, is a result of Mohamed bin Hamzah's hard work. 

Mohamed being awarded Ibrahim Sultan Medal (II Class) by Sultan Ismail.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

The late Mohamed bin Hamzah was working as an architect from Malaysian Public Works Department (JKR) for the Johor division when he submitted his design for the national flag

Image via Wikipedia

According to Pusat Kajian Kecemerlangan Melayu, Mohamed bin Hamzah was a graphic design graduate from Raffles College Singapore, prior to being an architect for JKR. He was also often commissioned by the Sultan of Johor to design logos, royal insignias, and buildings for the Royal family.

Some of the works the architect was asked to design include the route map for the Johor Sultanate Grand Prix and the Crown Archway at Lido Beach, Johor.

Mohamed taking a photo with the archway designed by him at Tambak, Johor.

Image via Wikipedia

The design of the flag went through many amendments before it was finalised as the flag Malaysians know and love today

One of the flag designs contested to be Malaysia's official flag, with two 'keris' crossed at the centre surrounded by white stars on blue background:

Image via Wikipedia

Another similar design that was considered, except the white stars are arranged in a specific way:

Image via Wikipedia

The winning design made by Johorean Mohamed bin Hamzah that won majority votes through a public voting via The Malay Mail newspaper:

Image via Wikipedia

His design was amended to have red and white stripes, with an 11-point star to symbolise each state in Malaysia before Sabah and Sarawak joined:

Image via Wikipedia

The Jalur Gemilang we know today, with 14 stripes to include Sabah, Sarawak, and Singapore that joined in 1963, before Singapore left in 1965:

Image via Wikipedia

Let's get to know the meaning behind our Jalur Gemilang:

Image via iProperty
  1. The 14-point star represents the 13 states and the Federal Territory of Malaysia.
  2. The red stripe represents the courage and preparedness in facing any obstacles and challenges.
  3. The white stripe represents purity, sincerity, and determination.
  4. The yellow of the star and crescent represents constitutional monarchy.
  5. The dark blue represents the unity of the people in a diverse country.
  6. The crescent represents Islam as the official religion of the country.

Here are some fun facts about our Jalur Gemilang:

  1.  The 14-point star came to realisation when Dato' Onn suggested to Mohamed to alter the five-point star, due to its uncanny resemblance to the symbol used by communists that were prominent then.
  2. The red, white, and blue of the original flag design before amendment represents the country as part of Commonwealth, while the star and crescent represents the official religion of the country.
  3. During the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, World Flags reimagined the Jalur Gemilang, along with other countries' flags, as anime characters.

The flag was officially hoisted on 31 August 1957, along with the national song Negaraku that was also being played to the public for the first time ever

Meanwhile, find out how much you know about our state flags:

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