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The flag of Malaysia, which was first raised on September 16, 1963, originated from the flag of the Federation of Malaya. After the British started to collectively administer the eleven states of Malaya as a single entity, the idea of having a national flag was mooted. Prior to that, each state in Malaya had its own flag, many of which are unchanged in design to this day.
SelectionWhen 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 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 designerThe Malayan flag was designed by Mohamed Hamzah, a 29-year-old architect working for the Public Works Department (JKR) in Johor Bahru, Johor. 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 American flag, such as the red and white stripes, and the idea of the stars representing districts. 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
ModificationsFollowing the formation of Malaysia on September 16, 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 plusSabah, Sarawak, and Singapore; this design remained the same even after Singapore's expulsion from the federation two years later. When Kuala Lumpurwas designated a Federal Territory on February 1, 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.