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National identity and symbols

When Singapore became self-governing in 1959, we needed a set of national symbols that could unite all citizens as one nation as well as represent Singapore to the world. Six national symbols were thereby forged to form a part of the Singapore identity. Since then, the public have also found different ways to symbolise our nation and our people. For example, following his passing on 23 March 2015, many Singaporeans paid tribute to Mr Lee Kuan Yew through icons and artworks as a way express pride and rally fellow citizens.

The Coat of Arms, Flag and Anthem

The National Flag, State Crest and National Anthem were unveiled during the installation of Encik Yusof bin Ishak as the first Malayan-born Yang di Pertuan Negara (Head of State) on 3 December 1959 at the City Hall Chambers.

  • National Anthem

Singapore's National Anthem, Majulah Singapura ("Onward Singapore") was composed in 1958 by the late Encik Zubir Said. Originally meant to be an official song for the City Council of Singapore, Majulah Singapura was performed by the Singapore Chamber Ensemble on 3 December 1959 as Singapore's National Anthem.

  • National Flag and Coat of Arms 

The National Flag is the symbol most commonly associated with nationhood, while the State Crest is the established and formal symbol used by the Government of Singapore.

The Pledge

The National Pledge was written in 1966, one year after Singapore gained independence. It emerged against the backdrop of communal tensions and racial riots, when there was a pressing need for the young nation to forge a common identity and sense of belonging among citizens of different races and religions. Today, the Pledge continues to rally Singaporeans as one united people.

The Lion Head Symbol and National Flower

Introduced in the 1980s, these national symbols are easily recognisable and distinctive to Singapore. Individuals, organisations and corporations may use them to promote a sense of national identity.

Usage guidelines of national symbols

The National Heritage Board administers the guidelines for usage of the six national symbols. More details, as well as information on displaying the flag at half mast, can be found on the National Heritage Board website.

Name and image of Founding Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew

Mr Lee Kuan Yew is the Founding Prime Minister of Singapore, who led the Government of Singapore from 1959 to 1990. His passing on 23 March 2015 was a significant moment in Singapore's history, with more than 454,000 queuing to pay their last respects during the week of mourning at Parliament House, where Mr Lee's body lay in state. As Singaporeans grieved the passing of Mr Lee Kuan Yew, many paid tribute to Mr Lee with icons and artworks which have served as powerful symbols to rally Singaporeans in national pride and unity.

The following set of guidelines was drawn up to encourage such expressions of national pride and identity and the appropriate use of Mr Lee’s name and image:

  • The name or image or likeness of Mr Lee Kuan Yew may be used for purposes of identifying with the nation, including on works of art or publications or items for charitable purposes, in accordance with law.
  • The name or image or likeness of Mr Lee Kuan Yew should be accorded dignity and respect.
  • The name or image or likeness of Mr Lee Kuan Yew should not be used for commercial exploitation or be assumed or taken to indicate any kind of official endorsement of products or services.
Frequently asked questions

  1. If I wish to use Mr Lee’s name or image for non-commercial purpose, for example, national day celebrations or remembrance activities, is this allowed?

    Based on the guidelines, Mr Lee’s name or image may be used for purposes of identifying with the nation, as long as it is in accordance with law and accord dignity and respect to Mr Lee’s name and image. Users should seek Government's approval for use of content that is owned or controlled by the Government and are advised to seek the permission of the intellectual property rights owners for the use of other photos, videos or material of Mr Lee.
  2. What is deemed as “commercial exploitation”?

    Commercial exploitation would ordinarily refer to the use of Mr Lee’s name or image in mass merchandise for sale. Examples include medals or coins; clothing; household linen or similar articles; furnishing material; paper or any other material that may be used for wrapping or packaging purposes; and adhesive tape.
  3. Do I need to seek approval for use of Mr Lee’s name or image?

    Mr Lee’s name or image may be used for purposes of identifying with the nation, as long as it is in accordance with law and the guidelines. Users should seek Government's approval for use of content that is owned or controlled by the Government and are advised to seek the permission of the intellectual property rights owners for the use of other photos, videos or material of Mr Lee.

 

Last updated on 30 September 2019