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 careers-list-arrow

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 careers-list-arrow

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 careers-list-arrow

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 careers-list-arrow

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 careers-list-arrow

Mr Lee Kuan Yew is the Founding Prime Minister of Singapore, who led the Government of Singapore from 1959 to 1990. Following Mr Lee’s passing on 23 March 2015, many have sought to pay tribute to Mr Lee with images and artworks featuring his likeness, or have used Mr Lee’s image to identify with Singapore. 

MCCY has drawn up a set of guidelines on the appropriate use of Mr Lee’s name and image:

The name or image or likeness of the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew: 

  1. could be used for purposes of identifying with the nation, including on works of art or publications or items for charitable purposes;
  2. should be accorded dignity and respect;
  3. should not be used by individuals or private organisations for commercial or publicity purposes, nor to suggest any kind of official endorsement of products or services; and
  4. should be in accordance with all laws, including intellectual property law.

Frequently asked questions

  1. Do I need to seek approval for use of Mr Lee’s name or image?

    Individual and private organisations using Mr Lee’s name or image for purposes of identifying with the nation, as long as it is in accordance with all laws and the guidelines, are not required to seek approval. 

    Individuals and private organisations looking to use copyrighted materials relating to Mr Lee – such as photos, videos and other materials – should seek the permission of the relevant intellectual property rights owners.


Last updated on 10 August 2023