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War Ensign (Malaysia)

Tentera Laut Diraja Malaysia, Royal Malaysian Navy

Last modified: 2023-06-03 by zachary harden
Keywords: tentera laut diraja malaysia | royal malaysian navy | canton (malaysia) | crescent: points to fly (yellow) | star: 14 points (yellow) | anchor: fouled (blue) | dagger (blue) | kris (blue) |
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[War Ensign (Malaysia)] 1:2 image by Željko Heimer, 25 May 2002

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Some further information on the Royal Malaysian Navy that I have gleaned is:

  • April 1934 - formation of "Straits Settlement Naval Volunteer Reserve" (SSNVR)
  • 1939 - "Malay Section of the Royal Navy" formed (also known as Malay Navy)
  • 1947 - the Malay naval unit was disbanded by British Government
  • 24 December 1948 - "Malayan Naval Force" (MNF) re-activated in Singapore
  • August 1952 - Queen Elizabeth II awarded royal status - renamed "Royal Malayan Navy" (RMN) or "Tentera Laut Diraja Malaya" (TLDM) in Malay
  • 31 December 1956 - Her Majesty's Malayan Ships flew "her own White Ensign" (source: Mudaffar Alfian's Malayan Naval Force website)
  • 31 August 1957 - Control of RMN transferred from Britain to new Malayan Federation government (ceremony 1 July 1958 - "from which date RMN Ships hoist their own colours"), source: Malaysian Ministry of Defense website
  • 12 July 1958 - Royal Malayan Navy Singapore unit transferred from Britain to Malaya
  • 16 February 1963 - name changed to Royal Malaysian Navy on formation of new Federation
  • 22 September 1963 - Singapore Division of the Malayan Royal Navy Reserve transferred from command of Royal Navy to Royal Malaysian Navy (as "Singapore Volunteer Force")
  • 9 August 1965 - Singapore separated from Malaysia
  • 5 May 1967 - Singapore Volunteer Force ensign first hoisted

Ralph Kelly, 7 November 2003

A few more gleanings for that Royal Malaysian Navy file:

  • 1926. Proposal to establish Malayan Naval Volunteer Reserve (NVR) abandoned.
  • 1932. Decision made to establish Straits Settlements NVR.
  • 1934. Governor of Straits Settlements requested that HMS Laburnam, on loan from the Admiralty, should be permitted to fly the White Ensign at the ensign staff and gaff, and the flag of the colony at the jack staff in the same manner as HM ships on the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) establishment in HM Dominions.
  • 13 November 1934. Commander-in-Chief China Station wrote that Singapore should do the same as the Hong Kong RNVR which flew the Blue Ensign defaced with the badge of the colony at the ensign and jack staff with a blue pennant at the masthead.
  • 27 November 1934. Naval Law wrote that although the Board of Admiralty had decided that RNVR drill ships and H.Q. in the United Kingdom should use the White Ensign, and that there was therefore no good reason why Dominion RNVR's should not follow Dominion Navy practice, this did not apply to Crown Colonies. They should comply with Article 123 of King's Regulations & Admiralty Instructions (KR&AI) and fly the distinctive flag of the colony at the stern and a blue masthead pennant.
  • 14 December 1934. Naval Law refused Governor's request quoting KR&AI articles 123(2) and 124(2).
  • 1942. Malayan RNVR ceased to exist when Singapore was surrendered to Japan. In 1943 it was not listed by the Defence Department of the Colonial Office and most personnel had transferred to the Ceylon RNVR.
  • July 1944. Malayan RNVR revived. This unit appears to have continued as a separate entity after the Malayan Naval Force was established. In 1952 the Royal Malayan Navy vessels flew the White Ensign with a square Blue Jack bearing the badge of Singapore while the jack of Malayan RNVR vessels was a 1:2 Blue Ensign bearing the badge of Singapore.
  • After 1956 the jack should have been square as specified in QR&AI's of that year.
  • 1958. Renamed as Singapore Division of Malayan RNVR and continued until the creation of Malaysia in 1963.
Furthermore, I think the mention 1939 - Malay Section of the Royal Navy formed (also known as Malay Navy) may be wrong. It probably refers to legislation passed in 1941 when the Second Model Ordinance based on Colonial Naval Defence Act 1931 made Naval Volunteer Forces liable for service outside their colony and permitted Ceylon, Fiji, Gambia, Gold Coast, Hong Kong, Kenya, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Straits Settlements and Trinidad and Tobago the privilege of flying the White Ensign. In the same year under Straits Settlements Defence (RNVR) Regulations 1941, Straits Settlements RNVR became Malayan RNVR.

Sources: National Archives (PRO) ADM 1/9012, ADM 1/12995, ADM 1/16053, ADM 1/23988, ADM 1/24019, ADM 1/27041, CO 323/1830/17.
David Prothero
, 10 November 2003

We have constructed the following sequential list of the naval flags used by local forces in the Malayan area.

  • 1934 - 1936. Straits Settlements Naval Volunteer Reserve: Blue Jack, Straits Settlements badge - Blue Ensign, Straits Settlements badge.
  • 1936 - 1941. Renamed Straits Settlements Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve (RNVR). Same
  • 1941. Renamed Malayan RNVR. Blue Jack, Straits Settlements badge - White Ensign.
  • 1942 - 1947. Malayan RNVR. Mobilised and serving with Royal Navy.
  • 1948 - 1952. Malayan Naval Force. Union Jack - Blue Ensign, Singapore badge.
  • 1952 - 1958. Renamed Royal Malayan Navy. Blue Jack, Singapore badge - White Ensign.
  • 1958 - 1963. Royal Malayan Navy. Federation Flag (11 stripe) - White Ensign with Federation canton.
  • 1963 - 1968. Renamed Royal Malaysian Navy. Malaysian Flag (14 stripe) - White Ensign with Malaysian canton.
  • 1968 - current. Royal Malaysian Navy. Malaysian Flag - Malaysian Naval Ensign.
  • c1950 - 1952. Malayan RNVR (Federation Division). Blue Jack, Singapore Badge - Blue Ensign, Singapore Badge.
  • 1952 - 1958. Malayan RNVR (Federation Division). Blue Jack, Singapore Badge - White Ensign.

  • 1948 - 1952. Malayan RNVR (Singapore Division). Blue Jack, Singapore Badge - Blue Ensign, Singapore Badge.
  • 1952 - 1963. Malayan RNVR (Singapore Division). Blue Jack, Singapore Badge - White Ensign.
  • 1963 - 1965. Renamed Singapore Volunteer Force. Malaysian Flag - White Ensign with Malaysian canton.
  • 1966 - 1967. Renamed Singapore Naval Volunteer Force. Singapore National Flag - Blue Singapore Ensign.
  • 1967 - 1968. Renamed Singapore Sea Defence Command. Singapore National Flag - Singapore Naval Ensign.
  • 1968 - 1975. Renamed Singapore Maritime Command. Same.
  • 1975 - current. Renamed Republic of Singapore Navy. Same.
  1. With British Blue and White Ensigns : Blue with a St George's cross hoist.
  2. With Federation Ensign : Blue with gold crescent and eleven point gold star at the hoist.
  3. With Malaysian Ensign : Blue with gold crescent and fourteen point gold star at the hoist.
  4. With Singapore Ensign : Red with white crescent and five stars at the hoist.
1. The Blue Jack, with Straits Settlements or Singapore badge, could be square or rectangular.
2. The Malayan Federation was constituted 1 February 1948, but had no distinctive flag until 1950.
3. The Royal Malayan Navy of 1952-1958 while funded by the colonial government of Singapore was a pan-Malayan force thus the name Malayan. - There was probably confusion over the Royal Malayan Navy (of British Malaya and British Singapore) of 1952 - 1958 with the Royal Malayan Navy (of the independent Federation of Malaya since 1957) of 1958-1963.
4. The Federation of Malaya became independent on 31 August 1957, but the Royal Malayan Navy was based in Singapore, which was not part of the Federation. Transfer of control of the RMN from Britain to the Federation was delayed until 1 July 1958, when a naval base had been established at Port Swettenham, now Pelabohan Kelang.

Navy Lists 1934 - 1963, CRO List 1962, Colony of Singapore Annual Reports 1948-1956, National Archives (PRO) ADM 1/8716/199, ADM 1/8794, ADM 1/9012, ADM 1/12995, ADM 1/16053, ADM 1/19766, ADM 1/23731, ADM 1/23988, ADM 1/24019, ADM 1/26825, ADM 1/27041, ADM 1/27530, CO 323/1830/17.

Herman Felani M.Y. and David Prothero, 22 December 2003


The emblem on Malaysia's naval ensign consists of an anchor and two crossed traditional daggers (called kris). In Jane's Fighting Ships [jfs] the colour of the emblem is black, but I think dark blue is the appropriate colour. At least it is depicted as blue in Pedersen 1970 [ped70]. According to Pedersen, the naval ensign was introduced in 1968. The national flag in the canton is outlined with a thin red line, so that the bottom white stripe appears correctly on the white field.
Jan Oskar Engene
, 19 September 1996

White ensign with the national flag in the canton and a blue emblem in the lower fly. The emblem consists of a fouled anchor and two kris daggers in saltire. Source: Album des Pavillons 2000 [pay00]. The Shipmate flag chart [vdv00] shows (online image here) a somewhat more elaborate emblem than the one in Album des Pavillons 2000 [pay00], with decorated daggers, more intricate pomels and both stand on top of the anchor, which is made clear using white fimbriations. On the other hand, Smith 1982 [smi82] shows the emblem without any "void" parts in the daggers, and remarkably, the canton is about only 1/3 of hoist high (while still half the length long). Was there ever such unusually cantoned flag?
Željko Heimer
, 25 May 2002

I received on 24 May 2002 a photo of the naval ensign taken by Michel Lupant in his recent trip to Malaysia: the canton was half as high as the hoist and the daggers had no "void" parts. On that photo, actually taken on a warship in Malaysia, the kriss (knife) drawn on the naval ensign is very simplified (as in Album des Pavillons 2000 [pay00]) and there is no fimbriation between canton and field.
Armand du Payrat
, editor of [pay00], 27 May 2002 and 15 May 2003

Here is a photo of a Malaysian naval ensign. Notice there is no red fimbriation between it and the white background. This is standard. I have seen perhaps a dozen white ensigns. None of them have fimbriated cantons. Also, notice the gold detail in the anchor/swords badge.
Clay Moss, 21 September 2004

Naval Jack

According to Barraclough and Crampton 1981 [bcr81] the Malaysian jack is the same as the national flag. (Source)
Santiago Dotor
, 4 May 1999

Commissioning Pennant

[Commissioning Pennant (Malaysia)]image by Zachary Harden, 21 November 2017

With regards to the Commissioning Pennant of the Malaysian Navy, it is available on my website.
Herman Felani M.Y.
, 6 November 2003

Second Royal Malaysian Navy Sovereign's Colour

The book Tentera Laut Diraja Malaysia 55 Tahun 1990 [tld90], pp. 28, 118 and 120, shows the second Royal Malaysian Navy Sovereign's Colour. Caption from page 28: "His Majesty, Sultan Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah, blessing the Royal Malayan Navy's new Royal colours at Woodlands Naval Base (Singapore) when he was the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong". It was not mentioned exactly when the new TLDM Colours were granted. Basically, the field was yellow, the centre charged with the Malaysian Coat-of-Arms. In addition, a small Service emblem of the Royal Malaysian Navy (not the emblem appearing on the current Naval Ensign) is charged in the canton. The fringes, cords and tassels were like those of the first Sovereign's Colour. In my opinion, I suppose it was presented once the new Naval Ensign was adopted.
Herman Felani M.Y.
, 6 November 2003