Straits Settlements


Singapore Municipal Commission

State and Republic


Ministry of Defence



Air Force






Singapore was founded in 1819 by Sir Stamford Raffles. It was a part of the crown colony of the Straits Settlements from 1867 until 1946. It was occupied by Japan from 1942-‘45 and renamed Syonan-to. From 1946 until 1957 Singapore was a crown colony itself. This was granted self government in 1957 and became an autonomous state in 1959. In 1963 Singapore joined the Federation of Malaysia but left it on 8 August 1965. The next day Singapore became an independent republic.




Straits Settlements



The Straits Settlements comprised the four trade centres of Penang, Singapore, Malacca and Labuan. The British settlement at Penang was founded by Capt. Francis Light in 1786 and Singapore by Stamford Raffles in 1819. After Malacca was transferred to the East India Company in 1824, the three territories were established as a crown colony in 1867. Later, Labuan was constituted as the fourth settlement in 1907

The Straits colony was broken up in 1946 when Penang and Malacca were included into the Malayan Union, Singapore became a separate crown colony and Labuan was incorporated into North Borneo.





The arms of the Straits Settlements after 1867 were:


Arms: Gules, a pall reversed Argent, three Imperial Crowns Or.


The Crowns symbolized the three parts of the Straits Settlements in 1867: Singapore, Penang and Malacca.[1]


The arms were adapted to make a badge:



Badge: On a lozenge Gules, a pall reversed Argen, three Imperial Crowns one and two Or.



This badge was used for government purposes but was not officially authorised. The correct flag for the governor when aboard vessels as prescribed by the Admiralty was a Union Flag with a gold crown at the centre and for the ensign of government vessels, a blue ensign with a gold crown in the lower fly. This instruction seemingly went unheeded and the red lozenge badge became the badge of the colony eventually. It was placed in the centre of the Union flag of the Governor of the Straits Settlements and was on the blue naval ensign and the service badge of the Straits Settlements Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. It was also on the service badge of the Straits Settlements Police. [2]


When Labuan had joined the colony in 1907 a new coat of arms was granted on 25 March 1911. It is composed of the arms of Singapore, Penang, Malacca and Labuan.



The blasoning of the arms reads:

Arms: Quarterly, the first quarter Gules, issuant from the base a tower proper, on the battlements thereof a lion passant guardant Or;  the second quarter Argent, on a mount an areca-nut palm tree proper; the third quarter also Argent a sprig of the oil tree pruing proper; the fourth quarter Azure on waves of the sea in front of a representa­tion of the sun rising behind a mountain a sailing yacht in full sail to the sinister, all proper.

Crest: A demi lion rampant guardant supporting in the paws a staff proper, thereon flying to the sinister a banner Azure, charged with three imperial crowns Or. [3]


The arms show the blasons of Singapore: (Gules, a tower Argent on its battlements a lion passant guardant Or), Penang (an Areca palm - Pinang or Betel nut palm), Malacca (a sprig of leaves and fruits of the keruing tree (Dipterocarpus sublamellatus-Dipterocarpaceae), and Labuan (a depiction of a schooner headed towards Mount Kinabalu - or Borneo - at sunrise).


The arms were used for example on the Regimental Colours of the Straits Settlements Volunteer Force. [4]



At about the beginning of World War II, the arms were embellished by adding a helmet lambrequined Gules and Or, and the date 1867:



Embellished achievement of the Straits Settlements as on paper money, 1940-’41.

The lambrequines are Gules and Or.




Singapore was founded in 1819 by Sir Stamford Raffles. It was a part of the crown colony of the Straits Settlements from 1867 until 1946. From 1946 until 1957 Singapore was a crown colony itself. This was granted self government in 1957 and became an autonomous state in 1959. In 1963 Singapore joined the Federation of Malaysia but left it on 8 August 1965. The next day Singapore became   an independent republic.


The first heraldic emblems used in Singapore were, of course, the achievement of the East India Company and the arms of the first governor of Singapore Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles.

The arms of Raffles initially were:


Raffles: D’or, semé de mouchetures d’hermine de sable, à l’aigle éployé de gueules, ch. sur sa poitrine d’une couronne à l’antique d’or, au chef de sinople, ch. de deux médaillons l’un sur l’autre, attachés à une chaîne d’or, chargés le premier de caractères arabes, le second d’un poignard flamboyant d’argent garni d’or, posé en fasce. Casque couronné. [5]


That is to say:

Arms: Erminois, an eagle Gules, charged on the breast with an antique crown Or; and a chief Vert, two medallions per pale, pending from a collar Or, the first with a legend in arab lettering, the second with an undulating dagger Argent, the hilt Or, per fess.....


The crest of a griffon’s head purpure and the motto AUSPICIUM MELIORIS AEVI (An Omen of a Better Age) are not mentioned in this blasoning. Also, the eagle is single-headed instead of two-headed.


The griffin’s head symbolises stability and success. The double-headed eagle on the shield, which in European heraldry signifies universal dominion, comes from Raffles' history as an agent of the British Empire, looking both East and West.

The two medallions on the crest represent the award of the Order of the Golden Sword to Sir Stamford Raffles by a Sumatran prince. One bears a message inscribed in Arabic and the other bears a kris.

On his tomb however, the arms are impaled with a chevron erminois between thee lions’ heads erased.


Singapore Municipal Commission


The Crest


It is known from several sources that the Singapore Municipal Commission used a device of a lion statant with a coconut palm tree all on a green turf. This is borrowed from a badge of the East India Company as on mohur-coins from the time of King William IV and Queen Victoria. For this reason the use of the badge probably dates from the time of the East India Company (liquidated 1874). [6]

In the Singapore context the crest could be a reference to the story of the naming of Singapore. On the records in the 13th century Malay Annals, a prince from Palembang was shipwrecked and washed ashore to an island. There he saw a creature which he believed was a lion. So he named the island “Singa Pura” which means “Lion City”, from which the name Singapore was derived.



The status of this badge in Singapore is however unclear. It was often referred to as the Crest of the Municipal Commission but there does not seem to be any arms (shield and charges) for the Commission.


The lion passant and coconut palm crest was used in the cap badge of the Singapore Fire Brigade and Auxiliary Fire Service, placed on the traditional emergency services starburst, and was used for quite sometime after independence as well. There were also instances where the Singapore Fire Brigade used a lion statant guardant (both paws grounded and head turned to face viewer) with the palm tree rather than the lion passant, notably for the badge on the fire helmet. However no colony-level insignia featured such a depiction for the lion. The colonial prison service used as part of their badge the crest (the coconut palm) but replacing the lion passant with the lion passant guardant (a paw raised and head turned to face viewer).

The emblem was also adopted in the badge of the Singapore Volunteer Corps, existing with interruptions from 1901 until 1954. [7]


The arms


The first coat of arms for the City of Singapore was granted by letters patent of 9th April 1948. The reference to the municipality of Singapore as the “City of Singapore” was apparently an error made on the side of the College of Arms as Singapore only received City status in 1951. The official heraldic blazon for the arms was as follows: 


Gules, a tower issuant from the base proper; on the battlements thereof a lion passant guardant or; on a chief embattled of the last a pair of wings conjoined in base between two anchors azure, and for the crest on a wreath argent and azure on front of a palm tree fructed proper, issuant from a mount vert, a lion passant or.


Photo Jerome Lim

Arms of Singapur  adopted 1948.04.09.

Relief in Mount Emily Park, Singapore.


Arms: Gules, a tower Argent, on its battlements a lion passant guardant Or, and a chief embattled Or a pair ofd wings between two anchors Azure their ropes Argent.

Crest: On a helmet to the dexter lambrequined Argent and Azure, a lion passant Or before a palm-tree proper.

Motto: MAJULAH SINGAPURA (Onwards Singapur).


On the arms is the crest of the Singapore Municipal Commission, a lion statant before a palm tree. On the new city arms’ crest however, the lion is depicted as a lion passant and not statant.  [8]


The second arms of Singapore were adopte only five months later. They show the blason of the quarter for Singapore in the arms of the Straits Settlements of 1911.



By Royal warrant of 13 September 1948 the arms of 1911 were confirmed and augmented with a crest. This last shows a lion rampant issuant Or, langued and armed Gules keeping a banner upright Argent, a pall reversed Gules, an Imperial crown Or.

An embellished version shows the arms with a helmet to the dexter, lambrequined Gules and Or, with the crest on top.


At the same time a badge was adopted for the crown colony. This consisted of the blason of the banner in the crest: Argent, a pall reversed Gules, an Imperial Crown Or. 


State and Republic of Singapore



The autonomous State of Singapore adopted a coat of arms on 11 November 1959. It is:


Arms: Gules, a crescent in base and five five-pointed stars in a circle in chief Argent.

Supporters: Dexter a lion and sinister a tiger, both proper.

Motto: MAJULAH SINGAPURA (Onwards Singapore) in golden lettering on an escrolle Azure, lined Argent.


The achievement is explained as follows:

Red symbolizes the all comprising brotherhood and equality of the people, the white purity and loyalty. The crescent is for Islam and the growth of the young nation.

The ideology of the state is symbolized by the stars: Democracy, Advace, Peace, Justice and Equality.

The lion symbolizes Singapore because its name means City of the Lions. The tiger refers to its connections with Malaysia of which the arms are supported by tigers. A tiger was the first emblem of the United Malay Sultanates. [9]


The use of the achievement was continued by the Republic of Singapore after 1963.


ð See illustration in the head of this essay.


The Presidential Standard


The Presidential Standard is the successor of the flag of the Governors of Singapore of which there have been six after 1948. It is supposed that it has been the Union Jack with the badge of Singapore within a garland in the middle but no contemporary picture of this flag is available.



The Presidential Standard is simply an enlargement of the canton of the State Flag. It is displayed where the President is in attendance notably when he is in residence at the Istana, at National Day Parades, and at Singapore Armed Forces Day Parades.


The Parliament



The emblem of the Parliament of Singapore shows the achievement and the mace of a winged lion sejant.


The Armed Forces




Ministry of Defence of Singapore


The emblem of the Ministry of Defence of Singapore consists, within a garland, of the achievement of Singapore, without its motto and placed on two swords in saltire and a red scroll with the motto YANG PERTAMA DAN UTAMA (First and Foremost).





Tentera Singapura Emblem


The emblem of the Armed Forces and the Army of Singapore consists of the achievement of Singapore without its motto, within a blue bordure with the title TENTERA SINGAPURA in yellow lettering, all surrounded by a yellow garland and with the motto YANG PERTAMA DAN UTAMA (First and Foremost) in yellow lettering on a blue escroll below.




The idea for a volunteer corps to supplement the local constabulary for tighter internal security was first raised in 1846. The first corps, the Singapore Volunteer Rifles Corps (SVRC), was formed on 8 July 1854 with the support of the Governor, Colonel William John Butterworth, In 1857, the Indian Government passed the Volunteer Ordinance, which placed the SVRC under government control.



Emblem of the Singapore Volunteer Rifle Corps 1854-1887 (reconstruction)


The SVRC was disbanded in December 1887 but in February 1888, the corps was revived as the Singapore Volunteer Artillery (SVA).



Emblem of the Singapore Volunteer Artillery 1888-1901

Colors unknown (reconstruction)


By 1901, the SVA's diverse composition of sub-units necessitated the change of name to the Singapore Volunteer Corps (SVC).


Photo Flickr

Emblem of the Singapore Volunteer Corps 1901-1954

The emblem was:


Emblem: Gules, a lion passant Or before a palmtree proper. Surrounded by a bordure also Gules bearing the name SINGAPORE VOLUNTEER CORPS, a garland of oak in base and fimbriated Or.

Crown: The Imperial British Crown

Motto: IN ORIENTE PRIMUS in black lettering on a scroll Or.


In 1922, the SVC was absorbed into the Straits Settlements Volunteer Force, forming the 1st and 2nd battalions of the SSVF. The end of the Japanese Occupation saw the SVC being revived in 1949.

In 1954, with the disbandment of the SSVF, the Singapore Volunteer Corps was absorbed into the Singapore Military Forces. [10]


The Singapore Armed Force


The First Singapore Infantry Regiment (1 SIR), was formed on 12 March 1957. When recruitment for the battalion began on 4 Mar, the emblem used was a lion standing on a tower. The origins of the actual SAF Crest date back to 11 March 1961 and fittingly, are intertwined with the story of Singapore first and oldest battalion. What started as a battalion emblem was later adopted as the identity for the whole SAF


First 1SIR logo inauguarated on 4 March 1957


First 1SIR  emblem inaugurated 4 March 1957

The second logo of 1SIR was instituted on 11 March 1961


Second emblem of 1 SIR instituted 11 March 1961


The SAF Crest of today bears a strong resemblance to 1 SIR's emblem. Initially this showed the tower and the lion of the Singapore arms. A later version, known from 1961, shows:


Emblem: Gules, the achievement of Singapore without its motto, surrounded by the title TENTERA SINGAPURA in golden lettering on a bordure of the first.

Garland: Palm leaves Vert tied with a ribbon Gules lined Or.

Motto: YANG PERTAMA DAN UTAMA in black lettering on a scroll Or. [11]


Inaugurated on 1 July 1989, the SAF Flag had the SAF Crest emblazoned on the bottom right hand corner of the State Flag. It symbolised for the first time, the Army, Navy and Air Force together.


ð See illustration in the head of this section.




Navy emblem


The Singapore Naval Volunteer Force - Angkatan Laut Republik Singapura (SNVF) was established on 22 January 1966 and was preceded by the Singapore division of the Malayan Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve. On 5 May 1967, the SNVF ensign was hoisted for the first time. A few months later in September, the SNVF was renamed the People's Defence Force (Sea) under the Sea Defence Command (SDC).

The SDC was renamed the Maritime Command (MC) in 1968. Its successor, the RSN came into being on 1 April 1975, when the SAF established its component forces into three distinct services.


Air Force


Air Force Emblem


The Republic of Singapore Air Force - Angkatan Udara Republik Singapura (RSAF), is the air arm of the Singapore Armed Forces  and was established on 1 April 1975. Its predecessor,  the Singapore Air Defence Command (SADC) was established in September 1968.  Prior to then, Singapore had depended completely on Britain's Royal Air Force (RAF) for its air defence.


















The police emblems throughout history were generally similar as it is today. The scrolls were depicted in different forms and arrangement in their course of history. Within the wreath where the State shield sits today, the emblem of the prevailing period of time was used.


Colony of the Straits Settlements (Straits Settlements Police)

The Singapore Police Force has its roots as the Straits Settlements Police. On its emblem was the lozenge badge of the British Straits Settlements within a wreath. The scroll bore the inscription “Straits Settlements Police”. A newspaper article dated February 1939 seems to suggest that there was a service flag for the police force of the Straits Settlements.





The scroll on the 1946 police badge of Singapore bore “Singapore Police Force”. The badge appeared on the front covers of the Singapore Police Magazine up to the 1959 September issue. In 1953, HM Queen Elizabeth II ordered the change of crown design to all emblems, badges, and flags throughout the British Empire, from the previously used Imperial/Tudor Crown to the St Edward’s crown. New flags and badges manufactured from that year onwards would have featured the St Edward's crown rather than the Imperial one. 


In 1959, Singapore attained self-government status and in December of that year, also introduced the new State Arms. This affected the Police badge and it henceforth featured the shield as appearing on the present national arms. The scroll from then on bore the inscription in Malay, Polis Negara Singapura, generally translated as “State of Singapore Police”. The new Police emblem began to appear on the covers of the Singapore Police Magazine since the December 1959 issue.


In September 1963, Singapore attained independence from the United Kingdom as a component state within the federation of Malaysia. The police forces of Malaya, Singapore, Sabah, and Sarawak were thus integrated to become the new Polis Di-Raja Malaysia (Royal Malaysia Police). As such, the Royal Malaysian Police badge (1963 - 1965) was used in Singapore and on the Police service flag.



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© Hubert de Vries 2010-08-18. Updated 2015-12-09




[1] ) Fox Davies, A.C.: The Book of Public Arms. London 1915. Pp. 756-758.

[2] )

[3] ) Fox Davies, A.C. op.cit..

[4] ) Picture from: Winsley, Captain T.M.:  A History of the Singapore Volunteer Corps, 1854-1937 Government Printing Office, Singapore 1938.

[5] ) After Rietstap’s Armorial General.

[6] ) It may not be just a coincidence that the badge is composed of the palm-tree of Penang and the lion of Singapore.

[7] ) hfmywebs and

[8] ) hfmywebs

[9] ) Hesmer, K.-H. Wappen Flaggen Daten. Gütersloh, 1975 p. 190.

[10] ) hfmywebs part 2: Military and Paramilitary flags of Singapore.

[11] ) hfmywebs  Chapter 3