Sempena Kemahkotaan DYMM Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Johor

12 Januari 2010

Sultan keeps his royal colours flying high

By Fauziah Ismail, NST, 25 May 2009

WHEN we were staying at one of the government bungalow houses at Straits View in the early 1970s before we made Kempas Baru our permanent address, my family and I had the Istana Bukit Serene in full view.

The royal standard flying high at the Tunku Mahkota’s official palace, the Istana Pasir Pelangi.

The Sultan of Johor’s royal flag at Istana Bukit Serene.

We got to see the Johor Sultan's flag on the hill. My late father said that whenever the flag is up on the flagpost, it means that His Majesty is in the city. It's a white flag with a blue nine-pointed star and a crescent.

However, the secretary of the Johor Council of Royal Court, Datuk Abdul Rahim Ramli said, the flag remains on the flagpost at all times.

"Johor does not follow the British tradition where the royal standard is lowered when the ruler is away from the state.

"It is also raised ceremoniously at the residence where the ruler stays and at the venues of the state functions that the ruler attends," said Rahim.

He also said the sultan and members of the royal family do not fly the small flags on their official cars.

The royal standard is flown at Istana Bukit Serene, the official palace of the sultan.

Similarly, the flag of the Tunku Mahkota is flown at his official palace, the Istana Pasir Pelangi.

"Flag protocol decrees that flags are to be flown from dawn to dusk unless flood lights are used. In Johor, these two flags are not lowered as they are flood lit," he added.

Johor's three categories of flags -- the royal flags, the government flags, and the flags of the administrators of the government -- were all designed by Sultan Abu Bakar, who also decreed that the flags should be used in its original form without any alteration or variation.

The flag of the Bugis court of Johor-Riau in 1827 was black and white.

The flag of Temenggong Abdul Rahman was black similar to the flag of the Prophet.

Temenggong Ibrahim changed the flag to white to denote purity and subservience to Allah. This was the forerunner of the royal colour of the Johor rulers.

In 1871, Sultan Abu Bakar added a blue crescent and the nine-pointed star on the white royal standard.

He also designed a blue flag with a white triangle at each corner, a white crescent and a seven-pointed star for his consort.

He designed flags in order of precedence for his family and his future generation.

A white flag with a red crescent and a red seven-pointed star was designed for the heir apparent.

The Bendahara has a white flag with a red triangle at each corner, and a red crescent and a red five-pointed star.

The flag of the Temenggong is yellow with a blue triangle at each corner, and a blue crescent and a five-pointed star. The flag of the other members of the royal family is yellow with a blue crescent and a five-pointed star.

As such, white, royal blue, red and yellow are called "warna larangan" or forbidden colours for the Baju Kurong Telok Belanga worn by lady guests at official palace functions. Guests are advised against using such colours, unless they are of floral design.

Rahim also pointed out that the stars on the flags have sharp points.

"The odd numbered points are based on Islamic numerology. Number nine being the highest cardinal number denotes high position, followed in descending order of precedence by the other odd numbers.

"The major obligatory duties in Islam are in odd numbers, as in the five pillars of Islam, five daily prayers, seven times the Tawaf (encircling) the Kaabah, and seven times the circuit of the Sa'e, congregating in Arafah on the ninth day of Zulhijjah, and fasting during Ramadan the ninth month of the Muslim calendar."

As for the state flag, Rahim said it was initially a black flag with white canton when Temenggong Ibrahim first raised it in 1855 as a symbol of sovereignty upon coming ashore at Tanjong Puteri.

Sultan Abu Bakar redesigned it in 1865 with a white triangle on a red canton.

In 1871, he again redesigned it with a navy blue background, a white crescent and a white five-pointed star on red canton as the state flag.

He also had a black flag of similar design but of lesser dimension as the flag of the people and the business community.

However, this flag is no longer being used and is superseded by the state flag, which is to be flown every day at government buildings and especially during the ruler's coronation and birthday celebrations.

The flag may also be used to decorate buildings, halls and streets.

Other flags designed by Sultan Abu Bakar for the government include the flag of the Johor Military Force (JMF), The Marine Ensign, the Police Ensign, and ensign for the government boats namely the Pantai, Sayang, Segget and Pulai.

Flags of the administrators are for the Regent, the Menteri Besar, the Colonel Commandant of the JMF, and Resident Commissioners of Muar, Batu Pahat and Segamat.

The last three flags are no longer in use after the residencies were restructured into districts in 1942.

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