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Coat-of-Arms (Malaysia)

Last modified: 2007-10-28 by ian macdonald
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[Coat-of-Arms (Malaysia)]
image from the International Civic Arms website

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From the Malaysia Homepage:

The Coat of Arms of Malaysia shows a 14-pointed star which represents the equal status of the 13 states and their unity with the federal government. The Star and the Crescent from the traditional symbols of Islam, the official religion of Malaysia. The five keris represent the former Unfederated Malay States of Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Perlis and Terengganu. The four former Federated Malay States of Negeri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak and Selangor are represented by the four centre panels, the permutations of whose colours represent the colours of these (red, black and yellow for Negeri Sembilan; black and white for Pahang; black, white and yellow for Perak and red and yellow for Selangor). The left-hand division of the shield represents the state of Penang (Pulau Pinang) and the right-hand division, with the Melaka tree, the state of Melaka. The states of Sabah and Sarawak are represented by the left and right sections below respectively while the centre contains the national flower, the bunga raya (hibiscus). The tigers, rampant on either side of the shield are retained from the earlier armorial ensign of the Federation of Malaya (and before that of the Federated Malay States). The yellow colour of the scroll containing the Motto in Roman and Jawi script is the royal colour of the Rulers.
Source: The Information Malaysia Yearbook, 1996.

Dov Gutterman, 19 March 1999

First it represented Singapore, but since the 1970's the 14th point has stood for the Federal territories of Kuala Lumpur and Labuan.
Andrew Yong
, 19 March 1999

Nozomi Kariyasu asked about the coat-of-arms adoption date and month in 1967. The present coat-of-arms is the 1948 Federation of Malaya arms (tierced per pale Penang [per fess embattled or and barry wavy of 5 azure and argent, in chief the Prince of Wales' feathers azure], Federated Malay States [quarterly argent,gules, sable, or], Malacca [per fess {colours?} in chief a representation of A Famosa, upon a chief gules five kris or), adapted for the new Federation of Malaysia in 1963, and since then adjusted very frequently at the whim of the state governments.
Andrew Yong, 4 April 1999

Coats-of-arms of Malacca, Penang, Sabah and Sarawak at Ralf Hartemink's International Civic Arms website. According to Barraclough and Crampton 1981 the motto Bersekutu Bertambah Mutu means Unity is Strength.
Santiago Dotor, 4 May 1999

[Translated from the Malaysian flags official URL:]

The Arms
The crest is the crescent moon and star as in the flag. The five kris in chief represent the five former Unfederated Malay States (Johore, Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan and Trengganu). The section on the dexter and sinister sides represent Penang and Malacca respectively, formerly Straits Settlements. The four stripes are the colours of the Federated Malay States: white and black for Pahang, red and yellow for Selangor, black yellow and white for Perak, red black and yellow for Negri Sembilan. The three sections at base represent Sabah at dexter and Sarawak at sinister. The central section depicts the hibiscus, which is the national flower. The tigers which were the supporters of the FMS arms are used in the Malaysian arms.

Andrew Yong, 15 August 1999

[More recently] the plumes and feathers of the left-most panel representing Penang have been replaced by a pinang tree, and the panel representing Sabah (arms holding up a flag) has been replaced by a bird. I am not sure what bird, and most sources still show the coat of arms of Sabah, although school textbooks definitely show a bird. Also, the rampant tigers appear in a slightly more realistic form.
E. Chong, 29 May 2001

From Ralf Hartemink's International Civic Arms website:

The above arms are the third arms of the Federation. The four single-colour fields represent the first States that in 1900 formed a union, resulting in the present Federation of Malaysia: Selangor, Pahang, Perak and Negri Sembilan. The five daggers represent the five states that joined in 1948: Johore, Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan and Trengganu. The two fields on the sides show the arms of Penang and Melaka, who also joined in 1948. The lower fields represent Sabah and Sarawak (joined in 1963) as well as the national flower, the Hibiscus. Above the shield are the star and the moon, the holy symbols of Islam. The star has 14 points, representing the 13 states and the capital area. Originally the 14th point represented Singapore, but when Singapore left the federation, the star came to represent the capital area. The motto translates as Unity is Strength in Malay and Arabic (and between 1952 and 1963 also in English).

The present National Arms (lower or right arms above) are slightly changed. The plumes and feathers of the left-most panel representing Penang have been replaced by a (canting) pinang tree, and the panels representing Sabah and Sarawak have also changed. The old colonial arms of Sarawak were replaced by the present arms of the state.

Ralf Hartemink's also shows images of the 1963-1973 and 1973-1990s coats-of-arms.
Santiago Dotor, 10 July 2002

According to the Malaysian Monarchy webpage:

The Coat of Arms of Malaysia:
(i) The crescent and the 14-pointed star represent the 14 states of Malaysia, as well as being a symbol of Islam the official religion of Malaysia.
(ii) The five 'keris' represent the five former Unfederated Malay States (before independence), i.e. Johore, Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan and Terengganu.
(iii) Sections on either side of the shield represent the states with no rulers, i.e. Malacca, Sabah, Sarawak and Penang.
(iv) Four equal-sized coloured panels in the centre represent the colour of Pahang which is white; the colours of Selangor: red and yellow; colours of Perak: red, black and white and those of Negeri Sembilan which are red, black and yellow. These four states formed the original Federated States of Malaya.

Santiago Dotor, 31 March 2006