It might be of interest to you while you are waiting for the Mederka Day on 31st August to have a little revision of the flags which have flown in Sarawak from Rajah James Brooke's time. It is my pleasure to give you this summary.
(1) James Brooke's Personal Standard Flag
From 24 September 1841 - 20 September 1848,the Flag of swallowtailed St. George - a red cross on a white background was flown by the first White Rajah of Sarawak, which then comprised the territory from Tanjung Datu to the Sadong River.
First flown over his fort at Belidah, Upper Sarawak (Bau)it was also carried in the war boats of his Malay and Dayak Chiefs who supported him during the early, turbulent years of his rule.
(2) The First Sarawak State Flag
From 21 September 1848 to 6 May 1870 ,this half blue and half red cross on a yellow background flag , designed by Rajah Sir James Brooke himself was flown seven years after he first became Rajah. By then Sarawak had been enlarged from Tanjung Datu up to Oya River in Sarikei Division.
(3) The Second Sarawak Flag
From 7 May 1870 to 23 December 1941 , this half back and half red cross on a yellow background was the flag of Sir Charles Brooke, the second White Rajah of Sarawak . There was no record to show the reason for the change of the first Sarawak Flag to the second Sarawak Flag and the State Archives failed to reveal anything.
This was the flag that the Foochows recognised when they first arrived in Sibu. During the various government occasions the Foochow shop keepers flew these flags from the first floor of their shops.
There was a story about the change of colour from blue to black on the Sarawak Flag designed by Sir James Brooke among the local population. When Sir Charles Brooke was proclaimed the second White Rajah of Sarawak on 3 August 1868, the representatives of the three major communities in Sarawak i.e. Dayak, Malay and Chinese presented gifts to the Rajah.
The Dayak community gave the gift wrapped in black cloth whereas the Malay community presented the gift enclosed in yellow cloth. The Chinese community being fond of red colour brought the gift in the red cloth. These three colours attracted the attention of Sir Charles Brooke who always had the welfare and interested of the people at heart. Hence, he decided to change the colours of the Sarawak Flag from blue, red and yellow to black, red and yellow in order to suit the favourite colours of the local communities of Sarawak.
(4) Japanese Flag
From 24 December 1941 to 14 August 1945 the Japanese occupied Sarawak and they flew this flag which symbolised the Japanese Emperor and the land of the rising sun.
The Japanese army first landed in Miri on 16 December 1941 and later conquered Kuching on 21 December 1941.
According to our elders even the sight of the Japanese flag caused them to shiver in their "trousers". They all had to bow to the Japanese soldiers and to the flags whenever they passed by them. If they did not they would get their heads pushed and punched.
(5) The Japanese Military Flag
(6) Australian Flag
Sarawak was librated from the Japanese invaders by the Australians on 11 September 1945 and, therefore, the Australian flag was hoisted in Sarawak for a short period until 15 April 1946.
It was replaced by the Sarawak Flag when civil government was restored on 15 April 1946.
(7) Union Jack
Sarawak became a British Colony on 1 July 1946 and from then onwards until 15 Sept 1963 , the British Union Jack was used.
The Union Jack consists of superimposed crosses of St. George, St. Andrew and St. Patrick, the patron saints of England, Scotland and Ireland respectively was flown.The Malaysian flag replace the Union Jack on 16 September 1963 when Sarawak achieved her independence within Malaysia at that time.
Note : The Union Jack was not actually the Sarawak Flag; it was hoisted together with the Sarawak State Flag in order to show that Sarawak was a British Colony.
Most of the Foochows and other Chinese felt that the Union Jack was symbolic of a world power and so they accepted the flag as symbolic of the British government.
(8) Sarawak British Governor's Flag
(9) Sarawak Flag Flown During Colonial Time
From July 1946 to 31 August 1963 to distinguish Sarawak from other British Crown Colonies, the old Sarawak state flag was restored but a yellow crown in the centre of the cross was added to signify it as a British Crown Colony The five pointed triangles on the crown signified the five divisions of Sarawak. The Colonial Flag was flown for a period of 17 years when Sarawak became a British Colony from 1 July 1946 till 16 September 1963. It continued to be flown in Sarawak for almost 10 years after Sarawak achieved her independence within Malaysia. It was finally replaced by the Trisakti Flag on 31 August 1973.
(10)The Malaysian National Flag
(11) The Trisakti - the first Sarawak State Flag within Malaysia
Sarawak achieved independence through Malaysia on 16 September 1963 and it was almost ten years after the independence that the State Government under the then Chief Ministership of YAB Tun Datuk Patinggi Haji Abdul Rahman Ya'kub introduced a new flag (The Trisakti) on 31 August 1973. It was used until 30 August 1988 when the present State Flag was being introduced to replace it.
The flag consisted of a blue triangle with red colour formed the top half of the field and with white colour formed the bottom half of the field . It was adopted by the State Government under YAB Tun Datuk Patinggi Haji Abdul Rahman Ya'kub when he was the Chief Minister of Sarawak from 7 July 1970 to 26 March 1981
The blue triangle in the flag signifies a united people of Sarawak pursuing the national aspirations. The top half of the field in red represents courage and determination whereas the bottom half of the field in white represents honesty and purity. It was hoisted at midnight on 31 August 1973 by the Chief Minister himself on the occasion of the State 10th Anniversary of Independence within Malaysia.
(11) The Present Sarawak State Flag
From 31 August 1988 until today . The flag consists of a nine pointed yellow star on black and red diagonal strips with yellow field . It was adopted by the State Government of Sarawak under the Chief Ministership of YAB Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri (Dr.) Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud.
Yellow denotes the supremacy of Law and Order, unity and stability in diversity. The yellow nine pointed star denotes the nine divisions where the Rakyat live in harmony. The star symbol also embodies the aspiration of the people of Sarawak in their quest to improve their quality of life.
Red symbolises the courage, determination and sacrifices of the Rakyat in their tireless pursuit to attain and maintain progress and esteem in the course of creating a model State.
Black symbolises the rich natural resources and wealth of Sarawak such as petroleum, timber etc. which provide the foundation for the advancement of her people.
It was hoisted at State Stadium Kuching on 31 August 1998 by Sarawak's Chief Minister, YAB Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri (Dr.) Haji Abdul Taib Mahmud on the occasion of State 25th Anniversary of Independence within Malaysia.
By the end of the 20th century more than half of all Sarawakians have become well educated and nationalistic. It was mandatory for all businesses to fly flags on significant dates. Most citizens bought their own flags to fly whenever it was necessary. Children especially love the National Flag as well as the Sarawak flag. The school system has ensured that students are well educated in nationalistic values. Small flags were also made for sale in the market.
Source : Sarawak Gazettes.