KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 9 — The man entrusted with the task of coming up with a name for the national flag in June 1997 only took two minutes to come up with “Jalur Gemilang”.
But it took two months for Md Redzuan Tumin, 66, to realise his suggestion had been accepted by the Cabinet, which also gave the green light for the name to be used in the Jalur Gemilang song written to celebrate the occasion.
The then-Muzium Negara director of research had not heard anything about his entry after making the submission to his director-general Datuk Kamarul Baharin Buyong who forwarded it to the Flag of Malaysia Naming Committee of which he was a member.
“I heard nothing after that. I only found out my idea had been chosen when I heard a song entitled Jalur Gemilang played over the radio as I was getting ready to go to the North Pole with my friends from the Malaysian Commando Veterans Association,” he said.
“I said to myself, ‘Wait a minute, that was the name I came up with for the national flag’. Not long after, Kamarul confirmed my suspicions with a congratulatory call,” he said.
Md Redzuan, who retired in 2005 as deputy director-general, was surprised his suggestion had been chosen, as he was not a lyricist or someone familiar with songs.
Apparently, the committee had met and shortlisted three out of 75 names suggested in 1996 but the Cabinet, at its meeting on September 11 that year, shot down the three names.
It was then that Kamarul asked Md Redzuan to suggest a name, which came out top among the 28 names received by the committee in the second selection process.
On how he came up with the name, he said he was in his room examining the multi-coloured design of the flag that he was holding when it occurred to him it could be called Stripes of Glory in English.
“I translated that into Jalur Gemilang and that was that. All in two minutes,” he added.
He said the Jalur Gemilang could have been named Setia Perkasa, Seri Setia Perkasa or Seri Setia Negara, all names suggested in the first round of submissions.
The process of naming the flag began in 1995 when the committee, headed by then-Chief Secretary to the Government, Tun Ahmad Sarji Abdul Hamid, was established. It comprised representatives from ministries and government agencies.
Md Redzuan, who has a strong emotional attachment to the country following service as a commando in the army, said his heart swelled with pride knowing he had contributed to his motherland.
He left the army in 1977 with the rank of sergeant to pursue a bachelor’s degree in history at Universiti Malaya, where he developed his love for Malaysia’s heritage.
He joined the museum after graduation and served for the next 25 years.
The national flag was designed by Mohamed Hamzah, a 29-year-old architect working for the Public Works Department in Johor Baru in 1949.
It underwent a revision in 1963 with the addition of three additional stripes (two white and one red) and three more points in the star when Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak joined Malaysia in forming Malaysia.
When Singapore left on August 9, 1965, the flag was not redesigned. The 14th stripe and point in the star were retained and taken to mean the federal government.