Marai / Malai

Marai (or Malai as it was written in many documents) is the name for Malaya during the period of Japanese Occupation. Japanese stamps were authorised for use in Marai in stages. The first stamps to be used are 3 cents, 5 cents, 8 cents and 25 cents on 08 December 1942 (commemorating the First Anniversary of the Greater East Asia War). Note: The issue’s special cancellation was available from 08 – 14 December 1942. There was also a case of 05 December 1942 usage of the 4 stamps without the special cancellation. This was in Pitt Street, Penang. It is not surprising since it was a turbulent time and there are bound to be early releases of the stamps. Here are some first day covers from that period. For commemorative covers, please refer to the Commemorative and Souvenir Covers section.

16 February 1942: Fall of Singapore

This cover was issued in Japan and cancelled in Tokyo on the day after the fall of Singapore (15 February 1942). 1942 is Showa 17, thus the postmark Showa 17, February 16.

19420216 Tokyo Fall of Singapore

01 – 02 November 1942: Selangor Agri-Horticultural Exhibition

This cover was cancelled with the Selangor Exhibition cachet. The event was held in Kuala Lumpur from 01 – 02 November 1942.

194211 Selangor Exhibition

11 – 15 February 1943: First Anniversary of the Fall of Singapore

I classified these covers as first day covers as these covers are the first official use of the additional (other than 3, 5, 8 and 25 cents) Japan stamps in Marai / Malai. This cover was dated 11 February 1943 – earlier than the actual date of the first anniversary of the fall of Singapore on 15 February 1943. This cover was cancelled in Penang. The actual date of issue should be 15 February 1943.


This cover was cancelled on 15 February 1943 in Penang.

19430215 Penang Fall of Singapore

This cover was cancelled in Syonan (Singapore) on 15 February 1943 to commemorate the Fall of Singapore and the First Anniversary of the Rebirth of Marai / Malai.

19430215 Syonan Fall of Singapore

29 April 1943: Definitive

This cover was cancelled in Penang on the first day of issue of the Marai/ Malai definitive stamps. The date coincides with Emperor Hirohito’s birthday (Tenchosetcu).

19430429 Penang Definitive

This cover was cancelled in Malacca.

19430429 Malacca Definitive

01 September 1943: Commemorating the 1,000,000 dollars in the Marai / Malai Postal Savings Fund

This cover was cancelled on the first day of issue with the commemorative postmark in Syonan (Singapore).


This cover was cancelled in Seremban, Negeri Sembilan.


This cover was cancelled in Penang.

19430901 Penang Postal Savings Fund

01 October 1943: Definitive

These covers were cancelled in Penang. A note was found on the back of the cover that stated the date corresponds to the First Anniversary of the Malai (Malaya) Gunseikanbu (Central Military Administration) Yusei Kyoku (Postal Service) in Syonan (Singapore).

19431001 Penang Definitive

19431001 Penang 30 cents Definitive

19431001 Penang 50 cents Definitive

19431001 Penang 70 cents Definitive

02 February 1944: 2nd Anniversary of the Rebirth of Marai / Malai

This cover was cancelled in Penang. It is also the anniversary of the fall of Singapore.

19440215 Penang 2nd Anniversary of the Rebirth of Marai


Under construction.


4 thoughts on “Marai / Malai

  1. hi Sky ..good covers. how much you bought for the first 3 covers?
    I long time not buy fdc or cover due to money constraints recently… 😦

    • I cannot quite remember but it is about (total acquisition cost):

      Item 1: Horticultural Show, less than USD 90

      Item 2: You will NOT believe it, less than USD 20!

      Item 3: Fall of Singapore, about USD 130 (expensive – I wanted “Syonan” rather than the common “Penang”)

      If you are patient, the typical cost of the commemorative cancels from Marai era is typically USD 30. Occasionally joy bidders push it up quite a lot. There is actually a group of international joy bidders (plus our local joy bidder: a***o) that target these covers.

      Second hand resellers try to hawk it at an exorbitant upwards of USD 50.


      • wow.. 2nd less than USD 20.. nice price.. so cheap…….
        I have 1 also but but not in good condition .. 😦

      • Yup, I was surprised as well. It is not as good. It is folded.

        Marai covers from Penang are quite common. The price is actually driven up by a few resellers from UK, Thailand and Spain. If you go around the smaller dealers, you can get good prices. Skip the large dealers, they tend to ask above USD 80 per piece.

        I am missing your updates in your blog as well. Hope to see more news up north.


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