Last year, I had the opportunity to take part in the Merdeka Day celebrations at
Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur. The nation was celebrating its 51st year of
independence. It was on August 31, 1957 that on then Chief Minister, Tunku Abdul
Rahman Putra Al-Haj, opened Stadium Merdeka. It was a day of fun and great
excitement. We had arrived quite early. Security and policemen got into position
to welcome the delegates and representatives of various countries.
two-hour parade kicked off at 8 a.m. with thousands of people flocking to the
square to see the parade. The place was packed with locals and also tourists
sitting on both sides of the path waiting to cheer their leaders. The King and
Queen arrived with their entourage. People began to
applaud and scream `Merdeka!' as helicopters billowed out the colors
of the flag.
Dignitaries including the Prime Ministers of Thailand, Singapore, the
Philippines, Laos, Vietnam and Cambodia graced the occasion. There was
representation from US, UK, Australia, Sri Lanka, Japan and other countries. 'Malaysiaku
Gemilang' (My Glorious Malaysia) was the theme of the event. The national anthem
started and everybody sang with lot of passion and sentiment. Parade
participants held up their right hands as they recited the National Oath.
Along with other students, I had assembled on the field of the state stadium.
Some of my friends who were in the school band took part in the march past. I
was in the cultural troupe, performing cultural dances in front of thousands of
spectators from all walks of life. It was a proud moment for all taking part.
After the performances, the Merdeka Day parade commenced. This was not only
confined to Kuala Lumpur only. Simultaneously the national flag raising campaign
began throughout the country. It had become a tradition for Malaysians,
including those in rural areas, to display the-nation's flag at their houses,
office premises, shopping complexes, and even stalls by the roadside. Mini
flagpoles were also attached to automobile roofs.
People turned out in droves, waving
miniature Malaysian flags and singing as bands played songs at the Merdeka
parade. The parade was made up of delegations representing hundreds of
organizations, including government agencies, enforcement authorities and
companies. The Guest of Honour inspected the parade and took the salute from the
grandstand. Present were Chief Ministers, state cabinet ministers, members of
the parliament and state legislative assembly, senior government servants and
It was indeed an event to rejoice, celebrate and be part of a historic
moment. These words aptly sum up a nation solemnizing
its 51 years of independence.