On 31 August every year, all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion and political stand, will come together to celebrate the country’s Merdeka Day or Independence Day, to commemorate the proclamation of the country’s independence on 31 August 1957.
On the eve of that momentous day, Malaysians gathered at the Selangor Club Padang in Kuala Lumpur to witness the lowering of the British Union Jack and the hoisting of the new Malaya flag.
The next morning, thousands of people gathered at the Merdeka Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, where the Queen’s representative, the Duke of Gloucester, presented Tunku Abdul Rahman, the country’s first prime minister, with a symbol of independence; and thereafter, Tunku read the Proclamation of Independence and shouted “Merdeka” seven times with the crowd. The historic moment marks the official independence of Malaya. After that, Sabah and Sarawak joined Malaya to form the Federation of Malaysia on 16 September 1963.
The celebration of Merdeka Day every year is more than just hoisting the national flag up high or parading together on the street. It is a moral responsibility and it demonstrates a sense of pride of being a Malaysian, regardless of race and religion.
For Malaysians, it is a time to reflect and pay tribute to the sacrifices made by the past leaders to achieve independence. For foreigners, it’s a time for a colourful celebration.
Malaysia’s Merdeka Day is a national holiday and celebrated in pomp and grandeur. The National Merdeka Day Parade is held annually to commemorate this significant day. There will be colourful performances by dancers and marching squads by the police and armed forces, as well as floats that are beautifully decorated based on the theme of the celebration and functions of the organisations.
Malaysia’s Merdeka Day is celebrated nationwide. Besides the National Merdeka Day Parade in Kuala Lumpur, other states will also hold their own gatherings and events.