|National Day of Malaysia
In 1956, the then Prime Minister
of Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj led a delegation to London to
hold talks with the British Government concerning independence for Malaya.
The Malayan delegation, comprising of four representatives of the Malay Rulers
and four Alliance representatives, convinced the British Government to set
a date for independence: 31st August 1957. And so it came to pass that on
the eve of 31 August 1957, at the Selangor Club Padang (now known as Dataran
Merdeka or Independence Square), the Malayan flag was hoisted to replace
the Union Jack. Early the next morning the Tunku read the Proclamation of
Independence at the historic Merdeka Stadium. On both occasions, Tunku's
shouts of Merdeka! were joyously echoed by thousands of Malayans who
were there, and the millions who followed the proceedings through the mass
media. Malaya had officially gained independence from the former colonialists
and became known as the Federation of Malaya, to be followed in 1963 by a
change in name to the Federation of Malaysia. And every year since that momentous
event in 1957, Malaysians of all races proudly celebrate the anniversary
of their independence.
Malaysia has come along way since
then. After almost half a century of progress, development and improvement,
the country has become a role model for other developing countries, and shown
that people of different cultures and religions can live and work together
while maintaining their unique identities and their own traditions and customs.
On a special occasions like Merdeka Day, the many races of Malaysia proudly
don their traditional costumes and gather at various venues around the country
in celebration of freedom, self-determination and unity.
Malaysia will celebrate
her 47th Independence Day on 31 August 2004. The centre for National Day
celebrations rotates around the states of Malaysia. This year the main event
will be held in Putrajaya. Festivities start the night before with an open-air
concert at the same venue during the 'Merdeka Eve Celebrations' with popular
Malaysian singers and celebrities.
To mark the occasion on
the morning of Merdeka Day, the main event will begin with a spectacular
parade down Putrajaya Boulevard with His Majesty The King, the Prime Minister,
and other government leaders joining the mammoth crowd. Each state will be
represented, as are the many ethnic groups that comprise multiracial Malaysia.
The National Flag will be flown throughout the country, at office buildings,
private homes and on vehicles. State shows, competitions and exhibitions
will also be held in all states.
"Let there be spaces in
your togetherness" said the Lebanese poet Kahlil Gibran. "Sing and dance
together and be joyous," he continued "but let each one of you be alone."
In his wisdom, the poet was referring to the importance of uniqueness and
individuality, rather than isolation. Sensing this, the country's top leaders
have never failed to stress the importance of being proud of your heritage.
The doctrine of individualism
in unity has made Malaysia that much more special in the eyes of the world.
Rather than put all the different cultures and customs in a melting pot and
let everything fuse together, it is the rakyat's celebration of each other's
uniqueness that have made them, and their country so successful. It's a win-win
And when they gather together
on independence day, Malaysians are reminded of their roots and how they
came to be what they are today.
Raja Abdul Razak