“Whereas the time has now arrived when the people of the Persekutuan Tanah Melayu (Federation of Malaya) will assume the status of a free independent and sovereign nation among nations of the world,” uttered Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj as he read out the Malayan Declaration of Independence to a brimming Stadium Merdeka at 9.30am on 31 August 1957.
Back then, Malaysia was known as Malaya – Malaysia itself was formed in 1963, uniting the peninsula with Sabah, Sarawak and for a brief period, Singapore, with Malaysia Day next month celebrating that particular occasion. It’s really no exaggeration to say that there would not be a Malaysia like you see today if the pivotal events of 1957 had not taken place.
The man largely credited with freeing this country from British rule was Tunku Abdul Rahman, who rightly had the honour of becoming Malaysia’s first Prime Minister. He, along with then Malaysian Chinese Association President Tun Dato’ Sri Tan Cheng Lock and then Malaysian Indian Congress President Tun V. T. Sambanthan, brokered the independence deal with the British in London.
Although the agreement was reached in 1956, coordinating such a massive affair pushed the formal declaration to the following year. While the nitty gritty of logistics and paperwork were tackled, the groundwork for Stadium Merdeka was set in motion so that it could be ready on time. Anticipation grew as the due date approached.
On 30 August at Dataran Merdeka, Tunku arrived near midnight to observe the lowering of the Union Jack and the raising of the Malayan Flag as the national anthem, and thereafter a chorus of “Merdeka” (“Independence”) rent the air. Tunku delivered a moving speech. It set the tone nicely for what was coming in the morning at Stadium Merdeka.
In front of tens of thousands, including everyday citizens, politicians, royalty and foreign dignitaries, Tunku was bestowed the instrument of independence by the Duke of Gloucester, who was there on the Queen’s behalf. He then read out the Proclamation of Independence, ending with the famous seven cries of “Merdeka” that the crowd reciprocated, proudly ushering in the new nation.
National day 2019
Seeing in the 62nd anniversary of this special day are rousing festivities including parades, bazaars, happenings, performances and such in KL and throughout Malaysia, centred on the theme ‘Sayangi Malaysiaku: Malaysia Bersih’ or Love My Malaysia: A Clean Malaysia – aimed at strengthening key attributes such as patriotism, unity, integrity and prosperity.
Things kicked off early August, with a special convoy called Konvoi Kembara Merdeka Jalur Gemilang 2019 hitting the road to spread the cheer around the states.
With so much happening as the date draws closer (culminating in the National Day Parade at Putrajaya to be attended by the Malaysian King), do follow the latest news on Merdeka! Check out the official hashtags #sayangimalaysiaku, #malaysiabersih, #kemakmuranbersama and #kitamalaysia to keep abreast of the happenings, which go past 31 August towards Malaysia Day on 16 September.