When the late Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra al-Haj shouted the word ”Merdeka” seven times in front of thousands in Stadium Merdeka on 31 August 1957, it marked the momentous occasion when the Federation of Malaya became a free and independent nation. Tunku, Malaysia’s first Prime Minister, then read out the Proclamation of Independence, before the Jalur Gemilang (national flag) was raised as the melodious Negaraku (national anthem) filled the air.
60 years on, this scene will be faithfully re-enacted this month as the nation comes together at Dataran Merdeka (Independence Square) to celebrate the diamond jubilee of that historic day. The site will be transformed to look like the Merdeka Stadium from 1957, replicating the atmosphere in all its glory.
The theme for this year’s Hari Kebangsaan (National Day), Negaraku Sehati Sejiwa (My Country, One Heart, One Soul), was designed to cultivate patriotism and national pride, bringing together the assortment of different races in a true reflection of 1Malaysia.
Programmes to commemorate Merdeka 2017 actually began as early as April, with a dozen main events peaking in August and running until October, past Malaysia Day on 16 September. These include community-level engagements such as fun runs and carnivals.
This year’s celebration carries extra weight as it coincides with the closing of the 29th SEA Games, bookending the iconic sporting event. At 4pm on 30 August, the day of the Games’ closing ceremony, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak will deliver his Merdeka Address, signalling the start of the Merdeka countdown celebration at the National Stadium in Bukit Jalil.
To make the occasion that bit more special, a massive 200-metre-long, 9-metre-tall LED screen will surround Dataran Merdeka, exuding an audio-visual flavour that is set to augment the pageantry of the ground and air shows taking place at the location.
Aim to get to Dataran Merdeka early to secure a good position from where you can freely watch the proceedings. To beat the traffic, take the LRT and disembark at the Masjid Jamek station before strolling over to the colourful grounds. With that said, enjoy what will undoubtedly be one of the most memorable National Day celebrations in recent years!