KUALA LUMPUR: It was like flipping the pages of a history book, beginning with the country’s independence on Aug 31, 1957, the country’s 60-year history was presented in a very special and nostalgic manner at the 2017 National Day celebration at Dataran Merdeka today.
Witnessed by tens of thousands of people who gathered at the square and Malaysians watching the event which was broadcast live by local television stations, this year’s celebration featured moments how the country is built with challenges overcome together and sharing of power by the children of Malaysian.
Malaysia’s journey under six prime ministers was re-enacted, chapter by chapter from a newly independent country to one of a developed nation.
In line with the theme of the celebration “Negaraku Sehati Sejiwa” (MyCountry Oneheart One soul), the spirit of solidarity, understanding and togetherness not only showed on the faces of the country leaders, but also the participants and the large crowd that gathered at the location since 6am.
The celebration which began at 8am was attended by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak , Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi as well as leaders from various background in the country.
For this celebration, the Merdeka Stadium – which witnessed the declaration of Independence of Malaya by Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj on Aug 31, 1957, was re-enacted at Dataran Merdeka, hence, allowing participants and spectators to feel as if they were at the stadium on that historic day.
Dataran Merdeka was also transformed back into the year 1957 by featuring the life during the era, including in terms of look, style and dressing of the people then, and vehicles.
The historic shouts of “Merdeka” that roared in the stadium seven times by the Father of Independence was also played-back with the special appearance of Prime Minister Najib clad in a special yellow khaki uniform.
A few individuals were specially brought to Dataran Merdeka for this year’s celebration, and they included two retirees of the Royal Malaysian Navy who were tasked to raise the Malaysia flag for the first time, Lt Commander (Rtd) Mohd Sharif Kalam and Warrant Officer 1 Commander (Rtd) Oliver Culvelt Samuel.
Another was Rusnah Aksah, the 12-year-old girl who was tasked to release 101 pigeons at Merdeka Stadium on Sept 16, 1963, in conjunction with the declaration on the formation of Malaysia.
However, at this event, Rusnah released 60 pigeons to symbolise the 60th anniversary of the country’s independence.
Specially invited were also the next-of-kin of the country freedom fighters who included Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun V.T. Sambanthan, Tun Juggah anak Barieng and Tun Datu Mustapha Datu Harun.
To enliven the celebration, the organiser, which is the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia, provided 15 giant LED screens (5 metre x 3 metre) along Jalan Raja Laut for the public to watch the performance at Dataran Merdeka.
For the first time, the public were today introduced to the ‘F Team’, a special unit formed in 1971 to eliminate the communist threat and dissolved in May 1995, through a special performance by the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM).
The 10 minute-performance received a loud applause from spectators to the unsung heroes. The performance also received a standing ovation by 58 members of the unit present, with a few of them overwhelmed with emotion.
Among the performance that drew loud applause from the crowd were ‘war cry’ and the silent drill by 1,000 personnel of the Defence Ministry.
The parade event comprised 10 main segments, namely, nationhood, civil service, economy, animation, sport, self-identity, public order, national security, air show and integrated society segment.
This year’s Merdeka para also involved the participation of the national athletes, led by Datuk Marina Chin as the contingent head of the Malaysian team at the Kuala Lumpur SEA Games which ended yesterday with the country topping the medal tally with 145 gold, 92 silver and 86 bronze.
The special animation event attracted the children with the appearance of the mascot and main characters in animation production by local companies, such as Ejen Ali, Kluang Man and Ummi.
Apart from that, the parade of about 300 assets belonging to the country’s security forces also attracted the crowd.
The assets included various types of vehicles y owned by PDRM since 1950, such as high-powered motorcycles, Mitsubishi EVO X car and the Water Can Mercedez Benz Actross which was used by the Federal Reserves Unit.
The Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM) contingent comprised 3,300 members who appeared with their latest asset, the 4×4 HMAV known as “Lipan Bara”.
As usual, besides the fly-past, the Royal Malaysia Air Force (RMAF) performed an acrobatic airshow, involving the Sukhoi aircraft.
The Merdeka Day parade involved 18,000 participants, including a group of more than 400 band members from 11 uniformed agencies which accompanied the performances during the four hour-event.
There were also special performances by the various components in the society to reflect the country’s multi-racial community involving dancers from various government departments, arts and dance institution, non-governmental organisations, art schools and children from Permata Seni Tari. –Bernama