Kuala Lumpur – There was a strong patriotic spirit shown by Malaysians from all walks of life who turned up in full force to celebrate the 57th anniversary of the nation’s independence at the Dataran Merdeka here this morning.
Despite sharing the grief of the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) Flight MH370 and Flight MH17 tragedies, some 15,000 people stood united at the parade in a show of love for the country at the square where the Union Jack was taken down and replaced with the national flag now known as the Jalur Gemilang.
Unity was also displayed through a march past by 23 contingents from government departments and agencies, private sector and security personnel, as well as lively field performances.
Themed “Malaysia…Di sini Lahirnya Sebuah Cinta” (Malaysia… Where Love Grows), it aimed to instil the feeling of love for the country among all Malaysians.
Federal Territories Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said the event was a good way to get close to citizens and congratulated Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek for having done so with the event.
“What the ministry has done is to get near to the people and they’ve done that very well, even when our prime minister said so in his speech.
“It was a different concept and at least they are getting the rakyat together,” he said, adding everything Malaysia stands for today is the unity among the different races and religions.
Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said this year’s event was done moderately to respect victims of MH17.
“But the event went very well and the spirit among Malaysians who came in groups was high,” said Khairy.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Subramaniam said the theme was apt in showing the love for the nation.
“It was an emotional event as independence is always meaningful to Malaysians. When we celebrate Merdeka, it reflects the many challenges we faced in the past,” he added.
Dr Subramaniam said it also taught Malaysians to be cohesive in the future in overcoming our past challenges to stay on a path to greater success, unity and solidarity as the nation’s strength.
Gerakan president Datuk Mah Siew Keong said today’s celebration truly showed the spirit of 1Malaysia and the march by the many security personnel reminded him of their sacrifices.
“All these are very symbolic,” he said.
But Mah also said that the MH370 and MH17 incidents cast a shadow on the Merdeka celebrations today.
“I think we are a brave country and it reminds us we are one small country and so we must stand together in the problems and challenges facing the country,” he said on the two Malaysia Airlines tragedies.
Bernama reported that the Merdeka parade began promptly at 8.05am, after the arrival of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu’adzam Shah and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Haminah.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and wife Puan Sri Noorainee Abdul Rahman as well as cabinet members and heads of foreign missions were also present to watch the parade and two hours of exhilarating performances.
At 8.15am, the national anthem Negaraku was sung to the sound of 14 rounds of artillery fire followed by the pledge read by 57 participants comprising school students, undergraduates and civil servants.
A minute of silence in remembrance of those warriors who had sacrificed their lives in the past.
Tuanku Abdul Halim also inspected the guard of honour made up of 107 officers and personnel from the 1st Battalion of the Royal Malay Regiment from the Sungai Besi Camp, led by Major Ameiza Mohd Ashhari.
At the same time, there was a flypast by five helicopters from the Royal Malaysia Air Force (RMAF) carrying the national flag.
The flypast was accompanied by a performance of 2,500 school children from various schools in the Klang Valley on the square who put up a two-hour long show.
Responsibilities such as reading the pledge and carrying the giant Jalur Gemilang were also entrusted to the youths.
The pledge reading by a group of 57 pledge readers was led by a student from Sekolah Sultan Alam Shah in Putrajaya, Ahmad Amsyar Ahmad Afendi, who then led the crowd in shouting “Merdeka” seven times.
Throughout the ceremony, a zeppelin bearing the image of the Father of Independence Tunku Abdul Rahman hovered in the air space at Dataran Merdeka along with four drones.
A high-tech camera was installed on the zeppelin, allowing the bird’s-eye view on the event to be broadcast onto the giant screen at Dataran Merdeka for all to see, as well as for use by teleivision stations.
A total of 2,280 choir members and 2,240 were involved in the field performances which coloured the celebrations with various unique formations of words and logos.
The choir and field performers then sang the songs titled ‘Warisan’ and “Di Sini Lahirnya Sebuah Cinta”, which sent across this year’s national day theme, “Malaysia: Here, Where Love Begins”.
Interestingly this year, the emceeing duty taken up by Saiful Khairi Ahmad Hasibuan from the Culture and Arts Department and Pang Chin Fei, TV3′s senior journalist was also shared by Malaysia’s beloved animation characters, Upin and Ipin.
Upin and Ipin went interactive on an LED screen with each skit and song they performed were supported by graphic formations done by field participants and the graphic terrace.
Sixty members of the Armed Forces marching band led by Aziz Joslim Abdullah took the lead in the parade while the RMAF SU-30MKM Sukhoi and Hawk aircraft rumbled above when they came together for a spectacular formation over the air space.
This was followed by 57 flag bearers carrying giant-sized flags and 57 flag bearers from National Youth Skills Institutes (IKBN) carrying small flags, as well as 23 participating contingents and 10 marching bands.
Also exhibited to the public during the parade were 157 assets belonging to country’s security forces.