Hari Merdeka

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Merdeka Day
(Independence Day)
Merdeka Day Parade 08 - 57.jpg
A man is thrown into the air by a crowd during Merdeka Day celebrations in Merdeka Square, Kuala Lumpur, 2008
Official name Hari Merdeka
Also called Merdeka
Observed by Malaysians
Type National
Significance Marks the independence of the Federation of Malaya
Date 31 August
Next time 31 August 2015 (2015-08-31)
Frequency annual
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Hari Merdeka (Independence Day) is a national day of Malaysia commemorating the independence of the Federation of Malaya from British colonial rule in 1957, celebrated on 31 August each year. This should not be confused with Hari Malaysia (Malaysia Day) when Malaysia was formed on 16 September 1963 together by Federation of Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore.

Events leading up to independence[edit]

The effort for independence was spearheaded by Tunku Abdul Rahman, the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, who led a delegation of ministers and political leaders of Malaya in negotiations with the British in London for Merdeka, or independence along with the first president of the Malayan Chinese Association (MCA) Tun Dato Sir Tan Cheng Lock and fifth President of Malaysian Indian Congress Tun V.T. Sambanthan. Once it became clear that the Communist threat posed during the Malayan Emergency was petering out, agreement was reached on 8 February 1956, for Malaya to gain independence from the British Empire. However, logistical and administrative reasons led to the official proclamation of independence in the next year, on 31 August 1957, at Stadium Merdeka (Independence Stadium), in Kuala Lumpur, which was purposely built for the celebrations of national independence.

31 August 1957[edit]

On the night of 30 August 1957, crowds gathered at the Royal Selangor Club Padang in Kuala Lumpur to witness the handover of power from the British. Prime Minister-designate Tunku Abdul Rahman arrived at 11:58 p.m. and joined members of the Alliance Party's youth divisions in observing two minutes of darkness.[1] On the stroke of midnight, the lights were switched back on, and the Union Flag in the square was lowered.[2] The new Flag of Malaya was raised as the national anthem Negaraku was played. This was followed by seven chants of "Merdeka" by the crowd.[1][2] Tunku Abdul Rahman later gave a speech hailing the ceremony as "greatest moment in the life of the Malayan people".[1] Before giving the address to the crowd, he was given a necklace by representatives of the Alliance Party youth in honour of this great occasion in history, with a map of Malaya inscribed on it. The event ended at one in the morning the next day.

On the morning of 31 August 1957, the festivities moved to the newly completed Merdeka Stadium. More than 20,000 people witnessed the ceremony, which began at 9:30 a.m. Those in attendance included rulers of the Malay states, foreign dignitaries, members of the federal cabinet, and citizens.[3] The Queen's representative, the Duke of Gloucester presented Tunku Abdul Rahman with the instrument of independence.[3] Tunku then proceeded to read the Proclamation of Independence, which culminated in the chanting of "Merdeka!" seven times with the crowd joining in. The ceremony continued with the raising of the National Flag of Malaya accompanied by the national anthem being played by a military band and a 21-gun salute, followed by an azan call and a thanksgiving prayer in honour of this great occasion.[3]

The day followed with the solemn installation of the first Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Tuanku Abdul Rahman of Negeri Sembilan, at Jalan Ampang, and the first installation banquet in his honour in the evening followed by a beating retreat performance and a fireworks display. Sports events and other events marked the birth of the new nation.

Attendees[edit]

The foreign guests of honour included:

Members of royal families
Heads of government
Representatives from other British colonies
Members of the former British colonial administration
High Commissioners of other Commonwealth countries
  • The High Commissioners of Australia, Canada, and New Zealand in Malaya

The formation of Malaysia[edit]

The Federation of Malaysia, comprising the Federation of Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore was to be officially declared on the date 31 August 1963, on the 6th anniversary of Malayan independence. However, it was postponed to 16 September 1963, mainly due to Indonesian and the Philippines' opposition to the formation of Malaysia. Nevertheless, North Borneo and Singapore declared sovereignty on 31 August 1963. Indonesian opposition later escalated to a military conflict. Indonesia considered Malaysia as a new form of colonisation on the provinces of Sarawak and North Borneo in the island of Borneo (bordering Kalimantan, Indonesia). However, they did not laid claim upon the two territories, unlike Phillippines claim on eastern part of Sabah (rather than the whole North Borneo).[4] To assure Indonesia that Malaysia was not a form of neo-colonialism, a general survey (instead of conducting a referendum) involving interviews of approximately 4,000 people and received 2,200 memorandum from groups and private individuals was organised by the United Nations, and the Cobbold Commission, led by Lord Cobbold, were formed to determine whether the people of North Borneo and Sarawak wished to join Malaysia. Their eventual findings which indicated substantial support for Malaysia among the peoples of Sabah and Sarawak, cleared the way for the final proclamation of Malaysia.

The formation of the Federation of Malaysia was then announced on 16 September 1963, as Malaysia Day. The nationwide Independence Day celebration is still held on 31 August, the original independence date of Malaya, while Malaysia Day was a public holiday only in East Malaysia. However, this has caused some minor discontent among East Malaysians in particular since it has been argued that celebrating the national day on 31 August is too Malaya-centric.[5][6][7] In 2009, it was decided that starting 2010, Malaysia Day would be a nationwide public holiday in addition to Hari Merdeka on 31 August.[8]

Themes[edit]

Year Theme
1970 Muhibbah dan Perpaduan
(Goodwill and Unity)
1971 Masyarakat Progresif
(Progressive Society)
1972 Masyarakat Adil
(Fair Society)
1973 Masyarakat Berkebudayaan Malaysia
(A Society with Malaysian Culture)
1974 Sains dan Teknologi Alat Perpaduan
(Science and Technology as Tools of Unity)
1975 Masyarakat Berdikari
(A Self-Reliant Society)
1976 Ketahanan Rakyat
(Strength of the People)
1977 Bersatu Maju
(United and Progressive)
1978 Kebudayaan Sendi Perpaduan
(Culture is the Core of Unity)
1979 Bersatu Berdisplin
(United and Disciplined)
1980 Berdisplin Berbakti
(Discipline and Service)
1981 Berdisplin Berharmoni
(Discipline and Harmony)
1982 Berdisplin Giat Maju
(Discipline Creates Progress)
1983 Bersama Ke Arah Kemajuan
(Together Towards Success)
1984 Amanah Asas Kejayaan
(Honesty Brings Success)
1985 Nasionalisme Teras Perpaduan
(Nationalism is the Core of Unity)
1986 Bangsa Tegas Negara Teguh
(Steadfast Society, Strong Country)
1987 Setia Bersatu Berusaha Maju
(Loyally United, Progressively Striving)
1988 Bersatu
(United)
1989 Bersatu
(United)
1990 Berjaya
(Successful)
1991 Wawasan 2020
(Vision 2020)
1992 Wawasan Asas Kemajuan
(Vision is the Basis of Progress)
1993 Bersatu Menuju Wawasan
(Together Towards Vision)
1994 Nilai Murni Jayakan Wawasan
(Good Values Makes the Vision a Success)
1995 Jatidiri Pengerak Wawasan
(Steadfastness Moves the Vision Forward)
1996 Budaya Penantu Kecapaian
(Culture Determines Achievements)
1997 Akhlak Mulia Masyarakat Jaya
(Good Values Make a Successful Society)
1998 Negara Kita, Tanggungjawab Kita
(Our Country, Our Responsibility)
1999 Bersatu Ke Alaf Baru
(Together Towards the New Millennium)
2000–2006 Keranamu Malaysia
(Because of you, Malaysia)
2007 Malaysiaku Gemilang
(My Glorious Malaysia)
2008 Perpaduan Teras Kejayaan
(Unity Is The Core of Success)
2009 1 Malaysia: Rakyat Didahulukan, Pencapaian Diutamakan
(1 Malaysia: People First, Achievement Becomes Priority)
2010 1 Malaysia: Menjana Transformasi
(1 Malaysia: Transforming the Nation)
2011 1 Malaysia: Transformasi Berjaya, Rakyat Sejahtera
(1 Malaysia: Successful Transformations, Prosperous Citizens)
2012 55 Tahun Merdeka: Janji Ditepati
(55 Years of Independence: Promises Fulfilled)
2013 Malaysiaku Berdaulat, Tanah Tumpahnya Darahku
(My Sovereign Malaysia, The Land Where My Blood Has Spilt)
2014 Malaysia, Di Sini Lahirnya Sebuah Cinta
(Malaysia, Here Where Love Begins)

The 2012 theme proved to be controversial, as it was seen by many Malaysians to be a political slogan rather than a patriotic one (Janji Ditepati was Najib Razak's campaign jingle in the run-up to the 2013 elections). The official "logo" was also ridiculed for its unconventional design. A video of the theme song uploaded on YouTube (with lyrics penned by Rais Yatim) garnered an overwhelming number of "dislikes" because of its overtly political content, which had nothing to do with the spirit of independence. The video has since been taken down.[9]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "1957: Malaya celebrates independence". BBC. 31 August 1957. Retrieved 24 April 2011. 
  2. ^ a b "Detik Jam Tengah Malam Di Padang Kelab Selangor" (in Malay). National Archive of Malaysia. Retrieved 24 April 2011. 
  3. ^ a b c "Pengisytiharan Kemerdekaan Tanah Melayu" (in Malay). National Archives of Malaysia. Retrieved 24 April 2011. 
  4. ^ Manila Accord (31 July 1963)
  5. ^ Merdeka celebration in Kuching
  6. ^ "Keadilan's plans for Merdeka", Daily Express, 29 August 2007.
  7. ^ Aznam, Suhaini, "Celebrating Malaysia Day", 24 September 2007.
  8. ^ http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2009/10/19/nation/20091019103509&sec=nation The Star, 19 October 2009
  9. ^ "Rais seeks views on Merdeka theme song", Malaysiakini, 1 August 2012.

External links[edit]