The Hari Merdeka Parade (Independence Day Parade) is an annual parade held every August 31 in commemoration of Malaysia's independence. Since independence, the event has been usually held at Merdeka Square, Kuala Lumpur in commemoration of it being the original site of the first independence parade, which was held on September 1, 1957.
However, since 1985, there has been a general consensus by the federal government to bring the celebrations to other parts of the nation, therefore the national parade has also been held in Malacca Town, Johor Bahru, Kuching, Kota Kinabalu, George Town, Shah Alam, Putrajaya and Kuantan. Lately, the federal government has favoured holding it at Putrajaya, since it is the administrative centre of the government, with parades held there three times.
There were also times where the celebrations were held on a smaller scale. In 2009, the national day parade was held at a small scale in the Parliament of Malaysia. The audience was reduced to 4,000 because of the 2009 flu pandemic at that time. In view of the Ramadhan season, The Putra Indoor Stadium in Bukit Jalil will host the 2010 edition for the first time, with only a military parade (just like in previous years) with the addition of a human graphic display on the Stadium stands, the first time it was done here since the 1998 Commonwealth Games. The human graphic display is one of the many regular features of the parade, together with the mass presentation by members of Soka Gakkai Malaysia, dressed in the colours of the national flag, forming different displays in the ground. It was also be the first time that a Merdeka Parade will be held indoors instead of outdoors, with the 2011 celebrations originally planned to be held in a more bigger arena due to the success of that year's edition but now planned to be at Merdeka Square in Kuala Lumpur to be held on September 16, Malaysia Day, for the very first time.
2012's parade marked 55 years of national independence. The 2013 parade, dedicated to the fallen military and police heroes of the Lahad Datu operation, was one of the largest parades ever held in Malaysian history, and the first to feature a full mobile column after 5 years.
The chief guest of honour is the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Raja Permaisuri Agong (King and Queen of Malaysia). It is also attended by the Prime Minister of Malaysia and other Cabinet members, plus government employees.
Summary of the parade
At Merdeka Square in front of the Sultan Abdul Samad Building or since 1985 in various Malaysian state capitals and in Putrajaya since 2003, a stage is set for the guests and government and military personnel and officials in attendance. The Prime Minister of Malaysia and the Deputy Prime Minister are also there at this time. The Royal Malay Regiment or another military unit of the three services of the Malaysian Armed Forces (sometimes with the Mounted Ceremonial Squadron, Royal Armoured Corps) prepares to fulfill its duties as the Guard of Honour Company, with a military band joining them.
In some venues and in Kuala Lumpur, a human graphic display is also being readied, and members of Soka Gakkai Malaysia, by then now formed on the parade grounds or on the streets, prepares its field presentation by forming the Flag of Malaysia on the parade square. An instrumental ensemble of Malaysian ethnic percussion also readies their performances much later.
Arrival of the Sovereigns
At 8:00 in the morning, HM the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and HM the Raja Permaisuri Agong arrive at the venue, accompanied by a Royal Procession by members of the Royal Malaysian Police and the Mounted Ceremonial Squadron, RAC. The Guard of Honor Company, now at attention, renders a Royal Salute to the Sovereigns (in light of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong's responsibilities as Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces), the unit Colors of the GOH battalion (Sovereign's and Regimental) are dipped and the National Anthem, Negaraku, is played by the military band.
After this, the GOH does shoulder and then order arms. The GOH commander then salutes his sword and then reports to the Yang di-Pertuan Agong that the GOH is ready for inspection.
By the time the inspection starts the slow Menungjung Duli March is played. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong inspects the GOH Company and salutes its Sovereign's and Regimental Colours.
When it ends, the GOH commander then reports the end of the inspection and asks for the GOH to march past, and later orders the company for the Royal Salute. The National Anthem is then played again and the Colours are again dipped in the presence of the Sovereigns. The human graphic display by then shows "Daulat Tuanku" (Long Live the King) written on it. After this, the GOH Company executes shoulder arms and turn right and then perform a march past.
Flag Raising and the Rukunegara recitation
At the parade venue, a color guard by soldiers of either of the three Armed Forces branches escorting the Flag of Malaysia approach the Flagpole together with selected Malaysians. The flag is raised to Negaraku and a 21-gun salute is done by members of the Royal Artillery Regiment. After the flag raising, the Rukunegara (National Principles) is first read by the emcee and in recent years, the Maka kami part of the pledge onward is then recited with the left hand at the shoulder level. After this, seven shouts of Merdeka! (Independence!) with the left hand raised are said, and since 2007 and from 2009 onward, even the theme for that year is being shouted as well.
Cultural and patriotic performances
After the flag raising, patriotic songs are sung with the accompaniment of ethnic percussion. Young dancers dressed as the various races and ethnic groups of the country dance about, with that year's theme song as one of the numbers. The SGM members perform delicate and well prepared formations on the parade grounds, while the human graphic display shows intricate writings on the stand made by pompoms and colored flags among others.
Planes of the Royal Malaysian Air Force, the Malaysian Army Air Force and the Royal Malaysian Navy fly overhead in a salute to the nation, led by military helicopters flying the Flag of Malaysia, the Flags of the Malaysian Armed Forces and its three services and the flags of the 13 Malaysian states and 3 Malaysian federal territories. Military aircraft (planes, jets and helicopters) then follow behind the colors party followed by aircraft from the Royal Malaysian Police.
Civil-military march past
After the flypast, the much-awaited civil/military march starts with the march past of the Malaysian national and state flags. Military and police contingents from the Malaysian Armed Forces and the Royal Malaysian Police, youth uniformed groups, Army, Air Force and Navy special operations commandos, Armed Forces and Police counter-terrorist units, bomb squads, pilots of the Royal Malaysian Air Force and the Royal Malaysian Navy's Naval Air Group, military reservists, personnel of the RELA Corps, Maritime Enforcement Agency, Civil Defense Agency, Fire and Rescue Department and the Prisons Department, civilian organizations (including the Kuala Lumpir City Council), federal ministries and business entities march past the parade stage in front of the Sovereigns and guests on the stage. Military bands and marching bands also march past, playing music to the delight of everyone in attendance, and when they pass by the Sovereigns their drum majors, conductors and color guards salute them.
In every parade, floats representing the various companies and corporations celebrating the occasion drive past the street to the amazement of everyone, due to their intricate designs and various features, as well as the people which are on the floats themselves.
Mobile and mounted columns
Also part of the parade is the mobile column showing the different vehicles of the Malaysian Armed Forces, the Royal Malaysian Police, the Civil Defence Bureau, Fire and Rescue Agency, Prisons Agency and Kuala Lumpur City Hall plus representatives of the federal ministries and the private sector. The mobile column also includes veterans from the uniformed and civil services, as well as vintage vehicles. Rounding up the parade is the mounted column composed of members of the MCS and mounted squadrons from the RMP and the KLCC.
|1957||Stadium Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur (celebration proper),
Merdeka Square, Kuala Lumpur (military parade)
|1958–1984||Merdeka Square, Kuala Lumpur|
|1985||Malacca City, Malacca|
|1986–1987||Merdeka Square, Kuala Lumpur|
|1988||Johor Bahru, Johor|
|1989–1992||Merdeka Square, Kuala Lumpur|
|1994–1995||Merdeka Square, Kuala Lumpur|
|1996||Kota Kinabalu, Sabah|
|1997||Merdeka Square, Kuala Lumpur|
|1998||George Town, Penang|
|1999||Merdeka Square, Kuala Lumpur|
|2000||Shah Alam, Selangor|
|2001–2002||Merdeka Square, Kuala Lumpur|
|2003||Putra Square, Putrajaya|
|2005||Putra Square, Putrajaya|
|2007–2008||Merdeka Square, Kuala Lumpur|
|2009||Parliament of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur|
|2010||Putra Indoor Stadium, Bukit Jalil, Kuala Lumpur|
|2011||Merdeka Square, Kuala Lumpur (first to be held on Malaysia Day)|
|2012||Merdeka Square, Kuala Lumpur|
|2013||Merdeka Square, Kuala Lumpur|