Tuesday August 21, 2012
The birth of a nation
IN CELEBRATION of Merdeka, StarMetro will be taking a trip down memory lane with Merdeka Memories — a series of photo plays highlighting key National Day celebrations and featuring the nation’s six Prime Ministers.
We kick off with the first Independence Day in 1957.
Come Aug 31, Malaysia will be celebrating its 55th Independence Day (Hari Merdeka) this year.
Besides commemorating the Federation of Malaya’s independence from British colonial rule, Merdeka day also serves as a reminder for us Malaysians to honour the efforts of our forefathers in uniting the country and the efforts that went into gaining the country’s independence.
The first National Day celebration included a flag ceremony where the Union Jack was lowered and the new Malayan flag raised as the national anthem Negaraku was played at the stroke of midnight on Aug 31, 1957, at Dataran Merdeka, Kuala Lumpur.
The highlight of the day was when Prime Minister-designate Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra took to the stage at the newly-completed Stadium Merdeka to read the Proclamation of Independence and declare the nation’s independence by chanting “Merdeka” seven times.
However, Malaysia only became a reality in 1963 when leaders from Britain, Malaya, Singapore and the British Borneo territories met in London to sign the Malaysia Agreement.
The creation of Malaysia was originally scheduled for Aug 31, 1963, but was postponed to Sept 16, 1963 to allow a report on the wishes of North Borneo and Sarawak on the formation of Malaysia to be completed.
Singapore separated from Malaysia after less than two years and has since operated as an independent nation.
Sept 16 has been observed as a national public holiday since 2010.