Hari Merdeka

Hari Merdeka
A man is thrown into the air by a crowd during Merdeka Day celebrations in Merdeka Square, Kuala Lumpur, 2008
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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 August 31 each year. It is not to be confused with the formation of Malaysia. August 31 of 1957 is designated as the formation of Malaya which does not include the states of Sabah and Sarawak.[1]


Events leading up to independence

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 increasingly clear that the Communist threat posed during the Malayan Emergency was petering out, agreement was reached on February 8, 1956, for Malaya to gain independence from the British Empire. However, for a number of logistical and administrative reasons, it was decided that the official proclamation of independence would only be made the next year, on August 31, 1957, at Stadium Merdeka (Independence Stadium), in Kuala Lumpur.

August 31, 1957

On the night of August 30, 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 pm and joined members of the Alliance Party's youth divisions in observing two minutes of darkness.[2] On the stroke of midnight, the lights were switched back on, and the Union Flag in the square was lowered.[3] 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.[2][3] Tunku Abdul Rahman gave a speech hailing the ceremony as "greatest moment in the life of the Malayan people".[2]

File:History merdeka.jpg
Tunku Abdul Rahman announcing the independence of Malaya from the British on August 31, 1957 at the Merdeka Stadium
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On the morning of Saturday, August 31, 1957, the festivities moved to the newly-completed Merdeka Stadium. More than 20,000 people witnessed the ceremony, which began at 9:30 am. Those in attendance included rulers of the Malay states, foreign dignitaries, members of the federal cabinet and citizens.[4] The Queen's representative, the Duke of Gloucester presented Tunku Abdul Rahman with the instrument of independence.[4] 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 and a 21-gun salute, followed by an azan call and a thanksgiving prayer in honor of this great occasion.[4]


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

The formation of Malaysia

The Federation of Malaysia, comprising the States of Malaya, North Borneo (later renamed Sabah), Sarawak and Singapore was to be officially declared on the date August 31, 1963, on the 6th anniversary of Malayan independence. However, it was postponed to September 16, 1963, mainly due to Indonesian and the Philippines' opposition to the formation of Malaysia. Nevertheless, North Borneo and Singapore declared sovereignty on August 31, 1963. Indonesian opposition later escalated to a military conflict. Indonesia considered Malaysia as a new form of colonization on the provinces of Sarawak and Sabah in the island of Borneo (bordering Kalimantan, Indonesia), which they laid claim on. [5] To assure Indonesia that Malaysia was not a form of neo-colonialism, a referendum, organized by the United Nations, and the Cobbold Commission, led by Lord Cobbold, were formed to determine whether the people of Sabah 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 September 16, 1963 as Malaysia Day. The nationwide Independence Day celebration is still held on August 31, 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 August 31 is too Malaya-centric.[6][7][8] In 2009, it was decided that starting 2010, Malaysia Day would be a nationwide public holiday in addition to Hari Merdeka on August 31.[9]

| 1970 | Muhibah dan Perpaduan
(Love and Unity) | none |- | 1971 | Masyarakat Progresif
(Progressive Society) | none |- | 1972 | Masyarakat Adil
(Fair Society) | none |- | 1973 | Masyarakat Berkebudayaan Malaysia
(A Society with Malaysian Culture) | none |- | 1974 | Sains dan Teknologi Alat Perpaduan
(Science and Technology as Tools of Unity) | none |- | 1975 | Masyarakat Berdikari
(A Self-Reliant Society) | none |- | 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 and Progressively Working) | |- | 1988 | Bersatu
(Unity) | |- | 1989 | Bersatu
(Unity) | |- | 1990 | Berjaya
(Success) | |- | 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 Penentu 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, Performance Now) | |- | 2010 | 1 Malaysia, Menjana Transformasi
(1 Malaysia, Transforming the Nation) |- | 2011 | 1 Malaysia, Transformasi Berjaya, Rakyat Sejahtera
(1 Malaysia, Transformation Success, People Peace) |}

See also


External links

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