Thousands of Malaysians and foreign tourists converged at the historic square Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur recently, joining the
country’s first ever double celebration of the 54th Independence Day and 48th Malaysia Day.
A total of 10,073 participants, mostly youth, 106 vehicles, seven helicopters and 10 fighter jets took part in a large-scale, exuberant and colourful parade. The celebration included patriotic songs, dances, a fly pass and a grand parade.
Present at the celebration were the King and Queen of Malaysia, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, his deputy Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, cabinet ministers and dignitaries.
This year also saw the attendance of both the Yang di-Pertua Negeri of Sabah and Sarawak and their wives for the joint celebrations of the Merdeka Day and Malaysia Day. Besides the national anthem Negaraku, the state songs of Sabah and Sarawak were also played during the ceremony.
A group of Sabahan students studying mechatronics at the Malaysian Institute of Technology Academy (MIT) in Kota Kemuning, Shah Alam came to celebrate Malaysia Day and Merdeka Day at Dataran Merdeka.
“We contacted all our friends from Sabah who are studying here. It’s our first time…celebrating the double event in Dataran Merdeka, which is special to us because Malaysia Day marks the independence gained by Sabah and Sarawak within Malaysia in 1963. We are proud of our independence, and celebrating Malaysia Day jointly with Merdeka Day makes the special occasions even more meaningful,” said Maxwell Silip, 21, who enrolled for the mechatronics certificate course early this year.
Jenny Lee, 56, a home tuition teacher brought her attention-grabbing 1Malaysia placard to convey her joy of the double celebrations. She said it took her two weeks and cost her about RM50 to make the placard herself.
“I am very happy because of celebrating Merdeka Day and Malaysia Day together and also because I am celebrating my birthday on 25th September, so I see all these happening together in the same month.
“We should support and show our love to our beautiful country. Our Prime Minister said 1Malaysia. This is a good thing for the country. We are born in Malaysia so we should be proud of our beloved country. We should be very strong and smart in our country. Our Prime Minister is very happy. We have more and more tourists visiting our country and of course Malaysia boleh!
“Every year I have never missed coming to celebrate Merdeka Day as well as other celebrations. I have also come out to join the recent 1Malaysia Lantern Tourism Festival lantern parade at (the) Central Market. I feel good. This is the spirit of 1Malaysia.”
At the end of the nearly two hour-long celebration, prime minister Najib, to the surprise of many, “turun padang” by making a walkover from the VIP stage to the field across to greet and shake hands with the crowd and participants. Following him was his wife, Rosmah Mansor, deputy prime minister Muhyiddin and several cabinet ministers.
He was mobbed by throngs of people eager to shake hands with him as he slowly made his way onto the top of the choir conductor stage to deliver a short speech, in which he thanked the crowd and the participants for putting up a highly spirited performance. The crowd responded with bouts of cheers.
It was also a special event not to be missed by foreign tourists who were in the city to join in the fun and merriment.
German tourist, Andreas Krause, 25, a university student on semester break, said he had been in the city for three days and decided to extend his stay for another day to catch the celebration upon learning about it from a local woman he met on the bus. Krause was to have left for Penang on Merdeka day enroute to Thailand.
“It was very interesting (for) all the people, totally amazing! We have a similar day like this in Germany, but there is no such…big party like this,” he said, showing the 1Malaysia sign with amusement.
“This is my first visit to your beautiful country. I like the whole city, the friendly people, the variety of food – Chinese food, Arabian food – and its multi-ethnic population and cultures.
“I had just been to Batu Caves, it was a really nice place. The hills and temples were amazing, but it was impossible to (go) up the Twin Towers as it was closed for renovations, so it’s bad luck for me,” said Krause, looking a bit dejected.
The Petronas Twin Towers’ sky-bridge is currently closed from 15 September 2011 until 8 November 2011, subject to change, for an enhancement project.
For honeymooning couple Lisa, 25, a nurse, and David Zimmermann, 24, a truck driver, both from Germany, it was thrilling to watch the parade. They said they were excited to find out about the event on the internet.
“It was a very colourful display of national pride. We like the friendly people here, very open, very friendly, very nice, they talk to us and even asked permission to pose for pictures with us. This is amazing,“ said Lisa, who informed that they had been touring the country for almost three weeks and will leave for Taman Negara and Cameron Highlands after their Kuala Lumpur stop.
“Back in Germany we have a similar day on 3rd October, the day of German Reunification of West Germany and East Germany in 1990, but we just don’t have to work, nothing like this celebration of a big scale.”
A science researcher, Simonne Everaere, 63, from Paris, on her second holiday in Malaysia came to know about the event through the guidebook.
“I enjoy the diverse show. It was spectacular.
“I was here 32 years ago in 1979. It’s apparent a lot of physical changes has taken place around the country since my first visit,” said Everaere who will be leaving for home the next day after having spent nearly a month on vacation touring the whole country.