Find out about Merdeka Day in Malaysia and celebrate this important occasion.
Merdeka Day (also known as Independence Day) is celebrated by Malaysians on 31st August every year to mark the independence of Federation of Malaya’s (Peninsular Malaysia at the time) from the British Empire. This day (also known as Hari Merdeka in the Malay language) is not complete without the 7 chants of “Merdeka!”.
Before 31st August 1957, Malaysia was under the ruling of the British Empire. Prior to that, Malaysia was under the ruling of various countries (including Japan for a brief period of time – during World War 2).
On the night of 30th August 1957, people started gathering at the Merdeka Square in anticipation of the official independence for Malaya. The then Prime Minister-designate Tunku Abdul Rahman arrived 2 minutes from midnight and joined everyone in observing two minutes of darkness. Sharp at 12am, the lights were switched back on which was immediately followed by the raising of the Flag of Malaya. Accompanying the raising of the flag was the national anthem Negaraku. This was followed by the now infamous 7 chants of “Merdeka!” by the crowd and a speech by Tunku Abdul Rahman.
In the morning of 31st August 1957, 20,000 people gathered at the Merdeka Stadium together with foreign dignitaries to witness the celebration of this great occasion. It is in this stadium that the Proclamation of Independence was read by Tunku Abdul Rahman (now the official first Prime Minister of Malaysia), which culminated in the chanting of “Merdeka!”. As per the earlier chant, the Prime Minister chanted 7 times.
This historic occasion is the start of what will eventually lead to the formation of Malaysia around 6 years later, in 1963.
Held on every 31st August of the year, it is a one-day event (which is also a one-day public holiday in Malaysia) celebrated by everyone across the country. Though it is a one-day event, preparation for this important occasion takes place months before the actual date. In the month of August, malls can be seen decorated with flags of Malaysia with the theme song of the year being played in the mall and also on radio stations.
On the actual day itself, there will be the Merdeka Parade – which is the highlight of the day (all states will also organise their own Merdeka Parade). The main parties participating in the parade are government services such as the military, police force and more. There will also be beautiful floats that will also be part of this parade. This day will eventually lead to a series of on-stage performances during the night.