A peek into the crucial, though at times overlooked, chapter in Malaysian history
Lying just north of the equator, in the southeast of Asia, is a bountiful land blessed with lush rainforests inhabited by thousands of species of flora and fauna, pristine tropical islands surrounded by azure waters in which rich marine life thrive, cool inviting highlands located high above sea-level.
She boasts a seamless fusion of racial diversity, languages, heritage, cultures – all perfectly complemented by a democratic government, exemplary economic growth and a dogged vision towards achieving the developed nation status.
Her name? Malaysia.
Ask any Malaysian why they’re proud to call themselves an ‘Anak Malaysia’ (which translates to “a Malaysian child”), and you’re bound to be showered with a range of gleeful comebacks – out of which FOOD, without a doubt, would be one that would be exclaimed in unison.
That would be followed by the number of public holidays Malaysians get to enjoy each year, which is no less than 20!
And that includes Hari Malaysia (or Malaysia Day), which is celebrated on September 16. But what is the significance of this ‘day’, which is a rather recent addition to Peninsular Malaysia’s roster of gazetted annual public holidays? (Prior to 2010, it was only a holiday in the east Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak, located in northern Borneo.)
For those who aren’t entirely sure, or are under the assumption that it’s merely another version of Hari Merdeka (Independence Day), let us enlighten you with a crucial, though at times overlooked, chapter in Malaysian history.
While Hari Merdeka commemorates the Malayan Declaration of Independence (from the British) on August 31, 1957, Malaysia Day marks the establishment of the Malaysian federation on the same date in 1963. It signifies the coming together of the territories of Malaya (now Peninsular Malaysia), the island of Singapore, and the colonies of Sarawak and Sabah. (Singapore would eventually break away from the federation as an independent republic on August 9, 1965.)
This year, the Hari Malaysia celebrations were held at the indoor Perpaduan Stadium Petra Jaya in Kuching, Sarawak (instead of the initial venue, Padang Merdeka).
Spirited Malaysians began flooding the stadium from as early as 5.30pm with the ‘Jalur Gemilang’ in tow – some spotted proudly displaying elements of the Malaysian flag in their attire – all eager to witness the array of fantastic line-up of performances and parade by over 1,000 participants, the Polis Diraja Malaysia (PDRM) marching band as well as the march-past by Tentera Laut Diraja Malaysia (Royal Malaysian Navy) – in commemoration of Malaysia’s 56th birthday.
Along with Yang di-Pertua Negeri of Sarawak Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud, his wife Toh Puan Ragad Kurdi Taib, the Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad and his wife Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, other VVIPs in attendance included Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Ismail, Chief Minister of Sarawak Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Abang Openg, Chief Minister of Sabah Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal and other members of the federal and state cabinet.
Hari Malaysia 2019 also inspired another history-making feat, a 24-hour non-stop live telecast by national news agency Bernama. ‘The Longest Non-Stop Live National Telecast In Various Languages’ began live telecast at 7am on September 16, and ended at 9am the following day, consequently making it into the Malaysia Book of Records.
It featured a range of interactive programmes and interviews in four languages via all of Bernama channels, namely Bernama News Channel (BNC), Bernama Radio, Bernama.com as well as all the social media platforms of the news agency.
Along with interview programmes with politicians, corporate figures, athletes and celebrities, the non-stop broadcast also featured big names such as popular singers Datuk Seri Siti Nurhaliza Taruddin and Francisca Peter, as well as former national athletes Roslin Hashim and Azman Adnan.
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