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Merdeka Day

Merdeka Day
(Independence Day)
Merdeka Square, Kuala Lumpur, 2008
Official name Hari Merdeka
Also called Merdeka
Observed by Malaysians
Type National
Significance Marks the independence of the Federation of Malaya
Date 31 August
2013 date Template:Infobox holiday/date
2014 date Template:Infobox holiday/date
2015 date Template:Infobox holiday/date
2016 date Template:Infobox holiday/date
Next time 31 August 2014 (2014-08-31)
Frequency annual
Part of a series on the
History of Malaysia
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Chi Tu 100 BC – 7th AD
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Portuguese Malacca 1511–1641
Dutch Malacca 1641–1824
Straits Settlements 1826–1946
British Malaya 1874–1946
Federated Malay States 1895–1946
Unfederated Malay States 1909–1946
Kingdom of Sarawak 1841–1946
North Borneo 1882–1963
Japanese occupation
(Malaya, Borneo)
Malayan Union 1946–1948
Federation of Malaya 1948–1963
Independence era
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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. This should not be confused with Hari Malaysia (Malaysia Day) when Malaysia was formed on 16 September 1963 together by Federation of Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore.

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 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, logistical and administrative reasons led to the official proclamation of independence in the next year, on August 31, 1957, at Stadium Merdeka (Independence Stadium), in Kuala Lumpur, which was purpose built for the celebrations of national independence.

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 p.m. and joined members of the Alliance Party's youth divisions in observing two minutes of darkness.[1] On the stroke of midnight, the lights were switched back on, and the Union Flag in the square was lowered.[2] 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.[1][2] Tunku Abdul Rahman later gave a speech hailing the ceremony as "greatest moment in the life of the Malayan people".[1] Before giving the address to the crowd, he was given a necklace by representatives of the Alliance Party youth in honor of this great occasion in history, with a map of Malaya inscribed on it. The event ended at one in the morning the next day.

On the morning of 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 a.m. Those in attendance included rulers of the Malay states, foreign dignitaries, members of the federal cabinet, and citizens.[3] The Queen's representative, the Duke of Gloucester presented Tunku Abdul Rahman with the instrument of independence.[3] 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 by a military band and a 21-gun salute, followed by an azan call and a thanksgiving prayer in honor of this great occasion.[3]

The day followed with the solemn installation of the first Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Tuanku Abdul Rahman of Negeri Sembilan, at Jalan Ampang, and the first installation banquet in his honor in the evening followed by a beating retreat performance and a fireworks display. Sports events and other events marked the birth of the new nation.


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.[4] 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.[5][6][7] In 2009 it was decided that starting 2010, Malaysia Day would be a nationwide public holiday in addition to Hari Merdeka on August 31.[8]


Year Theme
1970 Muhibah dan Perpaduan
(Love and Unity)
1971 Masyarakat Progresif
(Progressive Society)
1972 Masyarakat Adil
(Fair Society)
1973 Masyarakat Berkebudayaan Malaysia
(A Society with Malaysian Culture)
1974 Sains dan Teknologi Alat Perpaduan
(Science and Technology as Tools of Unity)
1975 Masyarakat Berdikari
(A Self-Reliant Society)
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
1989 Bersatu
1990 Berjaya
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 Penantu 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: Successful Transformations, Prosperous Citizens)
2012 55 Tahun Merdeka: Janji Ditepati
(55 Years of Independence: Promises Fulfilled)
2013 Malaysiaku Berdaulat, Tanah Tumpahnya Darahku
(My Sovereign Malaysia, My Native Land)

The 2012 theme proved to be controversial, as it was seen by many Malaysians to be a political slogan rather than a patriotic one. The official "logo" was also ridiculed for its unconventional design. A video of the theme song uploaded on YouTube (with lyrics penned by Rais Yatim) garnered an overwhelming number of "dislikes" because of its overtly political content, which had nothing to do with the spirit of independence. The video has since been taken down.[9]

See also


External links

  • Merdeka proclamation on YouTube video
ms:Hari Kebangsaan Malaysia
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