Malaysian Independence Day (also known as Hari Merdeka) is the national day in Malaysia. It is held annually on August 31. This day marks the date when Malaysia was declared an independent nation in 1957, making it free from the control of the British. It is different from Malaysia Day, which is in September and marks the date when Malaysia unified into one nation.
History of Malaysian Independence Day | Hari Merdeka
The person who led the fight for Malaysia’s freedom was Tunku Abdul Rahman, who was the chief minister of the country at the time. Talks of becoming independent began when he and a group of political leaders started a campaign for freedom and negotiated with the British in London. They had reached an agreement and England had granted them freedom in February of 1956, but the official declaration of independence was made in August of 1957 at Independence Stadium in Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Malaysia.
On August 30, 1957, right when the clock hit 12:00 (midnight), the British flag was lowered and the Malaysian flag was raised at the Royal Selangor Club, while the Malay national anthem was playing. Thousands were gathered in the stadium to witness the once-in-a-lifetime event. They chanted “Merdeka” after the anthem had played. This was followed by a speech from Tunku Abdul Rahman, who praised the event as the highest moment in history of the nation.
Ceremony of Malaysian Independence | Hari Merdeka
On the following day, festivals were held in many places around the country, but the biggest one was in Independence Stadium, where there were more than 20,000 people, including political leaders, delegates, and citizens. Attendees included the Prince and Princess of Japan, King and Queen of Thailand, Duke and Duchess of the United Kingdom, Prime Ministers of Vietnam, India, Pakistan, Ceylon, South Africa, Cambodia, and Burma. There were also representatives from the united States, Australia, Hong Kong, and Singapore. Abdul Rahman read the declaration of independence, which preceded the Duke handing him the document representing Malaysia’s Independence. Next, the audience chanted “Merdeka” 7 times, after which the nation’s flag was raised, which followed the singing of the anthem and 21 rifle salutes. To cap it off, the Muslim call to prayer and a Thanksgiving prayer were sung.
These days, Hari Merdeka/Malaysian Independence Day is typically celebrated by many people at Merdeka Square in Kuala Lumpur, where a large parade and festival is held every August 31. People gather in crowds at Merdeka Square, raise flags, and show their National Pride.