MERDEKA

THE BIG MOMENT!

Images of Independence Dayand shouts of ‘Merdeka, Merdeka, Merdeka’ will always captivate and unite Malaysians as the gripping picture (above) reminds us of the momentous occasion

In this reproduction of the Aug 31, 1957 cover of The Malay Mail, we reflect on the big moment when Tunku Abdul Rahman proclaimed Malaya’s

independence to signal the dawn of a new nation on a wet Saturday morning.

Today’s edition, harking back to the editorial style of the 1950s, is devoted to recapturing the mood of that day 59 years ago which began on a damp note but ended with the euphoria that comes with new nationhood.

A buoyant people, of all ages and races, gathered as early as 5am to participate in the historic event at the Merdeka Stadium that saw an overflow of emotion from a newlyminted nation and leadership.

The newspaper then cradled the simplicity of all involved including the Tunku who was unable to access the stadium due to crowds milling around the entrance.

Today, the celebrations have evolved into an extravaganza of pomp and pageantry with the nation’s uniformed forces and the ordinary Malaysian putting on a dazzling show to keep the flame of independence alive.

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Merdeka won by tact, not force

Only nation to become independent without bloodshed

When the clock struck 12 last night, it signalled the 59th year of good chemistry between the races forged by first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra.

In crying out the word “Merdeka’’ seven times, he brought to the fore the aspirations and dreams of a multi-racial society that had succeded in obtaining self determination for itself.

Tunku and his team of determined MCA and MIC leaders presented the British with a proposal they could not decline of multi-racial unity, peace and prosperity in the land the colonials had ruled for 93 years.

History records that Malaya was the only colonialised territory around the world that obtained indendence through peaceful means.

There was no bloodshed between a colonial power and the people who had been their charges.

Other nations had to sacrifice lives and peace due to upheaval caused by independence fervour that rubbed the colonial masters wrongly.

But in Malaya’s case, Tunku had the right temperament to guide a united force of Malay, Chinese and Indian leaders to negotiate independence with the British who had ruled since 1874 when the Pangkor Treaty was signed.

Walked diplomatic path

The Kedah prince, using statecraft learnt from his father Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah, the 25th ruler of the Kedah Sultanate, walked the diplomatic path with excellence.

Tunku’s mother was Che Manjalara, who was of Thai descent, which later saw him joining the Debsirin School in Bangkok where he learnt the best of the calm and collected Thais which would influence him in later life.

He spoke to the British in terms and nuances they understood using diplomatic language they were used to.

Together with Chinese representatives Tun Tan Cheng Lok, who was English-educated and appealed to English-speaking Chinese, and Tun H.S. Lee, who straddled the Chinese-English divide of the MCA, and the English-educated Tun V.T. Sambanthan of the MIC, he presented a team well-school in the finer ways of the British.

This clearly resonated with the British who wanted to divest themselves of a colonial territory halfway across the world that was drawing on its resources.

Britain distant territories were a drain on its increasingly slender resources with London wanting to hand over its colonial land to the right people who would not create subsequent problems for it.

They were particularly cautious that the communist insurgency that devastated the land from 1948 would not rear its ugly head post-independence.

In this, they had the right man in the adamantly anti-communist Tunku who abhored their philosophy and would have no truck with it.

Tunku, Tan, Lee and Sambanthan proved the best choice in terms of a leadership that could rule fairly and responsibly while looking to the needs of every community that made up the nation.

This was the promise the British required of Malayan leaders they felt could handle independence with good judgement and fair play.

They were not to be disappointed over their multi-racial choice that has led the nation over five decades with a fair and firm hand despite occasional hiccups that were overcome by consensus.

Tunku’s victorious cry of freedom will resonate around the country today to complement the nationalistic fervour that has gripped the nation.

The Jalur Gemilang and the Negaraku will be celebrated by all as the people remember the independence struggle and the fruits it yielded that all enjoy today.

‘Merdeka’’ seven times, he brought to the fore the aspirations and dreams of a multi-racial society that had succeded in obtaining self determination for itself.

Tunku and his team of determined MCA and MIC leaders presented the British with a proposal they could not decline of multi-racial unity, peace and prosperity in the land the colonials had ruled for 93 years.

History records that Malaya was the only colonialised territory around the world that obtained indendence through peaceful means.

There was no bloodshed between a colonial power that wanted to main its grip on its colonised land and the people who had been their charges.

Other nations had to sacrifice lives and peace due to upheaval caused by independence fervour that rubbed the colonial masters wrongly.

But in Malaya’s case, Tunku had the right temperament to guide a united force of Malay, Chinese and Indian leaders to negotiate independence with the British who had ruled since 1874 when the Pangkor Treaty was signed.

The Kedah prince, fluent in the language of the colonial masters and using the statecraft learnt from his father Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah, the 25th ruler of the Kedah Sultanate.

Tunku’s mother was Che Manjalara, who was of Thai descent, which later required him to do his schooling in the Debsirin school in Bangkok where he

learnt the best of the calm and collected Thais which would influence him in later life.

He spoke to the British in terms and nuances they understood using language they were used to.

Together with Chinese representatives Tun Tan Cheng Lok, who was English-educated and appealed to English-speaking Chinese, and Tun H.S. Lee who straddled the Chinese-English divide of the MCA, and the English-educated Tun V.T. Sambanthan of the MIC, he presented a team well-school in the finer ways of the British.

This clearly resonated with the British who wanted to divest themselves of a colonial territory halfway across the world that was drawing on its resources.

Britain distant territories were a drain on its increasingly slender resources with London wanting to hand over its colonial land to the right people who would not subsequently create problems for it.

They were particularly cautious that the communist insurgency that devastated the land from 1948 would not rear its ugly head post independence.

In this, they had the right man in the virulently anti-communist Tunku who abhored the political philosophy and would have no truck with it.

Tunku, Tan, Lee and Sambanthan proved the best choice in terms of a leadership that could rule fairly and responsibility while looking to the needs of every community that made up the nation.

This was the promise the British required of the Malayan leaders they felt could handle independence with good judgement and fair play.

They were not to be disappointed over their multi-racial choice that has led the nation over most of the past five decades with a fair and firm hand despite occasional hiccups that were overcome by consensus.

Tonight, Tunku’s victorious cry of freedom will resonate around the country to feed the nationalist fervour that has gripped the nation.

The Jalur Gemilang and the Negaraku will be celebrated by all as the people remember the indepedence struggle and the fruits it yielded that all enjoy today.

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PM rallies Malaysians to celebrate moments of unity

Najib fired up by positive vibe, sense of togetherness

KUALA LUMPUR — Unity, progress and respect for the legacy of the nation’s founders were the central themes of Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s Merdeka speech last night.

Speaking to an enthusiastic audience at Putra World Trade Centre, Najib said he felt a “positive vibe” and a sense of togetherness that had fired up his patriotism and nationalist spirit.

“Not only a prime minister and party leader but as a son of Malaysia, I feel an aura … a positive vibe in that we have all gathered here together regardless of our diverse backgrounds to celebrate our nation,” he told the packed hall.

Najib put forth several questions for Malaysians to consider, namely what independence meant for the nation, the legacy of the nation’s founders and how Malaysians could show their gratitude to the nation.

What it means to be Malaysian

“What does it mean to be Malaysian and where are we headed as a nation?” he asked.

He provided “moments of unity” to illustrate how Malaysians had come together in a grand commitment towards nation building.

“I shared the excitement of millions of Malaysians who watched Datuk Lee Chong Wei play at the Olympic finals, especially those who turned out in Putrajaya to watch the match live,” he said.

“Most of the people who turned up to cheer were Malays. That is a moment of unity. And despite all his success, Lee has never forgotten to be thankful and grateful to his coach and mentor Datuk Misbun Sidek.”

All Malaysian athletes who participated in the Rio Olympics were present and applauded together with the audience.

Najib also provided the example of how Malaysians could function together in building a long lasting business enterprise.

Model Islamic country

“In Ipoh there is a famous nasi kandar shop called ‘Vanggey’ (which in Tamil means ‘come’),” he said as the crowd cheered him on.

“The thing is this business is housed in the Yong Suan Coffee house, which was opened in 1957, and is operated by Mohd Nihmathullah Syed Mustafa, who is here with us today.”

Najib said the country had continued to grow in absolute economic terms and had achieved its Key Performance Indicators as outlined in the National Transformation plan.

He said despite all the nay-sayers who claimed Malaysia was a “failed state” and experiencing economic stagnation, it had posted a four per cent growth rate.

“Malaysia is a model Islamic nation with a thriving Islamic finance system,” he said.

“We are the first of 72 countries (with an Islamic finance system) and the largest trader in ‘sukuk’ (Islamic bonds), handling 55 per cent of the total traded worldwide.”

He cited The World Economic Forum Global Competiveness Report as proof the country was on the upward march, being ranked ninth and the only emerging market in the ranking.

“All this is proof that the country is indeed moving forward and is not a failed state as claimed by certain quarters,” he said.

Najib also said the government would not compromise on security matters and would be ready to take on both foreign and domestic enemies.

“The National Security Council has met regularly and we are collectively prepared to face any threat to the peace and security of the country,” he said.

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Tunku pride of 
Bangkok school

Former prime minister’s stint forged closer ties with Thailand

BANGKOK — Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra takes pride of place among old boys of the elite Debsirin School here which also produced four Thai prime ministers.

A signboard featuring the image of Tunku stands at the entrance of the school today to remind students of the first prime minister who studied there from 1913 to 1915.

Opened in 1885 by King Chulalongkorn, the school’s contribution to Thailand has extended to more than 70 cabinet ministers and several senior military leaders.

Malaysian Historical Society, Kedah branch chairman Datuk Dr Wan Shamsudin Mohd Yusof said Tunku returned in 1915 to continue his education at Penang Free School.

According to him, Tunku was sent to Debsirin School by his mother, Che’ Menjalara, a member of the Thai royalty and wife of Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah of Kedah.

While schooling here, Tunku stayed with his elder brother, Tunku Yusuf, who was an officer in the Siam Artillery Corps.

Historical Society branch member Dr Mohd Kasri Saidon told Bernama Tunku continued to be remembered by the school’s administrators as one of its more illustrious students.

Website pays tribute

“He remains a symbol of success and pride for Debsirin School,” he said.

According to Mohd Kasri, Tunku and his elder brother’s schooling at Debsirin was proof of the close ties between the Thai and Kedah royalty.

Reference to Tunku can be found on the Debsirin School website, which reads: “Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj Almarhum Sultan Abdul Hamid Shah, Malaysian Prime Minister, was one of our famous former students.”

School director Anan Subwaree said the school was proud of the fact that Malaysia’s first prime minister had studied there.

“It is also a symbol of the close relations between Thailand and Malaysia,” he said, adding that the school would be contributing historical material on Tunku to the Kedah State Museum soon.

Good times

In a letter to Debsirin School in conjunction with its centenary celebrations in 1985, Tunku had expressed pride over the school’s achievements.

“Those (former students) who are alive today must take pride in their old school, as I do, on its 100th anniversary. How many of my schoolmates are alive today I don’t know, but there can’t be very many,” he wrote.

“It was a life full of good times, for we went to school at eight in the morning and left at one o’clock. And we had one whole afternoon to play around.

“I had my bicycle and with my very close friend Luang Travil Guparak, we used to cycle around the town.”

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From Tawau to KL, in true 1Malaysia spirit

Nation enjoys harmony, peace and unity

The national-level Merdeka Day/Malaysia Day celebrations kicked off on Aug 6 in Tawau, Sabah, with Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi joining thousands in the event.

The month-long campaign, which will end on Sept 16, has caught the imagination of students and members of non-governmental organisations nationwide.

Many have weighed in with spectacular programmes themed on the Jalur Gemilang.

Schools have enlisted students to decorate the premises while government departments have embarked on motoring convoys to distribute the flags.

The campaign to encourage Malaysians to fly the Jalur Gemilang picked up momentum since its launch with the flags flown over homes, atop buildings and miniatures affixed to car roofs and motorcycles.

Over the past two weeks, various events were organised nationwide by the private sector and non-governmental organisations in the Merdeka spirit.

Keeping to the precepts of a caring society, the less fortunate were also not forgotten. Social and welfare organisations offered contributions to orphanages, and homes for the aged and the physically challenged.

Theme retained

Last year’s “Sehati, Sejiwa” (One Heart, One Soul) theme has been retained for this year’s celebration of both important dates. This morning, Malaysians from all walks of life gather at the historical padang, now known as Dataran Merdeka, in the heart of the city to appreciate the theme in its essence. It was here the Merdeka celebrations kicked off on Aug 30, 1957, when the Union Jack was lowered.

The diplomatic corps will also make its strong presence felt with tourists experiencing first-hand the Malaysian way of life where race, colour and creed are disregarded as the nation enjoys the day in true 1Malaysia spirit.

All present will enjoy a thrilling visual experience of action-packed activities, heightened with animation graphics of all facets of the parade and stage performances seen on giant LED screens.

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New dawn for Malayans

Crowd braves rain to celebrate ‘Merdeka, Merdeka, Merdeka’

On a wet morning on Aug 31, 1957, Malayans ushered in a new day in their history with the declaration of independence at Merdeka Stadium in Kuala Lumpur.

They braved heavy showers before dawn to congregate at the purpose-built stadium to join first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra in heralding a new dawn where they would determine their destiny.

Many had gathered in the rain hours before the gates opened to ensure a place in the stadium.

The celebrations were as best as could be planned by the nascent nation with students taking centrestage in the parade before the traditional Malay rulers and the Duke of Gloucester who represented Queen Elizabeth 11 at the function.

As the sun rose, spirits soared with Tunku uttering the magical word “Merdeka” seven times to signal the birth of Malaya.

As the national flag was raised and the Negaraku played, Malayans stood proudly as men and women granted the privilege of determining their future.

The night before, the Union Jack had been lowered at the Selangor Club field in the centre of town in a solemn ceremony that held promise of a bright future for the
nation-to-be.

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Newspapers splash biggest day

With seven shouts of Merdeka on the wet morning of Aug 31, 1957, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra heralded a new era in Malayan history.

The Malayan era — to last six years until the formation of Malaysia in 1963 — was the Kedah prince’s lasting legacy to a people who had seen nearly a hundred years of British colonial rule.

The local and foreign media celebrated the new nation in their pages with the Sunday Mail report on Sept 1, 1957 headlined “The Big Moment’’, to signify the Malayan wait for independence.

The sub-heading, which read “Storm clouds roll away as new nation is born’’, gave readers an insight into how a prolonged shower in the morning eased to allow the Duke of Gloucester to present the instruments of independence to prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra.

Screaming headline

The Malay Mail also carried a huge picture of the stadium taken by late NST photo editor Lim Yaw Chong from an RAF helicopter on behalf of Malayan and overseas press.

The Straits Times headquartered in Singapore carried a screaming headline on Merdeka Day that simply
read: “MERDEKA!’’

A sub-heading below said “At the stroke of midnight, a great roar tells the world: We are now a nation.’’

The newspaper had only gone to print after 3am (a fact mentioned in the dateline) to carry the story of how Tunku at the stroke of midnight earlier had joined the crowd comprising thousands of all races in seven

The text spoke of how high emotion prevailed as the Union Jack was lowered to the strains of “God Save the Queen’’ to the raising of the new Malayan flag.

Tunku then walked slowly around the field to acclamation from the thrilled crowd that refused to leave the field until hours later.

The next day, it carried the heading “This is it”’ narrating the historic moments the day before at Merdeka Stadium.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) had on Aug 31, 1957, told its worldwide audience: “Thousands of young members of the Malay, Chinese and Indian parties, which form the government, stood in darkness for two minutes at midnight to mark the official handover.

“As the new flag of independence was raised they called ‘Merdeka’ (freedom) seven times.’’

BBC went on to say Tunku had been hailed as the Father of Independence.

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Malaysians sing 
Negaraku with gusto

Negaraku,

Tanah tumpahnya darahku,

Rakyat hidup, bersatu dan maju,

Rahmat bahagia, Tuhan kurniakan,

Raja kita, Selamat bertakhta!

Rahmat bahagia, Tuhan kurniakan,

Raja kita, Selamat bertakhta!

DO Malaysians know the words to Negaraku?

A Malay Mail street poll of 20 people found the majority knew most of the national anthem while others were familiar with parts of it.

All wanted to know the song which is a symbol of national sovereignty.

Some had no qualms singing the national anthem out aloud when asked while a few were a little embarrassed for forgetting the tune and some of the words.

Most Malays interviewed knew the lyrics by heart compared to Chinese and Indians who did not do too badly either.

Taxi driver Yusof Osman, 61, remembered the lyrics despite singing it only a couple of times in recent years.

“It is only sung during special occasions and I have not been to one for years,” he said.

“I know I should remember the lyrics to our national anthem. I think more will know the tune and words if it is played often on radio or television.”

Retiree Cynthia Chan, 68, only remembered the first two lines of the national anthem, blaming her age for her lack of words.

“I forget a lot of things these days. If I heard it more often, maybe I will be able to recall the words,’’ she said.

Project coordinator S. Ganesa Moorthi, 25, said he could not remember the lyrics as it had been eight years since he left school where singing Negaraku was a part of the morning assembly programme.

“I used to remember the entire song. Now, I know the tune by heart but I am a little confused with the words,’’ he said.

Students Sky Soo, 16, and Nurul Ain Sakinah Ayob, 19, who both sang Negaraku flawlessly, agreed with Ganesa and said they only remembered the lyrics because the song was played daily at the start of the school session.

“It is a short song and I use to hear it all the time at school. During special occasions like the Merdeka celebrations, it would be aired on television,” Soo said.

Mary Gomes, who studied át an international school here before proceeding to San Jose, California, said she did not have the opportunity to learn the Negaraku properly while studying here.

“I will get around to learning the song. I am Malaysian after all,” said the 40-year-old who recognised the song but did not know the words or tune.

Retiree Alice Thean, 55, who remembered the first verse of the anthem, said she could not recall the last time she had sung Negaraku.

“It has been years. But I am certain if I listen to the song just one more time, I will pick up on the second and the third verses immediately,” she said.

Sales assistant Azila Yaacob, 31, who was more than happy to sing the entire song, lamented that she no longer sang the national anthem as she had done in school.

“The singing of the Negaraku used to be the favorite part of school assemblies for me. I looked forward to the moment daily,’’ she said.

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Wow factors at parade

Public in for thrilling experience

KUALA LUMPUR — Six elements are in place for the Merdeka Day parade this morning to wow spectators.

The National Day Parade and Procession Committee in a statement yesterday said the six elements would also ensure a unique and different experience for spectators at Dataran Merdeka.

The first element is the special action-packed performance by police featuring its various units and expertise.

“With the combination of actions on the street, on the stage and visual support on the giant LED screen, as well as the use of police’s assets up in the air, it definitely promises something very interesting,” the statement said.

The second element — a giant LED screen — enhances the graphic and videos of every performance during the parade.

The third element is an interactive choir performance, which allows the public to be part of it.

The public is also encouraged to throng Dataran Merdeka in Jalur Gemilang-themed outfits, as the fourth element, to symbolise national unity and solidarity.

The fifth element is an animated performance featuring local animated characters, such as Yaya and BoBoiBoy, as well as Didi and Friends.

The sixth element, seating arrangements in the concept of Formula E grandstands, gives spectators a new dimension in viewing the event.

The parade would be divided in 10 segments, namely nationhood, public service, economy, animation, sports, identity, civil defence, national security, air show and integrated community.

Last year’s ‘Sehati, Sejiwa’ (One Heart, One Soul) theme has been retained for this year’s celebrations.

Gruelling preparation

More than 2,000 Form Four students from schools in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur will be involved in the creative graphic performance and parade.

Kuala Lumpur Graphic Group chief coordinator Nor Adzmi Baba said the multi-racial group of students had begun training since early last month under the supervision of 30 choreographers and 28 creative graphic instructors, aided by 52 teachers.

“The participants trained for four hours a day, beginning from 7am,” said Nor Adzmi, who is also the head of the Curriculum Unit at the Federal Territory Education Department.

In the performance, the students would use play cards, pom-poms, motive
designs (kelarai), flags and umbrellas of varying colours.

“They will perform several segments, beginning from 7am in the tempo of patriotic songs sung by the choir group, Pentarama,” he said.

Two hundred medical officers including six specialists will be on standby at Dataran Merdeka to attend to any emergency.

Kuala Lumpur Emergency and Trauma Department chief Datuk Seri Prof Dr Abu Hassan Asaari Abdullah said a medical team would be positioned strategically to provide assistance to dignitaries, participants and visitors, in conditions particularly brought on by the heat.

The medical team comprises specialists, doctors, medical assistants, nurses and ambulance drivers from Kuala Lumpur Hospital, Serdang Hospital and Ampang Hospital.

Civil Defence Department personnel and St John Ambulance and Red Crescent Society volunteers are also part of the team.

Dr Abu Hassan said the team had observed the participants and organising crew, taking the weather into account.

“We look at what the risks could be during the activities. We learnt the main factors affecting the participants and crew would be the weather and fatigue,” said Dr Abu Hassan, who is also Traumatology and Orthopaedic senior consultant at Kuala Lumpur Hospital.

“We found out the groups that would possibly face the highest risk of emergency are the participants, crew and dignitaries.”

Countering heat

To treat heat exhaustion, Dr Abu Hassan said his team would apply cold packs consisting of ice, towel soaked in cold water and intravenous drip of cold water.

“We will treat the patients according to their severity of their conditions in an air-conditioned treatment room,” he said.

Dr Abu Hassan also said the medical team would also be on hand to provide treatment to participants during the parade along the stretch from Masjid Negara to Sogo shopping mall.
— Bernama

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