KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 3, 2014:
The love of Malaysians for the country, which was aptly captured in this year’s Merdeka (Independence Day) theme “Malaysia: Here, Where Love Begins”, is said to be one of the reasons why a huge crowd of 400,000 flooded Dataran Merdeka here for the national-level Merdeka celebration on Aug 31 (Sunday).
Malaysians of all races and from all walks of life made a beeline to the venue to witness the 57th Merdeka parade, which also featured the lovable Upin and Ipin characters for the first time.
The choice of the animation characters, who are twin boys and a pride for the country, because they are intellectual property in the creative industry, was a good one because it brought in families in droves.
“It made the Merdeka celebration not one where it was the parents who brought their children, but the other way around,” Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said.
Ahmad Shabery, who is also the chairman of the organising committee of this year’s Merdeka celebration, said this to the media moments after the parade ended.
The people could also have been moved to show their patriotism in the wake of the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) MH370 and MAS Flight MH17 tragedies.
Flight MH370 dropped off the radar on March 8 as it flew from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 227 passengers and 12 crew on board while Flight MH17 crashed in eastern Ukraine, believed to have been shot down, on July 17 as it was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur with 283 passengers and 15 crew on board.
National solidarity was raised a notch further following the declaration of a Day of National Mourning for the Malaysian victims of MH17 and the special ceremony held at the KL International Airport on Aug 22 to honour the first batch of 20 victims, nine crew members and 11 passengers, whose remains were flown back from Amsterdam on Aug 22.
The victims were given full military honours, a first in the country for civilians.
The ceremony also involved observing a minute of silence across the country which captured Malaysians’ unity in grief. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, in his Merdeka eve message, outlined three important elements for Malaysia to remain independent and become a developed country, which were that the people must strengthen their solidarity to face the challenges ahead; build confidence that the nation can achieve all its goals if there was unity; and bequeath a Malaysia that was prosperous and harmonious to future generations. Meanwhile, the choice of the theme which was apolitical was also clearly effective in attracting the rakyat (people) of different political leanings to also join in the (Merdeka) celebrations.
This was a positive step because the Independence anniversary celebration is a national event that belongs to all Malaysians, irrespective of political ideologies and thus should be used to foster greater understanding and unity.
Highlighting the participation of the younger generation at the celebration also deserves praise because it attracted the group to come out in greater numbers to join the others in making it an even more lively event.
For example, a group of 57 Institut Kemahiran Belia Negara (IKBN) trainees were tasked with parading a gigantic Jalur Gemilang (national flag) at the head of the parade, which symbolised that their generation will inherit a Malaysia that is prosperous and harmonious.
Playing the late Sudirman Haji Arshad’s hit song Warisan and the new song Di Sinilah Lahirnya Sebuah Cinta by Bob Yusof AF at each event in conjunction with the celebration also helped raise the patriotic fervour.
The Memori Chow Kit Road 2.0 event, where patriotic songs were played to the public for three days in a row from the night of Aug 29, in front of the Sogo shopping complex in Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman here, also drew thousands each night.
The live telecasts of the events, held in conjunction with this year’s Merdeka celebrations, were also a hit among the people, with RTM and TV3 reporting a spike in viewership.