“Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka!” These iconic words were shouted by the late Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra al-Haj, the first Prime Minister of Malaysia (back then known as Malaya) on August 31, 1957. Dubbed as the country’s Father of Independence, this prominent figure ended a centuries’ long fight for the country’s independence from the British, and on that day, declared Malaya as an independent nation. ‘Merdeka’ means ‘independent’ and while Malaysia has been free from colonization for more than 50 years ago, the Merdeka celebration is still a glorious annual event with different themes and programmes held during the auspicious month.
The Merdeka Day Parade is one of the most prominent events of the country, and is held on the morning of August 31 to mark and celebrate the country’s developments. Various government and private sectors march in front of the country’s leaders, such as Yang Di-Pertuan Agong (the King) and the Prime Minister, and citizens from all corners of the country. This is one of the finest times to witness the unity of the Malaysian society, as people of all races and religions come together at Dataran Merdeka – the venue for the parade – to witness the harmonious event.
We suggest getting there pretty early, around 07:00, if you’re planning to grab a spot during the widely-photographed event. Dataran Merdeka, which is situated just right across the iconic Sultan Abdul Samad building, can be reached via the nearest public transportation which is LRT Masjid Jamek. Be warned also of Malaysia’s unpredictable weather: bring an umbrella or a rain poncho in case of a sudden downfall.