Monday, October 1, 2007

50th Merdeka Celebrations: Joyous day for Malaysians

IPOH: The 50th Merdeka Day celebrations were marked with pomp and pageantry throughout the nation.
Residents here began the countdown to Merdeka by converging at the town padang at 5.30pm on Thursday for a programme filled with songs and traditional dances.

As the clock ticked towards midnight, performers re-enacted the journey taken by the country’s forefathers, the fall of the Malacca sultanate, the wealth brought by tin and the torture by Japanese soldiers.

With 10 minutes to go, Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Tajol Rosli Ghazali took to the stage with a poem that reminded the people of the importance of unity.

Less than eight hours later, another equally large crowd lined the main road of Jalan Panglima Bukit Gantang Wahab for the Merdeka Day parade.
Sultan Azlan Shah, Raja Permaisuri Perak Tuanku Bainun and Perak Raja Muda Raja Nazrin Shah and his wife Raja Puan Besar Tuanku Zara Salim, were also present to witness choir performances, poetry recitals and a cultural show.

In Johor Baru, people turned out in droves, waving miniature Malaysian flags and singing as bands played songs at the Merdeka parade in the heart of the city.

Families thronged the City Hall’s parade ground next to Jalan Skudai.

Eric Tee, 31 and his wife Law Shee Shee, 30, who is a Merdeka baby, were among those who made it a point to attend.

"I am very proud to be here. What better way to celebrate your birthday than with a parade, and to have thousands of people celebrate it with you."

The parade was made up of delegations representing 180 organisations, including government agencies, enforcement authorities and companies.

In Miri, thousands thronged the City Fan square to watch 102 contingents from uniformed and voluntary organisations, federal and state departments and agencies, state Barisan Nasional component parties and non-governmental organisations taking part in a mammoth rally yesterday.

Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Abang Muhammad Salahuddin Abang Barieng inspected the parade and took the salute from the grandstand.

Among those present were Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, state cabinet ministers, members of the parliament and state legislative assembly, senior government servants and community leaders.

In his speech, Taib praised Malaysia’s first prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, for his initiatives that eventually led to the formation of Malaysia in 1963.

"The initiatives also freed Sarawak from colonial rule to become part of an independent nation," he said.

In Kota Kinabalu, 130 contingents comprising more than 5,000 people took part in a parade at Anjung Senja (Sunset Esplanade) fronting Pulau Gaya.

The parade, which began at 7am, saw nearly 10,000 people gathering in Jalan Tun Fuad Stephens, which had been widened to accommodate the larger crowd anticipated this year.

The highlight was a show by aircraft flying in formation over the area.

The event was witnessed by Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Ahmadshah Abdullah and his wife, Toh Puan Dayang Masuyah Awang Japar, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman and his wife, Datin Seri Faridah Tussin, and Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Seri Yahya Hussin, who is also the organising committee chairman.

In Kota Baru, 3,000 participants from 103 contingents of various government agencies and non-governmental organisations took part in the state-level Merdeka celebration march yesterday.

The programme, which started at 8am, was held at the Sultan Muhammad IV stadium. Participants included students, civil servants and martial art exponents.

Present were state Public Administration, Economic Planning, Finance and Community Development chairman Datuk Husam Musa and state police chief Senior Assistant Commissioner 1 Datuk Abd Rahim Hanafi.

In Butterworth, more than 15,000 people thronged the Padang Pemuda Merdeka here to participate in the state-level celebrations yesterday.

They were entertained for three hours by 140 contingents comprising 8,600 participants from various government and private sector organisations, NGOs and school bodies.

Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas, his wife Toh Puan Majimor Shariff and Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon were present.

Joining the crowd was world-renowned Japanese musician-cum-composer Masanori Takashi or Kitaro, 54, and his delegation.

In Kuala Terengganu, Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh launched the celebrations at the Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah stadium.

He reminded the crowd of almost 5,000 that multiracial unity was Malaysia’s strength.

"We have shown the world that a multicultural and multireligious country can live in tolerance, harmony and peace."

Later, a procession comprising the army, police, state government agencies, the Terengganu Mini-Motor club, several schools and non-governmental agencies paraded from the stadium to Dataran Shah Bandar.

On the eve of Merdeka, about 10,000 people thronged the Batu Buruk park for the "Ambang Merdeka" celebrations, which ended with a fireworks display.

Earlier, about 100 people from 10 Christian denominations participated in a service at the St Andrews Anglican Church in Jalan Tok Lam to pray for peace and stability in the country.

In Kuantan, a crowd of over 25,000 turned up for the state-level Merdeka Day parade here yesterday.

Sultan of Pahang Sultan Ahmad Shah, his consort, Sultanah Kalsom, and Tengku Mahkota Tengku Abdullah witnessed the 100-contingent-strong parade, which began at the Municipal Council Field 1 and ended at the Kemunting field in Jalan Air Putih.

Stealing the show was eight-year-old mathematics genius from Perak, Adi Putra Abdul Ghani, who recited his self-composed poem entitled Akulah Adi Putra Anak Merdeka ("I am Adi Putra, the Merdeka boy").

In Seremban, thousands gathered to watch a parade in front of the Seremban Munipal Council building yesterday.

Yang Dipertuan Besar of Negri Sembilan Tuanku Ja’afar Tuanku Abd Rahman, Tuanku Ampuan Najihah Tunku Besar Burhanuddin and Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan joined in the festivities.

Sixty-nine contingents from the public and private sectors took part in the parade watched by some 10,000 people.

In his speech, Mohamad reminded the younger generations to work hard to ensure that the nation continued to excel.

"Although Malaysia and Negri Sembilan have enjoyed a great deal of development in the last 50 years, there is work to be done to improve the lives of people from all walks of life."

In Shah Alam, more than 4,000 people from 109 contingents involving government departments, local authorities, the private sector, non-governmental organisations, uniformed bodies and school bands took part in a parade yesterday.

The state treasury contingent emerged the best government contingent while Permodalan Negeri Selangor Bhd was declared the best private sector contingent.

The police cadet contingent from SMK Seksyen 24, Shah Alam, came out the best school-uniformed body contingent while Shah Alam City Council was the top contingent in the local authorities category.

Also present were Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo and his wife, Datin Seri Zahrah Kechik, State Secretary Datuk Ramli Mahmud and state executive councillors. (NST, 1/9/2007)


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