Background and History

31 August 1957 marks the day that the Federation of Malaya gained its Independence from British colonization, forming what we know of today as Malaysia. Hence, 31 August is a National Public Holiday to commemorate and celebrate the freedom and independence gained. This day is also known as Hari Merdeka in the Malay language and that is why the celebration of Independence Day is incomplete without the seven shouts of "Merdeka!", the gesture initiated by the First Prime Minister of Malaysia, Tunku Abdul Rahman back in 1957 at Dataran Merdeka.

The effort for independence was spearheaded by Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, the first Prime Minister of Malaysia. He led a delegation of ministers and political leaders of Malaya in negotiations with the British officials in London for independence, along with the first president of the Malayan Chinese Association (MCA), Tun Tan Cheng Lock and fifth President of Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), Tun V.T. Sambanthan.

Once it became increasingly clear that the communist threat posed during the Malayan Emergency was petering out, agreement was reached on 8 February 1956, for Malaya to gain independence from the British Empire. However, for a number of logistical and administrative reasons, it was decided that the official proclamation of independence would only be made the following year. Tunku arrived home from London with the good news that independence would finally come to Malaya.

Between the years 1955-57, the Tunku and his cabinet prepared the Malayan Constitution, discussed the administration of justice, cemented racial harmony in the country and resolved to beat the Communists. Finally, Tunku Abdul Rahman led the nation when he shouted "Merdeka" seven times at the newly-built Merdeka Stadium on 31 August 1957.

2019 Celebrations

(Straits Times, 24 July 2019). The theme of the 2019 National Day and Malaysia Day celebrations is “Sayangi Malaysiaku: Malaysia Bersih” to stress the importance of unity and patriotism for the well-being of the people and shared prosperity. According to the communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo, the theme was selected to instill and ignite the value of integrity and being of strong character among Malaysians”.

The theme literally translates to “Love my Malaysia, A Clean Malaysia” to celebrate the progress and discipline of the country. It was also the theme and logo last year, with an additional theme added.

Gobind also announced that the National Day Parade on Aug 31 would be held in Putrajaya while Malaysia Day would be celebrated in Kuching on Sept 16. He said the ceremony would be officiated by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail would also be in attendance.

“Melaka was selected as the venue for the launching ceremony due to historical factors, as it is the state where the declaration of the country’s independence was made on Feb 20, 1956, namely in Banda Hilir,” he said.



  1. BBC (31 August 1957). 1957: Malaysia celebrates independence. Retrieved from:
  2. Bernama (24 July 2019). 'Sayangi Malaysiaku: Malaysia Bersih' theme of National Day, Malaysia Day celebrations. New Straits Times. Retrieved from:
  3. Hari Merdeka (2018) In: Wikipedia. Retrieved from:

Youtube Links:

Promahatir (2006 August 12). Merdeka, merdeka.[video file]. Retrieved from

KiniTV (31 August 2018). Merdeka celebration at Putrajaya [video file]. Retrieved from: