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.

2021 Theme and Celebrations

Bernama (Aug 26): Preparations for the 2021 National Day and Malaysia Day (HKHM 2021) celebrations have reached 90% now, said Communications and Multimedia Ministry (KKMM) secretary-general Datuk Seri Mohammad Mentek. He said as HKHM 2021 Celebration Working Committee chairman, he was satisfied with the preparations and cooperation of various departments, agencies and ministries involved.

"The main event this year will also not involve the presence of members of the public physically and it would be carried on a small scale face to face and under strict control,” he said when appearing as a guest of the programme “Bicara Naratif” entitled ‘Malaysia Prihatin: Refleksi Patriotisme’ which was aired over TV1 tonight.

He explained that the total personnel and guests present physically would be reduced to 60% compared to the initial plan in line with the advice of the National Security Council (MKN) and the Ministry of Health (MOH).

The 2021 National Day celebration will be held at the National Heroes Square, Putrajaya on Aug 31 while Malaysia Day would be celebrated at Sabah International Convention Centre (SICC) in Kota Kinabalu on Sept 16.

He said there would be only four main presentations held at the National Heroes Square comprising a Malaysian Armed Forces (MAF) drumline performance, a silent march by the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN), a combined band show of various uniformed agencies as well as an air display by the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF).

Commenting further, he said the duration of events this year on location would take only 50 minutes.

Meanwhile, he said several surprises await television audience during the celebration which would be merged with latest technology based on the concept of ‘Mixed Reality’ which a combination of physical production, AR (Augmented Reality) technology and also XR (Extended Reality) in the form of interactive and high-technology.

Apart from that various competitions and programmes have been organised since Aug 1 including the National Speech Competition 2021, Merdeka Poetry Competition 2021, MyDoodle@Merdeka Colouring and Drawing Competition 2021 and TikTok Ilham Merdeka Video Competition 2021.

On this year’s theme, Malaysia Prihatin, he said it was in appreciation of all Malaysians who stood together to face the challenges of COVID-19 pandemic.



  1. Bernama (26 August 2021). Malaysia Prihatin is the Theme of the 2020 National Day Celebrations. Retrieved from:
  2. BBC (31 August 1957). 1957: Malaysia celebrates independence. 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: