Malaysia celebrates 49th Merdeka in grand style
By Sulok Tawie and Nancy Nais
Down at the main venue at Padang Merdeka here, the National Day was celebrated with a mixture of a glittering parade and procession involving all strata of its multi-racial and multi-religious society.
The Yang di Pertuan Agong, Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Syed Putra Jamalullail, and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Fauziah Tengku Abdul Rashid, and the Cabinet led by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, were joined by thousands of flag-waving Malaysians in watching the participants make a formation symbolising the framework for national development under the Ninth Malaysia Plan and the national mission in the parade.
Also present at the glittering event were Sarawak Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Abang Muhammad Salahuddin Abang Barieng, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and federal and state Cabinet ministers.
Padang Merdeka in the town centre came alive with spirited declarations pledging loyalty to the nation, lively performances by people in colourful attire, uniformed bodies and bands as well as a parade and procession which ended with a cultural performance by members of the Integrated People's Component.
Adding to the excitement, the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) helicopters made a fly-past carrying the Jalur Gemilang flag and released red, blue and yellow smoke.
Live choir performers, cultural dancers with their colourful attire, elegant bands from schools and uniform bodies, parade and procession gave such a lively atmosphere to the beautiful sunny morning.
While maintaining the theme, "KeranaMu Malaysia", which reflects the people's gratitude for the peace and rapid development that they enjoy, this year's celebration also carries a sub-theme, "Misi Nasional Penjana Wawasan" (National Mission Generates Vision), aimed at highlighting the five main thrusts of the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP).
Seventeen decorated floats representing the government, education, defence and private sectors also took part in the procession with the Malaysian Defence Forces Canoeing Team which successfully crossed the South China Sea in 17 days bringing up the rear.
The fine weather added gaiety to the celebration which is being held here for the second time, the first being in 1993.
Thousands more Malaysians watched the event live on television.
Courtesy of New Straits Times