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National Day Parade - (Perarakan Hari Merdeka)


National day parade is held every year to celebrate the birth of Malaysia independence on 31st August. Since 1957, the parade is held with much fanfare throughout the country.

Malaysian flags
National Day parade is not complete without the Malaysian flags

The main parade is of course done in Kuala Lumpur. There were some years when the parade was done in other major cities - like in Kuching, Sarawak, for example. However, usually, each state capital has its own parade.

In 2008, independent Malaysia is 51 years old.

In Penang, for the first time, the national day parade is done on the streets of Queensbay, on the south east part of the island, facing Jerejak island. Here is the report.

At 8.00 a.m. the sky looked overcast, threatening the day with heavy downpour. For the past few months, we had really wet weather. However, everybody was relieved when the gentle breeze blew away the dark clouds and the sun shone brightly once again. The national day parade could start as scheduled.

Royal 
	Malay Army Regiment
The Royal Malay Army giving the salute

National Day Parade(Perarakan Hari Merdeka)

National day parade is held every year to celebrate the birth of Malaysia independence on 31st August. Since 1957, the parade is held with much fanfare throughout the country.

The main parade is of course done in Kuala Lumpur. There were some years when the parade was done in other major cities - like in Kuching, Sarawak, for example. However, usually, each state capital has its own parade.

Dancers in colorful costume
Dancers with colorful costumes
waiting for their turn to perform.

In 2008, independent Malaysia is 51 years old.

In Penang, for the first time, the national day parade is done on the streets of Queensbay, on the south east part of the island, facing Jerejak island. Here is the report.

At 8.00 a.m. the sky looked overcast, threatening the day with heavy downpour. For the past few months, we had really wet weather. However, everybody was relieved when the gentle breeze blew away the dark clouds and the sun shone brightly once again. The national day parade could start as scheduled.

The main street was fully decked with fluttering flags and buntings using the colors of Malaysian emblems. There was a grand stand where the VIPs took their seats and on either side of the stand, there were canopies for other dignitaries and guests. Opposite the grand stand, a mock wooden Malay house was built, to be used later as a prop for a short skit to be performed.

Flag ceremony
The flag hoisting ceremony

I brought my son, Johan along for the parade. I knew he would love watching the procession. At 8.35 a.m., the limousine with Tuan Yang Terutama Negeri Pulau Pinang (the Head of State of Penang) arrived and the ceremony began. 

The brass band performed by The Royal Malay Army regiment played the national and state anthems. The rows of soldiers resplendent in their uniforms stand at attention while they were inspected by the honorary guests. To my surprise, there were no speeches at all, except for the commentators who related the event as it happened.

It was followed by the flag ceremony, whereby Jalur Gemilang was hoisted by the same regimental officers. Again, the flag slowly rose up the pole accompanied by the national anthem.

Then, the shout of Merdeka! filled the atmosphere, led by a youth who also read an oath declaring allegiance to the country's constitution.

There seemed to be three parts of the performance.

The first part was a slow and sad song (the song was "Bahtera Merdeka") of the sacrifice of the sons and daughters of Malaysians who fell while protecting the country.

It was performed live by singers from Seni Budaya Negeri Pulau Pinang (Penang Cultural Art). The song was followed by a poem with similar patriotic theme.   

National Day parade
 A girl led the way, with a banner posted
with the name of the organization.

After these solemn occasions, the fun began.

Dancers with gay costumes filed pass and danced to familiar tunes of Jalur Gemilang, Tanggal 31 and other national favorites. I was quite proud listening to Johan also singing with much gusto to those tunes.

A skit (very typical of any Malaysian performance), was performed on the fake house which also acted as a stage. It was a short funny drama which was usually played as a prelude of a boria show and was presented by the three major races: Malay, Chinese and Indian.

Then, the boria show started with every dancer present as the backup singers. Instead of a uniform costume, this time, they were wearing multi-colored clothing which represent various ethnics of Malaysia.

The National Day Parade

Ninety six organizations participated in the National Day parade in Penang.

Brass band marching
Brass band by one of the local schools

School brass bands, the armed forces, government offices, NGOs and private corporations sent their representatives.

They marched past the grand stand, very smart in their uniforms.

For most teams, normally, a pretty girl led the way, bearing the wooden banner, followed by a leader and bearers of flags.

I especially liked the brass bands, they were interspersed periodically between the teams. The Royal Malay Army band led the procession and in between there were at least ten other bands performed by school children.

Daring drum major of St. Xavier Institute twirled a drum up in the air instead of a baton to the amazement of the crowd.

The rest of the bands played upbeat tunes that added more spirit of Merdeka during the National Day parade.

As for the other teams, the uniforms they wear vary, from national costumes, official uniforms to simple t-shirts and caps.

Among the contingents that attracted the attention were the army, they marched with frightening battle camouflage on their faces.

It was also amusing to see the MacDonald's crew came with fake tattoo of Malaysian flags on their cheeks. Telekom Malaysia Berhad stole the show by lighting up flares which turned out to be messy strings of confetti, adding more fun to the festival atmosphere.

The veterans of the Malay army came past, to a lot of applause, some of them proudly wearing the medals of courage and honor they obtained during their service to the country.

The parade was completed in about an hour. It was concluded by various vehicles. The northern high powered motorcycle club and the Harley Davidson club zoomed at a sedate pace for a change. Later, the emergency vehicles used by the Fire Department and also the ambulance slowly closed the National Day parade to an end.    

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