Celebrating Merdeka

The new normal continues to take over every aspect of Malaysian life, this time changing the way we celebrate Malaysia’s National Day. According to the Communications and Multimedia Ministry (KKMM), the celebrations for this year's National Day, themed Malaysia Prihatin, will be televised to adhere to the new normal.

There will be no processions, and instead the National Day event will be held at Dataran Pahlawan in Putrajaya with the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri'ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah inspecting a guard of honour. His Majesty will then be invited to watch a pre-recorded telecast which will use a "mixed reality'’ technology consisting of "augmented reality" and 3D Computer-Generated Image (CGI) technology.

Besides watching the telecast on RTM, here are some recommendations for places to visit and things to do to get into the spirit of Merdeka.

Fly the Jalur Gemilang

Picture from MyGovernment

In order to nurture the spirit of patriotism, let’s participate in our national flag campaign, Fly the Jalur Gemilang. The Jalur Gemilang, which is a symbol of the nation's sovereignty and independence came about when on 29 November 1949, the Council of Rulers and the Federal Legislative Council held the national-level competition to choose the design of the flag for the government that would be constituted. In the competition, Mr. Mohamad Bin Hamzah’s (an architect from Johor) creation was chosen as the winner.

After several amendments, the flag of the Federation of Malaya which had an 11-point star and 11 stripes, was flown for the first time on 26 May 1950. After the formation of Malaysia on 16 September 1963, the flag was modified to have a 14-point star and 14 stripes in line with the inclusion of Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore into the Federation of Malaya. Even though Singapore departed the Federation in 1965, the flag is still used till today.

The 14 stripes, of equal width, represent the equal status in the federation of the 13 member states and the federal territories, while the 14 points of the star represent the unity between the states and territories. The crescent represents Islam, the country's state religion; the blue canton symbolises the unity of the Malaysian people and the yellow of the star and crescent is the royal colour of the Malay rulers.   

Visit Tugu Negara (National Monument)

Picture from Leaderonomics

In the spirit of Merdeka, commemorate our freedom by visiting Tugu Negara, a testament of the sacrifices of those who died for the country. Located at Jalan Tugu off Jalan Parlimen, Tugu Negara was unveiled on 8 February 1966.

Malaysia’s first Prime Minister, the late Tunku Abdul Rahman, believed it was essential to commemorate those who had perished defending the country, particularly during WWII and the Malayan Emergency from 1948 to 1960.

The bronze sculpture depicts a group of seven soldiers. In the middle stands a soldier in a victorious pose, his right hand holding a Malaysian flag (made from cloth). The height of the monument is 15 meters, making it the biggest freestanding bronze sculpture in the world.

Be A Part Of History At The Merdeka Obelisk

Picture from NST

The Merdeka Obelisk is one of the most significant, yet most overlooked monuments of the country’s independence from colonial Britain. The structure was built at Padang Pahlawan Melaka on the spot where the last British resident commissioner of Malacca, H. G. Hammet, handed over the instrument of independence to the state’s first local governor, Leong Yew Koh on 31 August 1957. The memorial with the letter “M” (for Merdeka) in the centre of a 11-pointed star, also indicates where Tunku Abdul Rahman first announced the date of Independence on 20 February after returning from his successful talks in London.

Fill Your Heart With Pride At Dataran Merdeka

Picture from Visit KL

Dataran Merdeka is located in front of the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, which originally served as the secretariat for the colonial British administration. Originally designed by A.C. Norman in a Classic Renaissance style, the State Engineer of Selangor PWD Charles Edwin Spooner disliked the design, and he instructed R. A. J. Bidwell to rework the building, and his design stands today.

It was at Dataran Merdeka that the Union Flag was lowered and the Malaysian flag hoisted for the first time at midnight on 31 August 1957. Since then, Dataran Merdeka has been the usual venue for the annual National Day Parade. Although the parade this year has been cancelled, visiting Dataran Merdeka is definitely a must if just to admire the the Jalur Gemilang in all its glory as it flies high on the 95 meter flagpole.

Feast On Menus Inspired By Merdeka

As Malaysians, we love to include food in our celebrations, and what better way to celebrate National Day with these Merdeka inspired offerings?

Rise & Shine by Tapestry's Merdeka Specials which kick off on 12 August until 30 September features brunch with a Malaysian twist, with items such as the spicy egg on cheese bagel, and the avocado chicken quesadilla which is a delightful surprise topped with murukku and an ulam sour cream. Also on the menu is the 3-layer Cham-presso, comprising of espresso, earl grey tea, evaporated milk, and gula melaka and Hawaiian coconut flakes on the rim of the glass. Indeed an interesting play on the Cham Peng (a popular kopitiam drink which is a mix of coffee and tea) and the all-time favourite 3-layer tea.

De.Wan 1958 by Chef Wan is teaming up with BOSS for an exclusive MY Unity Menu from 15 August to 16 September to celebrate Merdeka and Malaysia Day. The MY Unity Tiffin Set features items such as a Szechuan Lotus Root Salad, Cucur Udang, Rendang Daging Rusa, Udang Kari Masala. 10% of this menu will be donated to The Lost Food Project, a non-profit organization and Malaysia’s leading food bank dedicated to rescuing quality, nutritious food and redistributing it to those who need it most.

Botanica +Co celebrates Merdeka and Malaysia Day with their family sets, a seasonal menu of homely flavours that honour the diverse cultures in Malaysia. The Taste Of The Kampung taps into Malay heritage and classic favourites, The Maharajah’s Vegetarian set is a feast with strong Indian flavours, The Bo + Co Chopsuey Indulgence is an oriental menu that delights the taste buds, and last but not least, the Brilliant Botanica Roast which satisfies the palette.