MELAKA — There was an air of nostalgia at the Proclamation of Independence Memorial as guests of honour and thousands of visitors dressed in attire from the 1950s and 60s packed the national-level Malaysia Day 2022 celebration here last night.
Against the backdrop of the memorial building where the country’s first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj first announced that the Federation of Malaya would achieve independence, more than 20,000 visitors began thronging the site from as early as 4 pm to celebrate the event held for the first time in the Peninsula.
The purpose of the event – which had been held in Sabah and Sarawak prior to this – however, was still the same, that is to commemorate the agreement of the Federation of Malaya, Sarawak and Sabah to form Malaysia together on Sept 16, 1963.
The celebration kicked off with Vespa motorcycles – synonymous with the 1950s and 60s – roaring along Jalan Parameswara, followed by a parade of old bicycles and guests of honour riding in decorated rickshaws dressed in costumes from the era to the main tent.
The entourage that brought the Yang Dipertua Negeri Melaka Tun Mohd Ali Rustam, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Sulaiman Md Ali, Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan, Sarawak Deputy Premier Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan and Minister of Communications and Multimedia Tan Sri Annuar Musa was accompanied by evergreen songs from the era as well as bagpipe music played by SK Henry Gurney staff.
Veteran actor, Shaharuddin Thamby, who played Datuk Bahaman in the historical epic ‘Mat Kilau: The Rise of a Hero’, then aroused the patriotic spirit of the audience through a monologue which narrated the involvement of figures behind the formation of Malaysia, accompanied by performances and visuals.
The event then continued with the Nationality segment with the singing of the National Anthem and the raising of the Jalur Gemilang by members of the Royal Malaysian Navy.
The Rukun Negara – established to strengthen unity among the country’s various communities after the racial riots on May 13, 1969 – was then chanted by Melaka state cultural and teacher figure, Abd Rani Embi, accompanied by 14 individuals representing the diversity of races in Malaysia, namely Malays, Chinese, Indians, Baba and Nyonya, Sikh, Chetti, Portuguese, Orang Asli as well as Sabah and Sarawak ethnic groups.
Recorded speeches from Annuar, Sulaiman, Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor, Sarawak Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg were then played before the address by the Prime Minister, who then launched the celebration.
The celebration continued with the signing of the Proclamation of Malaysia, decorated and wrapped in woven motifs with local ethnic patterns from Sarawak, Sabah and the Peninsula which are gold-plated and neatly stored in a special box made of teak wood, which is kept at the Sabah State Archives Department.
The special book weighing 25kg was brought on stage by Sabah Archive staff, and signed by Jeffrey representing the Chief Minister of Sabah, Awang Tengah representing the Sarawak Premier, and Ismail Sabri.
Flutes and martial arts drums once again rocked the atmosphere in a special performance combining teams from various martial art disciplines followed by the poem ‘Perjuangan’ read by Shaharuddin.
Reviving the nostalgia of the first declaration of national independence at the historic site on February 20, 1956, the diorama was set up to depict Tunku Abdul Rahman entering with his antique car and entourage to the main stage.
The audience was then taken across to Borneo with a presentation depicting Datu Mat Salleh riding a horse, leading his troops against the invaders with a monologue, apart from visuals showing the history of the formation of Malaysia in the Land Below the Wind and Sabah heroes such as Antanom, Tun Datu Mustapha Haron dan Tun Fuad Stephens.
Singer and ‘sape’ (musical instrument) player, Alena Murang, amazed the audience with her melodious voice when she sang a traditional Kenyah ethnic song entitled Meno’ (longing) composed with a contemporary rhythm, right after a performance depicting Sarawak hero Rentap, backdropped with visuals showing Sarawak’s development and the struggles of Rentap, Sharif Masahor, Rosli Dhobi, Temenggung Jugah and Kanang Anak Langkau.
Singer Datuk Nash then sang the song ‘Seruan’ accompanied by a pantomime showing the struggles of security personnel to fight for the country’s independence, invoking the spirit of heroism among the audience through the ‘Titiwangsa Rakyat’ medley in the ‘Teguh Banjaran Titiwangsa’ segment.
The segment also featured performances of songs such as ‘Bah Bola’ by Sali Bahbola and Gombak Orang Asli; ‘Warisan’ (by Kenny Lee and the Melaka Historic City Council), ‘Kurik Kundi’ (by Nadhiya Zaini and the Melaka Art Brigade), as well as a ‘dikir barat’ performance by the Arjunasukma Academy.
To close the celebration, the song ‘Keluarga Malaysia Teguh Bersama’ written by Annuar was played, accompanied by the waving of the Jalur Gemilang by cultural artists from the National Department of Culture and Arts and attendees, as well as a fireworks display. — BERNAMA