Friday, 10 August 2012

August 31, 1957

On the night of August 30, 1957, crowds gathered at the Royal Selangor Club Padang in Kuala Lumpur to witness the handover of power from the British. Prime Minister-designate Tunku Abdul Rahman arrived at 11:58 pm and joined members of the Alliance Party's youth divisions in observing two minutes of darkness.[1] On the stroke of midnight, the lights were switched back on, and the Union Flag in the square was lowered.[2] The new Flag of Malaya was raised as the national anthem Negaraku was played. This was followed by seven chants of 'Merdeka' by the crowd.[1][2] Tunku Abdul Rahman gave a speech hailing the ceremony as "greatest moment in the life of the Malayan people".[1]

 

 

On the morning of Saturday, August 31, 1957, the festivities moved to the newly-completed Merdeka Stadium. More than 20,000 people witnessed the ceremony, which began at 9:30 am. Those in attendance included rulers of the Malay states, foreign dignitaries, members of the federal cabinet and citizens.[3] The Queen's representative, the Duke of Gloucester presented Tunku Abdul Rahman with the instrument of independence.[3] Tunku then proceeded to read the Proclamation of Independence, which culminated in the chanting of 'Merdeka' seven times with the crowd joining in. The ceremony continued with the raising of the National Flag of Malaya accompanied by the national anthem being played and a 21-gun salute, followed by an azan call and a thanksgiving prayer in honor of this great occasion.[3]

Events leading up to independence

The effort for independence was spearheaded by Tunku Abdul Rahman, the first Prime Minister of Malaysia, who led a delegation of ministers and political leaders of Malaya in negotiations with the British in London for Merdeka, or independence along with the first president of the Malayan Chinese Association (MCA) Tun Dato Sir Tan Cheng Lock and fifth President of Malaysian Indian Congress 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 February 8, 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 next year, on August 31, 1957, at Stadium Merdeka (Independence Stadium), in Kuala Lumpur.