Hundreds of thousands flock to Putrajaya to celebrate Merdeka with first Pakatan govt

Danial Dzulkifly And Kenneth Tee
Children clad in the ‘Jalur Gemilang’ are pictured at Dataran Putrajaya August 31, 2018. — Picture by Azneal Ishak

PUTRAJAYA, Aug 31 — In a show of patriotic spirit, an estimated 100,000 people have gathered at Dataran Putrajaya here this morning to catch the National Day parade in conjunction with the country’s 61st independence anniversary.

Held in the federal administrative capital here for the first time in 13 years to mark the first government under the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition, the festive occasion also marks the return of Putrajaya’s architect, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who is also back as prime minister a second time.

The massive crowd was tightly packed along both sides of the 3km-long Persiaran Perdana, the main avenue leading from the Ministry of Finance to the Attorney-General Chambers and an air of anticipation is palpable.

The celebration organiser, the Prime Minister’s Office, expects the turnout to increase further later, to 300,000.

Some small children sat on their father’s shoulders for a better view of the parade while other parents lifted their young children to clamber onto nearby billboard platforms.

Members of the Malaysian Armed Forces march during the National Day parade at Dataran Putrajaya August 31, 2018. — Picture by Azneal Ishak

The crowd of Malaysians of all colours and creed was as colourful as their attire worn today.

Young women clad in Jalur Gemilang tudungs stood next to others clad in shirts and pants with the national flag as the motif. A few parade-goers could even be seen using stilts to get a better view of things.  

Among the attendees is entrepreneur Mohd Khalid Mohd Azman, 27, from Sekinchan, Selangor.

He said this year’s celebrations are not only to mark the nation’s independence but to celebrate a renewed Malaysian spirit.

“This year is special as it marks a new chapter in our country’s history. We are much more confident of ourselves and are excited to see what the future brings for once,” he said.  

A Malaysian Armed Forces tank drives by during the National Day parade at Dataran Putrajaya August 31, 2018. — Picture by Azneal Ishak

The celebration kicked off this morning at 8am with the hoisting of the “Jalur Gemilang”, the singing of the national anthem followed by a 14-gun-salute, the recitation of the Rukun Negara and ended with seven shouts of “Merdeka” by the master of ceremonies.

This year, the theme of the parade is “Sayangi Malaysiaku”, with an emphasis of nationhood, public order, national security and a united people component.

For this year, the government decided to display Malaysia’s military capabilities in the form of its assets and its servicemen and servicewomen.

Some 12,295 personnel from various government agencies, government-linked companies, civil associations, as well as the Armed Forces, participated in the parade.

The crowd was also impressed by the display of military aerial acrobatics as they flew over Putrajaya’s sky, their mouths open in a wide “O” of wow and wonder.

“It's quite rare to see such a display of our air assets. Seems like they have pulled all the stops to put on a great show for the people,” one attendee, 43-year-old sales manager K. Thiruselvan said of the PH government.

Royal Malaysian Air Force aircraft take to skies during the National Day parade at Dataran Putrajaya August 31, 2018. — Picture by Azneal Ishak

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