Rain fails to dampen high spirits at Penang's Merdeka celebration

Audrey Dermawan

GEORGE TOWN: An early morning shower did not dampen the spirits of thousands of Penangites and visitors from taking part in the state-level National Day celebration at Padang Kota Lama here today.

Many came as early as 7am to ensure they get the best spot for the official ceremony, graced by Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas, as well as to witness the parade and performances lined up for the day.

The event started about 9am with the inspection of the guard-of-honour by Abdul Rahman, which was mooted by the 3rd Regiment Royal Armoured Corps in Sungai Petani, Kedah, comprising of three officers and 103 personnel.

This was followed with the raising of the Jalur Gemilang by and the singing of the national anthem.

Among the first contingent in the parade was some 1,030 children, donned in their Jalur Gemilang attires, from the Tabika Perpaduan under the National Unity and National Integration Department.

Also joined in the parade was some 450 athletes, coaches and managers from the state contingent to the Sukan Malaysia (Sukma) XIX in Perak from Sept 6 to Sept 23.

A total of 120 contingents, comprising nearly 10,000 people, took part in this year’s celebration. They comprised uniformed bodies, federal and state statutory bodies, non-governmental organisations, institutions of higher learning and the private sector.

Last year, the state-level National Day celebration saw the participation of 79 contingents, comprising 5,600 people.

Roizah Khanoon Azizuddin Khan, 31, took her 10-month-old daughter, Nur Zuhaira Dzulkarnain along to witness the historic event.

She said she "parked herself" at the front row since 8am to catch the glimpsed of her five-year-old daughter and husband, who were taking part in the parade.

“My eldest girl was excited and got up early to prepare herself for the parade with other children from the Tabika Perpaduan.

“Somehow, the celebration this time is more meaningful than in the past. I am happy be apart of this celebration,” she added.

Penang was chosen as the venue for the launch of the Merdeka month celebration and the Fly the Jalur Gemilang campaign by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad earlier this month. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd