KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 31 (Bernama) -- People across the country gathered for parades to mark the 56th Merdeka Day in the spirit of patriotism and love for the country, and honouring the sacrifices made by the security forces.
Spectators headed for public gatherings in the capital, state capitals and major towns to witness the celebration themed "Malaysiaku Berdaulat: Tanah Tumpahnya Darahku" (My Sovereign Malaysia. My Homeland).
In Kuala Lumpur, thousands of people and tourists thronged the Merdeka Square as early as 7am to witness the Merdeka Day parade which started shortly after the arrival of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Hajah Haminah at 8am.
The royal couple were greeted by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his wife, Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, and Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and his wife, Puan Sri Norainee Abdul Rahman.
Tuanku Abdul Halim took a salute and inspected a parade mounted by four officers and 103 men from the first battalion of the Royal Malay Regiment based in Sungai Besi led by Major Mohamad Abdullah.
This was followed by the rendition of 'Negaraku' and the hoisting of the 'Jalur Gemilang' accompanied by a 14-gun salute symbolising 14 states (including the Federal Territories) in Malaysia by the Royal Artillery Regiment.
This was followed by a pledge read out by 56 Malaysians from various races comprising students, teachers, undergraduates, civil servants, security forces personnel and people with disabilities led by Muhammad Amal Mohd Yadzan from Sekolah Sultan Alam Shah, Putrajaya.
This year's parade honoured the sacrifices made by the security forces in defending the sovereignty of the country by thwarting the Lahad Datu armed intrusion in February.
The theme of the celebration embodies patriotic fervour, unity and national sovereignty in bolstering the nation's defence against foreign incursion.
A total of 15,280 participants from 56 contingents took part in the parade, which was divided into four segments, namely 'My Malaysia', Solidarity, National Prosperity, and My Sovereign Malaysia: My Native Land.
The segments involve 23 marching units, 16 marching bands, displaying of assets by five security agencies, five field performances, including that of the cavalry ceremonial squadron and a flypast by Sukhoi 30MKM, MIG 29 an FA 18/D Hornet jetfighters.
In KOTA BAHARU, more than 2,000 people flocked to witness a parade put up by 65 contingents involving 2,275 participants at Padang Perdana here.
Also present were Kelantan Menteri Besar Datuk Ahmad Yakob and his deputy, Datuk Mohd Amar Nik Abdullah.
In his speech, Ahmad said the people should appreciate the struggle of freedom fighters Tok Janggut, Mat Kilau, Datuk Bahaman an Abdul Rahman Limbong and be wary of neo-colonialism through modern technology.
In TUMPAT, about 2,000 Malaysians of Thai-Buddhist descent held the Merdeka Day celebration at Wat Machimmaram.
In PAHANG, 101 marching contingents and 22 vehicles involving 7,500 participants representing government departments, the private sector, non-governmental organisations and students took part in a parade at the Kuantan Municipal Council Field I.
A 45-minute field performance reflecting the national sovereignty was presented.
Present were Tengku Mahkota of Pahang Tengku Abdullah Sultan Ahmad Shah and Tengku Puan of Pahang Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah and Pahang Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob.
A pledge was read by three Everest climbers, namely Myrza Fasha Md Hamyrudin, Mohd Nasuha Shamsuddin and Mohd Hafizudin Ibrahim.
In KANGAR, the Raja of Perlis Tuanku Syed Sirajuddin Putra Jamalullail joined thousands gathered to watch a parade involving 96 contingents.
The Raja of Perlis was accompanied by the Raja Perempuan of Perlis Tuanku Tengku Fauziah Abdul Rashid.
Present were Raja Muda of Perlis Tuanku Syed Faizuddin Putra Jamalullail, Raja Puan Muda of Perlis Tuanku Hajah Lailatul Shahreen Akashah Khalil and Menteri Besar Azlan Man.
In KOTA KINABALU, about 8,000 people from 150 contingents representing government agencies, NGOs and students took part in a parade at the Likas Sports Complex.
Present were Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Juhar Mahiruddin and Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman.
Twenty-five hardware belonging to the police, armed forces, fire and rescue department and civil defence department were also displayed at the parade.
In Tawau, the people converged outside the Tawau Municipal Council as early as 7am to watch a parade made up of 4,379 participants from 76 contingents representing the security forces, government agencies and NGOs.
The event concluded with a prayer, seeking peace, solidarity, security and continued prosperity of the people and the country.
In SARAWAK, cloudy weather did not dampen the spirit of the people VARIOUS races to witness a parade held by 124 contingents involving 6,000 participants at the Sri Aman Sports Complex.
A martial art display was presented by members of he first Infantry Division Camp based in Muara Tuang in line with the Merdeka celebration theme 'My Sovereign Malaysia: My Homeland'.
Present were Sarawak Yang di-Pertua Negeri Tun Abang Muhammad Salahuddin Abang Barieng and Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu.
In MELAKA, a parade was held in front of the Merdeka Declaration Memorial, Bandar Hilir, the historic site of the declaration of the independence date by first prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj.
A total of 6,850 participants from 132 contingents involving government agencies, private companies, NGOs and students participate in the parade.
Present were Melaka Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Mohd Khalil Yaakob and his wife, Toh Puan Zurina Kassim, Chief Minister Datuk Idris Haron.
In IPOH, about 10,000 people thronged the municipal hall compound as early as 7am to watch 110 contingents consisting of government departments and agencies, institutions of higher learning, uniformed and NGOs participated in the colourful parade.
Regent of Perak Raja Dr Nazrin Shah and Raja Puan Besar Tuanku Zara Salim also attended the celebration.
In KUALA TERENGGANU, a state-level parade was held at the Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah Stadium with 145 contingents involving 5,120 participants from government departments, the private sector, NGOs and schools.
Present were Terengganu Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Said and his wife, Toh Puan Seri Norliza Mahmud.
In his speech, Ahmad urged the people not to build walls due to political differences, instead they should inculcate unity and love for the country.
In ALOR SETAR, a parade involving 3,234 participants from 98 contingents was held at Dataran Tunku in front of the Pekan Rabu Complex.
Present were Kedah Council of Regency chairman Tan Sri Tunku Annuar Sultan Badlishah and Menteri Besar Datuk Mukhriz Tun Mahathir.
An unarmed combat display was put up by the Sixth Military Police Brigade based in Sungai Petani accompanied by music by a brass band display from the Kepala Batas Air Force College.
In SEREMBAN, about 15,000 participants involving 129 contingents from various agencies, departments and NGOs took part in a parade held at the Seremban Municipal Council field.
In SEREMBAN, about 15,000 participants involving 129 contingents from various agencies, departments and NGOs took part in a parade at the Seremban Municipal Council field.
Present were Yang Dipertuan Besar of Negeri Sembilan Tuanku Muhriz Tuanku Munawir, Tunku Ampuan Besar Tuanku Aishah Rohani Tengku Besar Mahmud and Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan.
In PENANG, about 5,000 people flocked to watch a parade displayed by 95 contingents at the Dataran Pemuda Merdeka, Jalan Bagan Luar, Butterworth.
Present were Penang Yang Dipertua Negeri Tun Abdul Rahman Abbas and his wife, Toh Puan Majimor Shariff, and Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.
In KOTA TINGGI, Johor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin led a procession made up of heads of departments for a distant of about 500 metres to the Bandar Penawar Stadium.
Ninety-one contingents from various agencies, departments and NGOs took part in a parade from Dataran Bandar Penawar to the stadium.
Permas Jaya police station deputy head Sarjan Yusuf Ramji heightened the spirit of patriotism by reciting a poem entitled "Daulat" (sovereignty).
In his speech, Mohamed Khaled asked the people to translate the spirit of patriotism into their daily life as it should not be restricted to merely symbols and songs.