Malaysia Independence Day, also known as National Day or ‘Hari Merdeka’ in Malay, is observed on 31 August every year.
This year marks the country’s 65th anniversary of independence from the United Kingdom.
Malaysia is a federal constitutional monarchy in Southeast Asia. The country consists of 13 states and three federal territories, separated by the South China Sea into two regions, Peninsular Malaysia and Borneo’s East Malaysia.
The country has its origins in the Malay kingdoms, which became subject to the British Empire from the 18th century.
Peninsular Malaysia was unified as the Malayan Union in 1946, and Malaya was restructured as the Federation of Malaya in 1948.
The fight for independence began in the second half of the twentieth century with the first Malaysian Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, who led a delegation of ministers and political leaders to negotiate with the British.
The British declared a state of emergency after the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) attempted to overthrow the colonial government to establish a communist republic.
In 1956, an agreement was reached in the Treaty of London, setting up the independent Federation of Malaya. Due to logistical and administrative reasons, the actual independence was declared in the following year, on 31 August 1957 after 50 years of colonial rule.
On the night of 30 August 1957, crowds gathered at Merdeka Square in the capital Kuala Lumpur to witness the handover of power. At the stroke of midnight, the Union Jack in the square was lowered and the new Flag of Malaysia was raised followed by seven chants of “Merdeka” (independent, free) by the crowds.