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Staff Pick: Expressions of Merdeka Malaysia

Name: Mohammad Faridzuan bin Abd Rahman
Position: Executive, Communications & Publications
Book: Expressions of Merdeka Malaysia
Author: Abdul Mutalib Razak
Publisher: AMR Holdings Sdn Bhd 
Publication Year: 2014
Book Language: English
No of Pages: 160

Merdeka and Malaysia Day are now vital in our calendar. They showcase our country’s progress and development and reflect the diverse, political, cultural, religion and ethnic make-up of our country.

However, over the years many of us may not remember or look back on how these two dates, 31st August 1957 (Merdeka Day), and 16th September 1963 (Malaysia Day) have caused such happiness. Lest we forget, this coffee table book was written and published in the hope that the events of these two historical dates will be remembered and appreciated by the young generations of Malaysians to come. These events, I hope, will remind us that Malaya, now Malaysia, gained Independence in a peaceful manner, a testimony to the foresight and wisdom of our founding fathers.

The collection of photos and newspaper articles in this book are expressions of the rakyat’s pride and joy. With God’s blessings, we will remain united and true to the country’s motto as emblazoned in the Coat of Arms, ‘Bersekutu Bertambah Mutu’ or ‘Unity is Strength’.

Maybe it’s the Merdeka Month, or maybe it’s just the patriotic side in me; but this particular book caught my eye from our collection in the Perdana Library.

‘Expressions of Merdeka Malaysia’ is a time-travel gateway back to 1957 and 1963. Photos featured in this book consist of the celebrations, buildings, arches, and stamps commemorating our Independence, as well as the birth of Malaysia.

Many of these historical photos did not make it into our history books; I was  surprised to come across a startling photo of  a 3-day bull-fighting contest held at the Selangor Turf Club in conjunction with  Merdeka. Apparently, there were 16 bulls brought all the way from Kelantan, and around 5,000 spectators attended to watch the bulls fight each other!

Other celebrations were just as colourful, including  a Portuguese traditional dance in Melaka, jubilant celebrations by Malayans abroad at the Malaya House in Trafalgar Square, London, as well as a Water Sports Carnival in Jesselton, Sabah.

I truly believe that this book is a must-read for every Malaysian, especially younger Malaysians like me who were born after Merdeka.  The archive images in this book provide a glimpse of what we missed out on the day of Merdeka, and the day Malaysia officially came to be.


“That night a pyrotechnics display was held at Lake Gardens, Kuala Lumpur. The show that lasted three hours added to the pageantry of the celebrations. The night sky was lit by thunderous and colourful showers of fireworks which enchanted everyone present. The fireworks that weighed two tonnes at a cost of RM20,000, (worth around RM200,000 now) were contributed by the Japanese Government and specially brought into the country aboard the ship Hodakasan Maru. Two Japanese technicians were also specially brought in to assist in setting up the pyrotechnics show.”

– Page 23. Malaya: Celebrations

“The beautifully decorated floats that were on parade on the night of 16th September 1963, were put up by various government departments, commercial houses and those representing the different ethnic groups and cultural associations. Their participation was a testament to the people’s support of the merger. Each float was different in design and concept, but all focused on the main theme – Malaysia. A total of 70 illuminated floats formed the procession which was one of the longest and grandest the country has ever seen.”

– Page 105. Malaysia: Celebrations