Tuesday August 31, 2004

Merdeka Eve Celebrated In Pomp And
Splendour Nationwide

RIOTS OF COLOURS…. Fireworks display to usher in the 47th Malaysia’s National Day at the Dataran Boulevard in Putrajaya.
KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 31 (Bernama) -- Malaysians from all walks of life welcomed the stroke of midnight marking the country's 47th National Day celebrations in a carnival atmosphere.
Spirited shouts of MERDEKA! with the dazzling display of fireworks erupted into the air when the clock struck 12 at the Merdeka eve celebrations countrywide.
The celebrations started with the Negaraku and patriotic songs.
Highway users also had the opportunity to usher in the National Day bash following the 10-minute closure of all toll plazas as a mark of respect for the historic moment to remember the birth of this beloved nation.
In KUANTAN, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi led more than 50,000 people who thronged the Kuantan Municipal Council field to wait for the stroke of midnight.
The Merdeka eve celebrations, being held for the first time in Kuantan, is also the first for Abdullah as Prime Minister.
He was accompanied by his deputy Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob and Cabinet ministers.
Various exciting programmes were held for the public since evening.
These include cultural performances and songs by Siti Nurhaliza, Kopratasa Group, nasyid group Rabbani and former students of Akademi Fantasia 2.
A heavy downpour for about an hour from 9pm did not deter the people from flocking to the field to join in the festivities.
Abdullah joined the crowd in the countdown to midnight and when the clock struck 12, he shouted "Merdeka" "Merdeka" seven times.
The crowd then sang the national anthem "Negaraku" and patriotic songs "Jalur Gemilang" and "Keranamu Malaysia".
The display of colourful fireworks sent the cheerful crowd into a frenzy.
The people started gathering at the field since evening to get the best spots to enjoy the celebrations.
The national-level National Day celebrations will start with the traditional event -- the contingent parade -- at 7.45am in Dataran Kuantan at Jalan Tanah Putih Tuesday morning.
In IPOH, more than 30,000 people gathered at Padang Ipoh since 7pm to usher in the state-level Merdeka eve celebrations.
Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Tajol Rosli Ghazali and state executive councillors were present.
It started with a Merdeka poem entitled "Keranamu Malaysia" recited by Hamdan Yahya, a former lecturer at the Literature Department of Dewan Bahasa Dan Pustaka, followed by Malay, Chinese, Indian, Orang Asli and Siamese cultural performances.
Artistes Ella, Yassin, Brothers, Spider, Chris Leo and Venum entertained the crowd.
At the stroke of 11.50pm, the handing over of Jalur Gemilang started, followed by the countdown to midnight and shouts of Merdeka! seven times led by Tajol Rosli.
In MELAKA, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Ali Rustam joined thousands of people who gathered at Hang Tuah Mall to honour the historic moment.
Shouts of "Merdeka" erupted three times followed by Negaraku and hoisting of the Jalur Gemilang by the Royal Malaysian Navy personnel.
Fireworks display added colour to the celebrations.
In BATU PAHAT, Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman joined some 50,000 people in the Merdeka eve celebrations at Dataran Penggaram.
Celebrations started at 9pm with popular artistes belting out songs and cultural performances of the various races.
National Literary figure Datuk A. Samad Said recited a poem.
At the stroke of midnight the crowd shouted in unison "Merdeka", "Merdeka" followed by patriotic songs "Jalur Gemilang", "Keranamu Malaysia" and "Tanggal 31" and fireworks display.
In KANGAR, people gathered by the thousands at Stadium Utama to witness the state-level Merdeka Eve celebrations.
Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim led the state dignitaries in the festivities.
Arts and cultural performances of Tunas Budaya Group and Perlis Schools Arts Club mesmerised the crowd.
The arrival of Wan Shahidan Yahya, 45, at the stadium, completing his solo bicycle ride covering 2,239.4km added colour to the celebrations.
Wan Shahidan, an employee of the Public Works Department, was greeted by Shahidan who received the Jalur Gemilang from Wan Shahidan.
Wan Shahidan who started his bicycle tour on Aug 15 urged the people to promote love and affection for the nation and Visit Perlis Year.
In SHAH ALAM, Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo led 8,000 people to greet the stroke of midnight at Dataran Kemerdekaan.
Celebrations started as early as 5pm with various entertainment events by local artistes.
In LANGKAWI, thousands of people, including tourists, chanted Merdeka! Merdeka! seven times at Dataran Lang to usher in the Merdeka eve celebrations.
In KOTA BAHARU, about 25,000 people thronged Sultan Muhamad IV Stadium for the celebrations.
The events start with the pledge of loyalty to the country by representatives of the Malay, Chinese, Indian, and Thai communities in their respective mother tongue.
This is followed by cultural dances and songs of the various races.
Singers S. Jibeng and Abdul Halim mesmerised the crowd.
In PUTRAJAYA, about 10,000 people flocked to Putrajaya Boulevard to participate in the celebrations.
Federal Territories Minister Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad was present for the celebrations before he left for Kuala Lumpur to attend the celebrations at Dataran Merdeka.
In PENANG, some 50,000 people were at Dataran Pemuda Merdeka, Butterworth, to welcome the stroke of midnight led by Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon and state executive councillors.
Arts and cultural peformances of various races marked the celebrations. Singer Amy Mastura was the guest singer.
The state-level parade will be held at Lebuh Light, Georgetown, Tuesday morning.
In KUALA LUMPUR, some 100,000 people, including tourists, flocked to KLCC to join in the Merdeka eve festivities.
They converged at Dataran Merdeka, KLCC, along Jalan Bukit Bintang, Jalan Sultan Ismail and Jalan Imbi and Petaling Street or better known as "Chinatown."
Nearly all the main roads to the areas were closed to traffic from 6pm to ensure the celebrations proceeded smoothly.
Public transport like the Light Rail Transit (LRT) and KL Monorail were packed with people as the city folk wanted to avoid getting caught in traffic jams.
Roads around Kuala Lumpur were clogged up with vehicles after 10pm.
At Dataran Merdeka, songs and dance performances by popular artistes added cheer to the celebrations.
Poems bearing the independence theme were also recited.
A 10-minute fireworks display added colour to the celebrations.
In ALOR STAR, thousands of people flocked to Dataran Tunku and Menara Alor Star for the celebrations.
Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Syed Razak Syed Zain was present at Dataran Tunku to greet the stroke of midnight.
Shouts of MERDEKA! MERDEKA! reverberated seven times when the clock chimed 12.
At Menara Alor Star, the Merdeka eve celebrations were sponsored by a telecommunications company.
The climax of the celebrations is the gathering of 550 drum and kompang beaters of the various races.
The mass presentation of Malay, Chinese, Indian, Hindi and Thai songs sent the crowd into a frenzy.
Merdeka eve celebrations at the tower was beamed live by Channel 9 countrywide.
In KUALA TERENGGANU, Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh and state executive councillors joined some 10,000 people in the celebrations at Stadium Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah.
Singing of Negaraku, patriotic songs, stage performances and fireworks display marked the celebrations.
In SEREMBAN, Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan and state executive councillors were at the Seremban Municipal Council field with more than 8,000 people to greet the historic moment.
Shouts of MERDEKA! MERDEKA! reveberated at the stroke of 12 midnight.
Similar celebrations were held in Tampin, Kuala Pilah and Jelebu.

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