MELAKA: Sixty-eight years ago, on this day, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, who later became the nation’s first prime minister, read the Declaration of Independence for the Federation of Malaya in Padang Pahlawan, marking the country’s freedom from the clutches of colonialism.

The sacred cries of ‘Merdeka’ were once again heard in Banda Hilir, here, tonight, during the re-enactment of the historic event.

A Nash Rambler Custom Convertible 1951 car, with the registration number M4442, carrying Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Ab Rauf Yusoh led the 600-metre procession that started at the Stadhuys Complex to the Independence Declaration Memorial, recreating the procession involving Tunku Abdul Rahman and Datuk Panglima Bukit Gantang Haji Abdul Wahab Toh Muda Abdul Aziz.

The antique car carried Tunku Abdul Rahman and the representative of the Perak Sultan upon their return from London for the independence mission on Feb 20, 1956.

The re-enactment also involved MIC president Tan Sri S.A. Vigneswaran (representing Tun V.T. Sambanthan) and Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Tiong King Sing (MCA secretary-general Tun Tan Cheng Lock), State Tourism, Heritage, Arts and Culture Committee chairman Datuk Abdul Razak Abdul Rahman (Tun Ghaffar Baba, the Independence Declaration Celebration Committee chairman) and State Women, Family and Development Committee chairman, Datuk Kalsom Nordin (UMNO Melaka Women’s Movement secretary, Zainab Samdin).

Upon arrival at the main stage, Anwar inspected the youth brigade parade unit before accepting a garland of flowers from Vigneswaran, witnessed by Tiong.

The re-enactment continued with Abdul Razak delivering a speech, followed by a speech from Ab Rauf.

The cry of ‘Merdeka! Merdeka! Merdeka!’ then filled the air after Anwar read the Declaration of Independence.

Kalsom then proceeded to present Keris Sapukal, the actual keris held by Tunku Abdul Rahman during the momentous event.

Performers then took the stage with the ‘Malam Aneka Warna’ segment featuring a musical theatre titled ‘Di Atas Runtuhan Kota Melaka Kita Dirikan Negara Baharu’ (From the Ruins of Kota Melaka We Built a New Nation) with scenes beginning from the Japanese occupation of Malaya until the declaration of independence.

About 1,500 participants took part in the procession and the ‘Malam Aneka Warna’ segment, comprising members of uniformed bodies, non-governmental organisations, students, and political parties.

The official declaration of independence of the Federation of Malaya took place at the Merdeka Stadium, Kuala Lumpur, on Aug 31, 1957.

Melaka has declared Feb 20 as a public holiday in the state, starting this year. -Bernama

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