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Greg Rodgers

Malaysian Independence Day 2011

By August 28, 2011

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Hari Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur

Photo by Greg Rodgers

Malaysian Independence Day -- or Hari Merdeka -- is set to kick off in the next few days. While the actual day is on August 31st, Malaysians find plenty of time to celebrate beforehand with family, fireworks, and of course -- lots and lots of excellent food!

The celebration last year was slightly toned down due to Ramadan still being in progress, however, this year Hari Merdeka and Hari Raya (the end of Ramadan festivities) fall nearly on the same day -- I expect one heck of a celebration!

Malaysia is a relatively young country! They only just gained their independence from the British on August 31, 1957. Speaking with older Malaysians who watched the country being born is exciting; us Americans cannot really relate.

Expect August 31st to be filled with the usual flag waving, a parade, military presentation, and lots of cultural activities. Traffic usually peaks out as tourists come to see what is going on and many local residents  enjoy a rare day with family rather than at work.

Learn more about the Malaysian Independence Day festivities -- Happy Hari Merdeka!

August 30, 2011 at 10:20 pm
(1) Baya says:

Malaysia didn’t exist in 1957. It is Malayas Independence Day. Also, fireworks are banned in Malaysia.

August 30, 2011 at 11:43 pm
(2) Greg says:

Fireworks are banned in many parts of the U.S. as well, however, that doesn’t stop the fire throughout the day/night on our Independence Day. :)

I probably saw 5x more the amount of fireworks in Penang last year during Hari Merdeka than I have ever witnessed in the U.S.

August 31, 2011 at 5:46 am
(3) maxim says:

Fireworks are banned here? but I see them like everyday!!!! most esp. around these times.

August 31, 2011 at 12:14 pm
(4) Nik Fariz says:

Greg: Prior to 1957, it was known as the Federation of Malay States which was only the Peninsular. It gained independence from British on 31st August 1957. Only on September 16, 1963 did the name change to Malaysia with the inclusion of Singapore (Malay + SIA = Malaysia). Sabah and Sarawak is also part of Malaysia since then. However, Singapore opted out of Malaysia due to some political issues, later in the years. Sabah & Sarawak remained part of Malaysia until now.

This year, Independence day is celebrated officially on September 16, which is officially known as Malaysia Day. This is because during Hari Raya (end of Ramadhan), most of the city folks go back to their hometown and the city is practically deserted. So, it is best to celebrate Merdeka day this year on Malaysia Day, where people are back in the city.

With regards to fireworks. Officially it is banned. Sparklers and pop-pops are ok. The authorities only nab fireworks sellers or importers based on tip-offs from the public and are not actually stringent on enforcement. Most fireworks sellers operate under cover (although you will sometimes find them selling openly in night markets) and catching them is not as easy as it sounds.

Therefore, when it comes to big celebrations like this, you will never experience silent nights..

Welcome to Malaysia! Truly Asia!

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