MERDEKA! MERDEKA! The spirit of this word will once again resonate in our country as we celebrate National Day on 31 August and Malaysia Day on 16 September.
The theme of the 2019 National Day and Malaysia Day celebrations is “Sayangi Malaysiaku: Malaysia Bersih (Love our Malaysia: A Clean Malaysia)” to stress the importance of unity and patriotism for the well-being of the people and shared prosperity.
The government has also decided to retain the official logo for last year’s celebrations this year, with the addition being the new theme. The song Malaysia Bersih (A Clean Malaysia) will be the main song for the celebrations but Kita Punya Malaysia (Our Malaysia) will also be sung to fire up the spirit of patriotism, apart from sowing the culture of integrity and rejecting corruption.
The National Day Parade on Aug 31 would be held in Putrajaya while Malaysia Day would be celebrated in Kuching on Sept 16. The launch of the national-level National Month and Fly the Jalur Gemilang (national flag ) 2019 events were held at Dataran Pahlawan, Melaka, on Aug 3. The Melaka state was selected as the venue for the launching ceremony due to historical factors, as it is the state where the declaration of the country’s independence was made on Feb 20, 1956, namely in Banda Hilir.
Beautiful National Flower
First, there are a few facts about the hibiscus, which generic name is derived from the Greek word hibiskos. Belonging to a family of flowering plants known as Malvaceae, it has several hundreds of species which are native to tropical and sub-tropical countries. Colours range from white to yellow, peach, pink and red.
In 1958, a year after Malayans shouted “Merdeka!” for the first time, the Ministry of Agriculture invited proposals for a national flower from all state governments. There are seven flowers were proposed, including hibiscus (Bunga Raya), ylang ylang (bunga kenanga), jasmine (bunga melur), magnolia (bunga cempaka), lotus (bunga teratai), rose (bunga mawar) and medlar (bunga tanjung). After careful consideration, then Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj declared the hibiscus, or more specifically its subspecies Hibiscus rosa-sinesis, as the national flower on July 28, 1960.
The vibrant colours of the flower made it stand out; it also symbolised the courage and vitality of the people. The five conspicuous petals of the flower also fit well with the five principles of the Rukun Negara. In addition, its red colour symbolises political and economical stability, while the various colours, sizes and shapes of its different species signify the multicultural and multi-religious races living in harmony.
Apart from those reasons, the flower was commonly seen all over the country, blooming all day long and decorating the fences of many households. While the hibiscus syracus is South Korea’s national flower and the yellow hibiscus is Hawaii’s state flower, hibiscus rosa-sinesis was chosen for the newly-independent Malaya. More than just a national symbol, the flower can be made into a tea that is said to help reduce high blood pressure. The flower is commonly used to treat hair loss by Ayurveda physicians in India, and its roots are used as an aperitif and tonic.
To appreciate this flower, you can head on to Hibiscus Garden in the Perdana Botanical Garden, Kuala Lumpur. A plaque which explains the symbolism of this species of hibiscus as our national flower stands in the Tunku Abdul Rahman Memorial that situated nearby.
After the National Flower, now we have a national tree – Merbau Tree
Iconic National Tree
On 23 August 2019, the Merbau tree (Malacca teak) was selected as a symbol of the integrity of the nation’s forest as a result of sustainable management and the conservation of the Malaysian biodiversity in conjuction with the Hutan Kita exhibition at the KL Tower. The tree is also a symbol of the importance of the forest to the country’s industries and the economy. Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad believed that all Malaysians can take the Merbau as a symbol of national pride with its hardy nature.