Photo Flickr
Photo Flickr

The national anthem of Malaysia was created in 1957 and the selection of the song was made by the former Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj Ibni Almarhum Sultan Abdul Hamid Halim Shah. The rhythm of the “Negaraku” was quoted from the rhythm of the state anthem of Perak. The state anthem of Perak had the original idea of the song “Terang Bulan” which is a song favoured by Sultan Abdullah, the Sultan of Perak, while he was in exile on the island of Seychelles.

“Negaraku” emphasises loyalty and unity for national progress. This song serves to raise patriotism and love for the homeland. The idea to create the national anthem arose when the country was then preparing to celebrate its Independence Day. The national anthem should be played during the proclamation of Independence which was set on 31 August 1957.

Thus, in February 1957, an official anthem creation contest was held. However, the four final songs that were shortlisted were rejected by the Special Committee of the National Anthem Selection (JKPLK), led by Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj. Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj instead recommended the state Anthem of Perak as the basis for creating a national anthem of Malaysia. The proposal had been agreed by the other members of JKPLK.

The Score for the song “Negaraku” was provided by Alfonso Soliano (leader of the Radio Orchestra of Malaya), D.S.P Croff (Music Director, the Royal Police Band), Captain Lenthall (Music Director, the Malay Military Band, Port Dickson) and A. T Reed (General Director of Radio Malaya). The lyrics of the national anthem, “Negaraku” was prepared by a Special Committee led by Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj with the agreement of the Malay Sultans.

The national anthem, “Negaraku” was heard for the first time after the stroke of midnight on 31 August 1957, at the Selangor Club field. That historical evening witnessed the Union Jack was lowered and replaced with the flag of the Malay Peninsula, accompanied by the national anthem, “Negaraku”. Starting from this moment, the song “Negaraku” continued to be the national anthem.

Full Lyrics in Original Bahasa Malaysia Words:

Negara ku, tanah tumpahnya darah ku

Rakyat hidup bersatu dan maju

Rahmat bahagia, Tuhan kurniakan

Raja kita selamat bertakhta

(repeat previous two lines)

English Lyrics:

My country, my native land

The people living united and progressive

May God bestow blessing and happiness

May our Ruler have a successful reign

(repeat previous two lines)

History has it that the 'Negaraku' was adapted from the state anthem of Perak, which had a similar melody to the keroncong-influenced 'Terang Bulan', a popular song in the 1930s in Indonesia and Malaya.

It was also a familiar tune in the island of Mahe in the Seychelles where a former Perak Sultan lived in exile. A French band used to play the tune when it performed on the island.

There is, however, no record of the exact origin of the melody.

Here are some more fun facts about the Malaysian National Anthem:

1.At the time of independence, Malaysia did not have a national anthem. Tunku Abdul Rahman decided to organize a worldwide competition to find a suitable national anthem for Malaysia and 512 entries were submitted. In the end, Rahman opted to use the Perak State anthem’s melody for the Malaysian national anthem.

2.Some theories say that the Negara Ku anthem, which means ‘My Country’ in Bahasa Malaysia, is an adaptation of the Perak State anthem, inspired by the tune from a French melody titled “La Rosalie’ ‘ composed by songwriter Pierre Jean Beranger.

3.In 1992, the anthem was rearranged to give it a livelier march rhythm; however, it was unpopular with Malaysians, and in 2003 the tempo was returned to its original form.

4.There is a full version of the anthem, and a shorter version – the full version is generally used in the presence of the King of Malaysia, and the shorter version to honor the Queen of Malaysia and lesser officials.

5.The national anthem was played for the first time after the Declaration of Independence on 31 August 1957.

National Day

Malaysia Independence Day, also known as National Day or ‘Hari Merdeka’ in Malay is observed on August 31 and commemorates the Malayan Declaration of Independence of 31 August 1957. It is defined in Article 160 of the Constitution of Malaysia as the official independence day when it gained its freedom from the British colonial administration. Usually, the celebrations start from the beginning of August with various programs and national competitions. Owing to the celebrations, the month of August is also known as the National Month.

HOW TO OBSERVE MALAYSIA INDEPENDENCE DAY

Take part in the annual Merdeka Parade

The national day parade is all about decorated cars, royal inspection, flag raising, recitation of the ‘Rukun Negara,’ and cultural and patriotic performances. You can experience the culture of Malaysia by watching the parade live or watch the Merdeka celebrations on TV.

Organize your own activities

You can even organize an event or different activities to inspire the spirit of patriotism and love for the country. A national speech competition, a Merdeka poetry contest, or a photography competition are some ideas to help you get started!

Decorate your homes

Decorate your home and vehicle with flags. Flags and decorations can be seen all over the country. There are even neighborhood decorating competitions, too.

National Flag

The Malaysian flag or Jalur Gemilang consists of 14 horizontal red and white stripes of equal width; a dark blue canton occupying the upper left quarter of the flag; and within the canton, a crescent, and a 14-pointed star.

The stripes represent the equal status in the federation of the 13 member states - namely Johor, Kedah, Kelantan, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, Perlis, Sabah, Sarawak, Selangor, Penang and Terengganu - and the Federal Government, as represented by the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Labuan.

Bunga Raya - Malaysia's Hibiscus

Photo Deviant Arts
Photo Deviant Art

There are many varieties of the hibiscus, but the five-petaled Hibiscus rosa sinensis was chosen above the others, as the most symbolically relevant. The five petals of the bunga raya symbolise the Rukunegara (the Five Principles of Nationhood), while the colour red represents courage.

It is believed that the flower first arrived in Malaysia via trade from its original home in the Far East sometime before the 12th century.

The national flower, bunga raya, is known for its medicinal properties. The roots of the plant are used as a cure for fever and other ailments, while the juice obtained from the leaves and roots is said to be effective in relieving skin eruptions and glandular troubles. Also, the petals were commonly used as cosmetics to darken and highlight women's eyebrows.

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