Malaysian Trivia for Merdeka Month
August is here, and as Malaysians, we know that it's a season for patriotism with both Merdeka Day and Malaysia Day on the horizon. We scoured the Internet and compiled 10 trivias that you might not know about our nation. Read on, and your thirst for Malaysian trivia will reward you!
Trivia #1: Malaysia Day only became officially recognised as a public holiday in 2010
It's been 23 years since Malaysia Day has officially become a national holiday in Malaysia, so you may have forgotten that it wasn't always the case. It was only observed as a state holiday in Sabah and Sarawak previously until Prime Minister Najib Razak officially declared it a Malaysian public holiday in parliament on 19 October 2009. While the Federation of Malaya gained independence on 31 August 1957, the Bornean States of Sabah and Sarawak merged with the Malay Peninsula to form the new Malaysia on 16 September 1963.
Trivia #2: One stripe on the Malaysian flag used to represent Singapore
Following the formation of Malaysia on 16 September 1963, the design of the Malayan flag was modified to reflect and honour the new states in the federation. Three additional stripes were added to the existing flag, and the star was given 14 points to reflect the union of the original 11 states in Malaya plus Sabah, Sarawak, and Singapore.
As Singapore was one of the states that joined the federation, one of the stripe of the Malaysian flag used to represent it. However, after leaving Malaysia in 1965, it wasn't removed. It was appropriated later instead to represent Kuala Lumpur when it joined as a Federal Territory on 1 February 1974.
Trivia #3: "Jalur Gemilang", the Malaysian flag, is a brainchild of an architect
Designed by 29-year-old architect Mohamad Hamzah, the Malaysian flag, known as "Jalur Gemilang," emerged triumphant in the 1963 contest to replace the Malayan Union flag. The flag's 14 red and white stripes symbolise the nation's 14 states, while the crescent reflects Islam's status as the official religion, and the star signifies unity among these states.
Trivia #4: “Merdeka!” was hailed not 3 but 7 times by Tunku Abdul Rahman
It's publicly known that the Declaration of Independence was declared on 31 August 1957, by Malaya's first Chief Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, at Merdeka Stadium. Contrary to popular belief, the historic "Merdeka" chant was repeated seven times, resonating with over 20,000 spectators and accompanied by echoing cheers from Malaysians present. While the reason for the sevenfold repetition remains unspecified, it's often linked to the auspicious nature of the number seven. After the declaration, Tunku Abdul Rahman raised his hand and shouted 'Merdeka' seven times, not thrice, as widely believed.
*credits: from Bingka.KL
Trivia #5: The National Anthem "Negaraku" was originally composed by a Frenchman
Tunku Abdul Rahman organised a worldwide competition to find a suitable national anthem for Malaysia. Although there were 512 entries, none were deemed suitable. In the end, Tunku opted to use the Perak State anthem, titled "Allah Lanjutkan Usia Sultan", as the national anthem.
The tune came from the song La Rosalie, which was popular in the late 19th century in Seychelles, where former Perak sultan, Sultan Abdullah Muhammad Shah II, was sent into exile by the British in 1877 following the assassination of the first British Resident in Perak, JWW Birch.
Written by French composer Pierre Jean de Beranger, La Rosalie was adopted and sung in various languages in many countries, including Terang Bulan, the Indonesian version we are more familiar with. La Rosalie was first covered in Dutch, followed by Indonesian, Japanese, English, Cantonese and Chinese. Its English version is known as Mamula Moon (Hawaii).
Trivia #6: The earliest recorded name for Malaysia is…
A glimpse into the Malayan Declaration of Independence reveals a different appellation for Malaysia. When this declaration was penned in 1957, the country was identified as the "Federation of Malaya."
However, did you know that the earliest recorded name for Malaysia was "Aurea Chersonesus," translating to the "peninsula of gold"? The name was found in a book called "Geographica" by Greco-Roman geographer Ptolemy, written about A.D 150. Wow, that is approximately close to 2,000 years ago!
Trivia #7: The Declaration of Independence was made at Dataran Merdeka
On 31 August 1957, Malaysia declared its independence at the Royal Selangor Club field (now Dataran Merdeka, duh!) in Kuala Lumpur, witnessed by around 20,000 people, including Malay rulers, foreign dignitaries, and notable guests. The Duke of Gloucester, representing Queen Elizabeth II, presented the Instrument of Independence to Tunku Abdul Rahman, the Chief Minister of the Federation of Malaya.
Interestingly, the initial announcement of the independence date was made by Tunku on 20 February 1956 at Padang Bandar Hilir in Melaka. This choice was symbolic as Melaka marked the starting point of foreign invasions before British colonisation. Tunku formally read the Proclamation of Independence at Padang Pahlawan in Melaka on 20 August 1957, a week before the official declaration.
Trivia #8: The national flower of Malaysia is the hibiscus
Following its attainment of independence in 1957, the country found itself in search of a national flower that would embody its unique identity. The year 1958 saw the Ministry of Agriculture issuing a call for national flower suggestions from every state government, resulting in the submission of seven distinct floral candidates. After careful evaluation, the ministry's ultimate choice in 1960 was the hibiscus. This selection was primarily driven by the hibiscus's striking, larger red petals and its remarkable trait of flowering consistently throughout the entirety of the year.
Trivia #9: Kaamatan and Gawai are not the exact same thing
Kaamatan and Gawai are both mid-year harvest festivals, but they hold distinct cultural and religious significance. While Kaamatan centres around a sacrifice and extends through May, Gawai Dayak is a June 1st celebration of gratitude with offerings and a focus on nature's physical representations.
Kaamatan, observed by the Kadazan-Dusun people of Sabah, is rooted in Momolianism, where giving thanks to the creator for the Earth's gifts is essential. It honours Huminodun, who sacrificed herself, transforming into crops after a famine. Lasting all of May, the festival's end date is determined by the Bobohizan.
Hari Gawai, celebrated on 1 June by Sarawak's Dayak people, is a thanksgiving festival expressing gratitude for harvests and unity, with an emphasis on future plans. Officially recognised in 1965, Gawai Dayak focuses on offerings and rituals, inviting deities and spirits to a feast of traditional foods. Preparations include hunting trips, longhouse repairs, and nature-themed decorations.
Trivia #10: Malaysia is home to the tallest twin buildings in the world and the second-tallest building in the world
Petronas Twin Towers held the title of the world's tallest buildings from 1998 to 2004. Each tower stands at a height of 451.9 meters and has 88 floors. They are currently the tallest twin buildings in the world.
Merdeka 118, formerly known as PNB 118, is the second-tallest structure and the second-tallest building in the world, behind the Burj Khalifa at 828 m. At 678.9 m tall, it is the first skyscraper exceeding 500 m and 600 m in Malaysia and Southeast Asia.
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