PERAK marked the 59th National Day in full splendour as people enjoyed the music by the marching bands and watched the might of the army artillery as well as the discipline of the marching contingents.
Thousands of Ipoh folk thronged KTM Square here on Wednesday to celebrate the day themed “Sehati, Sejiwa”.
Sultan of Perak Sultan Nazrin Muizzuddin Shah and Raja Permaisuri Perak Tuanku Zara Salim graced the event and were all smiles throughout the celebration. Even their children, Raja Azlan Muzaffar Shah and Raja Nazira Safya Shah, were seen waving and marvelling at the marching contingents.
Also present were Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Zambry Abd Kadir and his wife Datin Seri Saripah Zulkifli.
At 8.30am, Sultan Nazrin took the salute and inspected a guard-of-honour by the Royal Malay Engineering Regiment Division 2 led by Mej Mohammad Salleh Mohammad from the Sagor Taiping Camp.
The flag raising ceremony was carried out shortly after that, as the people sang the national anthem.
People from all walks of life stood up and were in high spirits as the anthem played.
A choir performance and a sketch staged by 80 primary school pupils followed and Sultan Nazrin was seen clapping and laughing at the children’s antics.
The highlight, however, was the march past featuring over 6,000 people from 116 contingents and 74 marching bands from various schools and higher learning institutions.
The marching bands played various patriotic songs for the crowd but one school, SMJK Nan Hwa, Setiawan dared to be different and performed Bruno Mars’ Grenade.
There were lots of bike convoys during the parade but the army artillery and vehicles proved to be the highlight of the day.
And at one point, eyes were glued to the sky when two Air Force jets went over the parade.
The best-dressed contingent of the national day parade went to Ipoh City Council (MBI) while Universiti Teknologi Mara Perak came in second. The State Secretariat contingent completed the podium by finishing third.
The State Secretariat contingent was also named the best marching contingent in the government department category.
Perak Development Corporation (PKNP) was proclaimed the best marching contingent for a private entity while SMJK Sam Tet was given the best marching band prize.
This year’s Merdeka celebration in Perak had started out with a 20km cycling event the night before.
The Kayuh Merdeka MBI 2016 saw more than 1,000 participants from all walks of life cycling together from Dataran Ipoh to the Lost World of Tambun as a mark of unity.
Sultan Nazrin, who flagged off the event, later led a group of state and government officials on a 8km ride along the same route.
Cycling alongside the Perak Ruler was Tuanku Zara Salim, and Zambry and his wife Saripah.
The royal couple later attended the state-level Merdeka countdown, which was marked with colourful song and dance.
Decked in costumes in all the colours of the national flag, state cultural group Selendang Perak presented a dance interpretation of “Merdeka” accompanied by SK Jalan Panglima Bukit Gantang Wahab pupils on the kompang.
This was followed by an angklung and vocal rendition of Bahtera Merdeka by pupils of SK Convent Ipoh and Zambry reciting the poem Tanah Air by national laureate Usman Awang.
At midnight, a hot air balloon was lifted slightly up into the sky to reveal a lighted giant flag as fireworks went off on both sides of the Dataran Ipoh.
National pride was at its peak as the thousands at the event sang Negaraku, followed by the anthem song Jalur Gemilang.
The night continued with a poetry recital titled Ini Malam Istimewa, Ini Malam Merdeka by Che Nu Alinar Mohamed and performances by local artistes Elina Haris, Asfan Shah and Qanda Band.