VETERAN and young Umno members, together with supporters from all walks of life came in droves to join in the party's 57th anniversary celebration at Stadium Merdeka last night.
As early as 4pm, they came by busloads to liven up the celebration one of the most historical moments of Umno.
The event was held in the stadium for the first time since the party was formed in 1946 and the last one Umno members will celebrate with their president Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who is retiring in October.
By 6.30pm, the crowd inside and outside the stadium had started to swell to more than its capacity of 40,000.
Umno and Barisan Nasional flags and banners were strewn all over the stadium leading to its majestic backdrop featuring a portrait of Dr Mahathir with an excerpt of the poem Perjuangan Yang Belum Selesai (The Unfinished Struggles) and two giant screens by the side of the stage.
Thunderous applause filled the air as Dr Mahathir, accompanied by his deputy Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and secretary-general Tan Sri Khalil Yaakob, arrived at the stadium at 8.30pm.
Some were heard shouting Hidup Umno, Hidup Melayu, Hidup Pariti Kita (Long Live Umno) and sang patriotic songs as he was taken in a horse-drawn carriage around the stadium.
After singing Negaraku, Dr Mahathir inspected a guard-of-honour, made up of members from 57 divisions of the Wanita, Puteri and Youth wings.
Judging from the applause, the crowd were delighted when five Selangor Youth members paraglided into the stadium carrying Umno flags and portraits of the five Umno presidents, past and present.
The Kuala Lumpur night sky was lit with a dazzling fireworks display.
It was a heart-rending moment for many of the members as they sang in unison the party song Bersatu Bersetia Berkhidmat followed by Umno Teras Negara, Ikrar Pemuda, Maju Wanita Umno, Puteri's Melati Di Tapal Batas and Barisan's song.
The crowd gave a standing ovation to Dr Mahathir as he was called to the podium to deliver his speech.
Dr Mahathir along with Umno leaders then cut the pulut kuning (glutinous rice) to complete the symbolic celebration.
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