KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has dedicated this year's Merdeka Day and Malaysia Day celebrations to the youth.
"This year's theme revolves around the youth and their spirit.
"They are the ones who will bring the country forward," he told thousands of participants at the joint celebrations at Dataran Merdeka Friday.
He added that the government was excited with the changes that this Merdeka celebration brought.
A strong sense of patriotism filled the air as tens of thousands of people joined the nation's leaders for the celebrations.
The younger generation dominated this year's celebrations, forming the largest group among the 10,000-strong participants in the four-segment parades. The participants, comprising school students, teachers, security personnel, and government and private sector employees started to gather around the venue as early as 5am to get ready for the historic occasion.
The celebrations got underway soon after the arrival of Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Mizan Zainal Abidin, and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Nur Zahirah at 8am.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor as well as Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and wife Puan Sri Norainee Abd Rahman had earlier arrived at the venue.
Also present were the Yang Dipertua Negeri of Sabah Tun Juhar Mahiruddin and wife Toh Puan Norlidah RM Jasni as well as the Yang Dipertua Negeri of Sarawak Tun Abang Muhammad Salahuddin Abang Barieng and wife Toh Puan Norkiah Abdullah.
Although there was no official Merdeka eve celebrations at Dataran Merdeka like in previous years, those organised by the private sector and individuals around the Klang Valley were still filled with a lot of merriment.
At the KLCC Park, about 5,000 people including foreign tourists gathered there from as early as 5pm and were entertained with cultural performances by the Petronas Performing Arts Group.
There was the countdown to Malaysia Day followed by a fireworks display which lighted up the Kuala Lumpur sky.