PUTRAJAYA: The 57th Merdeka celebrations this year will be toned down in respect of tragedies involving Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 and MH370, including the cancellation of traditional events such as the Merdeka eve countdown, entertainment and fireworks display.
Even though the National Day celebration this year is special as it is the 57th anniversary of the country's independence that was gained in 1957, Communications and Multimedia Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said the programme was adjusted to suit the prevailing sombre mood over both tragedies.
"As the nation is still mourning the MH17 and MH370 tragedies as well as sharing the losses suffered by families of victims, we need to modify the Merdeka celebrations this year.
"In the midst of the celebrations, the nation will also commemorate MH17 and MH370 tragedies as the incidents deeply affected Malaysians," he said in a media conference Wednesday.
Ahmad Shabery said the Harmony and Unity Concert to be held in conjunction with the independence of Malaysia and Indonesia has also been called off.
"This year, there will be no Merdeka countdown but the Prime Minister will deliver a Merdeka message at MATIC in Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur which will be aired 'live'," he said.
He said the fireworks display organised by the government has also been cancelled but the Merdeka Day parade, which will be held at Dataran Merdeka on Aug 31, will proceed as normal but with less frills.
Ahmad Shabery added that the reason was because the spirit of Merdeka should not be subdued.
"The impact of the celebrations will not be any less as we have to be united to show our solidarity in defending the country and its sovereignty, regardless of the events afflicting the nation, he said. - Bernama