PUTRAJAYA (Bernama): National Day 2018 is driving home the message of patriotism and the importance of unity for the well-being of the nation as enthusiastic Malaysians thronged Putrajaya and millions more watched live broadcast of the celebration.
This year, it culminated with a parade in Putrajaya, featuring four similar components with the theme "Sayangi Malaysiaku" (Love My Malaysia), namely patriotism, public order, national security and unity of the people.
Upon the arrival of Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V at Dataran Putrajaya, the ceremony began with the singing of Negaraku, followed by the recitation of the Rukun Negara pledge.
The Putrajaya air space was filled with the sounds of five helicopters comprising two EC 725 AP and a Sikorsky S61A-4 Nuri belonging to the Royal Malaysian Air Force, an Augusta 109 belonging to the Royal Malaysian Army, and a Super Lynx from the Royal Malaysian Navy as a guard of honour to Seri Paduka.
A 14-gun royal salute, symbolic of the 14 states in Malaysia, was executed by the 41st Ceremonial Battery of the Royal Artillery Regiment, and accompanied by the hoisting of the Jalur Gemilang as the singing of the Negaraku filled the air.
Also present to witness the National Day 2018 parade were Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Cabinet ministers, including Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo and foreign representatives.
This year's celebration is a historic milestone because of its significance in celebrating a new Pakatan Harapan-led Federal Government and the return of Dr Mahathir to the helm at the age of 93.
The choice of Putrajaya as the location of the National Day 2018 celebration, after 13 years since it last hosted the celebration, is also special as Dr Mahathir was the person who mooted the development of the area, previously known as Prang Besar, as the country's administrative centre in 1995.
The last time the National Day parade took place in Putrajaya was in 2005.
An estimated 300,000 people thronged Dataran Putrajaya as early as 5am to enliven the atmosphere, bringing along their Jalur Gemilang to witness the National Day parade.
The recital of the Rukun Negara pledge involving 50 students, including two who were disabled, was led by Muhammad Aiman Shafiq Mohd Shah Noor Yong from the Royal Military College, Kuala Lumpur's Sungai Besi Camp.
Shouts of "Merdeka" rang out seven times, also led by Muhammad Aiman Shafiq, at Dataran Putrajaya.
A special performance, "Sayangi Malaysiaku", showcasing various community performances through the participation of 600 youth from the arts group, also attracted the attention of the crowd.
Leading the parade was the 60-member contingent carrying the 80ft by 40ft gigantic flag.
This was followed by the 660 carriers of the Jalur Gemilang and 1,340 carriers of the state flags as well as multi-coloured flags.
Throughout the event, the atmosphere was enlivened by the rhythm of tunes from the integrated uniformed band of 524 members.
The parade was also joined by the Kembara Merdeka Jalur Gemilang convoy led by Information director-general Datuk Ibrahim Abdul Rahman, involving 133 participants, as well as 38 high-powered motorcycles and 20 vehicles.
The convoy, which was launched by Dr Mahathir on Aug 4 in Padang Kota Lama, Penang, explored 61 destinations in the country over a distance of 6,100km, before turning up at Putrajaya.
The "Sayangi Malaysiaku" contingent, which depicted Malaysians as various races living in harmony and unity, included national athletes and people with disabilities.
The parade was also enlivened by the presence of participants from the air transport industry - Malaysia Airlines, AirAsia and Malindo - including crew members in their respective attire, which drew loud cheers from the audience.
The public order segment involved law enforcement agencies such as the Land Transport Department, Royal Malaysian Customs Department and Immigration Department.
In the national security segment, the three branches of the Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM), namely land, sea and air, took part alng with the police and the Malaysia Maritime Enforcement Agency.
Among the crowd-pullers were the Pendekar tanks equipped with armoury system, namely the 125MM gun and reactive armour defence.
The display of missile carrier vehicles belonging to the Royal Malaysian Air Force and Royal Malaysian Navy was also a major attraction.
The Yang di-Pertuan Agong was also seen saluting as the Army 1 and Army 2 contingents passed the grand stage.
Helicopters of the national security and public order contingents comprising the air force, navy, police and MMEA also made aerial parades.
Sixteen Pilatus PC-7 Mark III aircraft did a '61' formation in conjunction with the 61st Independence Day.
Other aircraft taking part were Hawk 108/208, F/A 18-D Hornet and Sukhoi SU-30MKM.
The event concluded with a special performance reflecting the unity in diversity of Malaysians who took place amid a riot of colour.
A total of 12,295 people and 475 assets were involved in the parade and procession today. – Bernama
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