KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 1 — Tens of thousands present at the Merdeka Day parade were treated to a trip back in time as all the stops were pulled to re-create the nostalgia of 1950s Malaya yesterday.

The Royal Box ensured the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Sultan Muhammad V, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, an unobstructed view.

The parade comprised 10 main segments, namely, nationhood, civil service, economy, animation, sports, self-identity, public order, national security, air show and integrated society segment.

Its narrative centred on focal points of the country’s history: Japanese Occupation (1941-1945), the anti-Malayan Union protests (1946) and the Malayan Emergency (1948-1960).

To kick things off, veteran actor Datuk Rahim Razali explained the meaning of Merdeka to six children representing major ethnic groups in a prologue narrative.

This was followed by an impression of the Japanese invasion with the 6,000 performers waving flags and holding placards in unison while sounds of gunfire and explosions were timed to go with war footage.

About 1,000 students in period clothing then “protested” against occupation and post-war communist aggression.

Next, a dozen vintage vehicles and bicycles carried actors who took up the roles of founding fathers Tunku Abdul Rahman, Tun VT Sambanthan and Tun Tan Cheng Lock to witness the lowering of the Union Jack and the raising of the Jalur Gemilang.

Najib, fitted with a special khaki uniform, raised the declaration “Merdeka” seven times just as Tunku did 60 years ago.

Two retirees of the Royal Malaysian Navy, who were tasked to raise the national flag for the first time in 1957, Lt Commander (Rtd) Mohd Sharif Kalam and Warrant Officer 1 Commander (Rtd) Oliver Culvelt Samuel, were in the limelight once again when they raised the Jalur Gemilang at Dataran Merdeka.

Then Rusnah Aksah, who at age 12 released 101 pigeons during the declaration of the formation of Malaysia on September 16, 1963, repeated the act with 60 pigeons representing 60 years of independence.

But the highlight of the show was a short skit showcasing the “F Team”, an elite police unit which until recently had never been publicly acknowledged due to the sensitive nature of their work.

The marching contingent totalled 18,000 participants, including a group of more than 400 band members from 11 uniformed agencies. This was followed by a display of 300 assets including various aircraft and armoured vehicles.

Also, a contingent of the SEA Games athletes was led by chef de mission Datuk Marina Chin in the parade. They were roared on by spectators as Malaysia topped the medal tally in the Games which ended on Wednesday with 145 gold, 92 silver and 86 bronze medals.

The parade ended at 10.40am.

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