Malaysia Independence Day, also known as National Day or ‘Hari Merdeka’ in Malay is observed on August 31 and commemorates the Malayan Declaration of Independence of 31 August 1957. It is defined in Article 160 of the Constitution of Malaysia as the official independence day when it gained its freedom from the British colonial administration. Usually, the celebrations start from the beginning of August with various programs and national competitions. Owing to the celebrations, the month of August is also known as the National Month.


The efforts for the independence of Malaysia were headed by the first Malaysian prime minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman. He led a delegation of ministers and political leaders of Malaya to negotiate with the British for independence.

When the threat of a communist revolt, posed during the Malayan Emergency gradually became less, an agreement was reached on February 8, 1956, for Malaysia to gain independence from the British Empire. But due to some logistical and administrative reasons, their actual independence was declared in the following year on August 31, 1957.

On the night of August 30, 1957, crowds gathered at Merdeka Square in Kuala Lumpur to witness the handover of power from the British. At the stroke of midnight, the Union Jack in the square was lowered. The new Flag of Malaysia was raised as the national anthem Negaraku was played. This was followed by seven chants of “Merdeka” by the crowd.