No more ‘Merdeka’ and ‘58’, just call it ‘National Day’, communications ministry says

Workers are seen hanging up the national flag outside the Ministry of Finance building in Putrajaya, August 19, 2015, ahead of National Day celebrations. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Workers are seen hanging up the national flag outside the Ministry of Finance building in Putrajaya, August 19, 2015, ahead of National Day celebrations. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 28 ― The Communications and Multimedia Ministry has confirmed that this year’s 58th Merdeka Day celebration is to be known only as “National Day 2015”, in the wake of a buzz on the internet earlier today over a purported ban on advertisements carrying those words.

In a statement, the ministry said the initiative was to foster closer ties between the peoples of peninsular Malaysia and their countrymen across the South China Sea.

“This matter is to strengthen ties among the people, regardless if they were from the peninsula, Sabah or Sarawak because August 31, 1957 focuses on the independence of Malaya whereas September 16, 1963 is felt more by Sabah and Sarawak,” the ministry said in a statement.

The statement, which was sent to advertising agencies, added that the standardisation was announced on June 6 this year at the pre-launching ceremony for this year’s National Day at Dataran Merdeka and was subsequently announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak earlier this month.

“Coinciding with the Malaysia #sehatisejiwa theme of both celebrations, it is an initiative to ensure harmony, the spirit of unity (sehati sejiwa) that fosters cohesion, understanding, togetherness and humanity,” it said.

According to a report by humour news site Cilisos that was shared online today, advertising agencies were told by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) yesterday to remove the words “Merdeka” from National Day advertisements in accordance with a directive from the ministry.

The screenshot of the e-mail by MCMC also said that any reference to the National Day “should not mention the figure ‘58’”.

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