KUALA LUMPUR (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak Razak joined thousands of Malaysians for the 59th National Day celebration at Kuala Lumpur's Merdeka Square on Wednesday (Aug 31)
Datuk Seri Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor arrived at 7.54am on Wednesday for the celebration themed Malaysia: One Heart, One Soul.
The National Day parade began at 8.10am after the arrival of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Hajah Haminah.
Shortly after his arrival, Tuanku Abdul Halim inspected a guard-of-honour of the 1st Battalion of the Royal Malay Regiment.
This was followed by the raising of the Jalur Gemilang, accompanied by the singing of the national anthem.
Immediately after, there was a 14-gun salute by the 41st Battery of the Royal Artillery Regiment.
Among those present at the parade were former prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, Transport Minister and MCA president Liow Tiong Lai, cabinet ministers, and foreign dignitaries.
His live 59th National Day address to the nation, Mr Najib paid tribute to the country's sportsmen and sportswomen, saying sports, the love for food and the special humour of cartoonist Lat - these are among the things that brought Malaysians together.
Urging Malaysians to recognise the goodness and strength of the country's diversity, Mr Najib highlighted what he described as recent "moments of unity".
These included the badminton fans, most of whom were Malays, cheering on badminton singles player Lee Chong Wei at Dataran Putrajaya during the Rio Olympics final, he said.
He picked out Datuk Lee, cyclist Azizulhasni Awang, men's doubles shuttlers Goh V Shem and Tan Wee Kiong, diver Pandelela Rinong and her synchronised diving partner Cheong Jun Hoong, along with Lat - or Datuk Mohammad Nor Khalid - and the owners of the popular "Vanggey" Nasi Kandar stall in Ipoh as icons of unity.
"This is also the same for the film Ola Bola which instilled a sense of unity among all Malaysians," Mr Najib said.
He said this was what was beautiful and special about Malaysia - the spirit of unity and closeness among all races.
Malaysia, said Mr Najib, had not come this far to fail and urged Malaysians to appreciate the success of almost 60 years of nationhood.
"I am speaking here, not only as the prime minister or a leader of a party but someone who is an Anak Malaysia," he said at the Putra World Trade Centre on Tuesday night.
Mr Najib also urged Malaysians to guard against "moments of disunity" which could disrupt peace in the country including from those who poison the minds of the people.
"Merdeka means standing on our own two feet, according to our own mould of what we want. Merdeka means being free of outside interference," he said.