GEORGE TOWN, Aug 4 2018 (Bernama) -- The launch of the national-level 2018 Merdeka Month and Fly the Jalur Gemilang by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was held with gaiety and full patriotic spirit at the Padang Kota Lama here Saturday night.
The programme which marks the start of the National Day celebration with the theme of 'Sayangi Malaysia' was enlivened by the presence of thousands of people who thronged Padang Kota Lama to witness the first celebration organised by the Pakatan Harapan since taking control of the federal government after winning the 14th general election last May.
Also present were the Prime Minister's wife, Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo, Penang Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, cabinet ministers and state executive council members.
The event kicked-off at 7.45pm with a 'boria' presentation by the Boria Putera Wawasan group followed by a choir and cultural dance performance by artistes from the Pentarama unit, under the Department of Culture and Arts and Penang State Cultural Council dancers.
This was then followed by the procession of the Jalur Gemilang by eight Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) personnel, led by Lt Sobra Mulisa Ahyum from KD Sri Pinang as the national anthem 'Negaraku', was being played by the RMN Central Band led by Lt Mohd Shahram Ramli.
In a symbolic move with the launch, 14 large balloons were released into the air before they exploded and produced 1,400 small heart-shaped balloons.
Malaysia's rock band, Bunkface, then belted out the National Day 2018 theme song 'Kita Punya Malaysia', composed by its lead vocalist Sam.
The Prime Minister then flagged off the Kembara Merdeka Jalur Gemilang convoy which would be touring round the country to encourage the people to fly the national flag.
The convoy comprising 20 vehicles and 40 high-powered motorcycles involving 135 participants will end in Putajaya on Aug 31.
A host of events have been lined up for the three-day event beginning from Aug 3, among them the Caring Bridge and MyMerdeka Exhibition, a food truck carnival, buskers' performances, Merdeka Run, FAMA My Best Buy Sale and spiritual events involving several mosques, churches and temples around George Town.