Malaysia Day 2022: 25 Proud moments we can celebrate this year

Happy Malaysia Day!


By Natalie Khoo

Featured images: @heartpatrick / Instagram
Malaysia Day 2022: 25 Proud moments we can celebrate this year

In honour of our 59th National Day, we take a look at some of the proudest moments that Malaysians can celebrate thanks to the sacrifices of our forefathers that led to the freedom and progress we enjoy today


1. Meet the Champion of Champions

Photo: MasterChef

In a special MasterChef series that saw the return of five former MasterChef winners to compete against each other, Malaysian-born chef Ping Coombes proved to be the ‘Champion of Champions’. She won the coveted title with her renditions of chilli pan mee, claypot chicken rice and ice kacang.


2. KL named one of the best food cities in the world

Kishor / Unsplash

Earlier this year, food and dining publisher Eater named Kuala Lumpur one of the best food cities of 2022. It was the only Southeast Asian city to make the list, which has 13 entries in total. “Most days the streets reverberate with hawkers exchanging friendly banter, utensils ricocheting off woks, chendol trucks rumbling by, diners chatting excitedly at tables spilling out of open-air restaurants,” the publication reported. 


3. Riding her way into the global arena

Photo: @aliaa.mansorr / Instagram

A cyclist from Terengganu, Siti Nur Alia Mansor, became the first Southeast Asian woman to join a professional world-acclaimed cycling team after she signed on as a rider for Spain-based Canyon-SRAM Racing Team in January.


4. Malaysia wins Badminton Asia Team Championships (BATC)

Photo: Kuala Lumpur Post

In February, the national men’s badminton team clinched their first ever Badminton Asia Team Championships (BATC) title after beating defending champions Indonesia 3-0 in the finals at the Setia City Convention Centre in Shah Alam.


5.  Malaysian model ‘slays’ at Milan Fashion Week


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A post shared by #Vanizha (@vanizhavasanthanathan)

Local model Vanizha Vasanthanathan made headlines for her Milan Fashion Week debut in March, where she strutted in looks by Italian design houses ACT N°1 and Marco Rambaldi. Although the 29-year-old model is no stranger to international runways—having walked at Beijing Fashion Week, China Fashion Week, and Jakarta Fashion Week—Milan was considered her big break into the Big Four of Fashion Weeks. 


6. Dewakan enters Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants 2022 list

Renowned modern Malaysian restaurant Dewakan was crowned the Best Restaurant in Malaysia after making a re-entry into Asia’s 50 Best Restaurants list this year, taking the no. 50 spot. Meanwhile, three other local establishments earned a spot on the extended 51-100 List, namely Nadodi, Eat and Cook, and Cilantro.


7. Malaysia begins transition into endemicity

Photo: Thilipen Rave Kumar / Pexels

After more than two years of living with the pandemic, the Malaysian government declared that the country would start transitioning into endemicity from 1 April, 2022. This signalled the beginning of the recovery of the nation’s economy, as well as our livelihoods and mental well-being, thanks to the lifting of SOPs and movement restrictions. 


8. Record number of Malaysian students enter Harvard

Clockwise from top left: Chooi Je Qin, Lee Ee Jenn, Ishant Shah, Carisma Michaela Wong, Herman Leong Xin Yang, and Alyssa Yap Xin Yi

The nation made history when it recorded the admission of five Malaysian students to the prestigious Harvard University for the class of 2026. The five students are Choi Je Qin, Herman Leong Xin Yang, Ishant Shah, Carisma Michaela Wong, and Lee Ee Jenn. Notably, they received offers of admission amidst stiff competition from a global application pool of 61,220 students for the year in which the acceptance rate was the lowest in the school’s 386-year history—at only 3.19 per cent. 


9. Lee Zii Jia wins Badminton Asia Championships (BAC)

Photo: Jerry Lee & Emman Flavier/@Badminton_Asia via Twitter

National shuttler Lee Zii Jia won his final match against Indonesia’s Jonatan Christie to become the first Malaysian badminton champion in Asia since 2016, when former world no. 1 Lee Chong Wei held the title. 


10. Malaysian journalist receives Pulitzer Prize

Photo: Marcus Yam & Pulitzer

KL-born Los Angeles Times photojournalist Marcus Yam received a Pulitzer Prize for his photos of the fall of Kabul to the Taliban a year ago. According to The Times, Yam was awarded the prize for his “raw and urgent images of the US departure from Afghanistan that captured the human costs of the historic change in the country”. 


11. Malaysia achieves medal target at SEA Games 2022

Photo: @olympicmalaysia / Instagram

The Malaysian contingent surpassed the medal target of 36 golds at the SEA Games in Hanoi in May—earning 39 gold, 45 silver and 90 bronze medals in the final tally.


12. Introducing USNA’s first Malaysian female officer

Photo: Tentera Laut Diraja Malaysia / Facebook

Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) senior navy cadet officer B. Janusha made history as the country’s first female officer to graduate from the United States Naval Academy (USNA) back in June. Her achievement in the global arena even garnered praises from Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah.

13. No more mandatory death penalty

In June 2022, Malaysia announced a move to abolish the mandatory capital punishment for 11 crimes including non-violent drug offenders. However, the death penalty may still be implemented at the court’s discretion, subject to the type and seriousness of the offence, among other factors. The decision was largely welcomed by human rights groups and the general public. 


14. Renowned Malaysian zoologist remembered on Google Doodle

Google Doodle’s illustration of Dr Kim Boon Liat

Google Doodle paid tribute to late Malaysian zoologist Dr Kim Boon Liat for his contributions to the fields of zoology and conservation. Dr. Lim was credited with helping establish Zoo Negara in Kuala Lumpur, and had written over 300 scientific publications about mammalogy and parasitology. On 21 June 2003, he became the first Southeast Asian and fourth Asian to be awarded an Honorary Membership to the American Society of Mammologists (ASM). 


15. ‘Mat Kilau’ becomes highest grossing Malaysian film of all time

The Syamsul Yusof-directed film made headlines in July for collecting a whopping RM90 million in just 33 days. This made ‘Mat Kilau: Kebangkitan Pahlawan’ the highest-grossing local movie in Malaysia, beating 2018’s Munafik 2 and even Hollywood blockbuster Avengers: End Game from 2019. What made its success even more significant is the fact that the film is inspired by local folk hero from Pahang who had fought against the British Empire in the 1890s. 


16. Jason Leong joins Just For Laughs Montreal 2022 Comedy Festival (JFL)

Photo: J Comedy Production

Local comedian and viral content creator Jason Leong was announced as part of the lineup for the New Faces International Showcase at the Just For Laughs Montreal 2022 Comedy Festival (JFL), occupying one of only 10 spots open to global artistes. He was only the third Malaysian comedian to perform at JFL after Ronny Chieng and Phil Wang. 


17. Malaysian screenwriter Adele Lim becomes Oscars Academy member

Malaysian-born Crazy Rich Asians screenwriter, Adele Lim, was invited to become a member of the Oscars Academy along with Anya Taylor-Joy, Robin de Jesus, Jamie Dornan, and 397 others. She shared her excitement at the news on Twitter, saying: “Movies are a beacon for all the batty dreamers all over the world. And I am so lucky to be a tiny part of it.” Earlier in February, Disney Animation Studios’ Raya and the Last Dragon—which she co-penned—was nominated for the ‘Animated Feature Film’ Oscar award.


18. Malaysia achieves medal target at the Commonwealth Games


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A post shared by BURO Malaysia (@buromalaysia)

Malaysia surpassed its medal target of six golds at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, England this year. The contingent brought home a total of seven gold, eight silver, and eight bronze medals to take 10th place in the medal standings. 


19. Malaysia bags golden hat trick in e-sports commonwealth

The Malaysian DOTA 2 female team wins gold at the Esports Commonwealth. (Photo: Global Esports Federation)

Meanwhile, the Malaysian e-sports contingent won three gold medals at the Commonwealth E-sports Championships. Mohamad NorHaikal Mohamad Noh won the first gold meal in eFootball, after defeating Scottish player Gary McInnes in two out of three matches. The national DOTA 2 female team bagged the second gold by overcoming team England 2-0, whereas the third gold came from the DOTA 2 open category after the national team beat England 2-1. 


20. Malaysian defies more than gravity

Photo: Wan Ahmad Fayhsal / Facebook

Ravinchandran, a national climber who is also a person with disabilities (PwD), became the first Malaysian to raise the Jalur Gemilang at the K2 summit in Pakistan—the world’s second highest mountain. 


21. Meet the first Malay model to walk at Paris Fashion Week


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A post shared by rïtz (@ridzmanzidaine)

After Vanizha’s debut at Milan Fashion Week,  22-year-old Ridzman Zidaine became the first Malay model to walk at Paris Fashion Week. More impressively, he walked for some of luxury fashion’s biggest brands, including Louis Vuitton, Ermenegildo Zegna, Hermes, and Issey Miyake.


22. King accorded Turkey’s top award

Photo: Bernama

Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah graciously agreed to receive the Turkish Order of the State, in conjunction with the State Visit to Turkey in August. The highest award was presented by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the Presidential Palace, making His Majesty the first ASEAN Head of State to receive the prestigious award. In the same ceremony, His Majesty also bestowed the country’s highest award, the National Crown Seri Darjah Utama (D.M.N), to President Erdogan. 


23. Food writer honoured as ‘Empowering Educator’ in 50 Next 2022 list

Photo: Loh Yi Jun

Homegrown food journalist and podcaster Yi Jun Loh was honoured as a future leader in the global food and drink industry by the prestigious organisation behind The World’s 50 Best Restaurants. He is one of 50 individuals aged 35 and under to be included on the list this year—and one of six gamechangers under the ‘Empowering Educator’ category, which celebrates individuals transforming society through food-led learning and development. 


24. Michelle Yeoh is now a Dr.

Tan Sri Michelle Yeoh became the first Asian artist to receive the honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts degree from the American Film Institute (AFI) on August 13. Everything Everywhere All At Once directors, Daniel Kwan and Daniel Scheinert, conferred the award to their film’s Malaysian protagonist at the Hollywood TCL Chinese Theatre. 


25. Hail our badminton world champions!


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A post shared by BURO Malaysia (@buromalaysia)

Mere days before Merdeka, Malaysia’s men’s doubles badminton pair Aaron Chia-Wooi Yik made history by winning our first ever gold at the Badminton World Federation’s (BWF) World Championships. The world no. 6 pair defeated former three-time world champions Mohammad Ahsan and Hendra Setiawan of Indonesia in straight sets (21-19, 21-14) to deliver the coveted prize. 


Read more stories on Merdeka and Malaysia Day here.