KUALA LUMPUR: What’s in a name? For Mat Merdeka Embun (pic), 65, his name not only signifies his birth but also coincides with when our first prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman famously called out “Merdeka” in 1957.

The retired police officer from Kampung Gajah, Pasir Salak in Perak, is proud to carry such a name, which is also a historic event for the country.

“My father named me Merdeka because that was on everyone’s mind in 1957. So when I was born on Aug 31, he picked the name because he also admired Tunku.

“In school, people used to call me “Deka” but in my own village people call me Merdeka. With a name like that, I am often a popular target too but it is all in good faith.

“My children also get teased for being called “anak Merdeka” in school or when they go for interviews,” he told reporters at the Merdeka Children Programme, here, yesterday.

The annual programme was held in conjunction with the National Day 2022 celebration through the National Archives of Malaysia under the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry.

The event was launched by minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri, which included children born on National Day from Kuala Lumpur and Selangor.

Mat Merdeka also said that as a child, his name used to seem more like a burden but as he grew older and wiser, he learnt to appreciate its significance.

He said that led him to want to serve the country, which is why he chose to become a police officer at Bukit Aman, and retired in 2017.

“As far as the National Day celebration is concerned, it is always a meaningful event because the whole country celebrates with me, and I am always grateful for it.

“The thing about names is that when you have a unique one, you tend to stick out but I got used to it,” he said.

Earlier Nancy said the National Day celebration this year was different from the previous years as people thronged the city to commemorate the special day.

She also said those born on this day were lucky as they were able to celebrate on a grand scale among Malaysians.