KOTA KINABALU September 12, 2012: Malaysia Day which falls on September 16 annually is gaining recognition and is now a national public holiday but not many are aware of the significance of the date.
It was in 1963 when Malaysia was ‘born’ with Sabah, Sarawak, Malaya and Singapore coming together to form a country called ‘Malaysia’.
To Sabahans, this is a very important date in its history and many, including its leaders, have always stressed that the historical fact be accurate.
Several leaders when asked for their opinion on the significance of celebrating Malaysia Day on September 16, said it is to commemorate the formation of Malaysia and symbolizes the unity of the people.
Liberal Democratic Party president Datuk VK Liew said, “It is a patriotic national day for all of us in Malaysia to commemorate the formation of our nation 49 years ago.
“Let us move forward as one united nation. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future,” the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department said.
PBS Youth chief Datuk Jahid Jahim was of the opinion that September 16 is very significant because it has a historical value, in a sense, that it is the date when Malaysia was formed.
“It is the turning point of our future and together with it, comes along all the promised conditions and safeguards for our state. While we celebrate and give the date its prominence in the nation’s calendar, everyone must also be reminded that Sabah’s position in the federation is special and this must be given recognition forever by our national leaders as policy implementers at all levels.
“Only then the feeling of togetherness will grow naturally. I would like to accord special thanks to our Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak who has been very sincere and honest in his efforts to put Sabah back to its rightful status as envisaged by our forefathers when they negotiated the formation of this Malaysian nation.
“Now is the time to unite and give Najib the full support he needs to carry out his mission which had the welfare of the people in mind,” the Tamparuli assemblyman said.
PBS Liawan chief Datuk Jake Nointin said celebrating Malaysia Day on September 16 not only reminds the people of the important day but also sets the record straight historically for the younger generation about the formation of Malaysia.
“Without the consensus of the four regions, Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore although the Singapore withdrew two years later, there would have been no Malaysia,” he said.
Umno Penampang deputy chief Datuk Fredie Sua was of the opinion that September 16 is the most important day for all Malaysians to remember and celebrate as it is the day a new country called Malaysia was born.
“It is our country’s birthday and in addition of celebrating Merdeka month, we should have Festival Bulan Penubuhan Malaysia to commemorate the fact that Malaysia was born 49 years ago,” Fredie opined.
Assistant Finance Minister Datuk Donald Mojuntin stressed that Malaysia Day bears great significance to all Malaysians. It is a day to commemorate the birth of the Malaysian nation.
He said the Federation of Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore came together to form Malaysia on 16 September 1963, although interestingly, the formation of the new nation was actually planned for on June 1, 1963, but for the Indonesian confrontation and the objection posed by The Philippines to the formation of Malaysia, resulted in the declaration to have been postponed to September 16, 1963.
The postponement was also to facilitate the Cobbold Commission to assess the people’s response in North Borneo and Sarawak towards the Malaysia plan, Mojuntin explained, said Mojuntin who is also Moyog assemblyman and UPKO information chief.
According to him, prior to the formation of Malaysia, North Borneo as it then was, gained its independence from Britain on August 31, 1963 and became a nation known henceforth as Sabah.
“This is the reason why the national independence day coincides with Sabah’s independence day.
“It is a fact that Sabah was an independent country for 16 days until Malaysia was formed on September 16, 1963.
“Better late than never, Malaysia Day has been declared a national public holiday, and to Sabahans this is significant because it gives recognition to the fact that Sabah was an independent nation when it entered the Malaysia Agreement to form Malaysia together with Malaya, Sarawak and Singapore.
“Sabah did not ‘join’ Malaysia as some have perceived it to have been and to have been actually uttered publicly by a few others, either intentionally or inadvertently,” Mojuntin stressed.
Mojuntin, who is also Moyog assemblyman and UPKO information chief, said that Malaysia Day also signifies unity, tolerance and mutual respect among the country’s citizens irrespective of race, religion, culture and traditions.
“It commemorates the start of the long road to social harmony which is a critical element for peace, development, economic growth and political stability in our beloved country.”
by Nancy Lai and Jenne Lajiun