KOTA KINABALU: 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.
Former State Secretary Tan Sri Simon Sipaun pointed out that all the three regions have different dates of independence, Malaya 31 August 1957, Sabah 31 August 1963 and Sarawak, July 22 1963.
“We cannot be celebrating Independence Day on the same day, there is no logic. To me if the government is sincere and genuine in uniting the country, it should celebrate the birthday of the country called Malaysia which falls on September 16, 1963.
“Genuine unity cannot be achieved through distortion of historical facts but must be based on historical facts. The best way is to celebrate national day, that means September 16,” Sipaun stressed.
A random interview of the public showed that Malaysia Day is an important day to them as it marks the formation of Malaysia as a country.
Tertiary student Reena Azreena said Merdeka Day is an equally important day as it marked the day when Malaya gained independence .
“Hence, in my opinion, both dates are important. But Malaysia Day should take precedence. Unfortunately, not many share the same view and disregard Malaysia Day as a historical day. They forget that Malaysia was formed in 1963 when Malaya, Sarawak and Sabah joined together. Without the merging together of these, there would be no Malaysia,” she said.
Journalist-turned-entertainer Janrywine Lusin opined that the events that occurred during Malaysia Day should not be forgotten.
“Malaysia Day should be honoured as that moment in history where the aspiration of a country to achieve freedom and independence is attained,” he said.
He urged for a further understanding of Malaysia Day and said it would be strengthened when we know the facts behind the formation of Malaysia.
“For me, Sabah attained independence much more earlier, but there was a need for a strong cooperation during that time to help foster development. Hence, Malaysia Day can be thought of as a bonus to the people of Sabah in order to realise its aspiration as an independent nation.”
“Without a doubt, there are a lot of differences in opinion in the matter among all levels of the community as to when Malaysia was formed. Who formed who? But if the matter is studied intensely, we all needed each other during that time and filled up the void that occurred after we reached independence.”
Businesswoman Nora Arin expressed her pride of being a Malaysian and she appreciated Malaysia Day wholeheartedly.
“Forty-nine years ago on this day, Sabah and Sarawak entered into the Federation and formed Malaysia. Since then Malaysians from both sides of the South China Sea have benefited from this alliance and have grown by leaps and bounds. Let us all not forget that and keep the peace and harmony we enjoyed thus far. Happy Malaysia Day!”
Pameler Alexander from Papar also lauded Malaysia Day as the independence day.
She defined independence as freedom from being governed by any foreign government or country.
“It is the freedom to choose our own government and leaders, freedom to a religion,” she said.
by Nancy Lai and Jenne Lajiun