LABUAN September 16, 2012: Malaysia Day on September 16, is significant for the people of Sabah and Labuan, as Labuan was once under Sabah when Sabah agreed to form Malaysia together with Sarawak, Singapore and Malaya.
Director of Labuan Corporation Art, Culture and Tourism Department Mahathir Abdul Hamid said September 16 is a big day in East Malaysia as it was when we agreed to evolve our independent land to form a new country.
“From my point of view, September 16 is only truly celebrated here in East Malaysia. We are not sure in West Malaysia as they focus to celebrate National Day on August 31, annually.
“In Sabah, including Labuan, August 31 is also an important date for us as we gained independence on August 31, 1963 from the British.
Mahathir also said youngsters nowadays were living in a comfort zone and they needed guidance to appreciate the country’s history more.
He said during the recent visit by Federal Territory and Urban Well-Being Minister Datuk Raja Nong Chik Datuk Raja Zainal Abidin to Labuan, the minister praised the youngsters here as they did not commit extreme deeds like those in West Malaysia.
The minister said the youngsters here did not trample on the national flag like their counterparts in West Malaysia did, and hoped such extremism would never occur here.
Mahathir expressed the beauty of the people in East Malaysia as all East Malaysians, irrespective of their races, can have their meals in a same restaurant.
“We must maintain our unity as we are truly living the 1Malaysia concept here,” he said.
Meanwhile, his deputy Zunaidah Hamzah disclosed that September 16 was widely celebrated in Borneo, and expressed her thanks to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak who declared it a public holiday.
“By recognising Malaysia Day, it will create a sense of awareness among the people in West Malaysia about the significant date when Sabah, Sarawak, Singapore and the Federation of Malaya agreed to form a new independent country known as Malaysia,” she said.
When asked, Zunaidah said when she furthered her studies in West Malaysia in the 90s, it was normal for students from East Malaysia to experience some racist remarks from their friends in West Malaysia due to their limited knowledge about life and culture in East Malaysia.
But after 2000, there was a big change as everything went much better between West and East Malaysia, she said.
However, she did not deny that there were still some people in the country who tried to create unpleasant things which could disturb the country’s harmony.
by Adrian Nandu