Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Malaysia's other forgotten Independence Day

As reported on Malaysiakini, Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim took another swipe at Barisan Nasional with his battle for Putrajaya by announcing that Pakatan Rakyat-held states will declare the annual Malaysia Day on September 16 a public holiday.

Such a decision was a good call from the Opposition which will definitely contribute towards national unity between the two parts of the country. September 16 is named Malaysia Day as it commemorates the inclusion of Sabah and Sarawak into the Malayan Federation in 1963. This event in history has been largely forgotten by Malaysians, especially the younger generation.It is unfortunate that Malaysia Day receives little attention from both the public and the federal government.

Sabah and Sarawak both gained their independence from British rule in 1963 and subsequently decided to join the Malayan Federation in the same year. The outcome gave a the federation a new name - Malaysia.

In theory, August 31 holds no significant meaning to Sabah and Sarawak as individual states. The East Malaysian states only achieved independence in 1963, 6 years later than the Peninsular. However, that does not mean they should disregard August 31 as a day of any less importance. Sabahans and Sarawakians are Malaysians after all and have every right to celebrate Merdeka Day on August 31 as citizens of this nation. But what are Peninsular Malaysians doing to respect our East Malaysian counterparts, honour their independence and celebrate their membership into the Federation?

To elevate September 16 to a national holiday does not undermine August 31 in any way. The federal government had done little to honour Malaysia Day over the years but spent tens of millions of ringgit annually for Merdeka Day on August 31. Malaysia Day on the other hand has always been a side show in our Merdeka celebrations. Is it wrong to celebrate Malaysia Day as part of our celebration of independence from the British crown? The formation of Malaysia is just as historic as our declaration of independence. Therefore, Malaysia Day should also receive the same magnitude of appreciation from the federal government.

The Opposition's policy of national unity and equality has called on it's five states (Penang, Kedah, Kelantan, Perak and Selangor) to make September 16 a state public holiday. The Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim stated that both Peninsular and East Malaysians should celebrate the occasion as one people. The state of Penang and Kelantan have already announced they will do so.

GEORGE TOWN: Penang will declare Sept 16 a public holiday. The Chief Minister said this in response to PKR adviser Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s proposal that all Pakatan Rakyat states make Sept 16 a public holiday.[The Star, 2/9/08]

KOTA BARU: Kelantan Chief Minister Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat said the state government was in favour of the proposal to declare Sept 16, the date of Malaysia's formation, as a public holiday. [The Star, 2/9/08]

Nonetheless, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng was quick to clarify that September 16 will only be made a public holiday next year. This was to give the business and academic sectors ample time to sort out any issues relating to an 'extra' public holiday on their calendar. The state of Kelantan might follow suit.

It is also not a coincidence for the Opposition to deliberately pick September 16 as the day to form a new government and put an end to Barisan Nasional's half a century of political dominance. Since the March 8 Elections, there were rumours of a number of BN MPs who would be jumping ship in the coming weeks, thus tipping the scale of power towards the Opposition. Anwar Ibrahim recently told Malaysiakini that despite the latest assurance from the Prime Minister that the ruling Barisan Nasional is still strong, the Opposition's plot to take over the the federal government on Malaysia Day is still very well on track.

The Opposition is now only a few more steps away to checkmate. Let's just hope BN does not topple the board upside down before its king is cornered.

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  1. mode de la shadow said...


    Malaysia actually do remember us sarawakians?


    when i was 7 i asked my dad this question n his reply was "don't ask so much, the police will catch u later".

    i asked the teacher, "she said, if u still want to study, dont simply ask questions."

    hmmm. for the first time in my life, i feel a strange warmth that ppl actually do care about us sarawakians.

    i am happy.