Sunday, 7 September 2008
Are we celebrating 45 years of the formation of Malaysia or 51 years of Malaya’s independence?
Malaya obtained her independence from Britain on 31 August 1957 that is 51 years to this day. Sarawak, Sabah, Malaya and Singapore (Singapore left the Federation in August 1965) jointly formed the Federation of Malaysia on 16 September 1963 as equal partners and on equal footing. However, Sarawak and Sabah have been relegated to a state equivalent to Perlis or Melaka which are smaller compared to some of the divisions in Sarawak.
In fact if Sarawak were smart enough it should have negotiated for at least, at that time, five “states” comprising the five divisions. One of the divisions headed by a resident should have been headed by a governor. Had this been the case, there would have been at least 17 States in the federation of Malaysia.
Two incidents have helped change the partnerships – one was the proclamation of state of emergency in Sarawak by Parliament when the State Constitution was amended to enable the governor to dismiss Stephen Kalong Ningkan as chief minister in 1966. And the other incident was the May 13 1969 racial riots.
Never mind about all this part of our history as nothing we can do about it. But what I would like to ask here is: why are we celebrating the 31 August as Merdeka Day and not 16 September as Malaysia Day? To us in Sarawak, and for that matter the Sabahans, 16 September has greater historical significance as it was the day we were liberated from the yoke of colonialism when we formed the federation of Malaysia. Celebrating it also means we are honouring the memories of our forefathers and the security forces whose efforts, sacrifices and loyalty in the fight against “Indonesian confrontation” and communist terrorism and as a result of their sacrifices we are today enjoying the peace, prosperity and unity.
Especially, I would like to highlight the sacrifices and dedication of our leaders such as Temenggong Jugah, Pengarah Montegrai, Tun Abang Haji Openg, Yao Cheng Hoe, Ling Beng Siew, James Wong and Remigius Durin anak Nganau who negotiated our terms and conditions of our entry into the federation of Malaysia.
I feel that the least the State government should do is to declare 16 September a public holiday rather than observing the nearest Saturday to 16 September as the birthday of Yang Dipertua Negeri. I do not mean to be disrespectful to the Yang Dipertua Negeri.
By the way, all the five States under Pakatan Rakyat have agreed to declare 16 September as a public day to celebrate Malaysia Day. Bernard Dompok, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department and some Sabah State ministers have also voiced similar sentiments.
So far none of the Sarawak leaders has expressed anything to the effect, even though the State acknowledges in its Almanac that 16 September is “Hari Malaysia” with the words printed in small print.
It is really sad.