Wednesday, August 17

Emphasis should be on Sept 16 not Aug 31


Political, community leaders unanimous in celebrating nation’s Independence Day on Sept 16

KUCHING: Leaders in the state transcended the political divide in agreeing that Malaysia Day on Sept 16 should be the main focus of the nation’s independence celebration and not Aug 31.

Sept 16 is the day Malaya, which gained its independence from the British on Aug 31, 1957; Sarawak on July 22, 1963 and North Borneo on Aug 31, 1963 – formed Malaysia in 1963.

Minister of Land Development Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Masing pointed out that since Sept 16 had been declared as Malaysia Day, it should be the rallying point for the nation’s unity.

“Everyone now knows that Aug 31 is Malaya’s and Sabah’s Independence Day… it’s not our independence day.

“They can celebrate it both in Malaya and in Sabah as they have the same Independence Day date, and we can join them there if they invite us. We must right the wrong,” Masing told The Borneo Post here yesterday.

Masing was commenting on Minister of Communication and Multimedia Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek’s recent proposal that Malaysia should continue to commemorate Aug 31 as its Independence Day, without mentioning the anniversary year.

“Before Sept 16, there was no Malaysia. Let everyone remember that. It’s on Sept 16 that the four independent countries namely Malaya, Singapore, Sarawak and North Borneo agreed to form Malaysia. And as everyone also knows, Singapore pulled out in 1965,” he reiterated.

Even State PKR chairman Baru Bian agreed that only Malaysia Day should be celebrated by all Malaysians.

“We can join them to celebrate Aug 31 but it’s not ours,” said the Ba Kelalan assemblyman.

He said this would be the third year in a row his constituency celebrate Malaysia Day in a big scale.

“For this year, we are going to celebrate Malaysia Day in a big scale for three consecutive days from Sept 15-17 at Long Sukang. We are expecting a big crowd there,” he disclosed, adding that the inaugural celebration was held in Long Semadoh, followed by Ba Kelalan last year.

Social activist Dato Peter Minos said he could still remember vividly the proclamation of Malaysia at the Central Padang as he was already a teenager then.

“I was in Form Three then and I was among the thousands who heard and witnessed the formal proclamation of Malaysia at the Central Padang (now Padang Merdeka) so keep Sept 16 for Malaysia Day. As for Aug 31, Sarawak shared no part in that date. But it’s alright if we have both dates each year, Independence Day and Malaysia Day, to recognise historical facts,” he said.

Minos disagreed with Ahmad Shabery that Malaysia should use the United States (US) as an example, as it was already a country with the initial formation by 14 states on July 4, 1776. The rest of the 36 states then joined later on different dates with Hawaii the last to join on Aug 21, 1959.

Deputy Speaker of the State Legislative Assembly Datuk Roland Sagah also concurred, saying that Malaysia as a country should just celebrate Malaysia Day on Sept 16.

“Aug 31 is just for Malaya and Sabah. But it’s okay if they still want to celebrate it. But Malaysia Day which falls in Sept 16 is for all Malaysians, and that’s very important because we have only one country,” stressed the Tarat assemblyman.

Welfare, Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah emphasised that it was important to put forward actual and accurate historical facts.

“History contained a series of significant events which have led to the formation of Malaysia. These facts must be made known publicly so that we know and can learn from our past,” she said.

“More importantly, we have to teach our children, the young generation and future generation actual history so that they can clearly understand the differences between Malaya’s independence on Aug 31 and Malaysia Day on Sept 16,” she added.

Chinese community leader Temenggong Lu Kim Yong, who is also the Federation Chinese Association president, agreed that it was important to recognise Sept 16 as the day Malaysia was formed.

“It should be made known so as not to confuse the people especially the younger generation ,” he explained.

On the Federal Government’s proposal to change the National Day and called it Independence Day Aug 31, Lu felt that recognising both dates (Aug 31 as National Day and Sept 16 as Malaysia Day) were equally important.

“I personally think that we could continue with all the celebrations. As fellow Malaysian, we need to respect and compromise with each other as well as take care of each other’s sensitivity,” he said.

Meanwhile, Management of Kuching Chung Hua Primary Schools No. 1-6 Committee chairman Dr Chou Chii Ming echoed Temenggong Lu’s view.

“Both dates are important in the history of Malaysia. It is a historical fact that Sept 16 is the day Malaysia was formed together with Sarawak and Sabah while Aug 31 is the date Malaya and Sabah gained independence,” he stressed.

“This is especially important for the younger generation to clearly understand these historical facts,” he said.