BN government need forty-seven years to recognise Malaysia Day officially

I am sad. I am sad because I am told by my government that I must celebrate the Independence Day of my country on the 31st of August. But what is so wrong about this that it makes me sad?

Let me tell you. If you don’t like dry and boring history lessons, you can leave my blog now. But if you have ten minutes to spare, read on.

The Federated States of Malaya which comprised all the nine Sultanates, Malacca and Penang were given their independence by Great Britain on the 31st of August, 1957.

It is the iconic image of Tunku Abdul Rahman proclaiming independence for Malaya. Yes, MALAYA. Not Sarawak, not Sabah, but MALAYA. And this date became known as MERDEKA DAY. For the Federated States of MALAYA.

Then, six years later, Sarawak was given her independence. On the 22nd of July, 1963. Bet you didn’t know that the 22nd of July is an historic date for Sarawak, huh? Of course you wouldn’t.

It has probably been wiped off the official history text books, or glossed over during history classes. But if you buy a copy of the Sarawak Government Almanac, it’s there in black and white. The British gave up Sarawak on the 22nd of July, 1963 and on that day we became an independent nation. A country all of our own. Our own flag, our own anthem and even our own money!

Then, fifty five days later, after the British granted her independence, Sarawak, together with Sabah, Singapore, and the Federated States of Malaya came together to form a new nation called MALAYSIA on the 16th of September. This date, the 16th of September, 1963, came to be known as MALAYSIA DAY because it was on this historic day that a brand new country was born in the world. (Singapore got ‘kicked out’ later but Malaysian history books politely claim she decided to withdraw from the new nation. Brunei was also involved in the discussions to form Malaysia but it too decided against the idea.)

However, gradually, Malaysia Day became forgotten through, I suspect, a subtle and systematic process of brainwashing on the part of the Barisan Nasional government. More and more emphasis was placed on Merdeka Day and Malaysia Day was ignored, its significance eroded and displaced by Merdeka Day. Merdeka Day became a public holiday, and the whole country began to get caught up in celebrations come every 31st August.

Young Sarawakian school children were, and still are taught to wave flags and jump for joy come 31st August because on this date Malaysia achieved her independence. Now if you have been paying attention, you will obviously have noticed that there is a factual error in the previous sentence. Malaysia DID NOT achieve her independence on the 31st of August, 1957 simply because Malaysia had not existed yet! It was only Malaya which achieved her independence on the 31st of August, 1957; Malaysia was only formed six years AFTER Malaya achieved independence.

The date 31st of August means very little to me as a Sarawakian and yet I am told by my government to honour this date on the basis that I am a citizen of Malaysia and therefore as a proud and loyal Malaysian, I should jump and shout for joy that Malayans received their independence on the 31st of August despite the fact that I am also a Sarawakian and this date has little significance to me. This date did not affect my beloved Sarawak in any way whatsoever and has never been part of its rich history, so what is there to celebrate or what memory is there to honour and cherish for a Sarawakian? Sarawak achieved her independence on the 22nd of July but the government does not give this date any due recognition. Instead, I am to celebrate a date which has more significance for my fellow Malaysians in West Malaysia. That is why I am sad.

Malaysia Day, the 16th of September, 1963, however, means a lot to me. It was the date my beloved Sarawak became a part of a new nation, standing tall and proud in the world amongst other independent nations. Shouldn’t this date when we officially became a country take centre-stage in our history as a nation?

And yet, it was only last year that the Barisan Nasional government decided to recognise Malaysia Day and grant it ‘public holiday’ status. And only because Pakatan Rakyat ‘reminded’ the BN government. It actually took the BN government forty-seven years to recognise Malaysia Day officially!

But the question on my mind is why did the BN government try to sweep Malaysia Day under the carpet and dispatch it to the annals of history to be conveniently forgotten? And why do I suspect that there is a conspiracy going on to distort and blur the story of the formation of Malaysia?

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