After 50 Years, It’s time to clear haze of Fuzzy History

September 6, 2013

After 50 Years, It’s time to clear haze of Fuzzy History

September 06, 2013
Latest Update: September 06, 2013 06:37 pm

Sabah-Land Below the WindMalaysia Day is More Important than Merdeka Day, say Sabahans

This is where the sun hits first, before it claims West Malaysia in the morning. Sabah is beach and sweet sea, forest and fresh water, bountiful on the surface and rich with resources deep below ground.

Its natives are still celebrating only their fourth national independence day together with their West Malaysian neighbours, so how do people here in Sabah feel about it?

Borneo Youth Revolution co-founder Sabrina Aripen responds with malaysia-at-50-Malaysia-Day_129_100_100questions on why there is still so much focus on Merdeka Day.

She argues, “Malaysia Day marks the day when Malaysia was born as a nation and it is more important than Merdeka Day. Malaya, North Borneo (Sabah) and Sarawak were colonised and gained their independence separately before Malaysia came to being.

“I feel it took way too long for the rest of the country to acknowledge the crucial fact that Malaysia was born on September 16. There is not enough emphasis on this fact, and it is just fleetingly mentioned in our history books.”

Sabah Youth Council President Kevin Lim says, “Some in West Malaysia think that Malaysia is an upgraded name for Malaya when in fact, it is a nation.

“The independence of Malaya, and later of Sabah (and Sarawak) and the formation of Malaysia are two different incidents in our history, but many are still unclear about this. This confusion also happens among Malaysians in Sabah.”

Mother-of-one Joan Goh is someone who acknowledges the fuzzy history, saying, “as to how old Malaysia really is, it seems that some people are either confused or refuse to acknowledge this fact”.

The solution to the problem of fuzzy shared memory is an open discussion on revising the history of Malaysia that is taught to children, argues clergyman Carrey Yubong. This, he said, could be done by roping in historians from the state.

But there is also a sense of Sabah remaining excluded from the centre.“As a Malaysian from Sabah, I feel excluded, as we are always treated like the stepchild,” declares Goh.

Some netizens from Sabah have in recent weeks aired their disappointment over announcements and billboards that state Malaysia is celebrating its 56th and are annoyed with wordings used on billboards that indicate Sabah has been “in” Malaysia for 50 years.

“Even though Malaysia Day is now a national holiday, I feel our shared history means nothing. We are not ‘in’ Malaysia. We formed this nation as partners and Sabah should be recognised for its contributions,” says Aripen.

“This forms the very basis of the discrimination that we feel and unless it is rectified, how can we be united as a nation under 1Malaysia?” she asks. What else contributes to this continued sense of alienation? There must be a resolution of serious issues, say Sabahans.

“Issues include provision of basic amenities, poverty eradication, education, inclusion in decision-making, creation of jobs, business opportunities and other matters,” says management consultant Azhar Othman.

Goh wants to see her son grow up in a competitive environment rather than being fed with affirmative policies. She also adds that recent events ranging from rampant shootings to the argument over the word Allah have diluted her feelings of being Malaysian.

Azhar wants the government to be serious in addressing such issues raised by Sabah and Sarawak and he for one believes Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is doing as much as he can but might be hampered by political factors.

But clergyman Yubong wants action. For example, Christians in Sabah should not be made to feel excluded or guilty for using the Malay-language Bible, considering this is their official language and the one used in public schools, he points out. Underneath this anxiety though is an acknowledgement that East and West do have a shared destiny.

Cleric Yubong says that whether some Sabahans like it or not, and if they feel included or otherwise, the fact remains that the state is part of a federation, an agreement sealed five decades ago.

“This means we share the ups and downs of our system, and what we need in Sabah is for the federation to uphold the fundamental rights of each individual and to study the needs of the people in the context of social justice. Once we affirm the dignity of each person, only then can we, as Malaysians, be proud of Malaysia Day.”

And while Goh says, “I am saddened by the actions of those running the country and others who are bent on eroding the harmony people of various backgrounds have enjoyed,” she adds that she is trying to remain optimistic as having travelled extensively, Goh feels Malaysia is the best place in the world.

Sabah Youth Council’s Lim hopes that the recognition of September 16 as a national holiday will encourage every Malaysian to better understand how the nation was created and be proud of Malaysia Day. Cleric Yubong says Malaysia Day is an opportunity for him to reflect on how he has treated fellow Malaysians who may not share the same opinions.

It is on a day like this, he says, that he asks himself, “Have I been kind, attentive and compassionate towards fellow Malaysians? Am I consciously living my days as a true Malaysian? Can I challenge myself to learn, to accept and not panic that we have diversity in this country?” – September 6, 2013–The Malaysian Insider

14 thoughts on “After 50 Years, It’s time to clear haze of Fuzzy History

  1. We must now decide on either August 31 or September 16 as our National Day. My choice is September 16 because we formed Malaysia on that day. On that day, we became Malaysians. Having two public holidays is ridiculous. Malaysia Day should be a National Day and celebrated as such. Period.–Din Merican

  2. Dato,
    Well said Sept 16 will be our day.Other dates we were colonized albeit by a different despicable breed.To Bhenji Jaswinder Chak De Patte. You have lived up to your Kler name Sat Sri Akal.

  3. Fully agreed with you Din for the very same reasons and the choice of that date will also reflect and strengthen the inclusiveness & unity of Malaya, Sabah & Sarawak forming Malaysia. Hope, Mr. Bean will not accuse me of ampu bodek.

  4. it is time to give Sarawak and Sabah self government. It has all the trappings of a neo colonialist plot.
    You mean autonomy? We need a referendum for that and that is not likely to happen. –Din Merican

  5. Its crazy just because of the two states, we chose to forget how the federation got freed from the shackle of colonialism? These two events are interlinked and important. Without the first, there is no second.

    Aug 31 remains ! Sept 16, we get half day in W.M and EM gets full day off. OK?

  6. Have always wondered why we don’t have two weeks of celebration to commemorate our independence starting from aug 31 and culminating with a grand parade like mardi gras on sept 16.
    Would be a tourist attraction that can be promoted around the world and could be owned by tourism malaysia.
    Would end this annual debate of which is the true Independence Day !

  7. “On that day, we became Malaysians. Having two public holidays is ridiculous. Malaysia Day should be a National Day and celebrated as such. Period.–Din Merican”
    You may have to take a number on that, DDM. 🙂
    That is not the only thing ridiculous about our Malaysian history, from the origin of our national anthem to the more dubious and sinister self proclamation and entitlement of “bumiputera” status to distort history.

  8. Reeperbahn,

    You mean this will enable a lot of morons to siphon off more money under the guise of patriotism? Come on, as it is our coffers are empty so it is necessary to raise petrol prices to pay for the next BRIM.

  9. August 31 is the Mother of all Independence. September 16th? Date two sons were adopted. Under the Domestic Relations law, once adopted the law does not treat them different. All links to their biological parents are forever severed. But in this case they suffered abuse at the hands of adopted parents. Applying the ‘in the interest of child’ standard, U.N. should perhaps intervene to apply the law of the international community. What say you guys??

  10. what Mr. Bean?! let UN stop Assad first, one at a time lah, the toothless tiger UN has its hands full.

    since we got independence from a foreign power after many struggles, some of them bloody, the 31st. of Aug. should be celebrated in the peninsular Malaysia in honour of all the people who gave their lives for the country.

    on the other side, Sabah and Sarawak’s support for umno-baru is robbing malaysians of a chance to free themselves from the present tyrannical regime.
    or should we celebrate it for all the petro-dollars it gave for kutty and Co.?

    what do the Sabahans and Sarawakians say?

    I was being sarcastic lah but I have a better idea; we change the calendar so that the 16th. of Sept. falls always on a Sunday. see Malaysia can Boleh everything!

  11. Sabahans are proud of their ‘country’. I have never met a Sabahan who doesn’t look upon Malaysia as a neo colonialist plot. To them they have been colonized twice, once by the Brits and this time by UMNO. As for U.N. and the Assad regime they are powerless to act. We already know that. I don’t think U.S. President Obama will act unilaterally. He has to find a way to pussy foot himself out of the position he has put himself in.

  12. “Hope, Mr. Bean will not accuse me of ampu bodek” — Ali-fafa

    There he goes again. First he does the classic ‘ampu bodek’. Then he says he hopes it will not be seen as such. Clearly Ali-fafa wants the best of both worlds. He wants to be seen as a free spirit. He says he is a teetotaler, then he asks for his usual ‘kole’ of toddy the equivalent of a setengah.

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