To many Malaysians, it is just another public holiday. But 16 September is not just another pulbic holiday. It is a day full of significance for our country. Yet, many of our people do not understand the significance of this date and what it reminds us. Allow me to remind us its significance.
The Day Malaysia was Formed Without 16 September, there would be no Malaysia.
Malaysia was formed by 4 former British colonies and protectorates under the decolonisation of British colonies. The possible fate that awaits British public as a colonised state of Third Reich may have a part in changing British psyche towards her colonies. It is further helped by the fact that US, in their assistance of their former coloniser during the Second World War, proded the British to decolonise their Empire. Which is rather ironic, as the Americans continued to occupy Guam, American Virgin Island, Hawaii and Puerto Rico till this day.
The sentiment was also helped by the British recent experience in the Suez Canal crisis, also known as the Second Arab - Israeli War. The failure to secure Suez Canal permanently affected British's capability to support the territories in Far East, including the territories that made up Malaysia.
Though they did continue to support both Malaysia and Singapore after the separation and the end of Konfrontasi, the support came in the form of a 5-party defence pact, whereby if either Malaysia or Singapore faces possibility of war, the British together with Australia and New Zealand would come to support either nation militarily. This resulted in creation of 2 joint operation centres, one in Butterworth manned by RAAF, and one in Sembawang, the naval version of the FPDA operations.
That is the military side of Malaysia Day. Now let us examine the political side of this formation.
Originally, Malaysia was supposed to be formed on 31 August. It was supposed to be formed by independent territories to remove the stigma and accusation that the formation of Malaysia was a British neo-colonisation idea. To prepare for this, Sarawak had declared her independence on 22 July 1963, in anticipation of this formation. Sabah and Singapore choose to declare theirs on 31 August 1963.
But this led to an outcry in Sarawak, led by SUPP under Ong Kee Hui. The manner how the referendum was held to obtain the public consensus had resulted in a public uproar. The referendum, held by the Cobbold Commission set up by all stakeholders had sought views not from the public, as one expects a referendum is supposed to be, but had only sought views from local leaders. Majority of these leaders, consist of headmens, Capitans of various communities accepted the formation of Malaysia.
This outcry gave Indonesia and the Philippines an opportunity to lodge a last minute protest to the United Nations. As Indonesia was also part of NAM, or Non-Alligned nations Movement, the protest gained the support of the UN Security Council which led to the formation of Malaysia had to be stopped. The study made by the Commission were studied again, and the new date was set on 16 Sept 1963. By then, only 20% of the sampled population were found to be against the formation of Malaysia.
What was not pointed out was that much of the support for formation of Malaysia had been due to the rebellion in Brunei led by A. M. Azahari. The Brunei revolt had also resulted in Limbang town falling to the hands of these rebels before they were put down by British Royal Marines. The revolt in Bandar Seri Bagawan itself were put down by British Army with support from Sarawak Rangers.
What does this entail for Malaysia?
The events that led to the change in date had resulted continuous dissent especially amongst East Malaysians. Some sector of Sabahan and Sarawakian had formed various groups that call for seccesion from Malaysia. In fact, during the early days of the formation, some of these disgruntled individuals had either joined Partai Rakyat Kalimantan Utara (PARAKU) or Parti Gerakan Rakyat Sarawak (PGRS), both part of Communist Clandestine Organisation based in Sarawak. Majority of them were members of SUPP, though this was denied by Ong Kee Hui, which is plausible as he may not have realised that CCO had inflitrated his organisation.
These days, there exist a few school of thoughts on this day. The first school consists of people who accepted the fact that the Federation is the best thing that have had happened. This school of thought is further divided into two groups, one believing that the formation was made between 14 states, while the second group believes that the formation was made between 4 independent territories.
The second school of thought believes that Sabah and Sarawak should secede. The voice for this group grew hidden from public eyes especially in the 80's and 90's when modernisation of Peninsular Malaysia exploded, largely from funds obtained from petroleum exploration in both Sabah and Sarawak. Their views became mainstream soon after the abolishment of Internal Security Act in 2012 by then Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak. While the group does have a reason for dissent, the premise isn't quite correct as large swathe of Peninsular Malaysia too are still not modernised.
The third, far more dangerous group consist of those that viewed the formation of Malaysia as an occupation of Sabah and Sarawak. How far are their influence is unknown.
While it is true without Sabah and Sarawak, there would be no Malaysia, it is also true that without Malaya, there would also be no Malaysia.
The Armed Forces Day There are 3 branch of services in Malaysian Armed Forces, with all 3 having different dates of formation. As there were no common date, 16 September was chosen as Armed Forces Day to remind Malaysians of the sacrifices made by members of all 3 services, regardless of race and religion.
These men and women had fought hard to ensure the continuing sovereignty of this nation, serving this nation in various capacity not only in country but also overseas. Many had lost limbs, and the privileged few had paid for us with their lives. They have our eternal gratitude.
To the men and women of the Armed Forces, former members, and to those who had passed on to the other realm, thank you for your service to this nation. May the memories of those who paid with their lives be remembered eternally.
The Day Chin Peng Died Chin Peng, whose real name is Ong Boon Hua, was believed to be born in Setiawan, Perak. Lack of birth certificate as evidence made it difficult to confirm this. From 1948 until 1989, he had led the Malayan Communist Party (MCP) on a campaign of terror against Malaysian government, ostensibly to fight for independence. The fact remains that after the British had left in 1948, he and his men continued to fight against the independent governments of Malaysia and Singapore as the real intention was to set up a communist republic in Malaya.
The real intention was further confirmed and sealed in a party conference held in Vietnam where MCP confirmed that their intention was to destroy the government of Malaysia. This was evidenced in a book written by former AWAS and Communist stalwart, Shamsiah Fakeh.
Conclusion So there you have it.
The formation of Malaysia. Is it a boon, or a bane? That is not for us to argue but to determine. It will be a bane if we choose to keep quiet of what is right. But it will be a boon to all, especially if each and every Malaysian work for the betterment of our nation.
The differing political views that divide most of us should not be the reason why we should not love our country. Even many of us do not agree with the government for various reasons, we are still one nation, under one Yang DiPertuan Agong. Let us make this deal the Malaysia deal a boon to all.
Happy Malaysia Day.
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