I was overjoyed when I heard over the TV1 news yesterday that the Federal Government has finally agreed to make Malaysia Day a public holiday for all the 13 states of Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak included. The Malaysia Day issue has been a sore point in the relations between the eastern and western states of Malaysia for many years . I have written at least three posts on this issue here and here and again here.
Malaysia was formed on 16th September,1963 when the ex- British colonial states of Sabah, Sarawak and the Malay States of Malaya decided to form a Federation despite being distanced and separated by the South China Sea. The one anomaly in Malaysian history that remained uncorrected and purposely avoided by generation of Malaysian top leaders was the fact that while the act of forming the modern federalised political entity was a major historical landmark, it was never given official recognition and a source of pride by setting aside a day like a public holiday to remember it. Forty five(45!) years have passed and yesterday it was finally agreed by Federal leaders that it is time to give due recognition to the eastern states of Malaysia for their sacrifice and compromise in teaming up with the Malayan states to form Malaysia. Of course, it will be in the interest of historians in future to outline the reasons why and how the decision was made. But to me, living in the present I am more inclined to give my version of what made the Prime Minister changed his mind. Najib has always been adamant about the demands of the peoples of Sabah and Sarawak. Why did he change his mind? For one thing, the politics in West Malaysia has been bad for UMNO ( Najib's ruling party) recently where in the last election it lost five (5) states to the opposition parties. It could remain in power today because the eastern states of Sabah and Sarawak are giving UMNO full support by siding UMNO at the Parliamentary level. Assuming both states withdraw their support, UMNO would sit on the opposition bench - a dreadful thought for any UMNO leader. Secondly, I find that despite the hype about" One Malaysia" concept mooted by Najib ( since he took over the reins of the government a few months ago) the states of Sabah and Sarawak gave it a lukewarm response for reasons we all understand ( if you are a Sarawakian or a Sabahan). I am speculating here. But could it be that the celebration to commemorate Malaysia Day in Kuching recently with its dismal turnout made Najib radically revise his calculations? What do Sarawakian leaders and peoples want to show? Thus in a pre-emptive move he quickly announced yesterday the need to make Malaysia Day a public holiday. Najib is listening and Sarawak gets what it wants without begging.
I saw these school kids during a rehearsal at the Padang Merdeka where the Malaysia Day celeberation was to be held. But wait. It was held on the 10th of October and not the 16th? Why the anomaly? Beats me! but when you jumble dates irresponsibly and get cold faces looking at you, what is the implication? Anyway, the show went well that evening because the end of year rains did not fall to scatter the crowd.
8 years ago