Saturday, August 31, 2019

Happy Merdeka Malaya

Happy Merdeka to Malaya (not yet Malaysia).

Today (in 2019) I have come to the conclusion, after many many years of celebrating Merdeka Day on 31 August, that 31st August is only for the celebration(s) of independence for Peninsula Malaya and not Malaysia.

Wikipedia informs us:

Chinese reaction against the MCP [Malayan Communist Party] was shown by the formation of the Malayan Chinese Association (MCA) in 1949 as a vehicle for moderate Chinese political opinion. Its leader Tan Cheng Lock favoured a policy of collaboration with UMNO to win Malayan independence on a policy of equal citizenship, but with sufficient concessions to Malay sensitivities to ease nationalist fears.

Tan formed a close collaboration with Tunku (Prince) Abdul Rahman, the Chief Minister of kedah and from 1951 successor to Datuk Onn as leader of UMNO. Since the British had announced in 1949 that Malaya would soon become independent whether the Malayans liked it or not, both leaders were determined to forge an agreement their communities could live with as a basis for a stable independent state.

The UMNO-MCA Alliance, which was later joined by the Malayan Indian Congress (MIC), won convincing victories in local and state elections in both Malay and Chinese areas between 1952 and 1955.

Then came the proposal for the formation of Malaysia (Malaya, Singapore, Brunei, Sabah & Sarawak) from Lee Kuan Yew who was then Chief Minister of British but autonomous Singapore. Initially Tunku Abdul Rahman thought the idea was impractical but Tun Razak supported it and the die was then cast.

Our beloved (Almarhum) Tunku Abdul Rahman had wanted to announce the formation of Malaysia on exactly the same day as the independence day for Malaya which had obtained its freedom from British colonialism 6 years earlier. But alas, Indonesia and Philippine objected. Wikipedia further informs us:

After negotiations in July 1963, it was agreed that Malaysia would come into being on 31 August 1963, consisting of Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore. [Brunei opted out at the last minute]

The date was to coincide with the independence day of Malaya and the British giving self-rule to Sarawak and North Borneo. However, Indonesia and the Philippines strenuously objected to this development, with Indonesia claiming Malaysia represented a form of "neocolonialism" and the Philippines claiming North Borneo as its territory.

The opposition from the Indonesian government led by Sukarno and attempts by the Sarawak United People's Party delayed the formation of Malaysia.

Due to these factors, an eight-member UN team was formed to re-ascertain whether North Borneo and Sarawak truly wanted to join Malaysia. Malaysia formally came into being on 16 September 1963, consisting of Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak, and Singapore. In 1963 the total population of Malaysia was about 10 million.

Thus, in terms of historical fact, Malaysia was formed on 16 September 1963 (and not 31 August), even though Tunku had wanted that day to be coincidental with Malaya Independence Day. But that was not to be.

Much as we love Tunku and respect his then-nostalgia for 31 August to be the same National Day for Malaysia, I believe the time has come for us to accept that 16 September is the day we Malaysians became One, and thus is our National Day of Sovereignty.


  1. Why 31st August is the Correct National Day celebration.
    The fundamental foundation of the nation was laid on 31st August 1957.

    The Constitution is essentially the 1957 Constitution, with changes made to align with Sabah, Sarawak.
    The National flag is essentially the 1957 Flag, with changes made to align with Sabah, Sarawak.
    The National Anthem is the 1957 Anthem.

    The National Coat of Arms is essentially the 1957 Coat of Arms, with changes made to align with Sabah, Sarawak.

    All the laws of Malaya 1957 remain the law of the land , unless repealed or amended by Parliament.

  2. On 16 Sept 1963 Malaya had already been an independent self-sustaining country for 6 years; it was already a parliamentary democracy, it had its own armed forces and police, it had opened many foreign missions, was recognised by nearly a hundred countries, it was a full member of the commonwealth and United Nations etc etc. The list goes on and on.

    Sabah had been “independent” for 16 days, with hardly any of the above, depending on Britain for most of it.

    Sarawak had been “independent” for 7 weeks, also with hardly any of the above.

    By any yardstick the formation of Malaysia was NOT a merger of equals. It was created when two newly established regions decided to join an already established country. And remember it was a Malayan, Tunku, who got the ball rolling and invited them to join Malaya.

    That being said I agree that after joining Malaya to form Malaysia we should now treat Sabah and Sabahans as equal partners and there should not be any distinction. MA63 or any other agreements should be fulfilled.

  3. The so-called "independence day" of Sarawak was rather contrived as on July 22, 1963, Sarawak was granted self-government on the condition that it would join Malaya, North Borneo and Singapore to form Malaysia.

    Note the phrase "self-government" was used, not "independence". This granting of self government was conditional upon it agreeing to unite with Malaya two months later.

    Same for Sabah, it was granted "self-government" status on 31 August 1963, on the condition that it would unite 16 days later to form Malaysia.

    The British were just being smart, ie they wanted the decision to unite with Malaya to be formally made by the local "self-governments" of Sarawak and Sabah, not by some white-skinned official sitting in the Foreign Office thousands of miles away in London forcing the decision on the locals.

  4. Britain contrived to grant "self-government" status to Sarawak and Sabah (then North Borneo) knowing full well that they could not stand by themselves (ie be independent) but would need to join a proven nation. That nation was Malaya. That was the pre-condition.

  5. Check out whose birthday on 16 sept? Do you think this is mere coincidence, of someone's persistence.

    1. LaoLee's birthday!

      Yr f*cked conspiracy?