TODAY, 46 years ago, a country was born.
It was a merger of four independent nations – North Borneo (now Sabah), Sarawak, Singapore and Malaya – forming the Federation of Malaysia.
Each nation gained its independence separately starting with Malaya on August 31, 1957; Sabah on the same date six years later, Sarawak on July 22, 1963 and Singapore on August 9, the same year.
But yet, despite its historical formation, Malaysia’s ‘birthday’ is left redundant. Many grew up with misconceptions that Malaysia was born when the two states – Sabah and Sarawak – joined the country.
“We formed the country. It is a merger. I have raised the matter that we are distorting history. We are not telling the history of Malaysia as it happened. It seems that we are giving the impression that Malaysia started on August 31, 1957,” said Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok.
Dompok, who has been very vocal on the issue, stressed that the level of the people’s awareness is mostly confined to Malaya’s history.
“The level of awareness among Malaysians in Peninsular Malaysia on the formation of Malaysia is lower than those in the East Malaysia, so much so they believe Malaya is Malaysia.
“We often hear some newscasters on national televisions saying ‘Malaysia, termasuk Sabah dan Sarawak’ (Malaysia, including Sabah and Sarawak) … why is this happening? Are the two states not included as part of Malaysia that they have to stress it out? Those terms should go,” he said.
The United Pasokmomogun KadazanDusun Murut Organisation (Upko) president said it is also sad that some of the country’s leaders are ignorant of this fact.
Once, Dompok recalled, someone likened the situation in the Malaysian history to that of the United States of America.
“We must understand that the four nations joined together to form a new federation which they all agreed to call Malaysia. As for independent nations like Hawaii, like any other nations after that, they joined USA, which did not involve any changes to the name … so there is a difference,” he explained.
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