Sarawak, Sabah should celebrate Aug 31, not Sept 16 – a commentary, by Tunku Abdul Aziz

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Independence was about being free from the degradation and humiliation of being a subject people.

We, of all races who love and are loyal citizens, are the legitimate inheritors of an independent Malaya.

It is about managing our own country and its destiny. It is about the Malays, Chinese, Indians, Sikhs and Eurasians living and sharing the good and bad times together.

We opened our doors so that Sabah and Sarawak (then primitive colonies that the British did not quite know what to do with as they had had enough of their tottering Empire on which the sun was setting ever so rapidly) could become independent by joining an existing Federation of States, collectively known as the Federation of Malaya that we created in 1948.

The British were abandoning their Eastern Empire because they were economically and physically exhausted but at the same time could not in all conscience leave their impoverished colonial backwater to rot on their own.

The Brits were in a dilemma and turned to us because we had succeeded more than any country in the Commonwealth to create and sustain a federation that had gone from strength to strength.

We celebrate our independence on August 31 and when you are part of us, our nation is YOUR nation.

We do not celebrate your joining our family; we celebrate one family birthday every August 31 with you.

For example, the West Indies Federation, the East African Federation, the Rhodesian Federation and many others had floundered before you could say Rule Britannia and Britannia Rules the Waves.

The Federation of Malaya saved Sabah and Sarawak, literally orphans, from being swallowed up by Indonesia and the Philippines.

It is still their choice, of course, but they do not appear to know where they are coming from.

I love Sabah in particular having served the colony for two years as a Kirkby-trained teacher on special transfer to the British North Borneo Education Department where I completed my contract with the Malayan Ministry of Education with the support of Enche’ Khir Johari, then Minister of Education and Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra al-Haj.

Sabah was not even in Malaysia then. History in the correct perspective is an important part of our education.


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