Celebrating Independence Day in Malaysia


That’s right, you will never see me or hear I say “Happy Independence Day Malaysia” because that is factually incorrect.

I saw a post on Facebook the other day, asking their audience what their opinions are on the spirit of Merdeka. The first line of that post stated, ” This year marks Malaysia’s 57th Independence Day”, and naturally, being the passionate Sarawakian that I am, I commented back “Not Malaysia, but Malaya. Malaysia did not exist until 1963.”

Here’s the deal – call me ignorant or blame the school textbooks – but back when I was in school, the whole 5 years of studying sejarah (history) I learned that Sabah and Sarawak gained Independence through the formation of Malaysia. I carried that “knowledge” until I went to college, where I learned from Wikipedia that Sarawak had gained Independence before forming Malaysia, in Malaysian Studies. Now, tell me how messed up is that??

As a rakyat residing in Malaysia, I cannot ignore 31st August, because without that historical day, Malaysia most likely would not have existed. But everyone need to stop saying “Happy Independence Day Malaysia” every year on the 31st of August for a simple fact that Malaysia was only formed on the 16th of September in 1963!

And then saying “Happy Malaysia Day” later is just redundant.

So, let me answer the questions posted by Stuff@School:

Unity:
I grow up moving around and thus moving schools. When I was the new kid, the only question that I was familiar with is “Where are/were you from?” That changed when I went to a new school in PJ and my new classmates then (now bffs fo evah) asked me 3 questions: “Are you Chinese?” “Are you Malay?” “Then, what are you?”

Unity to me, comes from the mentality of not segregating along the lines of race and religion. I’m best friends with great people not because of their race and/or religion, simply because I’m in love with their personality. To me, I see that the only reason for anyone to learn about everybody’s background is to be prihatin (mindful) of each and everyone’s culture, as well as being able to respect their personal choices and lifestyle.

I don’t believe the younger generation is to be blamed for the “threat of unity”. That’s just an excuse. Schools have the opportunity to raise one generation after another about the importance of tolerance and unity. Parents and older family members share the same responsibilities by teaching their children and young ones to love and have a sense of compassion and understanding towards the people around them. Take these away and have them live and grow up among a society of ignorance and they will grow up ignorant.

Standing in unity is as easy as taking the initiative to give everybody a chance in your life and putting aside the differences. It’s not rocket science and certainly not a place for anyone to point fingers at, because ultimately it comes back down to us – are we doing what we can to continue standing in unity? Your (collective) answers determine the future of Malaysia 50 years down the line. So, if we’re still pointing fingers, we are NOT doing this right.

Spirit of Merdeka:
Personally, 31st of August means almost nothing to me. But, tell me, what is highlighted every year in conjunction with Merdeka? 🙂

No, I have never experienced the need to fight with my life to be independent from the British colony, Japanese army, and communism. In fact, Merdeka to me is more than just a mental note that we have been independent for more than 50 years (including Sabah and Sarawak). What we often forget (and casually be reminded through Petronas ads) is a simple exercise of unity through love and understanding. We’re different yet one and the same when we share the same vision, hopes, and dreams.

Every year, I celebrate Independence Day in Malaysia by remembering that I’m blessed to live in a country blossomed with beautiful cultures, delicious food, colourful personalities, and stunning landscapes. What more could I ask for? 🙂

Hariati Azizan of The Star approached me after my comment on the post, asking, “How can we make Merdeka more inclusive for our Sabah and Sarawak brothers and sisters?” Here are my answers:

I took part in the Bacaan Ikrar two years ago wearing an Iban traditional costume (known as the ngepan), which was handmade by my grandmother. After the celebration at Dataran, I could not walk for more than two steps because a lot of people wanted to take a picture with me. They complimented the colourfulness of my costume. They asked which tribe I represented. I would love to do that again. 😀

On the other hand, my mom is part of the formation team. Every year they would come up with new formations, complementing the year’s theme. And so I thought, why not incorporate traditional dances as well?

Imagine watching this on your TV: Several different traditional dances of 2-3 minutes each, with captions talking about the history or meanings behind each dance. I mean, if they can choreograph with a big team of students every year, why not have a special segment just to showcase the colourful and talented side of Malaysia?

I can already imagine a medley of traditional songs put together for a series of traditional dances. One can only dream!

31st of August is the most celebrated day in Malaysia. And every year to celebrate we have a little bit more gratitude within ourselves of our beautiful country, where we eat more nasi lemak and roti canai, drink more teh tarik, hang out more with our machas and apeks, cry over Petronas ads, and the list goes on! That to me are unity and the spirit of Merdeka in a nutshell.

So, do me a favour, guys. There is no such thing as Malaysia’s Independence Day. Tell yourself that and share the word around. Remind everybody!

I’ve been told that I am a party-pooper but y’all know I have nothing against the yearly grand celebration. As a Sarawakian it’s important for me to remember July 22nd and September 16 as I feel that the Merdeka Celebration has overshadowed those dates for as long as I can remember. Did you guys know that Sabah’s Independence Day is also 31st of August?? I didn’t. I found out the same day I learned about Sarawak’s Independence Day! Sabah and Sarawak most definitely did not gain independence through the formation of the Federation of Malaysia. lol

At the end of the day, we as Malaysians stand in unity with undeniable pride, waving our Malaysian flags like the there’s no tomorrow, simply because we love our beloved country. I just have one little wish, that is to have the media and our government to stop saying “Malaysia’s Independence Day” like nobody’s business. The amount of people taken aback when I tell them that there is no such thing as “Malaysia’s Independence Day” is still shocking.

Enough about that.

This year I’m “celebrating” Merdeka a little different. I’m at work, and not in a downtown KL hotel like I’d usually be every year. Most definitely will miss the morning’s celebration as work will only be done at the earliest, 4. This girl gotta catch up on her sleep! She and the family will be in PD right after the celebration. She misses the beach a lot. x

Here are my #throwback pictures from 2 years ago. 😀

With my East Malaysian girls! :D | I don't remember seeing a Sabah flag so I guess that's why we just jumped into the picture with the Sarawak flag xD
With my East Malaysian girls! 😀 | I don’t remember seeing a Sabah flag so I guess that’s why we just jumped into the picture with the Sarawak flag xD

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Taking our oath as Malaysians.
Taking our oath as Malaysians.
Photography session with random rakyat/foreigners.
Photography session with random rakyat/foreigners.
Interview with TV3.
Interview with TV3.

Happy Independence Day, Malaya & Sabah. 🙂

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Author: melinya

one day, i wanna wake up, pack my stuff and just go on a random trip.

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