It’s August 31st yet again and traditionally a day when we officially celebrate the independence of our country.
However, as we all know, this year it is a double celebration as this August 31st coincides with our Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations, as well.
So our August 31st this year celebrates both Merdeka AND Raya, and naturally someone came up with the rather witty “Merdeka Raya” celebration theme.
For some Sarawakians (myself included) though, we have always had mixed feelings about celebrating independence day on August 31st, since the two important dates for Sarawak are actually July 22, 1963 (when we were actually a nation/state under self-rule) and then there’s September 16th , 1963 (when we officially FORMED Malaysia with the Federation of Malaya and Sabah, and Singapore).
This is especially so when someone points out that we’re celebrating our 54th year of independence from the British.
It’s all rather confusing for Sarawakians, because 54 years ago, we were still under British rule.
Maybe to make it easier for people, in future why don’t we just scrap the numbers and just call it our independence day celebrations?
No need to call it 55th Merdeka lah or 56th Merdeka lah.
Without the numbers involved, we’re actually celebrating the sacrifices of our forefathers in achieving independence for our beloved nation, regardless of whether this achievement was 54 years ago or (more accurately for Sarawak) 48 years ago.
I do not wish to take away the significance of August 31st because for our beloved nation, that day 54 years ago was an important first step towards the formation of Malaysia.
Without the events of August 31st, 1957, we may not have had the Federation of Malaya and without the Federation of Malaya, we may not have had the Federation of Malaysia that we have now.
So make no mistake, August 31st is an important date for ALL Malaysians and we should all celebrate it as true patriotic Malaysians.
And as true patriotic Sarawakians, we must all acknowledge these facts, while acknowledging that as a State, we have progressed greatly through our partnership with Sabah and Malaya these past 48 years and we hope this beneficial partnership between the East and the West continues on forever.
Selamat Hari Merdeka to all my fellow Malaysians!