Thursday, September 18, 2008

16th or 31st?

Article submitted for Malaysia Today


Today marks the 45th year that the Federation of Malaya, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak formed Malaysia. Some argue that the 16th September 1963 should be the National Day (Malaysia Day) and not 31st August 1957. I am indifferent to the whole debate.

“45 or 51 years of independence…sama saja bah kan dad? They’re just numbers anyway,” I nonchantly say to my father as he reads his morning papers; prior to our trip back to my paternal grandparents home.

He puts down his newspaper and chides, “Pon, don’t you know our history?”

I brace myself for a long lecture. Just as I begin zoning off, (an art I’ve learnt to do well after much practice growing up), I am incongruously captivated by my father’s rapt history-telling.

Could it be, that dad has finally found a loophole to my listening skills which were flouting? Or was I (gasp!), sitting on one side of the fence now?

Growing up, my father was the disciplinarian of the family. He was no tyrant, but he instilled enough respectful fear within us, to make sure we did ‘no nonsense’. Blaming my middle child syndrome, he had quite a tough time with me. Not only did I do the complete opposite of what was suggested, I deliberately contested every statement or story that he told my siblings and I. Looking back, I disputed him not because I was inquisitive, but for the mere sake of arguing. I had (foolishly) thought, that as long as we were communicating, even if we were at each other’s throats disputing one another, we were talking. Strange but true.

Fast forward the years, I am back home for my Balik Kampung shoot (ROAD HOME WITH SMILES; OCT 22nd 9pm ntv7) where I take viewers to my hometown and show them places where I grew up. My semi-retired father, has been given the job to be my driver and our tour guide – a role he does well with much endearing pride.

So here I am, less rebellious with my little Isobel in tow, listening to my father’s justification on why the 16th September 1963 is a significant day for the Sabahans and Sarawakians; minutes before we are to meet the crew for a trip down to Tambunan.

Enlightening us, I ignored the natural response to debate. I was no longer apathetic. I was enthralled and mesmerized and I was LISTENING. I finally understood why he silently, along with some other not-so-silent citizens, was ‘fighting’ for the acknowledgement of this date. As the rest of the family joins in to our discussion, he shares his sentiments on our current political situation and we laugh at some comical suggestions he makes for the ‘betterment of the country’.

He gently takes Isobel away from me and holds her high above his head, an affection routine he did with my siblings and I. She squeals in delight and as he swirls her around he lovingly says to her, “Bel, aki sayaaaang you bah…you don’t be like your mum kio? Don’t be ignorant about your history…know your roots…understand your culture and always be humble kio?” My instinct to correct him was abandoned as I saw the cheeky twinkle in my daddy’s eyes reflected back to his grand-daughter.

Yes. Today is the 16th September, the date when the Federation of Malaya, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak formed Malaysia. So, is the 31st August or 16th September the National Day? I am sure this discussion will continue to be debated amongst ourselves, but till an official decision is made, I am happy to know the thorough history behind these dates. Ignorance is not all bliss. And I’ll make sure Isobel knows this too.


  1. Daphne…

    It’s good if u will let ur girl knows bout the sept 16th…
    However, I’m confused why peninsular don’t really care bout this special date.
    Without this date (16.09), there is no Malaysia.

  2. Malaysia History will always be in all of us Malaysians. We have to cherish that moment as it was the end of the suffering and difficulties in that time. Without this Indipendance Day we all might not be here typing our blog or even enjoying what we have.
    We are united as one and unique. There is not other country that share this harmony which we have.
    Teach our children the past and the upcomings as it is our duty to do so.

    Long Live and Loved All Malaysians.

  3. Like you, I'm a Sabahan too and yes, I get that kind of question all the time (by myself and other people)
    But dates are just dates. The main thing is that we know and embrace the fact that no matter how great or little our differences are, we can still and want to, willingly be a Malaysian.

  4. well, if at the beginning, we choose 16 September as the national day, by time there will be a people (with some interest) will ask for 31 august to be set as the national day. It a funny thing how Politic-Person can manipulate sensitive issue to get attention and follower. Thing like this, will make a sincere-Wakil-Rakyat to believe that someone have been left behind and surely, the sincere man will play his role beliving his on the right track rather than see than some one has been using them. Don't there want another 13 mei to be happen again? a massive 13 mei????? and just so they can go 'up there'... Hey, I losing my freindly-nation here. don't you guy see Malay and Chinese have becoming too-part from each other? and now, they using Sabah and Sarawak too.

  5. Dear Daphne..

    I think any date that's significant to Malaysia should be acknowledged. Without history, we would not have Malaysia Today!!

    hehe .. :) :)

  6. remember long time ago....tanah melayu doesn't want to recognize this date (16th sept) cos we aren't melayu..but we are actually bumiputera and puteri's...and ministers (top post are trying to rid of this date in our history)....

  7. seeing that we are a nation that loves public holidays...i say both. both dates are important to our history. without august 31st we may have not had september I say..both dates!

    p.s. daphne-my first time are absolutely a stunnner and i love reading your blog.

  8. sarawak + sabah ++++= Malaysia

  9. alah..daphne..i miss d show..ada lagi kai tu ulangan a??

  10. you know why there is no celebration on 16/ dated long time ago when tunku abdul rahman want the malaysian to remember only 1 the 16/9 was ditched...maybe because of the 'perpaduan' kinda stuff...

  11. I'd say 31st August would be the National Day (cause it's the day they first announce the independance of the country) and September 16 is Malaysia Day (when the rest of Malaysia joins with the Peninsula)

    Either way, both dates allow us to remember what our fore fathers have done to give us the Malaysia we have today.

  12. I personally feels that 831 have no significance if we want to see it as Independence Day for Malaysia. Instead, I see it's (831) significance which serve as a platform leading towards 916.

    Being a Sabahan myself, one thing make me sad is Sabah which supposed to be one of most developed state in Malaysia because of rich natural resources but now being almost the least developed state in Malaysia.

    Money profited from oil and gas and Palm oil swim across the South China Sea at the West to finance mega projects. FELDA?PETRONAS?
    All these are sana Semananjung-based ounya agencies bah....

    Ultimately,we are praying for a better Malaysia and definitely our beloved Sabah.

  13. 22nd okt, 9pm..reminder di fon sya hehe

  14. You have a really beautiful daughter! :)

  15. I was in Miri and the pedalaman is still in need. And I agree that money earned could have gone to the rightful people of Sabah and Sarawak. To me, we are just 45 years old as a country and acknowledging 16 Sept is the first step towards fully respecting each other.

  16. 31/8 is the independence day.
    16/9 is the Malaysia day.
    Both dates are important in Malaysia History. It only matters to the Malaysian which day should be the Public Holiday and celebration day. Well, If I have the choice.. I will go for both lah..hehehe..
    Anyway, Its Hari Raya Day now. Why this blog not greeting anybody ? Happy holiday to you, D.