Today marks the 58th anniversary of the formation of Malaysia.
It was on this day, in 1963, that Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore joined with Malaya to create a new nation. Singapore, however, left the federation in 1965.
In his speech on Sept 16, 1963, prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman said: “Now, finally, the people can celebrate the establishment of Malaysia. This is the time to think earnestly and look forward with hope on the future of Malaysia as the whole country rejoices.”
“I pray that God may bless the nation of Malaysia with eternal peace and happiness for our people.
“The Federation of Malaya now fades into history. Let us always remember that the Malayan nation was formed after much difficulty, during a long period of national Emergency, yet its multi-racial society emerged intact, endured and survived as a successful and progressive nation, a true democracy and an example of peace and tolerance, for the world.
“As it was with Malaya, so it can be with Malaysia. With trust in Almighty God, unity of purpose and faith in ourselves, we can make Malaysia a land of prosperity and peace,” he added.
Twentytwo13 gathered views from Malaysians regarding Malaysia Day this year. Here are their thoughts:
Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri, Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister
My mother’s name is Bibi McPherson. Her father was Scottish, while my maternal grandmother was of Iban-Chinese descent.
My late father was Shukri Mahidi. His dad was a Malay from Kuching and his mother was a Melanau.
Why is this significant? I believe my family history underscores the uniqueness of Sarawak.
The multi-ethnic groups in Sarawak have lived together as a community, regardless of their faiths… like a big family.
I believe this confluence of cultures has created a positive and lasting legacy for Sarawak – a legacy that embraces tolerance, acceptance, understanding and respect for one another.
In conjunction with Malaysia Day, let’s continue to strengthen the relationship among us, as Malaysians, in the spirit of the Malaysian Family. Let’s lift the nation’s economy and come back stronger.
CJ Kalavaani Karupiah, marketing communications manager
I’m from Ipoh and my fondest memories are of playing sports and hanging out with my neighbours and friends of all races in the neighbourhood playground. It was really fun, but now, things are really different. I admit, the feeling is no longer there.
Malaysia Day is all about unity, respect, and harmony.
My hope for Malaysia is that Malaysians unite – regardless of age, race, or religion, and continue to stay safe. Stick with the standard operating procedures as we fight the Covid-19 pandemic.
Khairunnisa Dottie Khairuddin, homemaker
I’m lucky to have grown up in Ipoh, where race was, and still is, inconsequential. My fondest memory is of Deepavali. Every year, I’d go to my best friend’s house to have her mum’s famous thosai and mutton curry.
My hope for Malaysia is that we all stop being political and work together to heal our beloved country.
Dr John Teo, obstetrician and gynaecologist
Growing up in Kuching, I used to play team sports with friends of all races. We were competitive on the field but were best friends off the pitch.
The diverse cultures in Sabah and Sarawak symbolise the strength of our diversity that binds our common roots. We never identified ourselves as to which race we belonged to. We celebrate our decades-old friendships regardless of ethnicity.
This is the Malaysia I know, and this is Malaysia to me, always.
Tuan Asmarawati Tuan Nor, officer in the National Unity and National Integration Department, Prime Minister’s Department
I have wonderful memories of growing up in Kuantan and having friends of all races. It is a lovely place to grow up in, with so many attractions.
My hope for Malaysia is that people of all races can live in peace and harmony, just like how it was when I was younger.
Asmady Ahmad, photographer
I grew up in Alor Setar and remembered a united Malaysia where every race lived in harmony. I wish we could go back in time when the politicians hadn’t tainted our unity.
Florence Claire Manson, teacher
Kampung life can be fun, but it toughens you up. It taught me the resilience and wisdom that helped shape what I am today. There were chores every day for my three siblings and me.
We woke up at 5am to do chores organised by age group by my mum.
Then, our father would take us to school in town, far from our kampung in Penampang.
After school, the kampung kids would help their parents in the field or look after their younger siblings. But, invariably, most of us fight to get attention from our tired mum.
I remember looking after the buffaloes, which was the best as you could play while they fed on the grass near the paddy fields.
Some days, we got punished because the buffaloes would enter the fields and eat the young paddy.
In the evenings, we would bathe in the river. After a flood, we usually have great fun sliding in the mud.
My hope for Malaysia is to care for each other without any prejudice and to compare living standards.
Eva Sasha Munjin, homemaker
We East Malaysians prefer to celebrate Malaysia Day as it is the day when we officially become part of this wonderful country. It was always a big event in my home in Sandakan.
I’m grateful that even now, people of all religions understand and mix with each other as we respect each other’s culture and beliefs.
I hope we can maintain this sense of belonging and unity and not be distracted by what’s going on politically.
In the end, it is the rakyat who takes care of each other
Rita Jong, senior journalist
Growing up in a small town in Serian holds many meaningful memories. Everybody knows your name, you can just pop over to your neighbour’s house, any time of the day, and there will always be friends to play with.
Things were much simpler then, even the games we played, like hopscotch, or racing paper boats down the drain after it rained.
Because it is such a close-knit community, the sense of family and relationships, regardless of race and religion, is very rewarding.
Malaysia Day means we should celebrate what we love about Malaysia. Its cultural diversity, the uniqueness of its people, and so on. It signifies how far we have come as a united country. However, I feel we have regressed somewhat, as we are still divided when it comes to race and religion in many aspects.
It is only in the past two years that the focus has been on tackling the Covid-19 pandemic.
My hope is that Malaysia can truly unite as one nation, regardless of race or religion. We should identify ourselves as Malaysians first, and not be ‘penned in’ by the check boxes in forms – under Malay, Chinese, Indian or ‘dan lain-lain’.
I hope we have real progress politically, economically, and socially, be free of corruption and the race card. Focus more on meritocracy, and not nepotism.
Ravinesh Uthayasuriyan, senior account executive
Growing up in Taiping was fun. I would cycle to the nearby field to play football, even though I didn’t know some of the players. One’s race or beliefs didn’t matter. As long as you love football, you’re in the team.
In fact, I made plenty of friends through sports.
Malaysia is truly about the close bond we have with our brothers and sisters from different backgrounds. It truly reflects the saying: “air yang dicincang, tidak akan putus.”
Selamat Hari Malaysia!
Where to catch Malaysia Day celebrations
Follow the ‘live’ telecast of the celebrations on RTM’s TV1. The celebrations will also be shown on Merdeka360.my, the Communications and Multimedia Ministry’s Facebook page and the Sabah government’s YouTube channel