08/04: Merdeka and Malaysia Day

http://malaysia-today.net/blog2006/news … temid=3719

We are celebrating our 50th Merdeka Day a mere 21 weeks away, but there are still doubts about when Malaysia actually gained independence from the British.

POINT OF VIEW: BY TUN HANIF OMAR

The Star

OUR 50th Merdeka Day is just 21 weeks away. On this blessed day in 1957, the Federation of Malaya became independent of Britain. Malayan soil was, for the first time since 1511, completely independent!

On this great day of Aug 31 in 1963, against the imploration of our first Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman for patience, Sabah and Sarawak respectively and unilaterally declared their independence of Britain but in adherence to Malaysia (Ghazali Shafies Memoir on the Formation of Malaysia, p438).

The late President Wee Kim Wee of Singapore, then a young Straits Times reporter, covered Sabahs Merdeka Day and filed a report that, from all the obvious evidence, it was a declaration of independence within Malaysia.

Tunku Abdul Rahman and the parliament of independent Malaya had agreed with Britain and the representative leaders of the British colonies of Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore to establish the new federation of Malaysia in 1963 on Malayas Merdeka anniversary.

Both Sabah and Sarawak had held their elections with Malaysia as a major issue and the pro-Malaysia parties had clearly won. Singapore had had a referendum which overwhelmingly endorsed the plan for merger with Malaya but, in the face of Philippine opposition and Indonesian hostility, the protracted tripartite Maphilindo Summit, bringing together the Prime Minister of Malaysia and the Presidents of the Philippines and Indonesia, was held in Manila from July 31, 1963.

I was the youngest of five police officers attached to Tunku on this occasion and felt privileged to listen to President D. Macapagals Maphilindo speech and to observe President Soekarno at close hand on three occasions, including once in Tunkus suite which was under my charge.

At this summit, Malaya was forced to agree to subject the date of establishing Malaysia to the finding of an ascertainment process by the Secretary-General of the United Nations as to the true wishes of the peoples of Sabah and Sarawak.

This agreement greatly dismayed the pro-Malaysia leaders of the three colonial territories of Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak and, in the event, Sabah and Sarawak unilaterally declared their independence in adherence to Malaysia on Aug 31 and Singapore declared on the same day that External Affairs and Defence should be in the hands of Singapore (ibid).

Thus, there is no question at all that Aug 31 is the correct Merdeka anniversary for Malaysia and all its territories, including Sabah and Sarawak. This is not to confuse it with Malaysia Day, which remains Sept 16.

This date was set when the UN Secretary-General indicated on Aug 26 that he could possibly come out with his fact-finding report on Sept 14. It could not be made ready earlier as Indonesias delaying tactics had forced the UN team to postpone the start of its mission from Aug 22 to Aug 26.

Thus it was decided by Tunku and endorsed by his Cabinet that Malaysia would be formed on Sept 16.

Apart from the Indonesian and Philippines opposition to Malaysia, three other events could have had a fateful effect on Malaysia.

One was the Kelantan governments opposition to the concept. They took their case to the Federal Court for a ruling that, if my memory is correct, the decision to establish Malaysia was ultra-vires as the state was not consulted. In the event, the Federal Court dismissed the application on Sept 14.

Another event, so graphically described by Tun Ghazali at p440 - 444 of his memoir was a livid Tunkus decision on Aug 24 to exclude Sarawak from Malaysia because the British colonial officials had prevailed upon Iban leaders to demand the post of Sarawak Governor whilst also keeping the post of Chief Minister, thus reneging on an earlier understanding that for the first two years, the post of either the Chief Ministers or Governors should go to a Malay if the other was given to an Iban.

Apparently, all the Malayan ministers except for Tun Razak backed the Tunku, who was determined that if the Iban leaders could not keep their side of a bargain so early in the day, then they were not worth the trouble.

A participant in the event, Tun Ghazali Shafie, observed that, in all of this, … Razak made a firm stand. He said he could not imagine a situation without Sarawak in Malaysia … (He thought that the problem could still be resolved.) Razak looked glum … I could not help thinking that here was a man who was truly committed to Malaysia and I could see that he would have walked out of the meeting if there was pressure on him.

Razaks stand emboldened Ghazali, perhaps the only non-minister present, to ask for permission to try and resolve the problem within three hours. How he did this makes for riveting reading and is a case for intimate bonding in diplomacy. In the event, the Iban leaders fell in line and the crisis was averted.

A third event was related over television in the latter part of 1980s by the late Chief Minister of Sabah Tun Datu Mustapha Datu Harun, who was also the states first governor.

His interview was given to deny the claim by certain Sabah quarters then that a reluctant Sabah was courted by a persistent Malayan suitor to join Malaysia. He claimed that, on the eve of Malayas independence, he and Donald Stephens (later known as Tun Fuad Stephens, Sabahs first chief minister) decided to ask Tunku to take Sabah into the new Federation.

Tunku declined on the ground that he already had enough on his plate for the moment but that he could possibly reconsider later.

Almost four years later, Tunku floated the Malaysia idea in a speech at the Foreign Correspondents Club in Singapore. It was greatly welcomed by Mustapha and Fuad Stephens.

Thus, when Sabah declared its independence in Malaysia on Aug 31 instead of accepting Tunkus advice to wait for the UN report and to make the declaration on Sept 16, an angry Tunku rebuked Mustapha and told him that Sabah need not join Malaysia on Sept16.

Tun Mustapha said he rushed to see Tunku and begged him to understand the situation: the people of Sabah were determined to be in Malaysia; they were not prepared to leave their fate to the outcome of the UN findings; that all preparations including banners and bunting had been made to celebrate their joining Malaysia on Aug 31as previously agreed, and Sabah was so large with many parts so inaccessible that it was impossible for Sabah leaders to call off the planned celebrations in time.

Obviously, his pleas and arguments melted Tunkus heart.

Tun Ghazali and Tun Mustaphas accounts have further helped us to understand our great past leaders much better. Ghazali Shafies Memoir on the Formation of Malaysia should be compulsory reading for students in Malaysian history.

It helps us to understand the interplay of national and regional forces which is still relevant today.

It also helps us to realise how much we owe this towering former civil servant and Malaysias first diplomat for our existence as a nation we know today.

It would be a well-deserved tribute to our great leaders of old in Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak if we can get our act together towards more progressive nation-building. Lets have a forward movement all the time. Lets avoid all the unnecessary regressions. Lets look at each other as full-fledged fellow Malaysians.

Lets heed His Highness Raja Dr Nazrin Shahs widely acclaimed seven recommendations of the things we must do to enhance nation-building.

But there is also the need for us to be able to communicate with each other, otherwise we will be in a Babel-like endeavour.

As someone has said following a study and poll of Malaysias young, in a country like Malaysia, it is imperative that we satisfy the need to communicate well at the international, national as well as ethnic levels.

Our education system should meet this requirement. Here is where the new education programme, the Pelan Induk Pembangunan Pelajaran, particularly its cluster schools programme, comes in. It is a timely renewal programme for our education system.

in my opinion but from the fact from history…Malaysia now only just 44 years independence…

because Malaysia is considered become a new territory on 16.9.1963(when sarawak,sabah and singapore join together with semenanjung)