When I say 4-day, you say weekend!
Dude, I only found out about Friday being a public holiday last week??????? (I was under the impression that Hari Raya Haji was on Saturday, so that was a pleasant surprise)
What I’m trying to get at is, us Malaysians are very accustomed to an abundance (lol) of public and (last minute) holidays, but do we stop and think about what all of them mean or are we just blindly celebrating them?
I’m referring to our Independence Day / National Day (that’s tomorrow!) and also around the corner is Malaysia Day, on the 16th of September.
If some of y’all are wondering what the difference between the two holidays is:
Let’s take a short trip down memory lane, shall we?
Peninsular Malaysia, better known as Federation of Malaya back then, gained independence on 31st August 1957. A little ways down the road, Sarawak formed their government on 22nd July 1963, and Sabah formed theirs on 31st August in the same year. So both states gained their independence on their own first, AND THEN united with us as a nation (along with Singapore) on 16th September in the same year of 1963—and that was how Malaysia was formed. AND THEN in 1965, Singapore packed their bags and formed their own country.
*lets out the breath I’ve been holding*
So, my question for you is:
If we’re going to nitpick, the term Malaysia was only born in 1963, so wouldn’t that make Malaysia 54 years old, not 60 years old?
do you count age by years of independence, e.g. Peninsular Malaysia would celebrate 60 years of independence and East Malaysia would celebrate 54 years of independence?
Which brings me to my next question:
Is it even fair to call 31st August our Independence Day, or National Day for that matter? Because Sarawak certainly did not gain their independence on the same date. (Sabah did, just in a different year!)
Also, wouldn’t it be more apt to count Malaysia Day (16th September) as our National Day, since it reflects our nation today (which includes Sabah and Sarawak) better than the nation that celebrated their independence on 31st August back in 1957 (which excludes Sabah and Sarawak)? How can we truly celebrate the 31st of August as a nation (including Sabah and Sarawak) when Sabah and Sarawak wasn’t even with us then?
(This is different from celebrating as a state because Sarawak Day, 22nd July was declared a public holiday for Sarawakians just last year; Sabah’s state independence coincidentally falls on 31st August)
I mean sure, at least Malaysia Day is now recognised as a public holiday, thanks to people who were on Team Why Don’t We Have Both Holidays!
but keep in mind, we only started celebrating it in 2010.
OR do we just scrap it all and call 31st August Merdeka Day?
And no, I’m not making this hullabaloo about the number of years of independence up—there was some debate surrounding it back in 2014, stating that we should stop mentioning the number of years to avoid confusion and appease everyone.
I guess we Malaysians just go all out on the 31st of August—fireworks and campaigns and Merdeka sales—similar to the way Americans go all out to celebrate the 4th of July as their main celebration, even though each state there does have a holiday declared for their own independence. (Although I can’t speak for East Malaysians on this matter! Do educate me on this!)
Bottom line is, Malaysians need to understand and recognise that both dates are equally important to our country’s history.
And in true Malaysian spirit, when will we ever complain about holidays? Got cuti can already lah!
So, with that—happy celebrating on 31st August AND 16th September, my fellow Malaysians!