KUALA LUMPUR: There is no reason for Sabahans to feel that they are not part of Malaysia’s independence or Merdeka, a national history expert pointed out.
Prof Datuk Dr Ramlah Adam said while some Sabahans appear to recognise their Independence as being on Sept 16, they should also understand the concept of the Federation and that it was only through the Independence of Malaya in 1957 that Sabah and Sarawak got their Independence in 1963, after which Malaysia was formed.
Ramlah, who is director of the Research Centre for the Malay Rulers Institute pointed out that Malaya had first gained Independence and then used its experience to help Sabah and Sarawak gain Independence. Sabah and Sarawak were separate entities but later became part of the country called Malaysia in 1963, hence the Hari Malaysia celebration.
“It is actually something very simple but made complicated by certain quarters who wish to politicise the whole issue.
“By right, Independence is still Aug 31, 1957 as written in the history books and Sabah as part of Malaysia should be proud to celebrate Hari Kebangsaan and we have also changed it to Hari Kebangsaan from the initial Hari Merdeka because of them.
“Those who insist that Sabah is a different state, fail to fathom the Constitution that no one state can stand on its own.
“Just because the South China Sea separates Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah does not mean it’s not part of us and part of our history,” she said when contacted by Malaysia Outlook.
Meanwhile, Ramlah expressed her agreement with a comment made by social activist Tunku Abdul Aziz Tunku Ibrahim, in which he stated that Malaya opened its doors so that Sabah and Sarawak could become independent by joining an existing Federation of States, collectively known as the Federation of Malaya that was created in 1948.
“When Sabah became part of Malaya, that means it accepted the history of Malaya and to be part of it too,” she explained.
She also echoed Tunku Abdul Aziz’s sentiment that the Federation of Malaya had saved Sabah and Sarawak, literally orphans, from being swallowed up by Indonesia and the Philippines.
Ramlah stressed that the issue has become political and not a national one as “the Opposition has taken to brainwashing the Sabahans for their own gains”.
Meanwhile, Prof Kamarudin Mohd Said who is Universiti Malaysia Sabah’s (UMS) vice-chancellor said he could agree that Sabahans and Sarawakians do not really regard their Independence as being on Aug 31.
“Perhaps they still don’t feel a sense of belonging yet as they were yet to exist on Aug 31, 1957 since they were not yet part of Malaysia, so of course there is a lack of understanding for Independence falling on Aug 31 (for them).
“Before 1963, there was no Malaysian federation and Malaya, Sabah and Sarawak were entities that received independence on separate dates; Malaya on Aug 31, 1957, Sarawak on July 22, 1963, and Sabah on Aug 31, 1963,” he explained.
As for history expert Prof Datuk Dr Teo Kok Seong from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), he said the two important dates to Malaysia is what makes the country unique.
“Confusion aside, historically, we are one unique country with two very important dates,” he said when contacted. – MO