Sabah’s MRSM alumni wants govt to recognise Sept 16 as birth of Malaysia

Julia Chan
A group of Sabahans have called on the federal government to give due recognition and prominence to September 16 instead of Merdeka Day on Aug 31. — Reuters pic

KOTA KINABALU, June 14 — A group of Sabahans calling themselves the Sabahan MRSM (Maktab Rendah Sains MARA) Pioneers have called on the federal government to correct a “gross” and “overdue” injustice and accord the due recognition and prominence on September 16, instead of Merdeka Day on Aug 31.

The group, which consists of “14 apolitical individual Sabahans still serving or retired professionals in various fields” called for the amendment of Article 160 of the Federal Constitution to acknowledge the existence of Malaysia Day.

“We are of the opinion that a blatant violation to the MA63 by the previous federal administration was done in putting more significance to Merdeka Day: 31st August, instead of the rightful Malaysia Day: 16th September as the date of commencement for the new Nation known as Malaysia under the MA63,” they said.

MA63 refers to the Malaysia Agreement 1963, an international treaty for the establishment of Malaysia that was signed on 7th July 1963 and further amended in Singapore on 28th August 1963 by the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland, Federation of Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak and Singapore.

“The agreement pointed out the one and only true date of significance to the formation of Malaysia, which was known or defined as Malaysia Day was 16th September 1963.

“The significance of Malaysia Day on the 16th of September unfortunately had all been lost and forgotten during the initial efforts of nation building. The previous administrations deemed that Merdeka Day was more important than Malaysia Day.

“This is a blatant violation of the MA63 that we would like to have corrected by both the newly elected Governments at the Federal and state level,” they said.

In a statement issued, the group said that the error in judgement and miscalculated evaluation by the previous administration were due to “significant yet misleading errors or omissions” under Article 160 of the Federal Constitution that were inconsistent with the facts written under the MA63.

“Merdeka Day under Article 160 means 31st August 1957. This date represented the Independence of Malaya.

“Malaysia Day that should be defined as 16th September 1963 under the MA63 was unfortunately never mentioned nor defined under Article 160. It was no wonder that the previous administration refused to acknowledge the existence of Malaysia Day due to this omission under Article 160 of the said Constitution,” they said.

“The Federation of Malaysia which was specifically defined under the MA63 was unfortunately not defined under Article 160 of the said Constitution. Again, it was unfortunate that the previous administration did not see the significance of such omission under Article 160 of the said Constitution.

The group said that August 31 bore more significance to their Malayan counterparts and respected their enthusiasm and right to celebrate “Merdeka Day” but wants the provisions in MA63 to be recognised and the omission in the Federal Constitution to be rectified to reflect the true date of the birth of the nation.

“We are confident that the newly elected PH Federal government and the Warisan-led State government would be willing to correct the gross injustice done as mentioned in Para 9 above. We need to mend our history to the path as written under the MA63 once and for all,” they said.

They proposed that while Malayans in Sabah and Sarawak are free to celebrate Merdeka Day on 31st August, Merdeka Day must however be confined to Malaya’s independence only. There should not be any mention of “Malaysia Merdeka” at all on 31st August.

They insisted that Malaysia Day be celebrated nationwide on September 16. “Malaysia Day must be accorded more importance over Merdeka Day from now onwards. It must be based on the 1963 year baseline and not on any other baseline year.”

“We humbly call upon the current PH government and the Warisan-led Sabah government to take this golden opportunity in denouncing the mistakes of the previous administrations by declaring Malaysia Day 16th September, as the one and only true date for unifying Malaysia.

“This gesture will signify equal treatment being accorded to both Sabah and Sarawak under the MA63. It will also be seen as a marked deviation from the past actions of ‘Malayanising’ or ‘colonising’ Sabah and Sarawak. “It will also be seen that some of the demands emanating from the Sabah for Sabahan outreach for equal treatment would once and for all be realised,” they said.

They also urged the Education Ministries at the Federal and Sabah State level to introduce a completely unbiased new chapter on the formation of Malaysia in the school curriculum.

The Sabahan MRSM Pioneers is an apolitical group of 14 Sabahans in various professions. They were among the earliest Yayasan Sabah-sponsored students to further their studies in MRSM in Negeri Sembilan in 1972.

Its members consist of Abdul Kadir Damsal, Ali Siddik Ampon, Badrul Hisam Kumut, Blasius Gilbert Guntingan, Dalahan Buduk, Datu Omar Ali Datu Bachtiar, Harry Kuzukuk Manisit, Kassim Sulaiman, Kennedy Aralas Kua, Mius Kassim, Mohd Bahar Kahar, Nordin Wan Ibrahim, Rahim Sulaiman, Yusrin Yusuf, and the late Zulkifli Sulaiman.