The 16th of September 2020 would be the 57th birthday of Malaysia. Malaysia was born on 16th September 1963. This is the official date where Malaysia was formed by the founding partners of Singapore, North Borneo (Sabah), Sarawak and the Federation of Malaya.
Many of the general populace would still confuse themselves with the inaccurate fact that 31st August 1957 is the day where Malaysia was independent. In fact, this day was the day the Federation of Malaya gained independence from the British. Hence, it is quite disheartening to see some put up banners and read from some media that the 31st August is a celebration of Malaysia’s independence.
Malaysia is a coalition of independent self governing partners of which Singapore left on 9th August 1965. That is less than 2 years after the formation. The 3 partners of Sabah, Sarawak and the Federation of Malaya are now the mainstays of this country, Malaysia. Much has been said and past history dug up for a gamut of independent interpretation of whether Sarawak and Sabah did obtain real independence before the formation. This is important as there is a possible truth in both Sarawak and Sabah who were colonies of the British then being transferred to the new Federation of Malaysia. Some would beg to differ stating that Sarawak and Sabah obtained a status of self governance on 22nd July 1963 and 31st August 1963 respectively. But that in fact is intriguing especially if self governance is not equated to independence. This is something which the Malaysia Agreement 1963 should reveal more not only in its final document but also in the process in which this was done.
Malaysia today is a young country still. She has barely exceeded half a century in age and near the official retirement age of 60 years in the context of typical legislated employment. Many of us here who are of the same age would surely not understand what happened before Malaysia was formed. That is the reason why it is important to understand the past to appreciate the future.
Politics in Malaysia has never really changed since the first Malaysia General Election (GE) was held in 1964. This again gives you an idea what is meant by confusion. If 1964 was the first Malaysia General Election, then in 2008, it should have been the 13th Malaysia General Election (GE13). However, the 2008 GE has been referred to in sequence to Malaysia having its General Elections since 1959 which in fact is historically erroneous. The 2008 GE was known as GE14. This is the error. It should be GE13. The 1959 GE was the 1st GE of the Federation of Malaya. Malaysia was not formed yet until 1963.
The focus on unity in diversity is still work in progress especially when sensitive issues remain to be sensitive. Alas, we have seen good progress in the last 57 years of Malaysia. Politics have become alive in the last 15 years as awareness towards the importance of voting and the infinite slog in eradicating the unjust, discrimination and persecution to instill fear. Still, when we thought the dream to progress the change came in 2018, we were once again jolted with the same disease. The change of alliances is not the problem but the reasons and the upending of policies because it was not by you is despicable. Frogs exist everywhere. But pity the frog or toad whose species is used to denote some unprincipled politicians.
Let us remember that in the last 57 years, we have lived to see many eventful moments. The launch of Proton Saga, Malaysia’s National Car in 1985, the completion of the North South Expressway / Highway in 1994, the completion of the World’s Tallest building KLCC in 1998, the creation of the iconic Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in 1998, the building of the most modern 100,000 capacity Bukit Jalil National Stadium in 1998, the hosting of the XVI Commonwealth Games in 1998, the rise of the Reformasi movement in 1998, having our first Malaysian astronaut in 2007, the acknowledgement and gazette of 16th September as being Malaysia Day beginning 2010, the Sultan Abdul Halim Muazam Shah Bridge in Penang ( which is the longest bridge in Malaysia) in 2014, the historical defeat of the long standing Barisan Nasional Coalition in 2018 and recently a political manoeuvre effected a coalition change in order to create a new Federal Government in 2020 without election.
Malaysia has a huge potential with good resources whether these are natural or manmade. This would include an educated portion of the population of over 32 million. Fifteen million of them are already in the workforce. The norm is to have about 3% unemployed. However, today it may temporarily peak slightly above 5%. Malaysia’ Urban Population has reached over 78% according to reports. Semi skilled and skilled workers are near 90% of them. Near 30% of which are skilled.
We have also managed to do well with education with an innovative system where national schools, vernacular schools, mission schools, religious schools, private schools and international schools all come together. Text books are also going digital. Online learning has also become a norm. With the efforts of a Digital Economy, all Malaysia needs now is a return of a revised GST and an interoperable QR code for all e-wallets to supplement the contactless cards.
On the political side, it is important that all politicians who stand for elections must be kept on their toes by the general population. It is obvious now that voters cannot rest on their laurels and support just because they were good before. If they fail, it is time to whip them back to shape. Sarawak and Sabah are watching closely on what the Federal Government does with MA63. Would they feed into the assumption of a transfer of British colonies to the Federation or do they really treat Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners?
The Parliament has 222 seats. Of these 25 are with Sabah and 31 with Sarawak. That is just 56 seats (25%). In 1964, there were 159 seats of which 55 were for Singapore (15), Sabah (16) and Sarawak (24). 55 of 159 are 35%. Sabah and Sarawak deserves 35% of the Parliament seats. If it stands at 222, then it should be 78 seats at least.
Alas, let us celebrate the Formation of Malaysia on 16th September 1963. Malaysia turns 57 this year. I am very sure the future will give us another historical moment with Sabah and Sarawak.
God Bless Malaysia.