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Wind of Change

Friday, August 28, 2009

A Forgetful Nation

A forgetful nation
Posted by admin
Friday, 28 August 2009 02:25

The moot point to note is that Sabah and Sarawak did not join Malaysia. They entered into an agreement with Malaya to form Malaysia on 16 September 1963. So why are we celebrating 31 August as our national day?

By BOB TEOH/MySinchew

I USED to live in Australia for six years. Each year Australia Day was something memorable to celebrate even though I was not a citizen but only a permanent resident. It doesn’t matter really whether one is fair dinkum. Even tourists join in the fun and celebration. All are welcome.

Can we say this of our national day? To begin with we are never sure of what is our national day. Is it Merdeka Day on 31 August or Malaysia Day on 16 September? Where does our Malaysian story start? When we begin to forget our collective story, we begin to forget who we are.

Let’s get our story right.

The declaration of independence of the Federation of Malaya on 31 August 1957 was preceded by Qur’anic doxology:

In the name of Allah, the Compassionate, the Merciful. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the Universe and may the blessings and peace of Allah be upon His Messenger.

This clearly acknowledges that Islam is the official religion of the land but the country is a not an Islamic state by any stretch of imagination.

The newly independent nation is to be known as the Persekutuan Tanah Melayu or the Federation of Malaya comprising the Malay States of Johore, Pahang, Negri Sembilan, Selangor, Kedah, Perlis, Kelantan, Terengganu and Perak and the former Settlements of Malacca and Penang, both being previously dominions of the Imperial British Empire while the others were protectorates. The Malay characteristic has never been in doubt, hence Tanah Melayu.

The new nation is founded on a constitutional monarchy based on parliamentary democracy. The supremacy of the constitution is never in doubt. No other parallel system of law is envisaged.

On this understanding and undertaking Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Abdul Hamid Halimshah, as the first Prime Minister of Malaya, proclaimed independence upon the principles of liberty and justice.

Six years later three other political entities; Singapore, Sarawak and North Borneo or Sabah as it is now known entered into an agreement with Malaya to form an enlarged country of Malaysia on 16 September 1963. The Sultanate of Brunei had earlier declined to join the new federation. Singapore mutually separated two years later after an acrimonious short-lived partnership.

The moot point to note is that Sabah and Sarawak did not join Malaysia. They entered into an agreement with Malaya to form Malaysia on 16 September 1963. So why are we celebrating 31 August as our national day?

The basis for putting together the Malaysia Agreement is the so-called 20 points presented by Sabah and Sarawak. For Sabah, the first of the 20 points was on religion:

While there was no objection to Islam being the national religion of Malaysia there should be no State religion in North Borneo, and the provisions relating to Islam in the present Constitution of Malaya should not apply to North Borneo.

So how far have we come 46 or 52 years?

Have we forgotten our shared vision to live in peace based on the principles of justice and liberty, of a constitutional monarchy, and a parliamentary democracy?

I am afraid we are a forgetful nation. We have forgotten that the supreme law of the land does not allow us to cane a woman for drinking beer in public even if she deserves even 80 lashes under some subordinate laws.

I am afraid we forget too many things that are important and fundamental.

I am afraid we forget too easily it was in the name of compassion and mercy that we proclaimed ourselves to be a free and independent nation.

I am afraid there’s little reason to celebrate Merdeka this year. Even the government has downscaled the celebrations apparently because of the (A) H1N1 flu, among other thing.

Let us not forget to remember why there was a 31 August and a 16 September.
Yes, I can still remember Australia Day. But I wish I can also remember Merdeka and Malaysia Day.

This is a reproduction from MySinchew 2009.08.27

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