By ZAINNAL AJAMAIN
COMMENT: Every year without fail, before the arrival of August 31, there are muddled minds out there who are try to justify why Sabah celebrates the August 31 holiday. However they may term it – ‘Sabah Independence Day’ or ‘Sabah Day’ – the reality is to legitimize Sabah celebrating Malaya’s Independence Day.
All this talk about ‘Sabah Independence’ Day” or ‘Sabah Day’ is just a ruse to confuse the people in Sabah. For those Sabahans who know the truth about August 31, will find there is nothing special about this date.
The confusion started from the wrong interpretation on what was written in the (then) The Borneo Times’ front page (in 1963) when the Governor (Sir William Goode) announced that August 31 was to be called ‘Sabah Day’. However, there was no legal basis for this announcement.
The press statement by the Governor was to cover a misguided action made by (President) Lee Kuan Yew in Singapore. Because of the delay in the formation of Malaysia Lee Kuan Yew made a Unilateral Declaration of Independence for Singapore which took the British by surprise. Lee Kuan Yew knew what he did was not legal, but he took advantage of the delay to get additional concessions from Tunku.
The delay in the formation of Malaysia was due to the United Nations mission to Sabah and Sarawak which could not be completed by August 31, 1963. This was also the reason an amendment was made to the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (the only amendment made) which was signed in London on July 9, 1963. The amendment was to substitute the date August 31, 1963 to September 16, 1963.
Therefore, between August 31, 1963 and September 16, 1963, nothing happened to Sabah.
There was no independence, there was no self-government (this only started after September 16, 1963), the Union Jack was still flying and the last Governor was still in Jesselton.
Unfortunately, there are some Sabahans who insist that the newspaper report and some old photographs are all the evidence they need to claim that Sabah was independent. They are just delusional, but instead of keeping their problems to themselves, they are spreading this sickness throughout Sabah, specifically in the KDMR (Kadazan Dusun Murut Rungus) areas.
They never spread this issue in the Muslim areas, perhaps it is because UMNO has a tight rein throughout these areas. Whatever it is, what these Sabahans are doing is actually complementary work. Perhaps this is because UMNO Sabah cannot make any statement pertaining to August 31 celebration.
Their assertion is not based on facts or valid documents because their objective is not to spread the truth about the Malaysia Agreement 1963; rather to use the sentiments of the people to misdirect them and to justify something that is historically wrong.
Is Sabah independent? They keep arguing about this issue. What they want to believe and what is reality has no meaning to them. If only they care to read one particular page from Series B Volume 8, British Documents on the End of Empire, titled Malaysia edited by A.J. Stockwell which stated:
“Therefore, by claiming Sabah is independent then these delusional people must have a document which I may not have seen before. Or perhaps this is a massive cover up to 54 years of deceptions so that Sabahans willingly celebrate Malaya Independence Day and the people unknowingly confirm Sabah is a Malaya Colony and NOT a partner in the formation of Malaysia.”
After this these revelations, I hope more people will see the light rather than being led astray by deceit and darkness.
• Zainnal Ajamain is an economist by profession, graduating with a Masters degree from the University of East Anglia. He has held several high ranking civil service positions in government and government think tanks and has worked as a university lecturer, senior researcher, stockbroker, and economist and published several papers in international media journals. He is also author of a best-seller “The Queen’s Obligation”.