By NELSON W ANGANG
COMMENT: The time has come again for us to celebrate the birth of our Nation some 54 years ago.
Many say that we are lucky to gain independence from the colonial master without having to shed a drop of blood. Perhaps it was the fact that the British were in a hurry to dismantle their empire because of strong pressure from anti colonialist nations had help for this peaceful process.
Credit should also be attributed to the wisdom and tact of our founding fathers in negotiating with the Government of Her Britannic Majesty. Because of the uniqueness and diversity of its people and culture, it was the hope and expectation then, that the dream of Malaysia will be a birth not just of a new nation, but a birth of something far more greater than the conventional norm expected from a new nation.
However regrettably, some have questioned the wisdom of our founding fathers in agreeing to the formation of Malaysia. This is most unjustified unfair. The challenges they faced and the limitation of their time could not be fathomed by any person of our generation. But yet our leaders then had the foresight to ensure that our special rights and privileges were protected and enshrined in our constitution.
Some say that these special rights and privileges have been whittled away over the years. Blame and accusation have been hurled towards one side of the divide. But slowly we begin to understand that this imperfection also befalls onto us.
Voices of discontent tend to gain momentum every time we celebrate our nation’s independence day. The reasons are obvious. Our country was formed by four different partners coming together as one federation. The uniqueness of this formation is supposed to be a cause for celebration, not division. Some say that the Federation of Malaya ceased to exist today 54 years ago.
In the context of a federation that would seem true but we must not deny that the federation of Malaya did exist, and that it gained its independence on the 31st August 1957. Let us not take that away from them, as similarly we don’t want the significance and importance of the date 31st August 1963, the day Sabah was given self-rule to also be robbed from us.
But facts should not be distorted that it was the Federation of Malaya that gained its independence on the 31st August 1963. It is a symbolic and historical feature in our nation’s DNA. Without it, there would be no Malaysia today as the independence of Malaya has given other colonised states at that time the hope that they too can achieve freedom and liberty from their colonial master.
A correct historical distinction of this would cast away any doubts and further enlightened our future generation of its significance.
Perhaps this restiveness also came from the fact that Malaysia Day was only given its due recognition and declared a public holiday in 2010. It would seem that the call was made some 47 years too late. But nevertheless it is here now for us and for our future generation to celebrate and to be reminded of the birth of this nation.
We should now look ahead and not to be overly engrossed in arguing over this matter.
Perhaps it would further help appease this belated recognition if the date 16th September 1963, and the Malaysia Agreement 1963, be eternally engraved in our sacred Federal Constitution.
It is said that growth and evolution are natural, and a necessity, in any federal set-up.
They say that the younger generation is the future of this country. Then let us guide them the way ahead. Let us not look backwards but instead forge ahead guided by the spirit and hope of our founding fathers.
Let us find that spirit of trust, tolerance, understanding and comradeship that has guided our forefathers to reach the common ground in achieving the spirit of brotherhood in creating this unique and beautiful nation that we all call home. Let us respect and celebrate the sacrifices that were made and their hope that they have envisioned for Her people.
We should not lose hope and lose sight of what is in front of us. We must keep the faith and tell ourselves that the journey continues and that the dream lives on; that one day we will reach our destination where our people will no longer question the intention and success of our nation but instead, commemorate the wisdom in forming this union, and the achievements and success that we have made by embracing the spirit of 1963….. yes let there be no mistake, let there be no doubt that the dream lives on.
Happy 54th Malaysia Day!
• Nelson W Angang is SEEDS Fellow and UPKO Youth chief Beaufort Division