Monday, September 8, 2008

September 16

September 16 is significant in that it shifts the focus from Malaya's independence on 31 August 1957 to the formal declaration of the formation of Malaysia on 16 September 1963 (which incidentally is also Lee Kuan Yew's birthday).

But the date of Malaya's independence was first announced by Tunku Abdul Rahman, the then Chief Minister of the Federation of Malaya, on 20 February 1956 at the Melaka Central Padang - that Malaya would gain its independence from Britain by August 1957. This was immediately after the London conference; instead of heading to Kuala Lumpur, he went to Melaka to acknowledge Melaka's significance as the starting point in the history of Malaya. The Federation of Malaya Independence Bill was passed by the British House of Commons on 12 July 1957, paving the way for Malaya's independence on 31 August 1957.

The formation of Malaysia was made concrete when the Malaysia Bill was signed on 9 July 1963: for Sarawak by Temenggong Jugah, Dato Bandar Abang Mustapa, Abang Openg, Ling Beng Siew and PEH Pike; for Sabah, by Donald Stephens, Dato Mustapha, Khoo Siak Chiew, G S Sundang, WS Holley, and WKH Jones; for Singapore by Lee Kuan Yew; for Malaya by Tunku Abdul Rahman; and for Britain, by Harold Macmillan. The Malaysia Bill was passed by the British House of Commons on 22 July 1963.

In Sarawak, Stephen Kalong Ningkan became the first Chief Minister with the first state cabinet formed on 22 July 1963 - the date held on most dearly by Sarawakians. Independence celebrations were postponed from 31 August to 16 September, when Tun Abang Openg appointed Governor of Sarawak on 16 September 1963 - the date which has been known as Malaysia Day.

Could 16 September take on a new significance in future - as the Day of Justice or Judgement?

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