September 16 the day all Malaysians should celebrate
KOTA KINABALU: The Malaysia Agreement 1963 is the foundation of the existence of the Federation of Malaysia.
The MA63 was signed in London on 9th July 1963 and originally intended to come into force on 31st August 1963, said Esther Golingi, chairperson of Perpaduan Anak Negeri Sabah (PAN Sabah).
However, due to the delay in completion of the United Nations' mission to Sabah and Sarawak, it was postponed to 16th September 1963, she said.
Esther: “The agreement effecting this postponement was signed on 28th August 1963 in Singapore by the five signatory countries of MA63.
“Between 31st August - 16th September 1963, the Governor of North Borneo remained in Jesselton and the Union Jack was still flying.
“However, Lee Kuan Yew unilaterally declared the independence of Singapore on 31st August 1963 causing confusion to the people of Sabah.
“The front page of the then Borneo Times on that day read ‘Sir William's Sabah Day Message'.
“Some old pictures captured an arch with the words ‘Sabah Hails Independence 31.8.63' and writings on a stone ‘Kenang Kenangan Menyambut Hari Kemerdekaan Sabah 31st August 1963'.
“These pictures often become the supposed proof that Sabah has gained independence.
“What is wrong must be set right. The true account of our history needs to be told in our history books and proper records must be made available in our public libraries.
“Important historical records are lacking in our libraries for example the book on the British Documents on the End of Empire (Series B Volume 8), entitled Malaysia edited by A.J. Stockwell is not available in our public libraries.
“This book contains important correspondences leading up to the formation of Malaysia. Why is this book not available in our libraries?
“A telegram with the forwarded message of the Secretary of State for the Colonies, Mr. Duncan Sandys in response to Lee Kuan Yew's unilateral declaration of independence records as follows:
“(a) That a grant of independence to a territory under British sovereignty requires an act of Parliament at Westminster.
(b) That the British Malaysia Act (which comes into force on 16th September) provides for the transfer of British sovereignty over Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak to the new Federation of Malaysia but does not provide for the separate independence of these territories.”
Esther said when Singapore decided to separate from the Federation, the Bill for its separation was passed hurriedly by the Malaysian Parliament on 9 August 1965.
However, the separation was not legally effective until the Singapore Act 1966 was passed in Westminster in which the separation was enforced retrospectively.
Esther said: “For Sabah to gain independence, we would need to go through the same process. As for now, we are only self-governing.
“16th September is the day the Federation of Malaysia was formed and this is what we should be celebrating.
“This day should be celebrated by all Malaysians - Malayans, Sarawakians and Sabahans.
“If one truly understands the significance of MA63, one will not dispute the abhorrence of Sabahans in being made to celebrate 31st August, a date which has no significance to this land and its people.
“It is shocking to read what Tunku Abdul Aziz wrote saying that Sabah and Sarawak should celebrate 31st August and not 16th September!
“This is an example of a person who lacks the fundamental knowledge of the structure of our nation and its history. It is a shame but this is the reality of many Malaysians who have been fed with distorted history.
“Our hope is that the people of Sabah and Malaysia will progressively be made aware of the truth of our history by taking the initiative to dig and read true records of our history - not relying solely on social media!
“We pray that the truth of MA63 shall be acknowledged and established - beginning with the restoration of the true status of Sabah as a ‘Negara' and not ‘Negeri'.
“Once the Government of Sabah boldly takes the step to restore this truth then we believe that all other alignment of our nation according to MA63 will follow suit.
“We want to pray for and bless Sabah and Malaysia. Our desire is to see that Sabah and Malaysia embrace their true identity and enter into their destiny. God Bless Sabah & Malaysia,” she said.