Cherish our diversity in order to truly appreciate it
What does Malaysia Day mean to you?
When I was younger, I didn’t really understand why my parents and elders were pushing for Malaysia Day to be acknowledged. Yes we have our National Day and that is great, but Sabah and Sarawak became part of the Federation in 1963. This is a very important milestone and that’s why I think it’s very important to acknowledge and recognise it.
How will you be observing Malaysia Day? For both Merdeka and Malaysia Day, I get my children, who are of mixed parentage, to don their traditional costumes. We might not go out but would have traditional music at home. I speak to them in Dusun, my native language, whether they understand it or not.
I think it’s important because a lot of us, especially those who have left our hometowns to look for the bright lights, have forgetten our mother tongues. It’s important for them to learn so that if we go home, they will be able to understand it.
My children can’t reply in Dusun so they usually reply in English or Malay. Initially, it was difficult for them to grasp the language, and that is why I continue to speak it to them. Even my husband has picked up the lingo.
Do you think it is important to remind people about the significance of Malaysia Day?
Yes! It is part of our history and it’s a significant moment when we came together and committed ourselves to this country we now know as Malaysia.
What do you think should be done to promote Malaysia Day further?
It has to be an ongoing project. Having platforms that promote Borneo are good but there should be other avenues that shouldn’t necessarily be ethnic-based. It has to be an effort that shows we are all Malaysia, instead of just showcasing Sabah and Sarawak on Malaysia Day.
What would you like to say to fellow Malaysians on this day? In order for you to truly love Malaysia, you really need to be passionately involved in knowing about everyone. I think when you are able to celebrate the differences and appreciate our beautiful cultures, it makes for a better country. To truly appreciate the diversity that we have, we should cherish it.
Daphne Iking, seen here in a traditional Kadazandusun outfit, weighs in on what it means to be Malaysian and the importance of Malaysia Day.