RE­TRAC­ING NA­TION’S HIS­TORY

Tunku Ab­dul Rah­man pro­posed the na­tion’s for­ma­tion in 1961

New Straits Times - - NEWS / NATION -

MALAYSIA was of­fi­cially born on Sept 16, 1963, when Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak and Sin­ga­pore formed a fed­er­a­tion. But the road to na­tion­hood be­gan on May 27, 1961, when for­mer prime min­is­ter Tunku Ab­dul Rah­man Pu­tra Al-Haj pro­posed the join­ing of the four ter­ri­to­ries. This led to a meet­ing in Sin­ga­pore on July 23, 1961, of the Com­mon­wealth Par­lia­men­tary As­so­ci­a­tion Branch of Malaya and Bor­neo, which agreed to es­tab­lish the Malaysia Sol­i­dar­ity Con­sul­ta­tive Com­mit­tee.

Chaired by Tun Mo­ham­mad Fuad Stephens, the com­mit­tee was re­spon­si­ble for out­lin­ing and ar­tic­u­lat­ing the con­cept of Malaysia to the peo­ple, in­clud­ing in Sabah, Sarawak, and Brunei. The se­ries of meet­ings ran from Au­gust 1961 to Fe­bru­ary 1962 in Sabah, Sarawak and Sin­ga­pore.

The re­sult saw the set­ting up of the Cob­bold Com­mis­sion on Jan 17, 1962, which was chaired by Lord Cob­bold. Its mem­bers were Wong Pow Nee and Mohd Ghaz­ali Shafie who rep­re­sented Malaya; as well as Sir An­thony Abell and Sir David Wather­ston, who rep­re­sented the Bri­tish govern­ment.

The Cob­bold Com­mis­sion’s task was to can­vass views of the peo­ple of Sabah and Sarawak on the Malaysia con­cept.

Be­tween Fe­bru­ary and April 1962, the com­mis­sion met more than 4,000 peo­ple and re­ceived 2,200 mem­o­ran­dums from var­i­ous quar­ters.

They found that 80 per cent of Sarawakians and Saba­hans sup­ported join­ing the pro­posed fed­er­a­tion, and ac­cepted the Malaya Fed­eral Con­sti­tu­tion of 1957.

The peo­ple ac­cepted the des­ig­na­tion of Is­lam as the of­fi­cial re­li­gion of the fed­er­a­tion and Malay as the na­tional lan­guage.

The Cob­bold Com­mis­sion then pro­posed the set­ting up of the In­ter­Gov­ern­men­tal Com­mit­tee, that the Fed­er­a­tion of Malaya be changed to the Fed­er­a­tion of Malaysia, that au­ton­omy and guar­an­tees on sev­eral mat­ters be given to Sabah and Sarawak, and that a spe­cial sta­tus be ac­corded to the in­dige­nous peo­ple of both states.

The peo­ple of Sabah and Sarawak also put forth sev­eral claims to pro­tect their in­ter­ests — known as the 20-point agree­ment — prior to join­ing the union.

How­ever, the ini­tia­tive hit sev­eral snags when Parti Rakyat Brunei leader A.M. Azhari op­posed the con­cept and In­done­sian pres­i­dent Sukarno de­clared a con­fronta­tion in 1962.

The Philip­pines stepped for­ward to claim Sabah on the grounds that the ter­ri­tory be­longed to the Sul­tan of Sulu, who signed an agree­ment with the Bri­tish govern­ment in 1878.

Nev­er­the­less, the Cob­bold Com­mis­sion’s re­port was com­pleted and pre­sented to the Bri­tish and Malaya gov­ern­ments on July 21, 1962.

Tunku Ab­dul Rah­man then formed a com­mit­tee, chaired by him, to study the re­port. The com­mit­tee’s mem­bers were Tun Ab­dul Razak, Tan Siew Sin, Datuk Dr Is­mail Ab­dul Rah­man and Datuk V. T. Sam­ban­than.

On July 9, 1963, a for­ma­tion of the Fed­er­a­tion of Malaysia agree­ment was signed at the Com­mon­wealth Li­ai­son Of­fice in Marl­bor­ough House, Lon­don.

The agree­ment was signed by rep­re­sen­ta­tives from the Bri­tish govern­ment, Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak, and Sin­ga­pore, with an agree­ment reached to es­tab­lish Malaysia on Aug 31, 1963.

How­ever, the Philip­pines and In­done­sia’s strong re­sis­tance to the union forced the United Na­tions to send a mis­sion to Bor­neo in 1963 to seek the peo­ples’ views on the mat­ter.

It was de­ter­mined that most Saba­hans and Sarawakians were in favour of join­ing the fed­er­a­tion.

Fi­nally, the dec­la­ra­tion of the for­ma­tion of Malaysia was made at Merdeka Sta­dium in Kuala Lumpur on Sept 16, 1963.

It was at­tended by the Yang di-Per­tuan Agong, Malay rulers and the gov­er­nors of Pe­nang, Me­laka, Sin­ga­pore, Sarawak and Sabah.

The dec­la­ra­tion was read by Tunku Ab­dul Rah­man be­fore 30,000 peo­ple.

PIC BY DANIAL SAAD

Four of the eight ba­bies who were born at Pe­nang Hospi­tal, Ge­orge Town, on Malaysia Day yes­ter­day.

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