Hari Raya and Merdeka Day bears special meaning for Sabah and Sarawak


Double Joy For Sabahan and Sarawakian.
This year’s Aug 31 National Day celebration, to be held jointly with Malaysia Day on Sept 16 in view of Aidilfitri falling on Aug 30 and 31, bears special meaning for the people of Sabah and Sarawak. Malaysia Day marks the independence gained by Sabah and Sarawak within Malaysia in 1963.
This year’s 54th anniversary of independence carries the slogan “1Malaysia: Successful Transformation, Prosperous People”.
Datuk Jumat Idris, Deputy Chairman of Tekun Nasional which provides micro credit loans for cottage industries, said in Kota Kinabalu that for Sabahans the joint celebration on Sept 16 would be most meaningful in terms of independence within Malaysia.
“I am most optimistic that the people of Sabah and Sarawak will welcome this double celebration,” he said.
Jumat thanked Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak for holding the joint celebration and said he hoped that this would be retained as it would consolidate Gagasan 1Malaysia and realise the vision to make Malaysia a developed nation.
An officer of the Sabah Tourism Board (STB), Hana Sue Harun, 32, welcomed the joint celebration, saying it was a good start to acknowledging the significance of Sept 16.
“To us Sabahans, since Sabah and Sarawak joined to form Malaysia on this date, of course this is something we can appreciate. The fact that last year we, as one nation, started to observe Sept 16 (Malaysia Day) as a public holiday is a good sign.
“My only hope is for the younger generation and those who think it is just another public holiday to understand its importance the way we here do,” she said.
Civil servant Roena Chu, 29, thinks it is a wise cost-cutting move to celebrate both National Day and Malaysia Day simultaneously.
“For most people, Sept 16 still lacks significance. Perhaps, the Government can organise more programmes to create awareness instead of having it regarded as just another public holiday,” said the Sabah Election Commission staff.
For most Sarawakians, Malaysia Day plays a significant role in their endeavour to mould the nation, emulating the example of their forefathers and leaders who shed blood, sweat and tears to achieve independence.
This year’s Sarawak-level simultaneous celebrations will be held at the iconic State Legislative Assembly building in Petra Jaya and the Kuching Waterfront.
Gracie Geikie, associate dean (industry and networking) of the Faculty of Hospitality and Management of UCSI University, said it was necessary to make Malaysians remember the significance of Sept 16, which was gazetted as a nationwide public holiday since last year.
“As a Sarawakian, I am proud of our independence and what our nation has strived for,” she said.
However, there was a need to inculcate similar values in the youths to reflect what independence was all about and what the leaders had fought for the people and the country’s sovereignty, or it would be just another holiday, she said.
Antap Geosources Sdn Bhd Managing Director, Nathan Achuck, said Sarawak had benefited a lot since the formation of Malaysia, which made him proud to be called a Malaysian.
Having travelled globally over the years as a geologist, he said, he could compare the prevailing peace, political stability and racial harmony enjoyed by Malaysians, especially in Sarawak which had progressed by leaps and bounds through better facilities like schools and other infrastructure.
“It makes me appreciate what we have because, as a nation, we have gone very far ahead of many countries that proclaimed their independence very much before us,” he said.
As such, he said, it was important that the people celebrate Merdeka Day to remind themselves that the nation’s future should not be forfeited by petty issues that could cause mayhem and disunity.
Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) Wanita Chief, Senator Doris Brodie, said Malaysians were blessed to be able to celebrate the 48th Malaysia Day together with Merdeka Day, especially at a time when the world was faced with various challenges from economic instability, natural disasters and wars.
“However, we must not take the peace and stability that we are enjoying now for granted as all Malaysians must work towards ensuring peace and political stability at all times,” she said, adding that any form of extremism should be discarded and moderation practised instead.
Doris, who is also PRS Vice-President, said that as far as Sarawak was concerned, it had developed into one of the progressive states and, hence, it was important for Sarawakians, who made up a plural society, to remain cohesive to ensure its steady progress.
For banker Susan Angking, whose family originally came from an Iban longhouse in Seruai in the Betong division, having “local boys” like Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu and Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Douglas Uggah Embas from her hometown meant an added bonus in terms of development.
“As someone who was born before the formation of Malaysia, I can see a lot of physical progress taking place but, of course, there is still a lot to be done to bring the rural folk into mainstream development,” she said.
Story Arrangement By: Harry George
Sources and Picture By: Daily Express News Paper
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