Media statement by Dr. Hiew King Cheu in Kota Kinabalu on Saturday, 3rd September 2011:
Don't get mixed up with 54 and 48 years
The commonly mixed up of the number of years on the Independence Day and Malaysia Day is creating much confusion in many Malaysian including politician. Some say it is 54 years of Malaysia independence and some in Sabah say that it is 48 years when we formed Malaysia. In fact they may or may not be wrong but in certain sense there is definitely some confusion here.
To clarify the matter and to set the record and history right, I feel that there must be a misunderstanding coupled with the overall misperception of the numbers related to the important dates, and how these dates came about.
For a start, in 31st August, 1957 the Federation of Malaya in the Peninsular of Malaya got their independence from the British Empire and relieved from the rule of the British Colonial control. It is now remembered as the Merdeka Day in West Malaysia (Semanajong) and it is now 54th anniversary. The late Tunku Abdul Rahman declared "Merdeka, Merdeka" at the Stadium Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur was on the very day of 31st August 1957, which was watched on by thousands of people. There were no Malaysia then, and Sabah and Sarawak were not yet free from the British rule.
For Sabah, we gained independence on the 31st of August 1963 from the British colonial rule, and it is 48 years now. That day is our Sabah Merdeka Day.
In 1963, September 16 it was the day that the Federation of Malaya, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak jointly formed Malaysia. Singapore later in 1965 pulled from Malaysia. Therefore, it is now 48 years of Malaysia formation, and we shall be celebrating Malaysia Day on the 16th of September every year. It took Barisan Nasional (BN) 46 years in 2010 to recognize and announced that September 16 is the Malaysia National Day and a public holiday. Why it took them so long to do that, or rather they would prefer Sabah and Sarawak must follow what KL wished?
The National Public Holiday set on the 16th of September every year signified that the people now can enjoy the cheer the happiness of Malaysia Day together, and not be confused anymore. Unfortunately, there are still people confused on whether it is 54 or 48 years. The clear cut and less confusing way is to use only 48 years of Malaysia. Malaysia is 48 years old, and no one can dispute that.
I urge everyone to follow a single 48 years count, and to set aside the 54 years Merdeka Day count because this will definitely confuse and affect the younger generations.
* Dr Hiew King Cheu, MP for Kota Kinabalu