Sunday, September 17, 2006

Lest We Forget, It's Actually 43

31st of August 1957 was the day that Malaya got its independence from the British Empire. It is also the official date for National Day. Malaysia was officially created on the 16th of September 1963 with Malaya, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak forming the new federation, although most casual observers and lay people most probably wouldn't know that. Singapore left in 1965, unfortunately.

Sarawak Flag, 1963-1973

I'll say it again like I've said it before. There is simply not enough mention of the event. I can safely say that many Sarawakians and Sabahans feel kind of slighted by this apparent lack of recognition. No, hosting this year's National Day is not even close to being enough.

Not to be a pain in the ass, but a little respect would be nice. After all, the resources of the two states help power the whole country does it not?

Much more could be done to make the people of our two Borneo states feel more at home and on par with the rest of the country. It would be nice if more parts of Sabah and Sarawak history make it into the national education syllabus. It would be nice if we could get more money from our oil and other resources. We really do need it, especially Sabah, which is poorer than it should be.

Sarawak Flag, 1973-1988

In that respect, we Sarawakians are lucky. Our politics are relatively stable and the state government, for all its shortcomings, has so far done an adequate job balancing our books.

It would be nice if we could get more TV and media time, if only to prevent West Malaysians from thinking that Easterners still live in trees, are naive jungle dwellers and have no access to technology. I'm not being paranoid, ask any Sabahan or Sarawakian who has studied, lived and worked in the Peninsular and we can tell you about all the dumb questions that we keep getting from Westerners. It's not their fault really. They don't know.

The Powers That Be need to answer that question. Why don't they know? Why is it so many people are still ignorant about us?

Yeah, we kind of feel like no one cares sometimes. This has a side effect. Part of why Sabahan and Sarawakians are so fiercely proud of their state and heritage is the very fact that we feel we are misunderstood and ignored. It's us against the world. Our loyalties lie with our state first.

Sarawak Flag, 1988-present

As long as the status quo remains, many of us will continue to feel more Sarawakian and Sabahan than Malaysian. Sorry, but that's the truth.

Happy 43rd Birthday Malaysia.

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