News From : DagangHalal.com (14 Sep 2010)
KOTA KINABALU, 14 Sept – Until last year Sept 16, the date Malaysia was born, has been a public holiday for the people of Sabah and Sarawak only.
Moreover, in Sabah the date did not commemorate the birth of Malaysia instead it was observed as the official birthday of the Yang Dipertua Negeri with a parade and an investiture ceremony at the Istana Negeri.
And not many were aware that the celebration of the Yang Dipertua Negeri’s birthday was indirectly acknowledges Sabah’s union with Malaya and Sarawak under Malaysia.
But all that changed last October when Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced that the public holiday on Sept 16 would be extended to the people in the Peninsula and the date will be observed as Malaysia Day from this year onwards.
Najib felt that the holiday was appropriate with the 1Malaysia concept to foster national unity among the various races, including strengthening national integration between the people in the Peninsula and those in Sabah and Sarawak.
Sabah to host first celebration
It is only appropriate that the first national-level Malaysia Day celebration be held in either Sabah or Sarawak.
And where else would a better spot for the inaugural celebration to be held but at Padang Merdeka in Sabah, the historic venue where Malaysia Day was declared 47 years ago.
It was at this spot in Kota Kinabalu, formerly known as Jesselton, had its beginnings where Sabah’s first chief minister, Tun Fuad Stephens made the momentous declaration of the formation of the Federation of Malaysia on Sept 16, 1963.
Tun Mustapha Harun became Sabah’s first Head of State.
After Sabah, the celebration organizing co-chairmen, Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun and Deputy Information Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Joseph Salang Gandum, felt it was fair that next year’s Malaysia Day celebration would be slated to be held in Sarawak which was just as significant as Sabah was in the formation of Malaysia.
Masidi said the celebration, which is expected to be officiated by the prime minister, would be used as a platform to educate the people, especially the younger generation, on the formation of Malaysia and the difference between Sept 16 and Aug 31, the countr’s independence day, through exhibitions by the state and national archives and the museum.
Although the Federation of Malaysia was formed in 1963, many people still do not understand its formation and the customs and traditions, whether in the Peninsular or East Malaysia.
Carrying the theme ‘Generating Transformation’ in line with the government’s aspiration to promote better and more efficient delivery services, we also hope that this national-level celebration would change people’s mindsets so that they will be more appreciative of the country, whilst building team spirit and unity, he said.
Masidi also said the celebration would be a good venue to remind the people in the Peninsular, Sabah and Sarawak that they were equal under the federation.
Acknowledging Sabah and Sarawak
Mohamed Nazim Maduarin, 30, noted the government’s decision in making Sept 16 a nationwide holiday came at the right time as not many Malaysians were aware of the date’s significance in the country’s history.
The Bajau lawyer told Bernama that commemorating Malaysia Day would help make sure the people from Peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak will not only remember the day Malaysia came into being but also the concept of Malaysia.
In concurring with Mohamed Nazim, Communications and Quality Control Manager Shanti Doraisingam, 37, said the move acknowledged Sabah and Sarawak as part of Malaysia.
“Everyone thought Peninsula gained independence on Aug 31, while Sabah and Sarawak gained independence on Sept 16.
“If Sabah and Sarawak were the only two states to go on holiday on Sept 16, it would seem we are not in Malaysia,” she said.
Shanti, from Indian-Chinese parentage, said the prime minister kept his word in his effort to unite the people and the move to declare Sept 16 as a nationwide holiday truly reflected the 1Malaysia spirit.
“I hope there will no longer be a divide between Peninsular and Sabah and Sarawak,” she added.
Public holiday spurs the economy
Meanwhile, Lam Chee Wah, 36, co-operator of Fook Yuen, a popular coffee shop in Kota Kinabalu, said another national holiday meant lucrative business.
“When people have more time to spare, they can enjoy a good rest and maybe Malaysians from Peninsula can spend their holiday here.
“They can see the Sabah way of life, which is very Malaysian where even in non-Muslim coffee shops you see Malays sitting with their Chinese or Kadazan friends and enjoying teh tarik and toasts,” he said.
Lam said the level of acceptance among the Sabah people was very high that a Muslim did not mind ordering a canned drink at a non-halal restaurant so that he could enjoy a conversation with his non-Muslim friend.
“A lot of non-Muslim restaurants here try to cater to the demands of Muslim consumers, especially those from the Peninsula who specifically look for halal-certified eateries,” he added.
He said his coffee shop may look like a typical non-halal coffee shop because of its Chinese name, but it has been popular even among Muslims because it does not serve pork.
Now, the coffee shop is halal certified by the Islamic Development Department (JAKIM) and a big LED display bearing the halal logo by JAKIM inside the coffee shop assured the Muslim community of Fook Yuen’s economy-priced halal food and service, he said.