Sabahans say time to clear haze of fuzzy history 

(TMI) – We are not ‘in’ Malaysia. We formed this nation as partners and Sabah should be recognised for its contributions. 

This is where the sun hits first, before it claims West Malaysia in the morning. Sabah is beach and sweet sea, forest and fresh water, bountiful on the surface and rich with resources deep below ground.

Its natives are still celebrating only their fourth national independence day together with their West Malaysian neighbours, so how do people here in Sabah feel about it?

Borneo Youth Revolution co-founder Sabrina Aripen responds with questions on why there is still so much focus on Merdeka Day.

She argues, “Malaysia Day marks the day when Malaysia was born as a nation and it is more important than Merdeka Day. Malaya, North Borneo (Sabah) and Sarawak were colonised and gained their independence separately before Malaysia came to being.

“I feel it too way too long for the rest of the country to acknowledge the crucial fact that Malaysia was born on September 16. There is not enough emphasis on this fact, and it is just fleetingly mentioned in our history books.”

Sabah Youth Council president Kevin Lim says, “Some in West Malaysia think that Malaysia is an upgraded name for Malaya when in fact, it is a nation. “Independence of Malaya, and later of Sabah (and Sarawak) and the formation of Malaysia are two different incidents in our history, but many are still unclear about this. This confusion also happens among Malaysians in Sabah.”

Mother-of-one Joan Goh is someone who acknowledges the fuzzy history, saying, “As to how old Malaysia really is, it seems that some people are either confused or refuse to acknowledge this fact.

The solution to the problem of fuzzy shared memory is an open discussion on revising the history of Malaysia that is taught to children, argues clergyman Carrey Yubong. This, he said, could be done by roping in historians from the state.

But there is also a sense of Sabah remaining excluded from the centre.

“As a Malaysian from Sabah, I feel excluded, as we are always treated like the stepchild,” declares Joan, the mom.

Some netizens from Sabah have in recent weeks aired their disappointment over announcements and billboards that state Malaysia is celebrating its 56th and are annoyed with wordings used on billboards that indicate Sabah has been “in” Malaysia for 50 years.

“Even though Malaysia Day is now a national holiday, I feel our shared history means nothing. We are not ‘in’ Malaysia. We formed this nation as partners and Sabah should be recognised for its contributions,” says Aripen.

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