KUALA LUMPUR, 26 Sept 2008: The government should consider making 16 Sept a public holiday since it has agreed that the date when Malaysia was formed be celebrated as Malaysia Day.
Historian, Professor Emeritus Tan Sri Dr Khoo Kay Kim, in making the suggestion, said based on historical facts, the date was important and it would be apt that it be declared a public holiday.
“Sept 16 is an important reminder of Sabah and Sarawak joining the Federated Malay States in 1963 to form the Federation of Malaysia.
“Therefore, why can’t we compromise by making Sept 16 part of the major national day celebration and making it a public holiday?” he told Bernama.
Khoo was asked to comment on the statement by Unity, Culture, Arts and Heritage Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal on 25 Sept, that the government had agreed to recognise the anniversary of the day Malaysia was formed as Malaysia Day, which would be celebrated nationwide.
Mohd Shafie had also said that Malaysia Day should be made more significant throughout the country compared with previously when the celebration was mainly in Sabah and Sarawak.
The Malaysia Day celebration this year will be held on 18 Oct in Sabah as 16 Sept fell during the fasting month of Ramadan.
Khoo, who is also a commissioner with the Malaysian Human Rights Commission, said 16 Sept should be the height of the independence celebrations after 31 Aug.
“We begin on Aug 31 and reach the climax of the celebrations on Sept 16, with the start and final day — a gap of two weeks — being declared public holidays. This shouldn’t be too difficult,” he said.
Meanwhile, a senior lecturer with Universiti Putra Malaysia’s Faculty of Human Ecology, Dr Sarjit Singh Gill, said declaring 16 Sept a public holiday to celebrate Malaysia Day would give greater meaning and recognition to Sabah and Sarawak’s entry into the Malaysian federation.
He opined that both celebrations (Independence Day and Malaysia Day) would help to boost the spirit of unity and integration among the multi-ethnic population separated by the South China Sea.
Sarjit said making Malaysia Day a public holiday would also create a greater sense of belonging, especially for the people of Sabah and Sarawak, as Malaysian citizens.
However, former lecturer with Universiti Malaya’s Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Dr Rokiah Talib, had a different reaction, saying that the government must study the proposal carefully before making a decision.
Her concern was that national productivity could be affected by too many public holidays.
“Malaysians are already enjoying many public holidays,” she said, although she agreed that a public holiday to celebrate Malaysia Day could bring Sabahans and Sarawakians closer to fellow Malaysians in the peninsula. — Bernama