History of Malaysia Day

Malaysia Day dates back to 16th September 1963 when the Malaysian Federation was established at a ceremony held at the Stadium Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur. This establishment was as a result of Malaysia, Sarawak, North Borneo, and Singapore merging to create Malaysia. However, Singapore later exited the federation after two years (in 1965). Previously, these four regions were colonized by Europeans from the 16th century. The Portuguese were the first colonizers before the Dutch took over at the beginning of the 17th century. The British then took control from the mid-18th century until the independence of Malaysia, which occurred in 1963, after the British set decolonization as one of their post-World War II goals.

Negotiations for independence began in 1956 when the British Colonial Office met with Malayan political parties and rulers in London. Later, the Proclamation of Independence was announced on 31st August 1957, signifying Malaysia’s Independence Day. Before the independence, joining Malaya together with Singapore was a prominent idea, which was championed by different influential people, including the Secretary of State for the colonies, as well as Malayan and Singapore leaders and politicians. This idea grew more popular and consequently, paved the way for increased political activity and the formation of political parties. Malaysia then became a federation after the United Kingdom, Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak, and Singapore signed the 1963 International Treaty Malaysia Agreement.

This date (16th September) is commemorated as a public holiday that is also referred to as “Hari Malaysia,” meaning Malaysia Day. Nevertheless, it was only until 2009 that this date was officially recognized as a public holiday, allowing Malaysians to celebrate their nation’s independence. Notably, Malaysia Day (Hari Malaysia) may be confused with Independence Day (Hari Merdeka) but these two dates are different since the former happened on 16th September 1963 while the latter occurred on 31st August 1957.

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