WHAT former schoolteacher S.P Sarathy remembers best about Malaysia Day is how the various communities in Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak came together to start a brand new life.
“We represented various cultures and religions and spoke different languages, but these differences became insignificant as we united to embark on a new journey after being granted independence by the British,’’ recalled the 81-year-old who lives in Klang.
Malaysia Day, also known as Unity Day, which is today, was also symbolic of a better life for all, added Sarathy, who came here from India to serve in the civil service in 1948.
“For those who were already here, it was freedom from colonisation and for those who came from afar, it was starting afresh in a new land,’’ said the father of nine.
He remembers how the first Malaysia Day was observed in 1963 with pomp and ceremony just like National Day celebrations.
Sarathy also recalls how Malaysia’s first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman paved the way for inter-racial co-operation politically through the Alliance Party framework.
“Representatives of all the communities joined forces in the Alliance Party because we wanted the same thing – the right to self-determination and rule,’’ reminisced Sarathy who was the party’s Damansara Division chairman in charge of Indians from 1963 to 1966.
”I had the opportunity to meet the Tunku on many occasions and I remember how he used to emphasise the importance of unity,’’ said Sarathy.
He added that during his tenure in the Alliance Party, he had written several letters to Tunku Abdul Rahman, which the latter promptly replied.
“We should never forget that it was our unity which had brought us this far and under no circumstances should this unity be jeopardised,’’ he added.