KOTA KINABALU: A statewide Sabah flag relay is being held to raise awareness about Sabah’s overlooked history - that it had achieved self-governance on Aug 31, 1963, before joining in the formation of the Federation of Malaysia on Sept 16 the same year.
Organised by Sabah STAR Youth (Wiramaja), the programme involves teams of flag bearers passing the Sabah flag to other awaiting members in various districts across the state before it reaches Keningau on Aug 31 for the highlight of the Sabah Day celebration.
Sabah STAR Wiramaja chief Felsie Joy said the party had always commemorated Aug 31 as Sabah Day (the day it gained independence from the British) by holding its own events.
“We want to raise awareness regarding the importance of distinguishing the fact that Sabah’s independence is different from the Malaya independence,” she said.
She said it was important for Sabahans to understand their history because what happened in the past set the chain of events that created the social-economic and political challenges faced today.
“We cannot deny the fact that Sabah is still underdeveloped compared to the other Malaysian states,” she said.
Felsie said she feels that celebrating the wrong historical date marks the start of digression for developing the future of Sabah.
She asked how Sabah was expected to create a prosperous future if its people do not even know their own history.
“Are we Sabahans aware or are we denying our independence? When we decide to deny our own history, we dismantle the future for our children.
“The question we need to ask ourselves is what does independence mean to us,” she said in hopes that Sabah Day would be gazetted as an official state celebration soon.
Previously, Sabah STAR president Datuk Seri Dr Jeffrey Kitingan had said that efforts were ongoing to gazette Sabah Day as an official state event.
He has been calling for Aug 31 to be celebrated as Sabah Day in Sabah, not only for the date to be known as national day as it had been all these years.
In his many past statements, Jeffrey had insisted that this part of history where the then Malaya gained its independence on Aug 31, 1957, with Sabah on Aug 31, 1963, and Sarawak on July 22, 1963, needed to be re-written and taught to the younger generation.
He said it was vital that all Malaysians know that the Federation of Malaysia was only formed on Sept 16, 1963, together with Singapore but Singapore separated from the Federation in 1965.
Jeffrey said Sarawak had officially declared July 22 as the state’s Independence Day and celebrated annually since 2016.
This year’s Sabah Day celebration will start on Aug 30 at Pisompuruon Square, Tambunan and end in Padang Bandaran, Keningau on Aug 31.
The programme is jointly organised with the Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP).