Malaysia Day is often confused with Hari Merdeka (Independence Day) which falls on August 31. Malaysia Day is celebrated on September 16 every year because on September 16, 1963, the Federation of Malaya, Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak combined to form Malaysia. Therefore, September 16 commemorates the birth of Malaysia.
Sarawak, a former colony under the Sultan of Brunei granted the authority to the Brooke dynasty to govern the western regions of Sarawak. The Brooke dynasty, famously known as the “White Rajahs” ruled Sarawak for a hundred years. Sabah, a British Crown Colony since 1846 was having problems wih the influx of Filipino refugees and subsequent disputes with the Republic of the Philippines over Sabah’s right to its surrounding islands. In 1963, both Sarawak and Sabah voted to join the Federation of Malaysia as equal partners. Unlike the states in Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak have a higher degree of autonomy in terms of laws permitting the entry of residents from other states in Malaysia.
Embracing Malaysia Day allows Malaysians to truly appreciate Malaysia’s rich diversity and multicultural uniqueness.