When the clock strikes 12 tonight, my country, Malaysia (minus the states of Sabah and Sarawak) marks 50 years of Independence. First colonised by the Portuguese who brought Christianity to these lands and missionaries such as St. Francis Xavier, the Malay states have been subsequently under the subjugation of various foreign powers such as the Dutch and the Thais in the North before finally coming under British sovereignty.
The Flag of the Straits Settlements
The Flag of the Crown Colony of Penang
Penang, the first British outpost in these lands, established by Captain Francis Light of the British East India Company in 1786 together with the other British colony of Malacca and the Malay states were granted independence and formed the Federation of Malaya on August 31 1957 under our first Prime Minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra al-Haj.
The Flag of the Crown Colony of Penang
Sabah (British North Borneo) and Sarawak (together with Singapore which was expelled on the 9th of August 1965) were granted independence from the British and merged the Federation of Malaya to form Malaysia on the 16th of September 1963.
Much water has passed under the bridge since then and the country has come a long way. It sought and won independence from Great Britain without violence and bloodshed, successfully defeated a Communist insurrection militarily, merged with Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore, expelled Singapore and much more. Many Malaysians are affluent and skyscrapers, malls and the hallmarks of development dot the landscape of the major cities.
In proclaiming Malaya independent on Aug 31, 1957, Tunku declared it “shall be forever a sovereign democratic and independent State founded upon the principles of liberty and justice and ever seeking the welfare and happiness of the people and the maintenance of a just peace among all nations”.
But the vision of its founding Fathers have been thwarted and warped and we’re much more racist and bigoted compared to our fathers. The Islamization of the curriculum has seen non-Malay parents sending their children to national type schools where Mandarin and Tamil, rather than the national language, is the medium of instruction. Non-Malays, who can’t get into public universities due to preferential treatment given to Malays and easier entrance requirements for them study at private colleges or overseas. Racist policies has seen our best and brightest migrate to greener pastures and a level playing field. Entrenched racism within the government, public academia, the civil service and government linked companies had led to sharp polarizationas and divisions in society. We watch different TV shows, read different newspapers and think very differently. Corruption is widespread and nepotism and cronyism is the norm.
His Majesty Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin Ibni Almarhum Al-Sultan Mahmud Al-Muktafi Billah Shah Al-Haj, 13th Yang di-Pertuan Agong, or King of Malaysia. Malaysia has a unique system of a rotational Supreme Monarch. There are nine Malay rulers who each take a 5 year term as the Supreme Ruler or the Yang Di-Pertuan Agong of Malaysia. Asked to describe the system, our first Prime Ministers quipped: "Actually the Constitution of Malaya is very simple. It is exactly like that of Britain In England you have the Queen and the Prime Minister. Likewise, in Malaya you have the King and the Prime Minister. In England the Prime Minister changes every five years, but the Queen stays on in power. In Malaya, it is the other way around: the King changes every five years, but the Prime Minister stays on in power.”
But through all this, Almighty God has continued to shower His abundant blessings on this, our land and our home. As we move together towards the future, let us pray for God’s continued guidance and protection for all who call this land home.
God bless Malaysia.