Malaysia Day falls on September 16 and commemorates the anniversary of the formation of the Malaysian Federation, which took place on the same date in 1963. It may seem strange that Malaysia has two different national days, however, both of them are embedded with tales of sacrifices and freedom. So both days are recognized as honorable days by Malaysia. Malaysia Day is also known as ‘Hari Malaysia’. This day was not recognized as an official holiday until 2010. The celebrations of Malaysia Day primarily include national ceremonies that celebrate the strength of Malaysians.
History of Malaysia Day
Malaysia day commemorates September 16, 1963, when the Malaysian Federation was established. The East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak and the former British Colony of Singapore combined with the Malaya Federation to form Malaysia. However, Singapore separated from the Federation two years later on August 9, 1965.
Malaysia celebrates its Independence Day on August 31, which is also a national holiday. It is strange for a country to have two national days but the joining of East Malaysia with the Federation of Malaya deserves celebrations.
Sabah was a petroleum-rich state and both the Philippines and Malaysia wanted to get their hands on it. However, Sabah became a British colony 17 years before joining the Malaysian Federation. The rush of Indonesian refugees in the 1970s and the feud of Sabah’s right to some of the neighboring islands resulted in the Indonesian Islands of Sipadan and Ligitan being officially declared part of Sabah.
The state of Sarawak was ruled by the ‘white rajas’, a name given to the Brooke Dynasty. The state of Sarawak flourished under their rule and expanded. Both of these states joined the Malaysian Federation in 1963. Initially, Malaysia Day was not a public holiday until former prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak put forward a request for this. It officially became a public holiday in 2010.
Malaysia Day timeline
Malaysia falls under British Rule on March 17, 1824.
After the two atomic bombs fall on Japan, it surrenders the territories of Malaysia.
The British-ruled territories form the federation of Malaysia.
Malaysia gains independence on August 31, 1963.
Malaysia Day FAQs
What is the difference between Merdeka Day and Hari Malaysia?
The formation of the Malaysian Federation took place on September 16, 1963, when Singapore, Sabah, and Sarawak joined it. The anniversary of this day is celebrated each year as Hari Malaysia. However, the original date of independence is August 31, which is celebrated as Merdeka Day.
Is Malaysia Day a public holiday?
Yes, Malaysia Day was announced as an official holiday in 2010.
When did Singapore separate from Malaysia?
Singapore separated from Malaysia on August 9, 1965, to become a separate independent state.
How to Celebrate Malaysia Day
Pay tribute to the fallen soldiers as well as those citizens who lost their lives in achieving independence. This is the day to acknowledge the struggles that the Malaysian forefathers faced for the freedom of their people today.
Many national ceremonies are held on this day by the government to raise the morale and spirits of Malaysians. If you don't want to join an official ceremony, you can also arrange a small one at your school or home where you educate others about the rich history of Malaysia.
If you want to enjoy Malaysia Day at home, just grab your TV remote — there is usually footage of the parade to watch as it is happening. You can also listen to national songs of Malaysia or watch a documentary to get to know more about the country's history.
5 Fun Facts About Malaysia Day
The public ceremony was actually held on September 17 instead of 16.
Representation of Singapore
One corner of the star on the flag represented Singapore, however, it was later changed and was said to represent Kuala Lumpur.
Denial of Malaysia Day
The Kelantan State Government was not in favor of Malaysia Day and even took Tunku Abdul Rahman to court — the case was rejected on September 14.
Different Independence Days
Malaysia, Sabah, and Sarawak have different Independence Days.
Malaysia Day was meant to fall on August 31, the same day as Merdeka Day, but was delayed until September 16 by the United Nations.
Why We Celebrate Malaysia Day
It is a day of victory
Malaysia Day celebrates the territorial alliances between Malay, Sabah, Sarawak, and Singapore. It is a day of victory because all these nations overcame their struggles and joined a single federation.
It spreads unity
Malaysia Day spreads the message of unity. The way all these different nations of Singapore, Malay, Sabah, and Sarawak came together despite their challenges sets a great example of unity.
It is a festive day
What's more exciting than a day off and enjoying the festivities of a national day? Malaysia Day is an official holiday and a lot of ceremonies are held on this day. People sing national songs to raise each other's morale.
Malaysia Day dates