Dear Anak Bangsa,

In the early hour of 16/09/2010, as I watched midnight news aired on TV3 questioning young adults about my age on what do they understand about Hari Malaysia and its significance in their lives, my heart bled for the ignorance of fellow young Malaysians when their answers were, “Tak tahu la apa tu Hari Malaysia!” and some did not even answer the questions. Sayang beribu kali sayang, ilmu sejarah yang dipelajari di sekolah hanya digunapakai dalam peperiksaan umum yang mana kepandaian masing-masing diukur dengan gred A,B, C dan selanjutnya.

Apa itu hari Malaysia?

Hari Malaysia disambut pada 16 September setiap tahun untuk memperingati penubuhan persekutuan Malaysia di tarikh yang sama pada tahun 1963. Ia menandakan penyertaan bersama Malaya, Borneo Utara, Sarawak, dan Singapura bagi membentuk Malaysia.Pembentukan persekutuan baru ini dirancangkan berlaku pada 1 Jun 1963 namun kemudiannya ditangguhkan ke 31 Ogos 1963 bagi membolehkan ia disambut bersama-sama dengan sambutan hari kemerdekaan ke-6. Beberapa isu berkaitan dengan bantahan Indonesia dan Filipina untuk pembentukan Malaysia memperlambatkan pengisytiharan ke 16 September pada tahun yang sama. Penangguhan itu juga dibuat bagi membolehkan Pertubuhan Bangsa-Bangsa Bersatu memperuntukkan masa membuat pungutan suara di Borneo Utara (kini Sabah) dan Sarawak.
Hari Malaysia merupakan cuti am di negeri Sabah sempena hari keputeraan Yang Di-Pertua Negeri. Ia bukan merupakan cuti am di Sarawak dan Semenanjung Malaysia. Mulai tahun 2010, Hari Malaysia juga merupakan cuti am di semua negeri di Malaysia

Perdana Menteri berkata, Hari Malaysia yang disambut hari ini tidak seharusnya menimbulkan kekeliruan di kalangan rakyat apabila negara ini mempunyai dua tarikh keramat.

Beliau menjelaskan, kedua-dua tarikh keramat itu iaitu pada 31 Ogos dan 16 September membawa makna yang amat besar, mendalam dan amat signifikan kepada negara ini.

“Jika 31 Ogos tarikh merdeka, 16 September adalah tarikh penyatuan dan kesatuan kita untuk menjadi sebuah negara lebih besar,” katanya.

Najib berkata, sejak disatukan di bawah Malaysia, Sabah, Sarawak dan Semenanjung telah melalui pelbagai cabaran getir termasuk tuntutan Filipina terhadap Sabah dan Ganyang Malaysia yang dilancarkan Indonesia.

Katanya, semua cabaran itu berjaya dilalui dan pada hari ini kerajaan sedang berusaha untuk memastikan rakyat di Sabah dan Sarawak mengecapi nikmat pembangunan seperti di Semenanjung.
PM: Hari Malaysia wadah penyatuan, Utusan, 17/09/2010

As a Malaysian, what do we know about our nation’s history? I admit, I know too little to share. I don’t even bother to look for history based books in the bookstore for I don’t want to be bought by politicized history books. Even our school history textbooks are in many forms censored. The only history books I might trust are the ones turning yellow pages in our libraries.

I really enjoyed watching documentaries aired on National Geographic Chanel in conjunction with hari Merdeka in the month of August. I learned a lot from those documentaries, listening to stories of our heroes and at the same time served as my eyes’ opener. A documentary that is worth mentioning here is the one aired on Chanel 130, Astro iMustika; Apa Dosaku (What is my Sin?). The 60 minutes memoir that run in eight-episode Astro TV series was based on Sybil Kathigasu’s memoir, No Dram for Mercy.

The life of Sybil Kathigasu

Sybil Kathigasu was a nurse who risked life and limb when supporting the anti-Japanese fighters during the Japanese Occupation back in the 40s of the Malaya. The lead for the series is Elaine Daly, a grandniece of the real Sybil Kathigasu.

The late Sybil was married to a medical practitioner, Dr. Kathigasu, with whom she shared her life together with two daughters, Olga and Dawn and an adopted son, Pillay. After the arrival of Japanese troop, the Kathigasu family and close family friends moved to Papan, Perak where they opened another clinic. Sybil secretly supplied medical treatment and medicine to People’s Anti-Japenese Guerilla, apart from the news she heard from mini radio with a codename of ‘Josephine’.

Sybil and her husband were then arrested and put in the custody of the infamous Ipoh Kempetai Chief Ikio Yoshimura who endlessly tortured the couple in the hope that they broke down and admitted to the offences as charged. Sybil was charged with being a spy, cooperating with the enemy, providing medical assistance to the Communist guerrillas, possessing of radio set and listening to enemy propaganda.

Blue black marks, caning bruises across the swollen body could be seen as she was detained in custody of the infamous Ipoh Kempetai Chief Ikio Yoshimura. Her nails were removed by hand tool. She was physically tortured until she could not walk. When the situation tensed up, Yoshimura ordered for Sybil’s youngest daughter, Dawn to be captured and brought to the detention place. Dawn was hung from a tree by a rope around her chest and with her hands bound behind her. She bore the pain from the biting ants and the gripping rope for the love of her mother and Malaya. She was just seven. Not only that, the Japanese poured burning coals and threatened to burn her alive. Again, that attempt remained futile as the duo did not give in. Fortunately, a senior Japanese officer stopped the torture against Dawn.

After the Japanese surrendered, Sybil was awarded the George Medal, the highest British civilian award for bravery by King George VI. She succumbed to her injuries in Scotland in 1948 where the wound and injuries inflicted during the Japanese Occupation were treated. She was then re-buried in Ipoh.

She saved the lives of hundreds of people in Ipoh and Papan during Japanese Occupation. She had touched so many lives and made a difference in each of their lives.

She is our very own Florence Nightingale, Sybil Kathigasu.