Declare Aug 31 as Sabah independence day, says Kitingan

STAR president Jeffrey Kitingan says Aug 31 should be recognised as Sabah’s independence day.

PETALING JAYA: Sabah should officially recognise Aug 31 as the state’s independence day, marking the end of British rule in 1963, and make the day a state holiday, STAR president Jeffrey Kitingan said today.

He said recognition of its independence day would effectively kill off any move by the Philippines to assert sovereignty over the state.

Kitingan noted that Sarawak had made such a declaration in 2016.

He said Sir William Goode, the last British Governor of North Borneo (as the state was known) had declared Aug 31 as a historic day marking the beginning of self-government and independence and the end of colonialism.

The state Legislative Council had already adopted a unanimous resolution on Aug 8, 1963, unilaterally declaring that Sabah would be independent on Aug 31, regardless of whether Malaysia came into being that day.

(The formation of Malaysia, scheduled for Aug 31, 1963, was delayed until Sept 16 while awaiting the results of a United Nations referendum conducted among the people of Sabah and Sarawak.)

Kitingan said the Proclamation of Malaysia had referred to Sabah as a “negara” (nation), and lyrics of the Sabah national anthem also referred to Sabah as an independent country.

Recognition of Aug 31 as Sabah’s independence day would position the state to pursue equal partnership with Sarawak and Malaya in Malaysia, he said, “and cement our rights to self-determination as a people”.