Independence Day (Malay: Hari Merdeka, also known as Hari Kebangsaan or “National Day”), is the official independence day of Federation of Malaya. It commemorates the Malayan Declaration of Independence of 31 August 1957, and is defined in Article 160 of the Constitution of Malaysia. The day is marked by official and unofficial ceremonies and observances.
The observation of 31 August as Malaysia’s national day is the cause of some controversy, due to calls to prioritize the celebration of Hari Malaysia (Malaysia Day) on 16 September instead. Hari Malaysia commemorates the formation of Malaysia in 1963, when North Borneo, Sarawak, and Singapore federated with the existing states of Malaya to form Malaysia. Some, especially people from East Malaysia, argue that it is illogical to celebrate 31 August 1957 as Malaysia’s national day when Malaysia was only created in 1963. Supporters of Hari Merdeka argue that “the Federation” as defined in Article 160 of the Constitution of Malaysia is the “Federation of Malaya” that was established in 1957.
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