With our Independence Day coming up, we think that this is a good time to put some misconceptions about Malaysia down for good.
We’ve tried to put together a list of very common assumptions many Malaysians make…which are wrong.
So in commemoration of Malaysia’s 60th round of independence, let’s bust some myths and get down to the real facts.
1. Our independence was not first announced at Dataran Merdeka.
It’s certainly a beautiful story. Tunku Abdul Rahman gets to finally announce our independence after hundreds of years under the thumb of the penjajah.
He steps up onto the podium, and cries out “Merdeka!” three times at the patch of land that is now called Dataran Merdeka, to commemorate that historic moment.
The truth is, this Tunku Abdul Rahman story actually happened at Bandar Hilir, Melaka.
He also cried out ‘Merdeka!’ seven times, not three.
The actual Dataran Merdeka was named for being the location where the British flag was lowered on the 30th of August, and the Malaysian flag was raised for the first time.
2. Malaysia’s birthday is not on Merdeka.
On the 31st of August, you often see posts on Facebook wishing Malaysia a happy birthday. Too bad Malaysia’s “birthday” isn’t really on Merdeka.
Instead, Malaysia’s actual birthday should be celebrated on September 16th, which is appropriately named Hari Malaysia (Malaysia Day). It’s slated to commemorate the day that the Malaysian Federation was established in 1963.
3. Malaysia isn’t 60 years old, either.
Eagle-eyed readers are sure to note that since Malaysia was only formed on the 16th of September 1963, this year isn’t Malaysia’s 60th birthday either. Instead, it’s the 60th year that Malaysia celebrates our independence from the British.
So our little fledgeling nation is actually 54-years-old this year.
Even then, some Malaysians would argue that we shouldn’t even celebrate Malaysia’s independence on the 31st of August, because Malaysia was never colonised as single entity in the first place.
4. Malaysia’s national fruit is not actually the durian.
As it turns out, the durian is actually Singapore‘s national fruit (we know, shocking).
However, we’ve been having a pretty difficult time determining Malaysia’s actual national fruit. Some sources on the internet say that it’s the papaya, while others say that it’s the rambutan.
It’s driven us crazy. If anyone has any definitive knowledge (with source citations!) please let us know.
5. The ‘National Service’ didn’t start in 2003.
The idea of Malaysia’s national service started a long time ago. 1952 to be exact, in the National Service Act.
The Act—similar to America’s—indicates the possibility of Malaysians being drafted into war, should war come to our tropical nation.
But in 2002 with the launch of the PLKN draft for 18-year-olds, the definition of National Service has changed for us to this day.
6. Malaysia was not originally called Malaya or Tanah Melayu.
Before the term “Malaya” was even coined, one of Malaysia’s oldest names is Aurea Chersonesus, which translates into the “Golden Peninsula”.
The region was named by Greco (Greek) and Roman geographers to refer to classic antiques, particularly by geographer Ptolemy in his book Geographica in 150 A.D.
7. KL is not just a packed concrete jungle.
While this is somewhat true, what some Malaysians may not know is that there’s a small rainforest in the heart of the KL city.
This tiny rainforest covers only 27 acres of land, dubbed Bukit Nanas. It’s one of the smallest patches of rainforest in the world. Despite this, Bukit Nanas also holds the honour of being Malaysia’s oldest national reserve.
8. The oldest state in Malaysia is not Melaka.
It seems like everyone starts learning Malaysian history by learning about Parameswara, who discovered Melaka after running away from an angry empire. It turns out that Malaysia’s sultanate extends earlier than that.
To be fair in this case, even historians held the misconception too.
In 2011, archaeologists from the Universiti of Science Malaysia discovered artifacts and an iron smelting site that predate Melaka’s—dating aback to 110 A.D.
And just as an extra twist, it turns out that Parameswara originated from the Kedah kingdom as well.
9. The biggest contributor to the economy in Malaysia is not oil.
Even though Petronas has once been recorded to have Asia’s third largest profit, oil and gas is not the biggest contributor to our economy.
It’s actually manufacturing.
This is why you often hear about relatives, parents or friends with a history of working in factories to earn their keep.
Intel already produces Pentium chips in Malaysia, and we’re also the 10th largest manufacturer of furniture in the world.
This goes to show that even if you’ve spent your entire life in Malaysia, or even spent years living in Malaysia, there’s still a lot to discover about our nation.
We still have a long way to go, but when else should we instill this mindest to not only learn, but build a better Malaysia than our 60th celebration of Merdeka?
Even if this isn’t Malaysia’s actual birthday, it’s still a great chance to cherish our nation.