TAMBUNAN (Thursday Aug 31): Datuk Dr Jeffery Kitingan said our forefathers, serving as elected lawmakers and true representatives of the people, made a unanimous resolution on the 8th of August 1963, to exercise self-determination and declare Sabah independent on August 31st, irrespective of whether Malaysia would be formed on that date.
The Deputy Chief Minister said the decision was in complete accordance with United Nations Principle 1541.
“Sabah was thus born as a nation-state on the 31st of August 1963, complete with its own flag, National Anthem, and Constitution.”
“So let us all rejoice and celebrate Sabah Day as a critical milestone in our history—a day we took upon ourselves the mantle to govern, develop, and manage our own affairs,” he said the Sabah Day celebrations held at the Pisompuruan Square, here today.
“Honourable Chief Minister, esteemed guests, and fellow Sabahans, It brings me profound joy to stand before you on this monumental day, a day many of us have long awaited—Sabah Day, our Independence Day, finally celebrated with the solemnity and reverence it deserves,” the Tambunan assemblyman said.
He added that “Whether we choose to acknowledge it or not, Sabah became an independent nation on the 31st of August when British colonial rule ended and our locally elected leaders took the reins to govern and develop our homeland.”
“This momentous occasion took place even before the formation of Malaysia on the 16th of September 1963,” Dr Jeffery said.
He said Sabah was thus born as a nation-state on the 31st of August, Sixteen days after our independence, on the 16th of September, our government then agreed to the formation of Malaysia.
Dr Jeffery, who is also Keningau MP said “the onus now lies upon us to manage this partnership judiciously, so that we never compromise the independence that our founding fathers worked so tirelessly to achieve.“
He thanked Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Haji Noor, the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah government, and the remarkable organising team for pulling off this event in a mere 29 days. It was indeed a herculean task, but the gravity of this occasion called for nothing less.
Dr Jeffery said on a personal note, the quest to have Sabah’s independence recognised has been a journey that almost broke my body but not my spirit.
“As some of you may recall, I was arrested and detained under the Internal Security Act for nearly three years for the sin of fighting for Sabah’s rights. Yet, those years of incarceration only fuelled my resolve to fight for Sabah’s right to self-governance and for the recognition it rightfully deserves,” he said.
“As we partake in today’s festivities, let us remember that we are not merely celebrating a date in history but acknowledging a defining moment that shapes our present and will influence our future. Thank you and may we all have a joyous and meaningful Sabah Day,” Dr Jeffery added.