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The Philippine view of the first Hari Merdeka as reported in Philippine newspapers

de Viana, Augusto V. (2014) The Philippine view of the first Hari Merdeka as reported in Philippine newspapers. In: 23rd International Conference of Historians of Asia 2014 (IAHA2014), 23 - 27 August 2014, Alor Setar, Kedah, Malaysia.

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The Federation of Malaysia celebrates its national day on the 31st of every August during which it commemorates its independence from British rule. It is the most widespread holiday in the country and it is called as Hari Merdeka (Day of Freedom) or Hari Kebangsaan (National Day) in the Malay language.On this day in 1957 the territories in the Malayan Union which were all located in the Malay Peninsula formed themselves as the Federation of Malaya.That federation was first created in 1948.The federation became independent on August 31, 1957.Later on September 16, 1963, Malaya would be joined with Sarawak, North Borneo (now Sabah) and Singapore to form Malaysia.Two years later Singapore would leave the federation of Malaysia to form the independent Republic of Singapore.The independence of new states especially those in the Southeast Asian region are given frontpage and editorial attention by Philippine newspapers like the Manila Times and the Manila Daily Bulletin.The independence of former colonies is viewed in the context of the postwar era when decolonization was taking place around the world.Some countries achieved their independence after a period of armed struggle such as in the case of Indonesia and Vietnam.Others gain it through a gradual process such as in Malaya and the Philippines.The Philippines and Malaysia share a common experience in gaining their independence from their colonizers.Both achieved it through a gradual and negotiated process and they share the same problems of a communist insurgency and the lingering influence of their former colonizers.The Philippine interest in the emerging new nation of Malaya has geographical, ethnic and historical bases.Located in the Southeast Asian region, Malaya including the territories still under British protection is practically a neighbor of the Philippines.Majority of the Malay inhabitants are ethnically related to the Filipinos who are separated only by means of colonial accident and difference in religion.Historically events in the Philippines and Malaya affect each other.The royal houses in Sulu and Mindanao are linked to some of the royal families in Johore and in Singapore. Some peoples in the Philippines like the Samas of Sulu trace their origin from the Malay Peninsula like Johore. Events in the Philippines like the 1896 Philippine Revolution were monitored in the newspapers of the Straits Settlements.Following the execution of Jose Rizal in 1896 many Malays named their sons after him. This practice is still being followed today.At the time of its independence, Malaya had a population of almost four million people encompassing Malay, Chinese and Indian ethnic groups with the majority having Islam as its main religion.There are also a significant Hindu and Christian minorities. Malaya at the time of its independence was the one of world’s leading supplier of rubber and the largest producer of tin.The Philippines on the other hand achieved its independence eleven years earlier.By `1957 it had a population of more than 20 million people.The Philippines was struggling from the problem of post World War II reconstruction and like Malaya it was fighting a serious communist insurgency led by the Hukbong Magpalaya ng Bayan (HMB).1 Massive military and economic aid from the United States kept the rebellion at bay and military operations and government reformed weakened the movement by 1955.It was still however a serious threat.At the time of Malaya’s independence in 1957 the Philippines was headed by President Carlos P. Garcia who succeeded President Ramon Magsaysay who died in a plane crash on March 17 that year.CG as the Philippine press called him, was Magsaysay’s Vice President before the latter’s death. Aside from being Vice President Garcia was the administration’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs and a staunch advocate of establishing closer relations with the Philippines’ neighbors.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Additional Information: ISBN 978-967-0474-76-2 Organized by Universiti Utara Malaysia and Malaysian Historical Society (Persatuan Sejarah Malaysia).
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DS Asia
Divisions: School of International Studies
Depositing User: Mrs. Norazmilah Yaakub
Date Deposited: 11 Jun 2015 00:48
Last Modified: 12 May 2016 04:48

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