16 September 1963 - The establishment of Malaysia
The Prime Minister of the Federation of Malaya, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra in his speech at the Conference of Foreign Journalists' Association of Southeast Asia held at the Adelphi Hotel, Singapore on 27 May 1961, had an insight about the need to establish a plan to bring the Federation of Malaya, Singapore, North Borneo, Brunei and Sarawak into a form of political and economic cooperation. Among other things, this cooperation should be conducted with the aims of limiting the influence of communist influence that could jeopardise the political stability within the region. The Government's stand is based on the political developments in Singapore that shows an increasing influence of the Leftist. In addition to that, the idea is to offset the total population, increasing the economic development and to accelerate the process of the independence for Singapore, Brunei, North Borneo and Sarawak.
The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association Branch of Malaya and Borneo Meeting in Singapore on 23 July 1961 had agreed to establish the Malaysia Solidarity Consultative Committee, chaired by Donald Stephen. The purpose of setting up this committee is to explain more clearly about the concept of Malaysia to the public, especially to the people of Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei. In this committee, the representatives of Malaya consisted of members of Parliament. Singapore Representatives comprises of the Legislative Council members and one from the opposition party. Members of the delegation from Sarawak were members of the State Council, the same with Sabah. The Committee convened four times to discuss matters relating to the establishment of Malaysia. The first meeting was held in Sabah in August 1961, followed by Kuching, Sarawak in December 1961 and then in Kuala Lumpur in January 1962. The last meeting was held in Singapore in February 1962. In the last meeting, the Committee agreed to submit a memorandum to the Cobbold Commission to conduct surveys on the views of the people in Sarawak and Sabah on the notion of Malaysia.
The Committee agreed to a memorandum containing several key items that will become the basis of the planned constitution. The Committee agreed that the Constitution of Malaya will be used as the basis of the Malaysian Constitution. Among other matters agreed upon was the need for a strong and authoritative Federal government in foreign relations, defence and security as well as Islam as the accepted official religion.
The formation of Cobbold Commission on 17 January 1962 is to give freedom and justice to all parties. The Commission was formed as an outcome from negotiations between the Federation of Malaya government and the British Government in November 1961. The purpose of this Commission is to explore the views of communities in North Borneo (Sabah) and Sarawak on the idea of Malaysia. The Commission comprises of five members, chaired by Lord Cobbold, a former governor of the Bank of England, its members comprises of Dato’ Wong Pow Nee and Encik Mohd Ghazali bin Shafie, representing the government of Malaya, while Sir Anthony Abell and Sir David Watherston , the representative of the British government. Mr. H. Harris acted as the Secretary.
Throughout February to April 1962, the Commission has met more than 4,000 people and received 2,200 memorandums from the various groups that consisted of political parties, members of Government and Legislative Assemblies, the chiefs, the natives and the leaders of the country, municipal councils, religious leaders, trade unions and members of the public who gave their views. The results of this report show that 80 percent of the population of Sarawak and North Borneo support the establishment of Malaysia. Public support is clearly evident by the Cobbold Commission report, which was approved by the representatives of the United Nations Secretary. In addition, the report also includes recommendations from members of the Commission on several matters specified in the memorandum received.
On 21 June 1962, the report was submitted to the British Government and the Government of the Federation of Malaya. After having reviewed, the two governments agreed to accept nearly all of the recommendations made by the Commission. The Prime Minister of Malaya, Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra, also received a report of the Cobbold Commission. He had formed a committee to study the report which was chaired by him and other members consisting of Tun Abdul Razak (Deputy Prime Minister), Tan Siew Sin (Finance of Minister), Datuk (Dr.) Ismail Dato 'Abdul Rahman (Internal Security Minister) and Datuk V.T. Sambanthan (Minister of Public Works and Telecommunications).
Consensus was reached between the Prime Minister of the Federation of Malaya, Tunku Abdul Rahman and Harold Macmillan, the British Prime Minister to hold talks in London. Negotiations had been going on for 2 weeks. In July 1963, an important agreement was sign at the Commonwealth Relations Office in Malborough House, London. Representatives of the British government, the Federation of Malaya, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore, signed the agreement establishing the Federation of Malaysia. Approval to form Malaysia was obtained on 31 August 1963. However, the establishment of Malaysia which was planned on that date had to be postponed due to the fact that the United Nations Secretary reports can only be completed on 14 September 1963. Malaysia was finally declared on 16 September 1963.