North Borneo Self-Government Day in Sabah Date in the current year: August 31, 2024

North Borneo Self-Government Day in Sabah On August 31, most Malaysians celebrate Independence Day (Hari Merdeka), a national holiday commemorating the independence of the Federation of Malaysia from the British Empire. However, the citizens of Sabah celebrate another holiday named North Borneo Self-Government Day. Although it coincides with Malaysian Independence Day, it has a different historical background.

The Malaysian state of Sabah occupies the northern portion of the island of Borneo. Between the 17th and the late 19th century, its territory was divided between the Sultanate of Brunei and the Sultanate of Sulu. In 1888, North Borneo became a British protectorate. The British North Borneo Company was responsible for local government, while the United Kingdom took control of the protectorate’s external affairs.

During the Second World War, most of Borneo was occupied by Japanese forces. It was liberated by the Allied forces in the Battle of North Borneo that was fought between June 10 and August 15, 1945. After the liberation, North Borneo was administered by the British Military Administration for almost a year. In July 1946, it became a British Crown Colony.

On August 31, 1963, British North Borneo was granted self-government. A little more than two weeks later, on September 16, North Borneo was united with the Federation of Malaya, Singapore and Sarawak to form the Federation of Malaysia, a newly independent state.

Coincidentally, the Federation of Malaya had become independent exactly six years before North Borneo attained self-government (on August 31, 1957). Therefore, Malaysian Independence Day is celebrated on August 31. The government and the citizens of Sabah, however, feel that it is not the right celebration for the state because when the Federation of Malaya achieved independence, North Borneo was still a colony. So instead of celebrating Independence Day, they observe North Borneo Self-Government Day, also referred to as Sabah Independence Day or Sabah Day.

Although Hari Merdeka and Sabah Day are two different holidays, they are celebrated similarly with parades, concerts, and other festive events. And on September 16, all of Malaysia celebrates it unity during Malaysia Day.

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North Borneo Self-Government Day in Sabah, holidays in Malaysia, holidays in Sabah, public holidays