Differences Between Merdeka Day, National Day and Malaysia Day

Merdeka Day, National Day and Malaysia Day – what are the differences with all these days? Everything’s explained and simplified here.


When I grew up, August 31st was one of the primary celebrations in the country. We were taught in schools that August 31st is Hari Merdeka or the Independence Day of Malaysia.

Later, we all discovered that it’s not really that accurate.

What’s the difference between all of these dates?

Refer to the table below.

Relevant to Malaya? Relevant to Sabah? Relevant to Sarawak? Notes
22 July, 1963 icon icon icon Sarawak’s self-government day
31 August, 1957 icon icon icon Malaya’s Indepen-dence Day, usually known as Hari Merdeka
31 August, 1963 icon icon icon Sabah’s self-government day
16 September, 1963 icon icon icon Formation of Malaysia – Hari Malaysia or Hari Kebangsaan

Formation of Malaysia

Malaysia Day is held on 16 September every year to commemorate the establishment of the Malaysian federation on the same date in 1963.

It marked the joining together of Malaya, North Borneo, Sarawak, and Singapore to form Malaysia.


News on Malaysia formation by The Straits Times Singapore – the birth of a new country in 1963.


Proclamation of Malaysia in Kuching, Sarawak by on September 16, 1963.


Meanwhile, in Jesselton, the proclamation was held at the town Padang by Tun Fuad Stephens. Tun Mustapha and  Deputy Minister of Malaya Tun Abdul Razak was also present.

Since 2010, Malaysia Day has been a public holiday. Prime Minister Najib Razak made the decision after a question-and-answer session at Parliament on 19 October 2009, giving Malaysians two celebrations related to the country’s independence.

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Richard Ker

I love the history of North Borneo (Sabah) and strive to digitally any related information on this website. I'm also the author of LifeinMy.com and CyberjayaCity.com. Follow me on Twitter @richardker.

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