Dr M has a laugh over Najib’s Malaysia Day holiday
By Debra Chong
PUTRAJAYA, Oct 19 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s move today in declaring Sept 16 a public holiday — to mark the day Malaysia was formed, 46 years after the fact — was met with laughter by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“We should have more holidays,” Dr Mahathir told reporters at the Perdana Leadership Foundation here in an immediate reaction to the announcement made in Parliament earlier.
“Work is not important. Holiday is important,” the 84-year-old added, wearing his trademark smirk.
Dr Mahathir said he did not want to criticise Najib’s effort, but pointed out that he was often described as a “workaholic”.
“But now, I’m on a long holiday. I’m not working for anybody,” he said, smiling from ear to ear.
Najib declared Sept 16, which is Malaysia Day, as a national holiday from next year, in his latest move to portray his administration as inclusive.
By making Malaysia Day a holiday he was indicating the importance of the Sabah and Sarawak vote given the balance of politics between Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat (PR).
The move to finally declare Sept 16 a holiday appears aimed at giving Sabah and Sarawak due recognition as part of the country.
Malaysia was formed on Sept 16, 1963, and it has always been a sore point with Sabah and Sarawak that the day they joined the federation was never recognised officially as a holiday. The holiday declaration also takes away a perennial campaign complain by opposition parties.
Successive BN governments have ignored calls to make Malaysia Day a holiday. Najib’s administration is now acknowledging the significance of the votes from Sabah and Sarawak.