The Historical Moments That Led Up To Malaysia's Formation, Captured In 35 Old Photos

A blast from the past.

Cover image via Arkib Negara Malaysia via Astro Awani

Malaysia has come a long way since its formation back in 1963

Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj, the Prime Minister of the Federation of Malaya, made a proposal to merge Brunei, Malaya, North Borneo (now known as Sabah), Sarawak, and Singapore on 27 May 1961.

In the two years that followed, major meetings were held to discuss the matter, and the Cobbold Commission was set up on 17 January 1962 to find out if the citizens of North Borneo and Sarawak supported the formation of 'Malaysia'.

The findings of the Cobbold Commission eventually led to the signing of Malaysia Agreement in London on 9 July 1963. The agreement laid out the terms for the formation of the Federation of Malaysia - made up of Singapore, Malaya, Sarawak, and North Borneo.

The Federation of Malaysia was formally proclaimed on 16 September 1963.

It has been about 63 years since Malaysia was formed. We take a look back at some of the photos taken during the era leading up to the historic event:

Note: Most of these photos were sourced from Arkib Negara Malaysia (National Archives Malaysia), Jabatan Penerangan Malaysia (Department of Information Malaysia), and The Borneo Post.

1. Tunku Abdul Rahman put forward his proposal about the formation of Malaysia for the first time, during his speech at the Adelphi Hotel in Singapore on 27 May 1961

2. Malaysia Solidarity Consultative Committee members during a meeting at the Selangor Legislative Assembly Chamber in Kuala Lumpur on 6 and 7 January 1962

The committee was established in July 1961 to explain the concept behind the formation of Malaysia to the citizens of North Borneo, Sarawak, and Brunei.

This was said to be the committee's third meeting.

3. The Cobbold Commission, led by Lord Cameron Fromanteel (Kim) Cobbold, was set up on 17 January 1962

Image via Wikiwand

There were five members in the Cobbold Commission and it was headed by Lord Cobbold, the former governor of the Bank of England.

The other members were Sir Anthony Abell and Sir David Watherston. There were also two representatives from the Federation of Malaya, namely Datuk Wong Pow Nee and Mohamed Ghazali Shafie.

4. The arrival of Lord Cobbold and his wife at the Kuala Lumpur airport on 5 April 1962

5. Results gathered by the Cobbold Commission revealed that 80% of the North Borneo and Sarawak citizens supported the notion of the establishment of Malaysia

This report was then presented to the British government and the government of the Federation of Malaya on 21 June 1962.

6. Tunku Abdul Rahman at a press conference about talks on Malaysia in 1962. Seated beside him is the first Prime Minister of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew.

7. Tunku Abdul Rahman, who had just returned from London following talks with the British government on Malaysia, photographed sharing his garland with Lee Kuan Yew sometime in August 1962

8. Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, then Deputy Prime Minister, was escorted by Tun Muhammad Ghazali Shafie and Tun Thirunyanasambanthan Veerasamy before his departure to London on 25 June 1963

9. Tun Abdul Razak having a chat with Tun Dr. Ismail Abdul Rahman before departing for London at the Kuala Lumpur airport on 25 June 1963

10. Tunku Abdul Rahman held a press conference on 6 July 1963 at his residence to announce that he would leave for London to attend the signing of the Malaysia Agreement

Image via Arkib Negara

11. On the evening of 6 July 1963, Tunku Abdul Rahman took a flight to Singapore and then to London to sign the Malaysia Agreement

12. Tunku Abdul Rahman signing the Malaysia Agreement at the Marlborough House in London on 9 July 1963

13. Representatives of Sarawak seen at Kuching Airport after returning from London on 12 July 1963

Five people, namely, Tun Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Temenggong Jugah anak Barieng, Datu Bandar Abang Haji Mustapha, Tun Abang Haji Openg, Tan Sri Ling Beng Siew, and P.E.H. Pike, signed the Malaysia Agreement on behalf of Sarawak.

14. The public waiting eagerly for Tunku Abdul Rahman's arrival at the Sungai Besi airport in Kuala Lumpur on 25 July 1963

15. Tunku Abdul Rahman shook hands with members of the Cabinet, foreign ambassadors, and local leaders following his return from London on 25 July 1963

16. The arrival of Tun Abdul Razak and his wife Tun Rahah Tan Sri Mohammad Noah ahead of the Malaysia Day celebrations in 1963

17. Sir William Goodes bid farewell and saluted during his departure from Jesselton Base on 15 September 1963. It was his last day as the Governor of North Borneo.

18. Sir Alexander Waddell, the last British governor of Sarawak and his wife, Lady Jean Waddell left the Astana, their residence, via a white sampan on 15 September 1963

19. Sir Alexander Waddell and Tun Abang Openg Abang Sapiee, the first Yang di-Pertua Negeri (Governor) of Sarawak, exchanging goodbyes on 15 September 1963

Image via The Borneo Post

20. A snippet of the The Straits Times newspaper dated 16 September 1963

21. The Proclamation of Malaysia was written in English and in Jawi

22. Tun Datu Mustapha Datu Harun, Sabah's first governor, seen at the Independence Day celebration on 16 September 1963. The celebration was held at the Jesselton (now known as Kota Kinabalu) city field.

23. Tun Muhammad Fuad (Donald) Stephens, Sabah's first chief minister, dressed in the national Kadazan costume and sworn into office at the Malaysia proclamation ceremony

24. Tun Muhammad Fuad reading the pledge at the Independence Day celebration on 16 September 1963

25. Reading of the pledge during Sabah's Independence Day celebration at Jesselton city field on 16 September 1963

26. The parade presentation during Sabah's Independence Day celebration on 16 September 1963

27. Tan Sri Datuk Amar Stephen Kalong Ningkan, the first Chief Minister of Sarawak, reading the Proclamation of Sarawak's Independence

28. Tun Abang Openg Abang Sapiee made a proclamation at Padang Sentral (now known as Padang Merdeka), Kuching, on 16 September 1963

29. The first Yang di-Pertuan Agong, Tuanku Abdul Rahman ibni Almarhum Tuanku Muhammad, performed thanksgiving prayers with the public at Masjid Jamek on 16 September 1963

30. Penang government leaders were greeted by Tan Sri Khaw Kai Boh as they arrived at the Merdeka Stadium for the declaration of the Proclamation of Malaysia on 17 September 1963

31. The Yang di-Pertuan Agong delivered a speech during the reading of promulgation of Malaysia on 17 September 1963

32. Tunku Abdul Rahman shouted 'Merdeka' seven times to the expectant crowd, after reading the Proclamation of Malaysia on 17 September 1963

Image via

33. The guests of honour who were present in conjunction with the declaration of the establishment of Malaysia at the Merdeka Stadium on 17 September 1963

34. About 30,000 people attended the grand celebration on 17 September 1963

35. The words 'Hidup Malaysia' (Long Live Malaysia) were formed in conjunction with Malaysia Day celebrations which was held at Stadium Merdeka on 17 September 1963

Indeed, long live Malaysia! <3

These cities in Malaysia have definitely gone through some major changes over the years:

More old photos from the past:

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