Yap, she is one true Malaysian: Woman proud to be named after country

Ms Malaysia Yap was born in Simunjan, Sarawak, shortly after 1am on Sept 16, 1963 - the day the Federation of Malaysia was formed.
Ms Malaysia Yap was born in Simunjan, Sarawak, shortly after 1am on Sept 16, 1963 - the day the Federation of Malaysia was formed.PHOTO: THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

KUCHING (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Not everyone shares the same birthday as Malaysia, but for one Sarawakian, even her name commemorates the nation's formation.

Ms Malaysia Yap was born in Simunjan, Sarawak shortly after 1am on Sept 16, 1963 - the day the Federation of Malaysia was formed.

"My grandmother was interested in politics, so she named me Malaysia in honour of the historic occasion," Ms Yap, 54, said at her home in Semariang, Kuching.

She recalled that friends used to tease her about her name when she was growing up, especially when Malaysia lost a football match.

"I would get angry when people shouted 'Malaysia kalah'," she said during the interview. Kalah is the Malay word for "lose" or "lost".

"But when I grew older and understood the significance of my name, I accepted it...Now, I feel proud to be named Malaysia."

Ms Yap said one of her grandchildren was born on Sept 14, two days shy of Malaysia Day.

"We celebrate our birthdays together...He will turn 10 this year," she said.

She also recalled being invited to attend the Anak-Anak Merdeka gathering in Kuala Lumpur in 2007 that was held in conjunction with the National Day celebrations.

"It was exciting to meet other people who had Malaysia in their names.

"I also got to meet the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and then-prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi," she said, showing her certificate of participation.

With National Day and the 55th Malaysia Day celebration coming up, Ms Yap's wish is that the nation would continue to be successful.

"I also hope people like myself, who are named after the nation, will not be forgotten," she added.

Malaysia Day commemorates the establishment of the Malaysian federation, while National Day, on Aug 31, refers to the day when the Federation of Malaya's independence from the British Empire was officially declared.