Often, there have been debates among the people of Sabah, over the subject of dates for Independence Day and Malaysia Day.
While the arguments continue whether it was on Aug 31, 1957 or Sept 16, 1963, senior citizens, especially those who had witnessed both ocassions said it was time for the rakyat to reflect on what mattered most -- that is, the changes which Independence brought to the nation.
For 62-year-old retired nurse, Mary Martha, it was more important to celebrate the idea of unity than putting stress on debating on the actual date of National Day.
"Look at how different it was, before and now. Back then, it was difficult for us to get basic education and I was only schooling until primary six; now the country ensures education for all children and most of our youth are able to get a degree now," she told Bernama in a recent interview.
Malaysia, she said, had been developing "pretty well" and the people should feel blessed to stay in a country where people of different backgrounds could build communities together, avoiding friction and political instability which other developing countries faced, due to differences amongst its peoples.
"So, we should just celebrate Merdeka Day, or Malaysia Day, both dates are good to me. As long as we remember, that the formation of Malaysia has brought a lot of good for us.
"The new generation is lucky to be able to enjoy all the infrastructure and benefits, which the past generation could only dream about before the nation gained Independence," she added.
Jerry Nuating recalled the people beaming with pride when the nation finally gained independence.
"Back then, I was young but I remember that during the Merdeka Day celebrations, parades were held at schools and we sang the national anthem. At that time, there was neither a float procession or large-scale celebration...it was just a normal celebration but we observed it with great joy.
"Now, the Merdeka month celebrations are on a grander scale as there are sophisticated fireworks, many programmes are held in each state and also at national-level, and they are all very colourful," said the 57-year-old former government servant.