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Do You Know Why Malaysia Adopted The GMT+8 Timezone?

Do You Know Why Malaysia Adopted The GMT+8 Timezone?

Netizens are divided on the debate of Malaysia’s timezone, in which both East and West Malaysia had been standardised.

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If you’ve travelled to Indonesia or Thailand, you may have noticed that compared with Peninsular Malaysia, the sun rises about an hour earlier in these places.

As it turns out, it’s the sun in Peninsular Malaysia that actually rises ‘late’.

On that note, have you ever wondered why our time is like that?

It all goes back to a decision made by our former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Back when Dr Mahathir was the fourth Prime Minister, he contributed a lot to the modernization of Malaysia, including proposing a Malaysian Standard Time (MST) of our own.

This was because while West and East Malaysia came together, our timezones didn’t, as Sabah and Sarawak were 30 minutes ahead of us.

And this minuscule time difference was apparently found to have negatively affected working hours on both sides, making it difficult to coordinate the two.

This was initially protested by Singapore, but the benefits were enormous and the two countries adopted the timezone similar to China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

As such, after only five months of entering office in 1981, Mahathir submitted a motion to coordinate the timing of West and East Malaysia by implementing MST, which would push the Peninsula 30 minutes ahead to match East Malaysia or what we know today as GMT+8.

It was also believed to be able to strengthen national integration and stand together as a single nation.

The motion was unanimously supported in Parliament, even by opposition members at the time, and was made effective on 1 January, 1982.

Fast forward 40 years later, some people are now championing for Malaysia to return to its ‘rightful timezone’ which is GMT+7.

Looking deeper into this debate now taking place online, netizens appear divided.

While some agreed that having a GMT of 8 instead of 7, brings more economic benefits for the nation, others said it ruined the biological clock of most citizens.

Twitter user @ravivarmarao said:

To be mindful, GMT+8 works well for Sarawak and Sabah & economically we are similar with Singapore and the rest of the Asia Pacific. We have done it for so many years and we certainly can do it for much longer.

@ravivarmarao on Twitter

Another Twitter user @annarulangel said those fighting for the GMT+7 are people who like to make life difficult.

It’s only a 30 minute difference from Sabah Sarawak. Some people talk about health concerns, they say it’s better to leave work when the sun rises. Then all we need to ask is, change working hours instead of timezone.

@annarulangle on Twitter

Meanwhile, former Pakatan Harapan Putrajaya candidate Dr Noraishah Mydin Abd Aziz is for the move to change Malaysia’s standard time.

She tweeted in reply to a question regarding the benefits of changing the standard time, saying:

So that we can correct our messed up circadian clocks. Malaysia is just not waking up in the correct timezone. We were under the rule of a dictator for an extremely long while.

Dr Noraishah Mydin Abd Aziz, Former Pakatan Harapan Purtajaya candidate

Some even questioned how this would affect international businesses that have set up bases in Malaysia.

Twitter user @irfanmokhtar_ questioned:

If it is true that Peninsular Malaysia’s timezone is going to be changed to GMT+7, will there be any significantly big effects towards international companies who have opened up branches here, particularly in the concern of 24/7 coverage implementation? Is it just about adjusting working hours?

@irfanmokhtar_ on Twitter

Judging from all the feedback Twitter has provided, maybe time really is a social construct after all.

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