Sarawakians respect Aug 31 but it is not their independence day, and 'now Malaya identifies somethings that are not connected with Sabah and Sarawak'.
KUCHING: As Communications and Multimedia Minister Shabery Cheek compels Malaysians to “display” patriotism by standing up in cinemas to the national anthem and fly the Jalur Gemilang in conjunction with Merdeka Day, newly ‘awakened’ Sarawakians are taking a ‘respectful’ stand.
They are saying that Aug 31 is the day Federated Malaya secured its freedom from colonial rule.
And like the United States of America, Federated Malaya had “only much later annexed” then independent Sabah and Sarawak via a Malaysian Agreement signed on Sept 16, 1963.
Righfully then, Sept 16 should be the “more” celebrated national day and Sarawak’s July 22 as the day the state received its independence.
If there were arguments over this in the past, Chief Minister Taib Mahmud’s presence and endorsement of Sarawak’s Independence Day celebrations on July 22 recently has put an end to this, opined some to FMT.
Said Douglas Bujong 34 a technician from Serian: “Aug 31 should be the date of independence for Malaya, not Sarawak.
“That is recognized in our history annals. So Sarawak should not be involved at all with this date.
“I am very happy the state government has recognised July 22 as an important date for Sarawakians.
“Sarawak gained its freedom from the British on July 22, 1963. It’s a part of Sarawak identity.”
Kuching-based Joseph Gee, 39 shared his view, adding that Sarawak’s history has lived in the shadow of Malaya’s.
A sales consultant Gee said Sarawak should celebrate its own Independence Day as a “reminder to the new generation of “our true history”.
“July 22 celebrations was great, both as a way to celebrate and also to remind the newer generation.
“Once we know our history better, then we can learn from it. It’s important that we Sarawakians know our actual history,” said Gee.
Edgar Ong, a 50-year-old entrepreneur here, however believes that the apt national conciliation day for Malaysians to celebrate is Sept 16.
“Aug 31, 1957 is Malaya Independence, not for Sabah and Sarawak, for us, we should celebrate on Sept 16, formation of Malaysia. From past experience, Malaya has no interest in us.
‘We respect Aug 31 but…’
Suzie de Run, a self-employed, 41 year old from Belaga is also disconnected with Aug 31 celebrations that Shabery is flogging.
“Only Malaya should celebrate Aug 31. It is their independence day. Why? Because Malaysia was never colonised.
“But honestly, I never feel ‘connected’ with West Malaysia and their kind of rules.
Thomas Jacques, 50, a civil engineer was more specific. He said no one can force the Sarawakians to fly “the flag to celebrate Aug 31.”
“We must think Sabah and Sarawak as equal partners with Malaya. Sarawak people cannot be forced to fly the flag to celebrate Aug 31.
“We do respect the day, but we must celebrate Sept 16.
“We must put things in right perspective. Malaya must connect with Sabah and Sarawak.
“Now Malaya identifies somethings that are not connected with Sabah and Sarawak, “ he said.
A member of Sarawak’s old guards, Abdillah Taha Bojeng, 76, perhaps best summed the feelings in Sarawak when he said: “I cannot even remember what happened in Kuching that day, so I won’t accept that as the day Sarawak gained its independence.”
“I’ve lived through many decades, seeing Sarawak being a British colony back in the fifties and sixties, as well as growing up as a child during the Japanese occupation.
“So much changes, so many things I had witnessed but I cannot remember what happend in Kuching on Aug 31 1957.
“But I felt the excitement when independence was proclaimed for Sarawak on July 22, 1963,” he said adding that he was deeply proud when the government recently recognized this date “even re-enacted the independence proclamation.”
“I hope the significance of July 22 will not be forgotten again by Sarawakians after this,” said Abdillah a patriarch of an extended family of 53.