Over 5,000 take part in ‘722 Sarawak Freedom’, ‘Independence Day Walk’
A bird’s eye view of the ‘S4S’ formation at the ground.— Courtesy of Kuan Bong (S4S photographer).
The huge crowd proudly waving the old Sarawak flags.
The charming Peter John giving a speech at the gathering.
KUCHING: Over 5,000 people converged on Song Kheng Hai Rugby Field in Padungan waving both old and new Sarawak flags for the ‘722 Sarawak Freedom’ and ‘Independence Day Walk’ yesterday morning.
‘Proudly our flag flies high above our country strong and free’, a part of the lyrics of the old Sarawak anthem ‘Fairland Sarawak’, rang through ground abstractedly describing the intense atmosphere.
The event organising chairman, Peter John Jaban, who was content with the numbers, said he was surprised by the huge turn-up.
“We were only expecting 5,000 to come, but believe the crowd now has exceeded our expectation,” he said.
Despite being a working day, the huge crowd comprising all races from across the state sacrificed their precious working hours to join in the event which was organised by Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (Sadia) and Sarawak for Sarawakians (S4S).
Wheelchair-bound since childhood Jap Soon Hung, 30, said he did not want to miss being a part of this major event despite his difficulty in moving around.
“I just had to come. I woke up at 4.30am and went through a lot of trouble just to join and witness this historical event because I think it deeply concerns the future generation.”
The event was held to commemorate Sarawak’s Independence Day on July 22, 1963 though it may also hold other meanings to others.
“Sarawak has never been treasured or valued, our resources taken and only a minimal amount comes back to us,” said Vincent, 40, who deals with renovation work and was one of the thousands present at the event yesterday.
“This event can be seen as a way to gain the attention of the Malaysian government; to loudly emphasize our state’s significance.”
Kho, 46, an acquaintance of Vincent, said the participants just wanted to fight for what Sarawak and its people deserved.
“Sarawak is the biggest state in the nation with its own rich and abundant resources.
“We have everything – timber, oil, gas and much more. Yet, we are considered the poorest state in Malaysia. Why?
“It’s simple. It’s just like helping someone to earn RM100 but only getting 50 sen in return,” he said.
The event started at 8am and the crowd started to disperse around 11am. Activities such as autograph-taking session, tug-of-war and music performances were among the side activities.