KUCHING, July 28 — State Reform Party (STAR) president Lina Soo today urged the state government not to amend the gazetted notification of “Sarawak Independence Day” to “Sarawak Day” as suggested by a Sarawak Pakatan (PH) politician.
She said this is to honour former Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem’s legacy of gazetting July 22 as Sarawak Independence Day during his term in office back in 2016.
“The date is also a reminder to Sarawakians of his advice to Jaga Sarawak Tok Bait-Bait (take care of Sarawak as best as possible),” Soo said when responding to Sarawak PH chairman Chong Chieng Jen’s call to the state government to amend the gazetted notification from Sarawak Independence Day to Sarawak Day.
Chong, who is also the deputy minister of domestic trade and consumer affairs, has accused the state government of gazetting July 22 as Sarawak Independence Day for political propaganda.
He had accused the previous state Barisan Nasional government of twisting historical facts to ride on the people’s sentiments.
Soo said she concurs that July 22, 1963 is not the date of Sarawak independence as it was not the day it was decolonised from the British Empire.
“It was merely the date of internal self-government with the first ever appointment of a Sarawak chief minister and Cabinet in 1963.
“It saw a devolution of powers from the British Governor and colonial officers to a local government, but without the handover of sovereignty which remained with the British government until September 16, 1963 when Sarawak’s sovereignty was surrendered to the Federation of Malaya to be renamed Malaysia,” Soo, who is also a state’s rights activist, argued.
She insisted that it was not wrong for Adenan to refer to July 22 as Sarawak’s Independence Day, arguing that the former chief minister was a trained lawyer and knew what he was doing.
“If Sarawak Independence Day is changed to Sarawak Day at the behest of politicians, is it because they insist Sarawak is not independent and can never be?” Soo asked.
“Would that mean then, Sarawak is akin to being a colony of the federation of Malaysia which is defined as the Federation of Malaya in Article 160 of the Federal Constitution?” she further asked.