Malaysians celebrate the third year of July 22nd and are officially celebrated as Sarawak Day and the 55th anniversary of Sarawak independence. Sarawak Independence Day (also known as Hari Merdeka Sarawak, Hari Sarawak or Sarawak Day) is a holiday observed on 22 July every year by the state of Sarawak in Malaysia, celebrating the establishment of self-government and de facto independence on 22 July 1963.
Sarawak Independence Day officially aims to raise awareness about Sarawak's past and its contribution to past leaders. Although this is the official day of their government, while some people still believe this is unimportant and debate about the historical accuracy that cites British law does not grant full official independence.
Many Malaysians might not be aware of the significance of this date but on July 22, 1963, Sarawak attained self-government from the British Empire and remained self-governing until September 16, 1963 when it formed Malaysia together with North Borneo (Sabah), Singapore and Malaya (Malaysian Digest, published on Friday 21st).
History of Sarawak
The history of Sarawak can be traced as far back as 40,000 years ago to the paleolithic period in which early evidence of human settlements was found in Niah's caves. A series of Chinese ceramics dating from the 8th to 13th century AD are found on the Santubong archaeological site. The coastal region of Sarawak was under the influence of the Brunei Empire in the 16th century.
In 1839, James Brooke, a British explorer, first arrived in Sarawak. Sarawak was later ruled by the Brooke family between 1841 and 1946. During World War II, he was occupied by Japan for three years. After the war, the last White Rajah, Charles Vyner Brooke, surrendered Sarawak to England, and in 1946 became the British Crown Colony.
On July 22, 1963, Sarawak was granted a self-rule by the British. After that, he became one of the founding members of the Federation of Malaysia, which was founded on September 16, 1963. However, the federation was opposed by Indonesia and led to a three-year Indonesian-Malaysian confrontation. From 1960 to 1990, Sarawak experienced a communist insurgency (Neil, 2003).
Why It Matters?
The formation of Malaysia has been internationally recognized by countries in the world, and the United Nations recognize the transition of the Federation of Malaya as a country into a new country called Malaysia with the inclusion of North Borneo,Sarawak and Singapore (until Singapore ceased to be part of Malaysia).
However, not everyone agrees and believes that Sarawak has achieved its dream of independence, because the colonial governors and the Queen in London still have involvement and the power of government.
According to Datu Dr Sanib Said, a Sarawak historian, said that the appointment of Tan Sri Stephen Kalong Ningkan as the main minister and member of the new Supreme Council or the first ministerial cabinet in Sarawak, for the country to become independent and it oriented to educate local people to run the country.
"July 22 is just the beginning of the process towards independence. We achieved independence from Britain for a few hours only on September 15, 1963, when the colonial governor Sir Alexander Waddell left for England.
"The next day, Datuk Abang Openg Sapiee was proclaimed as governor and at the same time, we formed Malaysia and our independence continued. On 16 September Sarawak became independent in Malaysia, "he said (Borneo Post).
Before Sarawak declared its independence, the local people had to fulfill the basic need of freedom. It took a very strict reason to gain independence, because by doing it unilaterally, it meant Sarawak refers to Malaysia signed by the Government of Sarawak. This is an international problem because the world recognizes Sarawak as part of Malaysia. Sarawak will only be treated like a riot country.
Sarawak actually has more autonomy and regulation to govern their own country, some people may wonder whether Sarawak Independence Day is meant to show their desire to be independent from Malaysia and they are seeking more of their autonomous rights.
The original Malaysian agreement signed and stored, will seek the purpose and spirit of the agreement so that they will be informed by fact and in a better position.
Sarawak State and national leaders must commit to solving the problems of thousands of indigenous people who do not have personal residence documents.
The Sarawak Indigenous Peoples Rights Society (Scrips) says it is high time the basic rights of citizenship are granted to them.
Secretary-General Michael Jok said although Sarawak marked its independence from colonial rule yesterday, there are still thousands of indigenous people who have not been recognized as citizens.
"Scrips hopes everyone in Sarawak is happy on independence day, the government makes it a public holiday for the citizens of Sarawak to reflect on this important day."
Source: Malaysian Digest, Borneo Post, Quora, TheStar, Faulkner, Neil (7 November 2003): Niah Cave, Sarawak, Borneo. Current World Archaeology