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Lo Khere Chiang hits out at Chong Chieng Jen

Batu Kitang Assemblyman, Lo Khere Chiang said Deputy Minister of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs, Chong Chieng Jen has forgotten his roots as a Sarawakian. These days, he has become so quick in finding fault with Sarawak and all Sarawakian based parties’ politicians.

He reckoned Chong is now calling for a change in the gazetted July 22 as “Sarawak Independence Day” to be corrected to “Sarawak Day”.

“Let me remind Chong that this was what was reported in Malaysiakini on Sept 1, 2016 : “(Malaysiakini) – Sarawak DAP today urged the state government to stop celebrating national day on Aug 31 there because it has no historical significance to Sarawak. Bandar Kuching MP Chong Chieng Jen said this is as Sarawak obtained independence from the British on July 22, 1963”.

Where is Chong’s passion for Sarawak now, after becoming a deputy minister? Does he know what Sarawakians want?  Doesn’t he  know that there is a hudge majority of Sarawakians who wants Sarawak’s Independence? The late Tok Nan may have thought about this but he also knew that it has to be a peaceful and timely process. Maybe instead of calling for a change to further alienate us from our possible journey towards independence, Chong should go and do a survey to find out the truth of what Sarawakians on the ground want and take the results of the survey to his bosses in Malaya. Instead of fighting for Sarawak, he is going the opposite way, explaining for his Malayan masters, ” he asked.

Lo wondered  if Chong was also oblivious of the fact that out of the 222 federal parliamentary seats today, Sarawak and Sabah have only 56 seats which is less than 1/3 of the number of seats in the federal parliament?

The result of this is that the Federal Constitution has been amended hundreds of times and we have been unable to stop any changes in federal  parliament that adversely affected Sarawak and Sabah.

“Is that not a stark reminder to us all that 22nd of July 1963 is of utmost importance to us? On that day, Sarawak was not any less independent than say, an ‘independent’ country like Australia today. Australia is a federation, a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy. This means that Australia has a Queen, who resides in the United Kingdom and is represented in Australia by a Governor-General. Malaysia is also a federation, a constitutional monarchy and a parliamentary democracy. The one big difference is that neither Great Britain nor Canberra is taking 95% of say, Victoria’s coal or South Australia’s uranium and only returning  5% to that state. So yes, we want independence. We want the independence Australia, New Zealand, Canada and the other Commonwealth nations or colonies have or used to have as in Hong Kong’s and Sarawak’s case, ” he asked.

The other question, Lo added was that Chong could bring to his Malayan masters while we are on the subject is why is Malaysia Baru celebrating 31 August as our National Day. The fact of the matter is that we did not become Malaysia on 31 August. It is only the federation of Malaya which became independent on 31 August 1957. Malaysia was born on 16 September, 1963 when Sabah, Sarawak, Singapore and the federation of Malaya came together to form Malaysia. If Malaya can celebrate 31 August with shouts of ‘Merdeka’ on that day, I do not see why Sarawak cannot celebrate her own Sarawak Independence Day on 22 July. Then we can all celebrate Malaysia Day on 16 September.

In a news article on 31 August 2016, Chong challenged the late Tok Nan: “I urge (Chief Minister) Adenan Satem to stand up against his Umno counterparts in Putrajaya and to stop the Aug 31 celebration in Sarawak. Let us confine our official State celebrations to July 22 and Sept 16.”

He challenged Chong to practise what he preached and urge him to stand up against PH government counterparts in Putrajaya and stop August 31 celebrations in Sarawak. If Malaya  continues to celebrate their Independence Day, what is the harm in letting us Sarawakians celebrate our Independence Day as well? Why clamp down on our celebrations? Are we going back to the dark old days when even lion dances are not allowed?

Instead of trying to undo the late Tok Nan’s legacy, Chong could do better by talking to his colleagues in the Education Ministry to write the correct factual history of Malaysia so that the young can be educated with the following facts:

On July 22, 1963, the last British colonial governor, Alexander Waddell left the Astana and boarded a white sampan to cross the Sarawak River to hand over the administration of Sarawak to her own people.

The colonial flag was lowered and the Sarawak flag was raised. We had our own government and our own first Chief Minister, Stephen Kalong Ningkang on July 22, 1963.

Sarawak was self-governed for a short period of time before entering into the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) on September 16 that year, which formed the Federation of Malaysia with Sabah, Malaya and Singapore.

Under the MA63 agreement, Sarawak had insisted on certain terms and conditions, which gave the state autonomous rights to several aspects of the constitution.

“I quote our present and sixth CM of Sarawak, Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari on this”We insisted on our rights as we did not join Malaysia, but we are part of the formation of the federation. We are a founding partner that formed the country. This is why July 22 and the Malaysia Agreement 1963 are significant to us.”

These facts should not just be sitting in our archives gathering dust. They should be in our children’s history books!

Lo Khere Chiang

Lo Khere Chiang

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