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Sebastian Ting proud Sarawak Day celebration is in Miri

Assistant Minister for Tourism, Arts and Culture, Datuk Sebastian Ting expressed his joy and pride that Miri was chosen to host the Sarawak Day celebration this year. 

July 22 marks the fifth year of celebrating Sarawak Day since the first celebration by the late Chief Minister Pehin Sri Adenan Satem in 2016.

The day was gazetted on May 20, 2016 as a public holiday to celebrate the day that Sarawak attained self-government from the British when the then Governor Sir Alexander Waddell proclaimed the appointment of the late Tan Sri Datuk Amar Stephen Kalong Ningkan as our first Sarawakian Chief Minister and the rest of the elected Supreme Council Sarawakian members as the first ministerial cabinet in Sarawak. The gazetted reason for this 722 public holiday was Sarawak Independence Day and as such insofar as Sarawakians are concerned, we should consider 22nd July as Sarawak Independence Day.

 Sarawak Day is also a significant day for us to remember the sacrifices and contributions of our past leaders who had contributed towards Sarawak’s independence.

 For the sake of clarity, it is important to note here that the 31st August 1957 was the Independence Day for the Federated States of Malaya, which at that time had nothing to do with Sarawak, ” he said.

Ting said he acknowledged the challenges ahead for Sarawak especially in maintaining good relationship with the Federal government and restoring our rights as enshrined in the Malaysia Agreement 1963, the Cobbold Commission, the Inter-Governmental Committee Report, the Malaysia Act 1963 (Chapter 35) and the Federal and Sarawak Constitutions.

 “It is our  hope and desire that all Sarawakians will continue to preserve our peace and harmony as well as protecting and defending the independence of Sarawak, our immigration autonomy, our natural oil and gas resources, our land and our own Sarawak Ordinances. In addition, we must now push for the autonomy of education, health and tourism to be given to Sarawak to manage and plan for further development and expansion.

It is also important for us to take heed that our safeguards and Sarawak rights in the Federal Constitution would be redundant and irrelevant if they are easily amended by the states of Peninsular Malaysia at will. That was the reason why when we formed Malaysia in 1963, Sarawak (24), Sabah (16) and Singapore (15) in total was given more than one-third of the total 159 seats in Parliament as a protection to prevent the states of Peninsular Malaysia from having two-thirds of seats in parliament to amend or remove our safeguards in the Federal Constitution at will, ” he added. 

Ting stated that the 15 parliament seats belonging to Singapore were deleted instead of allocated to Sarawak and Sabah when Singapore separated from Malaysia in 1965. In combine with the drastic increase of parliamentary seats over the years to the states of Peninsular Malaysia, today Sarawak (31) and Sabah (25) only accounted slightly more than 25% of the total parliament seats of 222 which is not enough to protect our constitutional safeguards in the Federal Constitution. Therefore, it is imperative that we fight for more than one-third of parliamentary seats to be allocated for Sarawak and Sabah like in 1963.

Lastly, he wished all fellow Sarawakians a safe and joyous Sarawak Day’s celebration and please remember to continue practicing personal hygiene such as hand washing regularly, using face masks in public and avoid closed spaces as we are still combating the pandemic COVID-19.

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