SARAWAKIANS remember July 22, not only as Sarawak Independence Day, but as one of the major contributions of former chief minister Pehin Sri Adenan Satem (Tok Nan), who declared it a public holiday.

On July 22, 1963, Sarawak gained independence from the British Empire.

Prior to Tok Nan, not much attention was given to the date by Sarawak leaders, except for Selangau MP and Ba’Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian, who “made noise” about the date when commenting on Aug 31, National Day, which is actually the date when Malaya achieved independence (Aug 31,1957).

Tok Nan paid attention to the “noise” made by Baru and many other concerned Sarawakians, thus, declaring July 22 a state holiday from 2017.

New Sarawak Tribune spoke to a few individuals here about the significance of Sarawak Independence Day.

Pemanca Mohamad @ Mohd Jali Kawi

Among them, former police officer ASP (Rtd) Jamil Othman, (community leader) Pemanca Mohamad @ Mohd Jali Kawi, Anselm Asai Sidin and a retiree, who declined to be named.

Jamil, in his 60s, said July 22 was significant because it would help future generations identify the historic day when Sarawak gained her independence.

“July 22 is Sarawak Independence Day, while Aug 31 is Malaya’s Independence Day.”

For Mohamad, 73, “July 22 should have been declared a public holiday in Sarawak even before Tok Nan, or even earlier.”

He hoped that July 22, 1963 and other relevant facts pertaining to it be included in the school syllabus so that students, especially from Sarawak, would know better their homeland and her history.

A retiree, who preferred anonymity, said July 22 was significant because it helped expose the truth about Sarawak and her history to the young and future generations, so that they understand better.

“I hope current leaders in Sarawak would continue to fight for the state’s rights as spelt out in the Malaysia Agreement (MA63) and other relevant laws,” the 64-year-old man said.

For Anselm Asai, a 79-year-old pensioner, he said he could not recall much about July 22.

According to the former teacher, he used to teach history, including about Sarawak in primary school, but could not remember much now.

“Whatever it is, I really thank Tok Nan for recognising July 22 as Sarawak Independence Day and for declaring it a public holiday.”

Another retired teacher, Ibrahim Busran, in his 60s, said Sarawakians must always maintain the spirit of unity “to ensure that our state can achieve the status of a developed state by 2030.”