KUCHING: Sarawakians should stand proud in celebrating the 58th Sarawak Independence Day today.
Batu Kitang assemblymen Lo Khere Chiang reminded everyone to hold their heads high as Sarawak was a unique state with rich resources and multiracial society.
“Sarawak is host to the highest variety of ethnic races, and yet we show the world how close knit we all are.
“We are able to live, work and celebrate our different cultures together and joining in the many different festivals.
“This year is the 58th Sarawak Independence Day celebration and in all these years, we have been together through rain and shine like a big family,” said the assemblyman.
Lo noted that the independence day was officially gazetted as Sarawak’s public holiday in 2016 thanks to the leadership of former chief minister , the late Pehin Sri Adenan Satem.
“We must ask ourselves today why we are able to commemorate such an occasion. This is due to us having a stable state government that promotes peace and harmony.
“Fifth-eight years is a long time and we have come a long way with big transformations in all parts of Sarawak,” he added.
He pointed out that Sarawak had played an important part in the formation of Malaysia as one of the founding partners.
“On July 22 1963, the British granted Sarawak self-government on the condition that it joined Malaya, North Borneo (Sabah) and Singapore to form Malaysia.
“Prior to the 18 points agreement, the white rajahs of Sarawak had drafted the nine cardinal principles by which Sarawak shall be governed. The 18 points agreement is similar in content to the cardinal principles.
“This was the agreement we entered into before we signed on the dotted line together with Malaya, Singapore, Sabah (then North Borneo) to form the Federation of Malaysia,” he said.
He said among the 18 points agreement in the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) were freedom of religion, freedom of language and freedom of worship as well as English as the language of instruction in schools.
He also stressed that Sarawak should have full control of its land and resources, and all state government agencies shall be headed by Sarawakians.
Lo expressed his gratitude to Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg’s leadership in securing five percent sales tax for Sarawak’s petroleum products.
He also hoped that Sarawak would have one-third representation of the seats in parliament.
“Once we have that, I am sure everything else we have been fighting for as Sarawakians, including increased autonomy for education and health will naturally fall into place.
“The 18 points agreement drafted in the MA63 detailed the wishes of our forefathers and the wishes of the people of Sarawak on the principles and aspirations by which Malaysia should be formed.
“If there is no Sarawak, there is no Malaysia. This is why July 22 and MA63 are so important to us.”