DAP MP: Stop celebrating Aug 31 in Sarawak

Chong Chieng Jen

(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.

“There is no justification and reason for Sarawak Government to waste public fund to continue celebrating Aug 31, which was the day the Federation of Malaya gained independence,” he said in a statement.

“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.

“At the same time, DAP Sarawak wishes our West Malaysian brothers and sisters Happy Independence Day,” he said in a statement.

Chong said to date, Sarawak is forced to spend “millions of ringgit” to mark Aug 31 each year in keeping with a federal directive, which it can spend on rural development instead.

He said this should also be a test for Adenan’s claim that he is standing up for Sarawak autonomy, in keeping with the Malaysia agrement.

“If the Sarawak State Government cannot even have its autonomy to decide on its official government celebration calendar, what autonomy can the State Government fight for the State?

“It also shows the subordination of the Sarawak State Government to the Federal Government,” he said.

Celebrating on three dates will also confuse young Sarawakians over the state’s history, he said.

July 22 is a public holiday in Sarawak, and is celebrated grandly by the state government.

Sarawak, Sabah, Singapore and Malaya joined to form Malaysia on Sep 16, 1963.

Sabah, then known as North Borneo, gained independence on Aug 31, 1963.