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Commemoration of Sarawak Independence Recalls Loss of Country's Sovereignty

The planned Borneo Heritage Foundation's activities to commemorate Sarawak independence day on 22 July 2013 is a welcome step forward in the long march for Sarawak independence.

The question is: Was this real independence or was it only a brief illusion?

Sarawak was an independent kingdom ruled by the English Brooke family from 1841 to 1941. Its statehood and identity as a sovereign country was first recognised by the USA in 1850 and then Britain in 1863, long before Malaya's independence in 1957.
Over 100 years Sarawak evolved into a unique fusion of a western style monarchy with an eastern flavour. The rulers were however not seen as despotic but as benevolent custodians of this once pluralist Christian majority country.

On Sarawak's centenary celebrations of its statehood in 1941, the last Rajah Charles Vyner Brooke proclaimed a new State Constitution. The Constitution's Preamble set out the famous “9 Cardinal Principles” affirming the Sarawak people's right to succeed to a democratic, secular and pluralist society and state. This document is far superior to the race/religion based Malayan apartheid “constitution” which was imposed on Sabah and Sarawak in 1963. The 9 Cardinal Principles formed the framework for both Sarawak and Sabah's respective 18 and 20 Points Agreements as terms and condition for the formation of Malaysia, which Malaya signed and quickly and conveniently forgotten.

But in reality Sarawak (like Sabah) has remained a colony for 72 years since the Japanese occupation from December 1941 to August 1945. It briefly regained independence before cession to Britain in 1946 and then again on 22 July 1963.

Independence on 22 July was illusory as 56 days later Sarawak was annexed with Sabah into Malaysia under the ironic slogan of “independence in Malaysia" on 16 September 1963 without any U.N. Referendum against the background of popular resistance seen in the anti-Malaysia Brunei Uprising (1962) and the Sarawak independence guerrilla war (1962 to 1990).

By 1965 the Malayan Prime Minister was openly calling Sabah and Sarawak the 13th and 14th states of “Malaysia”. He had so unashamedly departed from what he declared in 1962 that they would never make Sabah and Sarawak colonies of Malaya.

In 1965 the original Malaysia concept of 5 countries as equal partners was dead when Singapore left the union over UMNO's move to become the dominate partner instead of honouring the equal partner status for all the members of the Malaysia federation. This also saw both Sarawak first CM Stephen K Ningkan and Sabah first CM Donald Stephens resisting Kuala Lumpur attempts to centralise control over these 2 countries. In Sarawak CM Ningkan had actively canvassed for support to separate from Malaysia and even Tun Mustapha had made moves to take Sabah out of Malaysia.

Kuala Lumpur acted quickly to stop the separation moves by sacking Ningkan and then Stephens resigned in disgust over UMNO's overt attempts to dominate. The removal of any “separatist” leadership allowed UMNO to install their chosen proxy rulers the Sarawak Rahman/Taib clique and pro-UMNO Sabah elites like Harris and Tun Mustapha in power. The declaration of a "state of emergency" cemented UMNO's hold over the 2 new colonies with its occupation army still fighting Borneo independence fighters.

Over 50 years under the new colonial rule, UMNO turned Sabah and Sarawak into its resources centres plundering their vast oil and other resources to develop Malaya and enriched so many UMNO elites and cronies and reducing the 2 countries to be the poorest vassals states of Malaya. They remain mere colonies.

This very much reminds us of Rajah Charles Brooke's 1917 prophetic farewell speech when he strongly warned the Dayak people not to be cheated of their heritage - their land as otherwise they would become “coolies” in their own land. Today many see these words becoming true as the ruling elites mercilessly seized and exploited native land to enrich themselves by dispossessing and making destitute thousands of the once self sufficient native people. These people have no choice but become a cheap workforce for the very people who plundered their land and resources. The current proxy local ruling elites have openly called them “squatters”.
Thus the last 50 years must bear witness to how much we have lost since the 22 July 1963 independence date by the fact that we do not yet enjoy real independence.

The loss of our land and country is the loss of our sovereignty.

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