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Sarawak’s Journey to Freedom Celebrated for the first time in 50 years

Independence Walk route
The 22 July 2013 is a day that should stand proud in the history of this state.  It is a day that should be celebrated with all the pomp and circumstance of any key moment in the history of Sarawak.  In fact, in the modern era, this date stands with only a handful of others as a key turning point in the history of our state and ultimately our nation.  And yet there will be no official fanfare of any kind - nor has there been for the past 50 years.  Even worse, many citizens will be totally unaware that this date holds any significance whatsoever.

This is why the Borneo Heritage Foundation is organising the first commemoration of this key date to be held on its eve, 21 July 2013 – a walk of celebration and awareness from TelangUsan Hotel through the streets of Kuching to Padang Merdeka. And what is this date that they are celebrating?  This is no small moment.  It is, in fact, the 50th anniversary of the Independence of Sarawak.  Fifty years ago, on this date, the state of Sarawak became an independent nation for the first time since 1841.

Awang Raweng, a genuine Sarawak hero, will flag off the event at 8am outside the Telang Usan Hotel.  This ex-Iban Ranger could not be a better choice to represent the best Sarawak has to offer on this occasion as Malaysia’s only ever recipient of the George Cross(the ultimate award for bravery that the UK can bestow) whose extraordinary conduct in defence of another human being has never been recognised by his own nation of Malaysia.   On his mark, a convoy of big bikers will create a spectacular and lively opening, leading out the pack in a flash of chrome and a roar of engines.  They will sweep through the streets in a real freedom ride and gather at the Padang Merdeka to await the Independence walk to follow.  This rear guard will march with pride along the same route, meeting with their comrades at Padang Merdeka.  Members of the public are welcomed to join in this event to show their support and love for their state.  This is a cross-party event, to show our unity as a state and forget all our divisions.

Independence Walk Co-ordinator, Peter John Jaban, said: ‘This Independence Walk is a beginning.  This year will be a small event, something fun for the family to bring us Sarawakians together.  But one day, it will be an important day for us all.  The State Government has made a great step forward in reinstating 16 September as a public holiday.  Sarawak and Sabah were for too long left out of Merdeka celebrations.  We hope that, in future, Sarawak Independence Day will also get the same recognition.”

The overall aim of the event and the Borneo Heritage Foundation is to raise awareness among the public about the history of Sarawak and its special constitutional position as one of three nations in the federation of Malaysia and not as one of thirteen states.  To this end, there will be a full day forum with the theme “We must know” held at the Telang Usan Hotel following the Independence Walk.  This event features a first class line-up of speakers, including YB Datuk Jeffrey Kitingan, Dr Awang Hasmadi Awang Mois, Dato Morshidi bin Abdul Rahman, Paul Raja and Peter John Jaban, speaking on subjects as diverse as the Formation of Malaysia and Freedom of Expression.  It will highlight the history of this state from its days of rule by the British until the moment of its independence on 22 July 1963 and the swearing in of Stephen Kalong Ningkin as Sarawak’s first Chief Minister.  This is the day that the British Colonial Government ceded rule of Sarawak, leaving it independent for a glorious but short-lived 56 days until 16 Sept 1963 when Malaysia was formed.  The forum is also free but places are limited to the first 300 participants.

The Borneo Heritage Foundation wants to encourage all Sarawakians to recognise this date and calls on the State Government to institute this as a day of celebration for future years.  T-shirts to commemorate the event will be on sale at the TelangUsan Hotel on the day.

For more information, please call Peter John Jaban ,Independence Walk Co ordinator 014 3914860 or Lina Soo, Organizing Secretary, tel: 013-8164219,


31 August 1957
Malaya Independence
22 July 1963
Sarawak Independence

31 August 1963
Sabah Independence

16 September 1963
Formation of Malaysia




    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.

    cont'd next post

    1. cont'd from above

      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.


  2. We have lost our integrity, Sovereignty and Resources to a Neo Colonial master..Just say goodbye to Independence and I can foresee in years to come, Sarawakian will be wearing the Chawat or loin clothes and many will be begging at the Sarawak Riverfront..

    Now is the time to realise and put a stop to these injstices, daylight robbery and colonial subjugation.


      They are already begging on the waterfront and foraging rubbish dumps for food and sleeping on 5 foot ways!

      Al this in a land of plenty! But grabbed by a greedy few powerful elites.

      It is the obligation and duty of all better educated and privileged patriotic people to assist those who cannot see a way out of the oppression.

      We need each other to unite to overthrow foreign rule and exploitation.





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