Sarawakians have little to cheer about as they mark 49 years of independence tomorrow
They still yearn for a truly united nation where people of all races, religions and cultures can enjoy justice and fairness.
Sarawak together with Sabah and Singapore formed the federation of Malaysia on Sept 16, 1963. (Singapore later withdrew from the federation).
Malaysia Day was not officially recognised until two years ago.
This time the celebration is to be held in Bintulu where the first legislative assembly known as Council Negeri in Sarawak was first introduced by Charles Brooke on Sept 8, 1867.
In an interview among a cross section of Sarawakians, all of them expressed a common desire for peace, happiness and prosperity as well as equality, justice and fairness.
Frankie Jurem Nyumboi, Secretary General of the Sarawak National Party, said that he wished for peace, equality and respect for the diverse cultures.
“I also want fair distribution of income from Sarawak’s natural resources and the fulfilment of Sarawak’s right and autonomy under the 18-point agreement signed 49 years ago,” he said.
Nyumboi’s view was shared by former Padungan State Assemblyman Dominique Ng who had been advocating for official recognition of Sept 16 as Malaysia Day.
Since his tenure as a state assemblyman until 2011, Ng used to ‘privately’ celebrate Malaysia Day at the Central Padang, Kuching by hoisting the Malaysian flag.
“Sarawak should be accorded full rights as per the original Malaysia agreement, and should be fully autonomous and in control on its own resources, including oil and gas.
“It is not for KL to give us 5% of our oil and gas. It should be the reverse,” Ng said, urging that department heads and senior posts in Sarawak should be given back to Sarawakians.
He wished that Malaysia Day would be made a National day next year.
Former Penghulu, Augustine Ningkan, of Simunjan said government policies must be fair to all in terms of economic development, education and business opportunities.
“I’m looking forward for better prospects for the Dayak communities,” he said.
Accord Dayaks proper respect
Tedewin Ngumbang, an oil palm businessman is longing for the construction of a dual carriageway and the Pan Borneo Highway from Lundu to Lawas.
“With the construction of the Pan Borneo Highway, it would be easier for Sarawakians to travel from one end to other, a distance of more 1,000km.
“It will encourage tourists to travel by road to see our beautiful greens and landscapes,” he said.
Secretary General of Sarawak Dayak Iban Association, Nicholas Mujah, wants the government to respect human rights.
In the past, the government had not only infringed on human rights of the natives, but had also taken away their rights such as their customary rights over land.
Like Mujah, a former member of Parti Rakyat supreme council, Joseph Allen, also wished for the government to have more respect for the Dayak communities.
“We want the government to accord the Dayaks the proper respect in recognition of their contribution and their role in the formation of Malaysia.
“One of the ways is to get rid of the words ‘lain-lain’ in government official forms. Instead the government should put the word ‘Dayak’ in its place,” he said.
Retired civil servant Edward from Kapit wanted the government to fulfil its promise made about 47 years ago to build the trunk road from Kapit to Sibu.
“I was 17 years old when I heard Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak make the promise to build the trunk road when he visited Kapit in 1965,” said Edward. Sadly, it had not been fulfilled.”
Miri branch Orang Ulu Association chairman, Peter Kallang, said that his wish for the long term is for Malaysians to be treated equally.
“There should not be any discrimination either on the basis of ideologies or ethnicity. But my immediate wish is all the mega dam projects to be stopped,” he said.
Land Development Minister James Masing wants all Malaysians to maintain social and religious harmony.
“Sarawak is free of socio-religious upheavals because we understand the burdens as well as the responsibilities within a multi-racial society. Let’s keep it that,” he said.