KUCHING: Sarawak made a wise decision when it agreed to become a party to the formation of Malaysia, after signing the Malaysia Agreement in July 1963 in London.
Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Tun Openg said after July 22, 1963, Sarawak proved to the world that they could rule by themselves, and did not need the assistance of people from London.
He said it was fortunate that Sarawak did not gain independence through war and bloodshed, but by negotiation, as the British knew that their days as a colonial power were numbered and that they must give up their possessions as promised by the Third Rajah Charles Brooke in 1941.
“There was some resistance at first, but in the end, they were very accommodating and we parted as friends and not as enemies with the British, and we are good friends with the British until today,” he said in his speech at the Sarawak Day celebrations at the Kuching Waterfront here today.
“On this day also (back in 1963), we had our first local governor, our first chief minister and first state Cabinet under a constitution which places power in the hands of the people instead of some officials in London,” he added.
Also present at the celebration were Sarawak Yang DiPertua Negeri Abdul Taib Mahmud and his wife Ragad Kurdi Taib, state ministers, and government officials.
Abang Johari said over the years, as was inevitable in a federation, frictions arose between the central government and state government as the state was not too happy about the centralisation of power in Kuala Lumpur.
However, he said, many teething problems could and had been resolved by negotiations, by adopting the policy of give-and-take.
“They (problems) will continue to arise, but there is nothing we cannot solve as fellow citizens. I sincerely hope that our fellow Sarawakians will continue to give me the support to discuss with the federal government to find amicable solutions to the central issue of the devolution of power back to Sarawak,” he said.
“We believe that there’s no problem that we cannot overcome and I must thank Prime Minister Najib Razak and Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi for being always open to discussion with Sarawak in our efforts to bring back our powers according to the Federal Constitution, the Malaysia Agreement, the Malaysia Act, the Inter-Governmental Committee Reports and Recommendations and the Cobbold Commission Reports,” he said.
“Malaysia has been a success story. We have developed by leaps and bounds over the years, where our per capita income and GDP multiplied many times. It may not be a perfect union but we strive to be a perfect union in the years to come,” he added.